Articles Posted in Certification and Licensure

Abbottlogo-300x77The giant drug maker Abbott and the federal Food and Drug Administration both should hang their heads in shame as more information becomes public as to how they left millions of vulnerable infants hungry and put kids’ health at risk by wrongs involving the manufacture and distribution of a vital foodstuff — baby formula.

Millions of parents have gone into meltdown because of a nationwide shortage of the needed nutrient. It was sparked by the shutdown of Abbott’s formula-producing plant in Michigan, as well as the company’s product recall after babies got sick and died from  infections involving Cronobacter sakazakii bacteria.

While Abbott has emphasized that experts have not conclusively linked the bacteria to its formula and the firm has played up its cooperation in a product recall, Robert Califf, the FDA’s chief and a doctor, ripped the company. He told a U.S. House subcommittee that agency inspectors found “egregiously unsanitary” conditions at the drug maker’s plant, the New York Times reported, quoting him, thusly:

cancercenterlogoWhile patients often seek treatment at big, fancy hospitals, in part because they are designated as National Cancer Institute centers, these institutions provide a sticker-shock surprise for those receiving their specialized care: They jack up the already sky-high cost of prescription cancer drugs with markups going up from 120% to 630% above what they pay for the medications.

Those are the findings of researchers at the Harvard and Yale medical schools and elsewhere as reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s Internal Medicine publication. As they noted with expert restraint:

“The findings of this study suggest that, to reduce the financial burden of cancer treatment for patients, institution of public policies to discourage or prevent excessive hospital price markups on … chemotherapeutics may be beneficial.”

Medical leaders and politicians carp endlessly about medical malpractice suits, but when an emergency medical specialist diagnosed staffing shortfalls that threatened patient safety, guess what legal mechanism became crucial to his corrective crusade? Why, yes, of course, it was a lawsuit. A big one over wrongful termination.

Let’s not over-focus on the irony of a legal process that has won the doctor at long last a $26-million judgment, and, instead, pay keen attention to the blaring alarm raised by Dr. Raymond Brovont, an emergency medical specialist in Missouri (shown, right). In brief, he was fired after objecting to persistent understaffing in a hospital’s emergency department as part of the policies of a private contracting firm. As NBC News reported of this increasingly pernicious health care problem:

“What happened to … a former Army doctor named Ray Brovont … isn’t an anomaly, some physicians say. It is a growing problem as more emergency departments are staffed by for-profit companies. A laser focus on profits in health care can imperil patients, they say, but when some doctors have questioned the practices, they have been let go. Physicians who remain employed see that speaking out can put their careers on the line.

brooks-lasure-150x150The Biden Administration has put the owners and operators of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities on notice that they must make major, desperately needed changes in the way they operate and that they will face much more and tougher oversight by federal regulators.

These reforms — prompted by the coronavirus pandemic and the 200,000 estimated deaths in long-term care facilities of elderly, ailing, and disabled residents — will not occur overnight and already are getting big push back from the industry. Still, as Biden pledged in his State of the Union remarks:

“Tonight, I’m announcing a crackdown on … companies overcharging American businesses and consumers. And as Wall Street firms take over more nursing homes, quality in those homes has gone down and costs have gone up. That ends on my watch. Medicare is going to set higher standards for nursing homes and make sure your loved ones get the care they deserve and expect.”

cashflush-150x150While the folks who toil in the front lines of U.S. health care deserve the highest praise and support in the continuing battle against the coronavirus pandemic, those who run care systems deserve a Bronx cheer and worse for their rapacious pursuit of profits — at the expense of patients:

calmattersnhomestrandcover-300x256As experts drill down to discover why nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are not playing a vital role in the U.S. health system by admitting improving patients from costly care in overwhelmed hospitals, a disconcerting explanation is emerging on who is filling some of the invaluable institutional space.

They might be called system hostages of sorts, poorer residents of nursing homes and other facilities whose condition has gotten better but who are trapped in institutions for distinct reasons, including the grim reality that they owe money they cannot pay, according to Jesse Bedayn of the nonprofit news site CalMatters. As he reported of the situation in the Golden State and nationally:

“While elder care advocates sound the alarm about patient ‘dumping’ by some California nursing homes — kicking out their mentally ill or bereft patients who need stable housing and care — a parallel dilemma is also threatening vulnerable residents: how to get out of a nursing home. The vast majority of people admitted to California skilled nursing facilities stay for less than three months to rehabilitate a broken limb or recover from a stroke or other ailment, according to the California Association of Health Facilities, an industry trade group. After these short-term stays, residents typically return home. But for thousands of poor nursing home residents … a temporary stay can become indefinite. Saddled with hefty Medicare copayments that can reach $5,000 a month — and later stripped of Social Security income, diverted to pay ongoing nursing home costs — they are often unable to hang onto their former housing. They become effectively stranded, with Medi-Cal and Social Security paying for housing and daily living in the facility.”

michigan-300x158Michigan’s top academic institutions now share a dubious distinction, with the University of Michigan joining Michigan State University in agreeing to pay out whopping settlements totaling almost $1 billion for big numbers of claims of sexual abuse by doctors working with the schools’ athletic programs.

UM has just agreed to pay $490 million to more than 1,000 men and women, who said they were sexually assaulted by Robert Anderson, who served as a university doctor for four decades and examined and treated students and notably players with the school’s vaunted football and other teams.

After a whistleblower stepped forward and publicly accused Anderson, who is dead, the university said it would investigate its onetime medical staffer. Scores of people told a law firm hired by UM that the doctor had sexually mistreated them, including with invasive, unnecessary, and outright perverse procedures and exams.

femalemd-300x209They excel through four years of rigorous undergraduate study, then battle their way through four more years of tough, tough medical school. They cram to pass their medical boards and  grind through exhausting internships. They also pursue years more of exacting, sleep-deprived training in residencies and fellowships.

But, wait a minute: Women doctors earn over a professional lifetime an estimated $2 million less on average than their men counterparts? They experience gender pay gaps of 25% to as much as 50% over the course of a 40-year career?

Yes, those are the disconcerting findings of published research that analyzed data from surveys of 80,000 doctors between 2014 and 2019, the New York Times reported:

nhomehall-300x200The battle to safeguard the elderly, sick, and injured residents of the nation’s nursing homes and other long-term care facilities is far from over — and the fight may be even tougher than advocates for the vulnerable may have imagined.

That’s because the facilities employ aggressive tactics to contest safety and other violations found by state and federal regulators in a system that favors them and shuts out the aggrieved while also keeping crucial information hidden from the public, the New York Times reported.

The newspaper said it investigated what happens when inspectors write up homes, finding a little-known system that owners and operators play to the max to protect a financially lucrative aspect of their operations: the “stars” awarded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on its web site.

harrisnhscfunding-300x155For anyone who believes that health care, in the wealthiest nation in the world, is a right and not a privilege, the Biden Administration provided some cause for optimism. It came in the form of an announcement by Vice President Kamala Harris that the nation will invest $1.5 billion to help reduce the shortage of doctors and nurses in underserved communities.

Working with sums provided by the spring’s American Recovery Act, the White House said it will boost financial support for medical workers participating in the National Health Service Corps and Nurse Corps.

They provide services to more than 23.6 million patients in this country, the White House said.

Patrick Malone & Associates, P.C. listed in Best Lawyers Rated by Super Lawyers Patrick A. Malone
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