Articles Posted in Doctor-Patient Relationship

voting-150x150Voters from coast to coast made decisions last week not just about which candidates to favor but also about an array of health-related concerns from abortion to health insurance expansion to legalized ways to get high.

Women’s reproductive rights: a big deal

A major motivator in the 2022 midterm elections was the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to abolish the constitutional right to abortion and leave it to the states to decide women’s reproductive health rights.

colonoscopynatinstitute-300x292Colorectal cancer remains  the third most commonly diagnosed form of cancer  in this country. It kills tens of thousands of Americans annually. Although detection of the illness is declining overall, and especially among older adults, specialists have expressed growing concern about its rising rates in younger patients. This has prompted experts to push for more screenings to discover this cancer earlier.

But a new, decade-long European study involving 80,000 participants has given experts in the field at least a pause and may be forcing a more nuanced consideration of colonoscopies — long considered a pricey, inconvenient, intrusive, but “gold standard” test in the battle against colorectal cancer.

The study offered a brusque reminder, especially to regular folks, that testing and early detection of serious illnesses do not automatically result in optimal outcomes that improve or extend lives. As Stat, the science and medical news site reported:

desertsmaternitycaremod-300x209The national disgrace of expectant moms and infants suffering excessive, preventable injuries and death can’t be blamed on mysterious causes. Indeed, a leading advocacy group has put out yet another of its damning research studies, reporting on the disturbing increase in what it terms “maternity care deserts.”

The March of Dimes says it has analyzed data county by county to discover that too many areas of this country have “no hospitals providing obstetric care, no birth centers, no obstetrician/gynecologist, and no certified nurse midwives.”

The nonprofit organization classified an unacceptable number of counties “as having low access to maternity care services,” meaning they have “one or fewer hospitals offering OB service and fewer than 60 OB providers per 10,000 births, and the proportion of women without health insurance was 10 percent or greater.”

healthrecords-150x150Patients have hit a red-letter day in the long, too-difficult struggle to win control of a crucial part of their care — their electronic medical care records. Hospitals and other caregiving institutions no longer can block access to these documents, with federal law now holding them accountable for any runarounds they may try.

As Stat, a medical and science news site,  reported:

“Under federal rules taking effect [Oct. 6,2022], health care organizations must give patients unfettered access to their full health records in digital format. No more long delays. No more fax machines. No more exorbitant charges for printed pages. Just the data, please — now. ‘My great hope is that this will turn the tide on the culture of information blocking,’ said Lisa Bari, CEO of Civitas Networks for Health, a nonprofit that supports medical data sharing. ‘It’s a ground level thing to me: We need to make sure information flows the way patients want it to.’”

anxietykid-150x150Americans live such nerve-wracking, glum, stressful lives that not only young people but also adults up to age 65 would benefit from regular screening during their doctor visits for anxiety and depression.

That’s the draft recommendation, newly issued and up for public comment, by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent, blue-ribbon group that provides influential guidance to the federal government on medical tests and treatments.

As the New York Times and other media outlets have reported, the task force recommendations on anxiety and depression screening for most regular folks in this country were in the works before the coronavirus pandemic hit. The advisory has only taken on greater urgency as the pandemic worsened what already were grave concerns about the nation’s mental health.

catholicmedicalcenter-300x123He cut a dashing figure in ads and billboards for a New England community hospital, which had an administration desperate for a lucrative heart care program in a region  with famous academic medical centers. Dr. Yvon Baribeau, a Canadian-trained heart surgeon, seemed a perfect fit for the Catholic Medical Center, a place where he told colleagues he practically lived because he became one of the institution’s best-paid and busiest specialists.

He earned more than $1 million annually, and just one of his many operations brought in $200,000 to CMS before Baribeau suddenly retired at age 63.

What patients and the public didn’t know about the much-promoted surgeon was his shocking mistreatment of patients in a variety of ways, a notoriously poor medical performance that the Boston Globe has reported made him the holder of “one of the worst surgical malpractice records among all physicians in the United States.”

PrEP-pills-150x150While increasing numbers of Americans tell pollsters that they are forgoing religion and seeing its practice diminish in importance in their lives, those with religious fervor are finding a federal judiciary willing to delve into the complexity of faith and medicine in deeply polarizing ways.

The looming midterm elections, pollsters say, already have been upended by the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of a half-century of settled law in turning back to the states critical decisions about women’s reproductive health and the allowance of abortions, including in cases involving rape and incest.

A federal judge in Texas with demonstrated extreme views has further stoked the increasing fires over religion and health care by ruling unconstitutional the process by which Obamacare decides what kinds of preventive health care must be covered by private health insurance, as the New York Times and other media outlets have reported.

fingersxd-150x150The quality of medical-scientific information is strained — and patients should know this, be warned, and watch for ways to protect themselves from bungled communication, bluster, hype, misinformation, and disinformation.

Although regular folks may have unprecedented access via the internet to resources on medical services and developments, a trio of recent news articles underscore the importance of the familiar warning Caveat emptor (buyer beware):

docmisbehaviormedscape-300x179Patients may be reluctant to think ill of their doctors or to imagine that highly educated, rigorously trained professionals could mistreat or cause them harm. Doctors themselves know this picture is way too rosy for some of their colleagues.

In a survey of 1,500 practicing MDs, all of whom voluntarily responded to an online questionnaire, Medscape — a web-based medical news source — reported this information about doctor misconduct:

“Physicians tell us they’re seeing more frequent incidents of other doctors acting disrespectfully towards patients or coworkers, too casually about patient privacy, angrily or aggressively at work, and even sometimes criminally. Such behavior is still relatively uncommon, and many respondents say they are proud of the high standards of attitudes and behavior shown by fellow physicians.”

dive-180x300Even as Congress lumbers into creating the next crisis for millions of Americans and whether they can access and afford health insurance, the giant, built-in flaws in the current coverage system keep sending far too many patients and their loved ones into a financial morass with which politicians and policymakers refuse to reckon.

Successive Democratic and Republican administrations have clashed over health insurance, notably the coverage extended to poor, working poor, and middle-class folks under Obamacare. But the people in charge have erred, big time, by blindly accepting a health care fallacy that plagues the U.S. system, according to Aaron E. Carroll,  the chief health officer for and a distinguished professor of pediatrics at Indiana University. He said this in a New York Times Opinion article:

“The Affordable Care Act was supposed to improve access to health insurance, and it did. It reduced the number of Americans who were uninsured through the Medicaid expansion and the creation of the health insurance marketplaces. Unfortunately, it has not done enough to protect people from rising out-of-pocket expenses in the form of deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance. Out-of-pocket expenses exist for a reason; people are less likely to spend their own money than an insurance company’s money, and these expenses are supposed to make patients stop and think before they get needless care. But this moral-hazard argument assumes that patients are rational consumers, and it assumes that cost-sharing in the form of deductibles and co-pays makes them better shoppers. Research shows this is not the case. Instead, extra costs result in patients not seeking any care, even if they need it.

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