Malpractice environment in Texas improves, doctors flock to state. In the three years after tort reform took place in Texas, 7000 doctors applied for Texas medical licenses. Malpractice environment in Illinois stays bad, doctors leave. According to a recent Northwestern University study (.pdf file, see story here), 70% of medical students who planned to leave Illinois after graduation cited Illinois’ “anti-doctor liability environment” as playing a role in their decision. The study predicts that rural communities in Illinois will remain underserved due to lack of physicians. So which is more important, perfect care or available care?
St. Joseph Hospital in Baltimore pays $22 million to settle claims that it was performing unnecessary cardiac stenting procedures in patients. Three cardiologists who blew the whistle on the hospital get a cut of the settlement. That leaves the hospital with only 101 more lawsuits to defend due to the allegations.
Can computers help curb “unnecessary tests”? According to the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement, a computer program has reportedly saved Minnesota $28 million per year by “eliminating thousands of unnecessary tests.” The project in Minnesota discovered that physicians chose clinically unuseful testing approximately 10% of the time, so insurers agreed to forgo prior authorizations for testing if doctors used the program. Two problems with the system and the article mentions them: Defensive medicine and patient satisfaction. If doctors perceive that they are going to reduce liability by ordering the test, they’re going to order the test, and if doctors are getting graded by how happy they make patients, when patients want the test, doctors are going to order the test. Despite the shortcomings, the program has been so successful that the federal government is considering whether or not to implement it on a national basis.
New York woman wins $3.5 million in a jury trial after requiring lower leg amputation due to “emergency room delays” in treating a knee dislocation.
Team Health, one of several national emergency department staffing companies, had third-quarter profit that was up 30% due to recent acquisitions and improved contract volume.
University of Minnesota’s medical malpractice cases going down, but costs remain stable. The University spent $4.3 million to defend 42 claims filed against the University since 2005. It spent almost $740,000 to get 16 cases dismissed before trial and spent another $2.5 million settling and defending 15 other cases. Four cases went to trial and the University won all of them. The numbers in the article don’t add up, but do give at least an idea of what it costs to defend malpractice cases.
Good way for insurers to make lots of money: Collect premiums, insure patients, don’t pay (or underpay) claims for a few years, then go bankrupt. California insurer La Vida did just that, sticking many emergency medical providers with years of unpaid bills.
Some people go to the emergency department and get treatment for bedbug bites … some people go to the emergency department and get bedbug bites. Bedbug infestation found in two rooms at a Milwaukee emergency department. Ewwwwww. How many people started itching after reading this? I can only imagine what the Medical Marijuana Advocates are going say about that one.
Interesting factoid from across the pond. In Great Britain, 23% of all cancer cases, including up to 50% of leukemia and brain tumor patients, are initially diagnosed in the emergency department.
New Yorkers have drinking problems? Emergency department visits for alcohol-related issues in New York increase 250% from 2003 to 2009.
Identity theft ring hits Florida emergency departments. Employee accessed more than 1,500 files and printed patient information which was later sold to other criminals who used the data to obtain fraudulent credit cards and debit cards. With criminal charges that range from 10 to 20 years per count, these citizens can expect a permanent room at the Greybar Motel.
Reading through the archives, another man, Ruben Rodriguez, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for selling patient information this past October.
Ya think? Researchers discovered that “differences in hospital surveillance methods affect the quality of public reporting of bloodstream infections on hospital report cards.” In fact, in this study, the hospital that reported the lowest overall infection rates had the highest infection rates when surveillance methods were standardized. The researchers could have saved their troubles by looking at some real investigative blogging on the topic.