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devicemakerpaymentsHA-300x257Although Big Pharma has taken deserved heat for selling its drugs by slathering doctors with cheesy tchotchkes, lavish or even cheap meals, and pricey trips, as well as lucrative consulting and speaking opportunities, medical device-makers’ physician-payment programs also should get a tougher, deeper look.

That’s because device manufacturers paid doctors $3.62 billion in the years 2014–17 — 1.7% of the revenue in their business sector and more than seven times the percentage of drug industry revenue spent on payments to MDs, according to a new study published in the respected medical journal Health Affairs.

The payments have come under increasing fire, as even the smallest sums — yes, even for a slice of pizza and a beer or a few sodas — may sway doctors in prescribing drugs or favoring treatments, notably with certain medical devices. The sketchy product-promotion spending may not benefit patients and may boost health care costs, a growing body of evidence from studies is showing.

bauchner-150x150dredlivingston-150x150While the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared racism a serious threat to the nation’s health, establishment medicine finds itself mired in an angry scandal over doctors’ inability to recognize the term, much less its existence, or its considerable harms.

An uproar at a leading medical journal might seem a tempest in an ivy-covered tower. But patients will want to track even a little the professional furor falling on the leaders of the respected Journal of the American Medical Association.

Its website recently featured a podcast, for which doctors could get continuing professional education credit, in which host Ed Livingston (photo above left), JAMA’s deputy editor for clinical content and “a white editor and physician, questioned whether racism even exists in medicine,” Usha McFarling, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist reported for Stat, the medical-science news site.

covidmichmayo-300x203The campaign to conquer the coronavirus pandemic is having its cautious optimism tested by a stubborn and concerning surge of cases in the Midwest and Northeast, as well as frustrating vaccine supply problems — worsened by manufacturing bungles in a Baltimore plant.

Expert forecasters now see options for how the crucial next several months could go in the battle against the disease. These include an effective vaccination program outpacing the rise of variants (including the B117 strain that has become the most common in this country) and quashing the pandemic, to the viral mutations getting out of control and the nation limping into persistent and unchecked infections for a long time.

In Michigan, where one of the worst outbreak rages (see Mayo Clinic hot spot map, above), the governor and state officials have found themselves in a public policy quandary, uncertain whether stern health restrictions may have lost their public support to be effective now after showing results before. But in California, officials are waiting and watching to see if plunging infections, hospitalizations, and deaths will reverse as they have elsewhere.

waitingroom-2-300x202Patients packed in their doctors’ waiting rooms in pre-pandemic times may have looked around and wondered: Why are there so many seniors here receiving medical care?

It isn’t just age that gets older Americans in numbers to treatment for illness or injury or preventive care — it’s also, of course, their qualification at 65 for government-supported medical insurance, aka Medicare. That, perhaps, unsurprising conclusion has been affirmed by Stanford doctors and researchers in newly published research. The study also offers important insights on delayed treatment and the crucial role played by health insurance.

The work involved running down a hunch of Dr. Joseph Shrager, a cardiothoracic surgeon who wondered why so many older patients he saw were diagnosed with lung cancer at age 65 — and not, say, at 61, or 64? He discussed the observation with colleagues who concurred in their curiosity about Medicare eligibility and its role in disease diagnosis. As the university news service reported of the insurance hypothesis:

usccampus-300x165The University of Southern California apparently has set a record — one which parents should pray no college has reason to challenge and for which the educators and leaders at the Los Angeles campus should be sorry and ashamed.

The Trojans have announced they will pay $1.1 billion to settle lawsuits over the tawdry actions of Dr. George Tyndall, who was the lone gynecologist for young women treated in the student health service.

The school has admitted that he saw 17,000 patients in his three decades at the school and sexually abused many of them. As the Los Angeles Times reported:

covidcases032721-235x300In 25 states, including in Virginia and Maryland, data show coronavirus cases are running higher than U.S. averages and staying high. In seven states, notably Michigan, new virus-related deaths are increasing.

A half dozen states have recorded hundreds of confirmed cases involving corona virus infections with a variant known as B 117 that was first detected in Britain and may be more contagious and lethal. States up and down both coasts and in the Upper Midwest have reported dozens of infections involving a variant first detected in South Africa and known as B 1351. It, too, is believed to spread more easily and cause greater illness and death.

Across the country, an average of 58,000 coronaviruses are occurring daily. The country has exceeded 30 million infections and the nation is approaching 550,000 deaths due to the disease.

oxylabel-300x180Members of the plutocratic Sackler clan have upped the ante yet again in a bankruptcy court bid to settle thousands of lawsuits targeting Purdue Pharmaceutical, the company long in the family’s grip and  blamed for untold misery in the now-resurgent opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis.

The latest, and perhaps final plan submitted to the courts for approval would oust the family from Purdue, converting it into a public trust company.

The Sacklers say they will add a billion dollars more from the family’s formidable fortunes to sums that would be extracted from the company itself.

covidpollhealthworkersmarch21-300x138The battle to quell the coronavirus pandemic has opened new divides among us — splitting those willing and not to get vaccinated against the disease, those who will adjust easily or not to life when the illness is a less dominant factor, and those who do not recover easily or quickly and struggle long after their tough bouts with the virus.

Will these differences widen further and create greater challenge for public health officials and political leaders, or can successes in fighting Covid-19 help smooth over rifts?

As vaccine supplies and vaccination sites grow and more than 100 million Americans have now gotten at least one coronavirus shot, concerns persist about equity and hesitancy in the national inoculation campaign.

cookmizzoudmv-150x150It’s long been routine, if often controversial, for operating rooms to welcome medical device sales people and surgical trainees to watch the work of surgeons and nurses. But now the University of Missouri health system may have reset the bar with its $16.2 million settlement with almost two dozen patients over questionable knee surgeries.

The contested procedures were performed in part by a veterinarian.

That vet, James Cook, is listed on the university’s web site as the William & Kathryn Allen Distinguished Chair in Orthopaedic Surgery. The explanatory text online and a posted video has him describing how his chief role at the school focuses on research in people and animals in joint disorders. He says he is experimenting with techniques, notably in dogs, in which live materials can be used to replace problem joints.

cmsnursinghomecompare-300x139Federal regulators, by allowing owners and operators to self-report quality and safety data and failing to audit vital information with diligence, have “broken” the national nursing-home rating system — what was supposed to be an invaluable tool for consumers to make life-and-death decisions about where to place vulnerable loved ones needing round-the-clock care.

Instead, the New York Times reported, the popular and convenient star rankings have become little more than an inaccurate means for facilities to advertise and market themselves, even while keeping from the public their serious problems — including abuse, neglect, over medication, sexual assault, and killings of the aged, injured, and ailing.

The system’s glaring shortcomings were exposed even more by the coronavirus pandemic, the newspaper reported. It launched its deep dig into the ratings when it became clear that highly rated homes, when the pandemic struck, did not fare notably better, as might be expected.

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