Articles Posted in End of Life

aduhelm-300x250Taxpayers and patients are suffering the rising negative consequences of the federal Food and Drug Administration’s dubious decision to overrule its own independent expert advisors and to approve on scant evidence Aduhelm. It is a prescription drug targeting Alzheimer’s disease, and concerns are rising about the medication’s safety and costs, not to mention whether it really works.

FDA advisors had argued against the drug, cautioning  that it carries significant potential side effects including swelling and bleeding in the brain. Those taking Aduhelm have been warned to undergo frequent, regular, and pricey brain scans as safeguards.

Still, experts have been startled by a much-discussed death of a 75-year-old Canadian woman, who was taking the drug as part of a clinical trial. She suffered seizures, was hospitalized, had brain scans, and was diagnosed with brain swelling shortly before she died.

bowserbooster-300x225The coronavirus pandemic continues to kill an average of 1,200 Americans each day and the disease infects more than 76,000 people daily — unwavering numbers that have led public health officials — wary of what the hectic holidays will bring — to double down on their campaign for vaccinations against the virus.

This is especially true for kids, and with boosters, perhaps now for almost all.

The drug maker Pfizer, which already had presented federal regulators with data on how its vaccine wanes in effectiveness over time, has asked for approval to give all patients who have completed its two-shot regimen a third dose for increased protection.

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.

coviddeathsnytoct22021-300x174It’s one thing when toddlers in their terrible twos react to common sense directions for their own good, throwing themselves to the floor, declaring, “I won’t, I won’t — and you can’t make me …” When grownups behave in, basically, the same way, the results can be catastrophic.

The estimated death toll of the coronavirus pandemic in this country — a figure likely to be far understated — has hit 700,000.

That’s like wiping out the equivalent or more of the population of cities like Boston, Nashville, or Las Vegas.

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

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.

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.”

covidhospitalizations08212021nyt-300x171The coronavirus keeps ripping through the country with a fourth, Delta-variant fueled surge that also is producing confounding, confused behaviors that only add to the pandemic’s considerable gloom.

The pandemic, which already has killed at least 635,000 Americans and infected just under 40 million of us, is slamming hospitals. More than 100,000 coronavirus patients, including rising numbers of children and younger patients, are jamming intensive care and other units in numbers not seen since the pandemic’s start (see New York Times graphic). This is slashing hospitals’ capacity to treat non-coronavirus patients, even many in serious shape. And hard-hit southern facilities braced for the double-whammy of a hurricane making landfall.

Disease deaths continue their scary spike, now averaging 1,000 a day. Florida is taking a bludgeoning from the disease, crashing records for infections, hospitalizations, and fatalities.

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.

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