Healthcare Update Satellite – 07-13-2015

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Boy bitten by a mouse, mother brings boy and mouse to emergency department, wants rabies testing done. Nurse brings the mouse outside and lets it go. Mom fumes because no one recommended that her son go through rabies shots and that because the animal was released, now she’ll never know if the animal had rabies. She decides to put her son through rabies shots which are paid for by Medicaid. If the shots end up not being covered, she’ll ask the hospital to pay for them. Only problem is that according to the CDC, small rodents “have not been known to transmit rabies to humans”, so the child is going through rabies shots for nothing. On the other hand, larger mammals can transmit rabies. Recently, a feral kitten tested positive for rabies in Maryland.

German scientists discovered that people on low-carb diets can lose more weight if they eat a bar of chocolate every day. Actually, German scientists showed how bad many news outlets were at vetting their stories. The whole chocolate bar study was a hoax orchestrated by John Bohannon who holds a PhD in molecular biology, the Washington Examiner, and a German TV reporter named Peter Onneken. They created a fake organization, bogus data, and bogus press releases. Not one organization double checked their research, sought comments from independent experts or questioned inaccuracies in the work.
This is a tough issue. I link some studies after reading the abstracts but without fully vetting their merits. Difficult problem when some places charge you $35 just to read the entire article.
What’s the right answer?

Then again, there is a problem with “predatory journals” that will accept scholarly articles from just about anyone … for a fee. In one case last year, two journals accepted a paper about Fuzzy Homogeneous Configurations written by Maggie Simpson and Edna Krabappel. In another, two computer scientists submitted a 10 page paper reminiscent of “The Shining” that repeatedly wrote “Get me off your Fucking Mailing List”. Instead of taking the hint, one journal accepted it for publication and submitted an invoice for $150.


New research from the American Urological Association’s 2015 Annual Meeting shows that ejaculation reduces prostate cancer risk. However, the data is only “observational” in nature and relies upon self-reporting of data from the study participants. No. This one is real. At least I think …

Patient falls at the Charlotte airport and initially refuses medical care. However, “authorities” stated that it was airport policy to go to the hospital. So patient goes to hospital, has testing (including CT of the brain) performed and leaves with a $9,000 bill. Then goes to lawyers looking to sue someone. The hospital gave him a discount of 40% for paying cash, so the lawyer’s opinion was that “I don’t believe that an action against the hospital for overcharging would be successful.” I’d be more interested in looking into an airport policy that forces people to go to the hospital against their will.

Then there’s the guy who wanted to go to the hospital but no one would take him. Man in Great Britain mugged, had his bicycle stolen, and had his leg broken in the process. He called emergency services, but was told that his injury “wasn’t serious enough” to send an ambulance. Three police officers gave him a ride home where he had to book an Uber ride to get him to the hospital. Good thing he had medical “insurance,” though.


When enough people stop paying for their medical care – or their insurance reimburses providers for less than the cost of care – some hospitals won’t be able to afford to keep the doors open. Then patients may be in the unenviable position of having to wait in a school parking lot with a dying family member for a helicopter to arrive to fly them to the next closest facility 80 miles away. In this case, the added wait cost a North Carolina patient her life.
The article gave a link to another site listing 55 rural hospitals that have closed in the past 5 years. I’m betting that the number of hospital closures is higher than that.

Michigan’s Oscar Johnson VA Hospital is turning its emergency department into an urgent care center and closing its ICU. Now patients requiring emergency care or ICU stays will have to go to a nearby hospital. But one veteran asks “who’s going to pay the bills?” The funny thing about having “insurance” is that you’re at the mercy of the people providing the services you need. If they don’t accept your “insurance” as payment, or if your “insurance” doesn’t cover the services, then you don’t get the services.

Silly article on how doctors should have a dress code instead of wearing scrubs or other clothing. The authors, both internists, suggest “formal attire with long-sleeved shirts and ties for men, and business attire for women.” I’m not sure if this is a spoof or if they’re serious. I can see version 6.0 of Press Ganey questionnaires asking whether the physician’s ties matched the suit or the blouse matched the shoes. And what of the study suggesting that long sleeve shirts and lab jackets may transfer bacteria between patients like little bees pollinating flowers?


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