Articles Posted in Hospitals

UM-Cap-Region-Medical-Center-300x225Poorer communities of color in the region around the nation’s capital are inching toward getting more equitable hospital care — with new facilities slowly coming online to replace decrepit and risky institutions.

Politicians and public leaders in Maryland celebrated a decade-long fight to see the opening in Largo of a new hospital,  a “620,000-square-foot, glass-paneled facility [that] will replace the 75-year-old Prince George’s Hospital Center in Cheverly,” the Washington Post reported.

The new University of Maryland Capital Region Medical Center, near the Largo Town Center Metro station, had been stalled for years in political and regulatory battles over its size and funding. It will be part of the University of Maryland Medical System’s network of 13 hospitals, and officials hope it will anchor major development in Largo.

cnnhoustonvaxprotest-300x169In the crunch to quell the coronavirus pandemic and to do so by getting as many people as possible their protective shots, public health officials consistently have stressed a big V in the national vaccination campaign: Voluntary.

But as hundreds of millions of people around the globe have willingly gotten them and the vaccines have shown to be overwhelmingly safe and effective, the unvaccinated may get leaned on with more than pleas, nudges, and incentives.

They may notice this quiet push in the workplace, especially if they hold health-related jobs, and at schools. The result may be to resurface the fiery and counter-factual anti-vaccination extremism in the country.

fatcats-300x245While too many of us get overdosed with clownish depictions — from doctors, hospitals, insurers, and corporations, especially Big Pharma firms — of how the civil justice system operates, it’s always worth a reminder of the tremendous fortitude ordinary folks show in pursuing malpractice and other personal injury or liability claims.

Yes, the cases, on rare occasions, can result in sizable favorable rulings for plaintiffs, as the public might be reminded by the U.S. Supreme Court’s new refusal to overturn a $2.1 billion judgment against Johnson & Johnson.

Twenty women sued J&J, asserting its iconic baby powder played a key role in their suffering ovarian cancers.

brooks-lasureandbecerra-300x240Chiquita Brooks-LaSure has won U.S. Senate confirmation and will become the first black woman to lead the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services or CMS.

The longtime government official, who was an adviser to President Obama and has served in multiple other top federal roles (shown right, with her boss, Health and Human Services head Xavier Becerra), jumps into a role with gigantic challenges. These include:

  • The administration by her agency of federal health insurance programs, including for children and those covered under the Affordable Care Act. The Biden Administration and Democrats, as part of coronavirus pandemic rescue efforts, bolstered Obamacare and opened enrollment in it, with subsidies, to millions of Americans slammed by the coronavirus pandemic. But those efforts, which have boosted ACA enrollment, also will need renewed legislative support — which may occur right as the midterm elections are under way. CMS also may be a key part of some Democrats’ plans to improve health care coverage in this country by lowering the qualifying age for Medicare for 60-something Americans who often must pay staggering premiums and who lose jobs and employer-related coverage at scary rates. This is an idea that Republicans reject.

chslogo-300x55Big hospitals and health systems  seem to have a knack for kicking patients when they’re already down, as recent news stories suggest, reporting on how they gouge the sick and injured in ways small  (parking fees that add up) and big (draconian medical-debt collection campaigns).

How do the suits that run hospitals come up with these cruel assaults on the folks they claim are their institutions’ No. 1 concern?

To its credit, CNN dug into the gnarly legal approach taken by Community Health Systems, Inc., one of America’s largest hospital chains, toward its medical debtors during the worst of the already crushing coronavirus pandemic.

cdccoronaviruscasesmay222021-300x132These are exhilarating times for optimists about the coronavirus pandemic, what with cases finally dropping to lows not seen in months, hospitalizations in major decline, and deaths falling sharply. Public health measures targeted to protect people from infection are lifting, pronto, and the nation is opening apace.

Normality, however, isn’t exactly rushing in. And the toll of the pandemic — which rages across the globe — is still unfolding, as the Wall Street Journal reported:

“Deaths from the Covid-19 pandemic are causing an extraordinary jolt in the U.S., inflating the nation’s death rate to the highest level seen in nearly two decades. Whether the U.S. will quickly snap back to pre-pandemic levels following a mass-vaccination effort remains to be seen. Daily Covid-19 deaths are on their way back down, but the disease is unlikely to disappear, and health experts say there could also be long-running effects from issues like missed cancer screenings, a surging rate of drug overdoses and health inequities exacerbated by the pandemic … The U.S.’s age-adjusted mortality rate shot up by about 16% in 2020 from the year before, according to provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, marking the highest point since 2003. This also broke a 90-year streak in which the yearly death rate was always lower than it was 10 years earlier.”

surgerylown-300x196When it comes to hospitals performing low-value tests or procedures and putting older patients at increased risk, Dixie may have little to whistle about.

The Lown Institute, a respected and nonpartisan think tank that says it “believes a radically better American health system is possible,” has published a new hospital index that puts dozens of southern institutions in a dubious light.

That’s because institute researchers scrutinized federal Medicare records on more than 1.3 million fee-for-services provided to older patents at more than 3,300 hospitals nationwide. They reported in findings published in an online part of the Journal of the American Medical Association that “hospitals in the South, for-profit hospitals, and nonteaching hospitals were associated with the highest rates of overuse” of health care services.

comparesite-300x126Hospitals in the Washington, D.C., area got generally lackluster ratings for quality and safety of health care in the latest reviews by federal and independent groups. Two well-known D.C. hospitals got one star, the lowest ranking, in a federal survey, while a nonprofit rater gave another D.C. hospital a flunking grade of F.

The reviewers, due to the coronavirus, suspended their 2020 ratings, so the new measurements were the first in many months and they showed, to a degree, how institutions held up during the pandemic. The rankings also underscored the urgency of local officials’ announced plans to revamp hospital care, including helping to fund two new facilities.

The stars awarded by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reflected criteria revised to deal with criticisms from hospitals themselves and others. The CMS rankings, as described by the industry publication Becker’s Hospital Review, were launched in 2016 and “assigns stars based on 48 measures in the following five categories: mortality, safety of care, readmission, patient experience, and timely and effective care. This differs from CMS’ previous method, which included 65 measures across seven groups.”

uvahealth-300x200The University of Virginia health system has decided to end decades of draconian bill collection, giving a reprieve to tens of thousands of patients and their families who faced harsh legal actions to recover crushing medical debt.

The taxpayer-supported institution proclaimed itself “proud” that it will stop aggressively suing its own employees, university students, and hard-working and poor Virginians after they experienced illness and injury serious enough to require hospitalization.

The university jammed the state courts with these actions, as well as liens against properties — including those of family members and not just patients themselves. The process to clear the debt-collection backlog may take a year or more. The health system “will release all liens and judgments filed against all households making less than 400% of the federal poverty level, or about $106,000 for a family of four,” the Washington Post reported.

disabledkidsfla-300x233When doctors, hospitals, and insurers bellyache about malpractice claims with little evidence on their prevalence or outcomes, patients and politicians should push back: And they can cite the nightmares people in grievous circumstance have suffered when their constitutional right to seek justice in civil lawsuits gets stripped away.

The Miami Herald and ProPublica, the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative website, have conducted a joint, deep dive into Florida’s decades-old legislative experiment, purportedly to assist families struggling with infants’ birth-related and catastrophic disabilities. The state’s neurological injury compensation initiative also was promoted as a way to stem a problem seen mostly in anecdote and not evidence — obstetricians and other specialists supposedly fleeing Florida, reputedly due to spiking malpractice insurance costs.

The media investigators, in a multipart series , have found that eliminating medical malpractice lawsuits for this slice of patients has benefited not the patients but instead, doctors, hospitals, and insurers.

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