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alztest-300x79It isn’t just the testing for the novel coronavirus that has already anxious Americans upset these days. Controversies also are swirling around existing and developing ways for experts to screen older patients for cognitive decline, namely  dementia and its most familiar form,  Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for 60%-80% of dementia cases, is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States overall and the fifth leading cause of death for those age 65 and older, researchers say. Medical scientists have engaged in furious efforts for a while now to determine the condition’s causes and to create treatments for it — a response that is sorely lacking now.

But the New York Times reported that experts believe they are nearing a better way to screen and diagnose the illness using the blood rather than current “expensive methods like PET scans of the brain and spinal taps for cerebrospinal fluid.” As reporter Pam Belluck wrote:

dcvafacility-300x185Veterans Affairs officials are taking yet more fire over medical services provided at the sprawling agency’s facilities:

covidtestlinesmiamiwsj-300x219How big and bad is the now-unchecked Covid-19 pandemic and the damage it is inflicting on this country?

The United States persists as the novel coronavirus epicenter, blowing past previous record numbers of infections to more than 4.5 million. The disease has edged toward claiming the lives of roughly 155,000 Americans. Imagine if the equivalent, the population of Alexandria, Va., died in just a few months.

July went in the books as the cruelest month, thus far, with Covid-19 infections doubling over June’s tallies, deaths surging, and the coronavirus surging or parking at a high and lethal plateau in most parts of the country,

grimreaper-138x300While the Covid-19 pandemic rages on, other major killers of Americans — threats posed by vehicles and guns, as well as searing weather and nasty critters like mosquitoes — have not stopped. People need to be aware and safeguard themselves as they can from these risks.

The data keep growing and the news, for example, continues to be glum about the coronavirus lockdowns and road mayhem. As NBC News reported:

“Motor vehicle fatalities surged by 23.5% in May, as drivers took advantage of open roads to push to autobahn speeds, a situation made easier by the fact that authorities in many communities were pulling back on enforcement, in part, to avoid risking the possibility of their officers becoming exposed to the coronavirus. According to the National Safety Council (NSC) report, the May numbers mark the third-straight month that U.S. motorists were at a higher risk of dying from a crash …”

handout-200x300It may be surprising that the questions went unasked before. The outcomes may be less than shocking. But patients, in a new and nationally representative survey, have told hospitals to bug off  with their relentless grubbing for donations from the people they care for.

Doctors and ethicists long have been wary of the huge energy that big hospitals and major academic medical centers sink in to soliciting donations and how institutions’ policies and practices for fundraising may sully public perceptions that medicine is about money and not science or compassionate care, the New York Times reported.

And while medical philanthropy has become an important and central concern of many hospitals and academic centers, driving big and booming “advancement” operations and wrapping doctors into dollar-raising moves, researchers had not delved until now into patients’ thinking.

vaccination-300x199As the novel coronavirus infections and deaths keep skyrocketing, Americans more and more have been forced into tough risk analyses, and frankly, too often thinking like gamblers. They are, for example, looking a lot at the much-promoted possibility of a Covid-19 vaccine in desperate poker ways — “betting on the come” and playing “river, river …”

Experts are asking just how savvy this health care approach is, putting in high stakes in the hopes the deck is dealt just so, or believing in a cliff’s edge rescue when the last cards on the table are flopped over to reveal a winner? Is it reality check time? And is there is a Plan B?

Vaccine makers around the world are racing to produce a viable response to Covid-19. U.S. infections have skyrocketed past 4 million and the disease is heading toward killing 150,000 Americans. Politicians and public health officials continue to speak optimistically about “Operation Warp Speed” and other campaigns globally to develop a vaccine that experts say will play a vital role in blunting Covid-19’s sickening and lethal spree through humanity.

CMS-300x105Five months after national media sounded alarms about  a novel coronavirus savaging a Washington state long-term care center, federal regulators have begun to roust themselves with more vigor to safeguard hundreds of thousands of elderly, sick, and injured residents of nursing homes and other similar facilities.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services — which is supposed to be the country’s top long-term care watchdog — is barking lots now about its regulatory activity, including promises to send owners and operators billions of dollars more in aid, ordering staffers in areas of great virus risk to undergo weekly Covid-19 tests,  shipping equipment for them to do so, and ramping up inspections.

Owners and operators have offered guarded praise and thanks to the agency. But skeptics say it is yet more of the Trump Administration’s baleful pandemic response — too little and too late.

bookingpicretamays-150x150She was a 46-year-old Army veteran hired by the Louis A. Johnson Medical Center in 2015 with no certification or license to care for patients. Reta Mays worked in the middle of the night, tending to elderly, onetime service personnel, sitting bedside and monitoring their vitals, including their blood sugar levels. Mays went room to room, largely unnoticed for three years on Ward 3A.

But as unexplained deaths mounted on the surgical unit between 2017 and 2018, the bespectacled mother of three — who had served in the Army National Guard and had deployed to Iraq and Kuwait — shifted from being a nurse’s aide to becoming a murder suspect.

She now has confirmed in court that she injected multiple doses of insulin in at least seven patients in the rural Veterans Affairs hospital a few hours away from the nation’s capital, causing the frail victims’ blood glucose levels to plunge in fatal fashion.

cmschiefSeemaVerma-150x150With the calendar pages flying off to the fall presidential elections, why isn’t today an excellent time for President Trump to thank Seema Verma for her service and send her packing as head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in the Department of Health and Human Services?

Two news organizations — Vox and Politico — have posted detailed and disturbing takedowns of CMS and its oversight failures that have helped to worsen the terrible Covid-19 toll in the nation’s nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

CMS, for example, halted nursing home inspections as the pandemic broke out — with disastrous consequences, as the Washington Post explains in a separate report. The agency earlier had also acceded to industry bleating about tough regulation, with Verma and her agency relaxing fines on owners and operators for detected problems and easing training requirements for under paid, over worked, and already ill-trained caregivers. The training standards have gotten so lax that a reporter, in 40 minutes of online effort, became certified temporarily to be a 24/7 caregiving aide.

poundlogo-300x84The Pound Civil Justice Institute (I’m immediate past president) held its annual forum for state court appellate judges on July 11 (virtually, for the first and hopefully last time) on the topic of “Dangerous Secrets: Confronting Confidentiality in Our Public Courts.”

This important topic has long  been close to my heart. I’ve written and talked to plaintiff lawyer groups all over the country about why we need to resist secret settlements of our lawsuits and protective orders that hide hot documents, and other related secrecy matters. Confidentiality is bad for the plaintiffs’ bar, bad for the justice system, bad for our clients, but good for defendants.  Read more by clicking here.

Now I read in the Baltimore Sun that Maryland attorney Steven Snyder has been charged by the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission with trying to extort $50 million from the University of Maryland Medical System to keep quiet problems in the UMMS transplant program that his clients’ experiences threatened to expose.

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