Articles Posted in Ethics

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,

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.

cellphonevideonathandumlao-200x300In the running battle between authorities and individuals over excessive use of force, the eyes suddenly now have it: The advance of smart phone technology to ubiquity and with quality video recording is giving claimants powerful new evidence. It is not pretty for law enforcement excesses — and even potentially extra-legal escapades.

Not one, not two, but three news organizations — the Washington Post, the New York Times, and ProPublica — report that they have scoured nationwide to find abundant cell phone videos of official responses to protests over the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd and other African Americans in custody. Here is a sampling of their disturbing articles:

The Washington Post

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.

faucipic-150x150To paraphrase the White House press secretary, science denialism is not getting in the way of the rampaging Covid-19 pandemic.

Eighteen states have hit “red zone” status where infections, hospitalizations, and deaths have soared to such dire levels (more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people per week) that a study held in private by the Trump Administration recommends officials impose tough public health measures.

The country now has, at least twice, shattered daily coronavirus case counts, reporting 70,000 new Covid-19 diagnoses. The country, as the New York Times reported, also has “set a record with 75,600 new cases [in one day], the 11th time in the past month that the daily record had been broken.”

covidSEvetcenter-300x200To paraphrase the late, great writer and activist Maya Angelou, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are showing the public in the middle of this pandemic just truly what they are.

It is hard to believe, still, the shabby way they are treating the aged, sick, and injured. Just consider this sampling of recent news reports:

“Care” facilities — including centers dealing with veterans — have been too willing to subject residents to risky medical experimentation to fight the novel coronavirus, including what appear to be  inappropriate treatments with a much-promoted anti-malarial drug. This echoes a situation involving nursing home residents in Galveston, Texas,  and their facility’s dosing them with hydroxychlorquine without their loved ones’ knowledge and iffy circumstances about their individual capacity to consent to receiving the drug. As the Washington Post reported of a Philadelphia area veterans’ facility (shown in federal photo above):

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