Healthcare Update Satellite — 05-29-2013


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Next on the FDA hit list … sleeping pills. Number of ED visits related to Ambien prescriptions triples between 2005 and 2010.

Connecticut emergency department declares influx of intoxicated patients from nearby concert venue a “scheduled mass-casualty situation” and a public health issue as sometimes more than 90 patients are taken to local emergency departments in various states of drunkenness.
I used to work at a trauma center near a concert venue. The worst concerts during those days were “OzzFest” and Jimmy Buffett. The worst for this Connecticut hospital are reportedly country/western concerts.
How times change.

Unintentional ingestion of medical marijuana sending more children to emergency departments. To make things safer for our children, I’m having trouble deciding whether we should outlaw it, throw doctors in jail for prescribing it, or call it an “assault drug” and wage a media war against it.

Patients Gone Wild goes international. Egyptian doctors go on strike after registered convict beats one doctor and tries to shank an orthopedist while security guards stand down. One Egyptian doctor’s rights group wants people who attack hospitals to be charged with attempted murder.
I have a feeling that attack rates would drop precipitously if that ever happened.

Australian university is trying to figure out why rural adults use the emergency department for dental problems almost 3 times as often as their urban counterparts.
We really need to do a study to figure this out?

Top medical malpractice case in New York for 2012: $8.6 million judgment after ENT doc allegedly misdiagnosed sinus infection for 2 years which allegedly led to pituitary gland infection, which allegedly caused patient to develop diabetes insipidus and seizures.
And I shake my head.

It’s been almost 50 years since JFK was assassinated and now we’re learning what happened to the emergency department where he was treated. Ten years after the incident, workers chopped the room up into little pieces and put it into barrels. Now the Kennedy library reportedly doesn’t even want the material.


  1. Regarding the Australia/dentistry/ER piece, it’s not really that there are no dentists in Bendigo or other rural areas, it’s just that dentistry on the public (free) system is generally only covered at the larger dental hospitals, only for children, aborigines and those on the dole, (and there are also loooooong waiting lists – we’re talking a waiting list for dental treatment estimated at 650,000 people with the average waiting period for treatment now stretching into 3 years), and those are mostly in the big cities. The government pays so little for public dentists that few in private practice can afford to do it. Looking at the Bendigo phone book, there are actually around 10 dentists in the Bendigo area – it’s just that you have to pay for them yourself (out of pocket or via private insurance). If you want “free” dentistry, you have to get yourself to one of the public dentistry clinics and sit on their waiting list for ages (unless you’re a child or aborigine, they do tend to get priority).

    All public hospital and ER treatment, however, is 100% free for anyone. So if you want free dental care and don’t live near where there’s a free clinic and/or don’t want to go on a waiting list, you front up to an ER.

    N.B. Bendigo, which this story mentions, is not really all that “rural” … at least by many Australians’ standards. It’s less than 100 miles from Melbourne, and on quite good sealed roads. Less than 2 hours’ trip. But if you can get your dental treatment free at your local hospital rather than make the trip, of course you do.

    The issue of whether dentistry should be free for all citizens under the national health scheme (Medicare) has been an ongoing debate for years. Consensus among sane people, including the original architect of the Medicare system, is that as wealthy as Australia is, it just wouldn’t be affordable. There’s an interesting collection of viewpoints on that here. If the USA keeps trending towards a universal healthcare system, and people start feeling increasingly entitled to see medical providers without being a cent out of pocket, that debate will be coming here too.

  2. When my BIL was in college, he started having sinus problems. It went on for a year. The Doctor at the College Health Clinic kept prescribing antibiotics.

    When he started getting double vision, his mother panicked and got him into a local doctor while he was home for Christmas.

    The tumor in his sinus was so big at that point, the Doctor could see it just by looking up his nose.

    It was cancerous, and wrapped around his optic nerve.

    Proton laser surgery, cured his cancer and saved his vision.

    My BIL talked to quite a few lawyers. Basically, they all said, if it had happened in a near by state, he would win a malpractice case. But hear in Idaho, he might win, but the jury wouldn’t award him any money because “insurance covered him”.

    Ironically, while he was getting treatment, the University cancelled his insurance. It was a mess, but they eventually got it back in force.

  3. In this state, attacking a healthcare provider is a felony. I am 5’3″ and was attacked and strangled by a 6’5″ patient waiting to see a psychiatrist for his anxiety – but I would not give him his requested ativan before the psych came to visit. He was arrested and charged, but case was dropped because he got another psych to say he was “insane” for only the moment he choked me – but he is “sane” the rest of the time. So there will be no trial, he gets no jail time, and he gets to see his new psychiatrist friend every week and take his ativan until he is “cured”. Seems like something is still very wrong with this system (though I may be brain-damaged from the choking and not clearly thinking).

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