Healthcare Update — 10-17-2012


Patient in VA hospital has groin packed in ice for 19 straight hours. Later develops frostbite and gangrene on his penis requiring 5 inches of his penis to be amputated. Man files claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act seeking compensation. Attorney for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs reviews case and writes letter to patient stating:
“It is our opinion that there was no negligence on the part of the Department of Veterans Affairs or any of its employees in connection with the claimed loss; therefore your claim is denied.”
“Claimed loss?” Give me a break. Freeze dried penis … nope … no negligence there.
Well, at least patients can go to and review all the poor ratings that the VA Centers get. Ooops. No they can’t. The government won’t disclose any VA hospital ratings.

Kind of missed this story … during the ACEP conference in Denver, one of the exhibitors collapsed and went pulseless. Two docs did CPR and shocked him back to life.

Got a question about the meningitis scare with tainted steroid injections? Call the hotline number that Florida Governor Rick Scott gave out and you’ll hear the following sultry message: “Hello boys, thank you for calling me on my anniversary … “ Oops. He accidentally gave out the number to an adult phone line.

More than 500 federal agents “take down” 91 health care providers for allegations of health care fraud. Multiple doctors, nurses, paramedics, and other healthcare professionals are arrested for allegedly billing for services they never provided and/or for billing for unnecessary services. In Florida, an ambulance company was charged with providing medically unnecessary ambulance rides. In Louisiana, providers were charged with false claims for medically unnecessary durable medical equipment. In Chicago, two doctors were charged for billing for medically unnecessary medical services (laser treatment and psychotherapy).
Criminal charges after billing for “unnecessary services.” Now where have I heard the term “unnecessary” medical care before?

Australian hospital emergency departments have overcrowding problems as well. Some patients being left in hallway stretchers for 6 days because no hospital beds are available. Australian Health Minister also plans to cut another $775 million from the health care budget over the next four years.
Same thing happening in some Nova Scotia hospitals.

More patients gone wild. Man gets arrested by border patrol agents in Niagara Falls, punches agent in chest, fakes a seizure so he can be brought to hospital, then bites the ED physician.

Patients gone wild … against each other. Costa Rican robbery victim and robber both went to the same emergency department for treatment. Then they started shooting at each other.

Everyone in the town gone wild. Pakistani protesters smash hospital windows and equipment after woman dies in the emergency department and protesters blame emergency physician. Wonder if there’s a concealed carry law in Pakistan …

Kansas Supreme Court upholds caps on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases.

Nice summary of 16 different studies relating to emergency departments.

Want a “top quality” surrogate father? British company planning to match women with sperm from anonymous celebrity dads for a mere $15,000.

Pesky drug seekers going to the emergency department with their bad teeth to get a quick script for some Percocets … ooops. This time it was LeAnn Rimes.

That’s why we used to use them. Zyprexa or droperidol combined with Versed significantly shorten time to sedation in severely agitated patients and the combinations were found to have “no negative effects.” Too bad that Zyprexa and droperidol now have black box warnings making it unlikely that hospitals will allow the medications to be used.

New Jersey’s doctor shortage expected to worsen. One assemblywoman has received more than 75 calls about how difficult it is to currently get a doctor’s appointment. Ten percent of existing doctors are planning to leave the state and within the next 7 years, the doctor’s shortage is expected to grow to 3,000. The assemblywoman is attempting to create a “early offer mediation process” to try to attract more physicians. She’s another one with good intentions who doesn’t understand the inner workings of medicine. As long as settlements are reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank, most doctors aren’t going to participate in mediation and the program is going to have little or no effect on retaining physicians.
Not quite another example of what happens when we try to sue our way to better health care, but I just like throwing that out there because it irritates Matt.

And to end with a non-medical link … the best comeback from the debate last night that you didn’t hear:
Remember the little tiff where Romney asked President Obama of he’s seen his pension?
The President responded “”You know, I don’t look at my pension. It’s not as big as yours, so it — it doesn’t take as long.”
The response you didn’t hear … “We know that, Mr. President, but I thought we were talking about pensions.”
I know, I know … stick to medicine, right?


  1. My SIL takes Zyprexa for mania and indeed, it sedates her, but we must use 50mg at the initial onset for two weeks. It’s THE only drug that can quell the psychosis and sped up brain function. I’ll have to look up the BB warnings…

  2. Hmmmmm. I call BS on the claim that he had his groin packed in ice for 19 hours.
    If an ice pack was left in place that long it would no longer be cold enough to cause damage. Can’t see a VA nurse constantly replacing any cooling packs that often to keep his groin that cold.
    Wonder if he was such poor protoplasm that he got infected and then needed amputation?
    Wouldn’t surprise me if he had poorly controlled DM, HTN, PAD etc, but they took him to the OR anyway.

  3. Should you add this as your 11th reason not to practice in Florida?

    (We left the state almmost a decade ago to live in a REAL state with seasons and decent infrastructure and a low crime rate. Only return once a year, reluctantly, to check on elderly family members who refuse to move….I get depressed the minute the plane lands…)

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