Articles Posted in Conflicts of Interest

brucemoskowitz-150x150A trio of former President Trump’s country club friends planned to use the clout he gave them over the Department of Veteran Affairs to set up a potentially enriching scheme to exploit the confidential, personal medical records of millions of U.S. veterans and their families, documents show.

Congressional Democrats, now leading key House committees, have rebuked the three for even suggesting the plan. They were Trump acquaintances from his country club who were given sweeping influence over the VA and were known to lawful government officials as “the Mar-a-Lago crowd.”

The trio — Ike Perlmutter, Bruce Moskowitz (shown above), and Marc Sherman — never served in the U.S. military. They’re not veterans. Perlmutter and Sherman had zero experience in health care. And Moskowitz, while a doctor, is a primary care practitioner — not someone known for his direct experience in running big, complex operations.

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.”

drkhan-150x150Doctors must step up and better police their own ranks, taking a helpful warning from medical malpractice lawsuits in dealing with problem practitioners or systemic wrongs.

That’s the wise view of Dr. Shah-Naz H. Khan, a neurosurgeon and a clinical assistant Professor of Surgery at Michigan State University (shown, right).

Her trenchant commentary — published on KevinMD, which describes itself asthe web’s leading platform where physicians, advanced practitioners, nurses, medical students, and patients share their insight and tell their stories” — is salient as medicine confronts a startling number of doctors, who, frankly, have run amok in putting forth health falsehoods in the midst of the deadliest public health emergency in more than a century.

becerra-150x150biden-150x150With the Biden Administration battling the coronavirus pandemic and Democrats in the throes of determining what could be big spending for major changes in the U.S. health care system, even the president’s biggest supporters are baffled why he still hasn’t nominated a commissioner to head the federal Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA, entrusted to safeguard the safety and quality of the nation’s prescription drugs, medical devices, and foodstuffs, has a huge lift in the best of times.

In the Biden administration’s 10 months, the agency — demoralized and banged up, big time, by the Trump Administration and its politicization of health matters across the board — has found itself in a relentless crossfire in areas in which the 18,000-employee organization holds sway.

cdcwalensky-150x150The battle against the coronavirus pandemic is further splintering Americans into brittle groups, segments familiar because they long have been components of the inequitable U.S. health care system — let’s call them the have nots, the have somes, the have much, and the won’ts.

Regulators have decided that those who have some protection with lifesaving vaccines are now eligible for more — a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine. It will be given six months after the original two-shot regimen was completed to people:

  • older than 65

portalmedrecord-300x124As doctors and hospitals switch to electronic medical record systems and try to amp up the business efficiency of their enterprises by opening online consumer portals, more patients may access their caregivers’ files on them, including  doctor notes that may be shocking in their inaccuracy.

Heather Gantzer, a doctor practicing at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, Minn., and immediate past chair of the American College of Physicians’ Board of Regents, told Cheryl Clark, a contributor to the MedPage Today medical news site:

“100% of medical records have errors. Some of them are nuisances, but some are really impactful and might make a huge difference for [example for] the person who was said to be on antibiotics” but was not.”

gymnaststestify-300x171Grownups got sordid reminders of how much work still must be done to protect the nation’s young from sexual exploitation, as top female gymnasts assailed the FBI and Olympic organizations for allowing the wanton predation of a serial criminal and the Boy Scouts offered yet another billion-dollar proposal to try to resolve tens of thousands of sexual abuse claims against the youth group.

The fierce, courageous, and emotional testimony by Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, and Maggie Nichols before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee (screenshot, right, courtesy Canadian Broadcast Co. video) received extensive media coverage. It reflected their fury at how supposedly elite law enforcement agents heard but ignored their charges against Larry Nassar, the former national women gymnastics team doctor who was convicted of an array of sexual abuse charges and will serve a life sentence in prison.

FBI agents ignored agency practices and policy, learning from multiple women of sexual crimes by Nassar and failing to act, misrepresenting what they were told, and later lying to colleagues and superiors about what Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) described as their “dereliction of duty,” “systematic organizational failure” and “gross failures” in the case.

drugselderly-150x150The nation’s nursing homes, battered by the coronavirus pandemic, are under more fire for their resurgent reliance on powerful and risky psychiatric drugs and shaky diagnoses of mental illness to treat elderly residents, as well as for the institutions’ inability to safeguard the old, sick, and injured in their care by ensuring their staff are vaccinated against Covid-19.

Facilities across the country have recorded a 70% spike in dubious designations of elderly residents as schizophrenic. This means they may be dosed with potent antipsychotic drugs, which, critics say, act akin to pharmaceutical restraints and can reduce the vulnerable to near vegetative states, the New York Times reported, based on its investigation of the issue.

The newspaper noted that federal regulators and mental health professionals have campaigned for years to get nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to stop using certain medications, which once were more routinely administered and pack more than a wallop for the old:

bodybag-150x150In recent days, academic researchers and politicians have made distressing disclosures about the terrible toll the coronavirus pandemic took on the aged, injured, and sick in nursing homes and other long term care facilities with new data suggesting the disease infected more of the vulnerable and killed more of them than previously known.

Government officials, in the pandemic’s early days, may have failed to count 16,000 nursing home deaths due to the coronavirus, researchers at Harvard, UCLA, the University of Minnesota, and Massachusetts General Hospital reported in an online section of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Before federal reporting rules took effect in May 2020, officials also may have missed 68,000 more nursing home infections, the researchers found.

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.

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