Articles Posted in Certification and Licensure

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.

canursestaffingprotest-300x149The U.S. health care system and all who rely on it may be reaching painful reckonings on how the coronavirus pandemic keeps affecting caregiving personnel, whether with highly trained nurses who are forcing hospitals to pay them more or see them leave or with poorly paid and ill-trained aides who still aren’t getting Covid-19 shots to protect themselves and their vulnerable patients.

Great doctors, of course, may be vital to patients’ positive outcomes. But ask anyone knowledgeable how hospitals succeed — or don’t — and they will point to nurses. And that’s a professional treasure that has been battered by the pandemic,  Kaiser Health News service reported in partnership with NPR and WPLN radio in Nashville, Tenn.

Broadcast news reporter Blake Farmer found in Tennessee and nationally that hospitals are struggling to maintain their nursing ranks, particularly among their most seasoned and specially trained pros. They have spent grueling months giving patients the round-the-clock, intensive care demanded in serious cases, notably for coronavirus infections.

fdaStemCells-300x200Yet more derelictions of duty by the federal Food and Drug Administration are happening now, in its handling of largely hokum treatments and health-threatening devices.  The latest examples: drug safety regulators step back from their oversight of those who peddle sketchy “stem-cell” treatments for a bevy of ills. And twiddle their thumbs as who knows how many more young people get addicted to nicotine because experts just aren’t ready to regulate e-cigarettes and vaping.

Here’s what the Associated Press reported about the agency and how it has allowed a boom in unsupported therapies using so-called stem cells (real versions, shown above):

“Hundreds of clinics pushing unproven stem cell procedures caught a big break from the U.S. government in 2017: They would have three years to show that their questionable treatments were safe and effective before regulators started cracking down. But when the Food and Drug Administration’s grace period expired in late May — extended six months due to the pandemic — the consequences became clear: Hundreds more clinics were selling the unapproved treatments for arthritis, Alzheimer’s, Covid-19 and many other conditions. ‘It backfired,’ said Leigh Turner, a bioethicist at UC Irvine. ‘The scale of the problem is vastly larger for FDA today than it was at the start.’ The continuing spread of for-profit clinics promoting stem cells and other so-called ‘regenerative’ therapies — including concentrated blood products — illustrates how quickly experimental medicine can outpace government oversight. No clinic has yet won FDA approval for any stem cell offering and regulators now confront an enormous, uncooperative industry that contends it shouldn’t be subject to regulation.”

elijahmcclain-150x150Manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, and other felony charges filed against paramedics in a Denver suburb will provide the public with a queasy close up look at not only the stresses weighing on medical first responders but also how complacent too many people have become as a crucial part of health care frays under fiscal pressures.

The case against Aurora Fire and Rescue paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Lieutenant Peter Cichuniec provides a grim view of municipal emergency medical services.

A grand jury, empaneled by the state attorney general, indicted the city paramedics and two Aurora police officers on an array of charges in the 2019 death of  Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old black man. He was walking home from a convenience store on an August evening, wearing a ski mask because, his parents said, he was an anemic, idiosyncratic individual and often felt cold.

agedcare-300x200Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities keep bleeding staff, and their inability to hire and keep  workers poses significant risks to the well-being of aged, sick, and injured residents — a vulnerable group already savaged by the coronavirus pandemic.

The long-term care industry employed 3 million  personnel in July, which is 380,000 fewer staff than were on facilities payrolls in February 2020, the Wall Street Journal reported of federal labor statistics. Terry Robertson, chief executive of Josephine Caring Community, a long-term-care facility in Stanwood, Wash., told the newspaper this:

“I’ve been in the industry for 40 years and I’ve never seen it this bad.”

casey-150x150wyden-1-150x150Senate Democrats, including chairs of two powerful committees, have started to tackle the nightmarish problems that experts blame for allowing the coronavirus pandemic to take a terrible toll on vulnerable residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Under a bill introduced by Ron Wyden, an Oregon senator and chair of the Senate Finance Committee (shown above, left), and Bob Casey Jr., a Pennsylvanian and chair of the Aging Committee (above, right), federal officials would both push and assist the facilities to improve health worker staffing, infection control, and regulatory oversight, notably through better inspections, the Associated Press and other news organizations reported.

The AP summarized the highlights of the Wyden-Casey measure, also supported by four other senators, thusly, noting it seeks to:

chairwheelnride-196x300The Biden Administration has ended another egregious health-related policy of its predecessor, reversing the leniency the Trump Administration gave to nursing homes in penalizing them for putting residents at risk or injuring them.

Regulators may now return to slapping owners and operators of problem facilities with mounting, costly daily fines, rather than giving them a single, much lower penalty assessed as if inspectors found a single instance of a violation, the New York Times reported.

This means the facilities again can be subject to hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, versus a maximum, onetime $22,000 penalty.

Patients, politicians, and regulators may find it tough to believe, so they need sharp periodic reminders: While there are many terrific, dedicated doctors working today, there also are some truly terrible ones. And dealing with the harms of medical malpractice by the incompetent and abusive can require courage and vigilance.

  • Perhaps a new, streamed Hollywood serial — starring the likes of Alec Baldwin, Christian Slater, AnnaSophia Robb, and Joshua Jackson — can underscore for the public how grisly the results can be until a rare criminal prosecution derails the likes of Christopher Duntsch, a Dallas surgeon so grim he is nicknamed “Dr. Death?”
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