Articles Posted in Medical Error

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.

algorithmwoes2-300x200High-tech wizards may be pushing medicine into a brave new world where important medical decisions rely on supposedly data-driven findings that also may be rooted in an old malignancy: discrimination against black patients.

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine warns that race-based tools and formulas, algorithms aimed to assist doctors in speeding up their diagnosis and treatment in such areas as heart disease, cancer, and kidney and maternity care, improperly steer blacks away from therapies commonly given to whites without sound reasons, the New York Times reported:

“The tools are often digital calculators on web sites of medical organizations or — in the case of assessing kidney function — actually built into the tools commercial labs use to calculate normal values of blood tests. They assess risk and potential outcomes based on formulas derived from population studies and modeling that looked for variables associated with different outcomes. ‘These tests are woven into the fabric of medicine,’ said Dr. David Jones, the paper’s senior author, a Harvard historian who also teaches ethics to medical students. ‘Despite mounting evidence that race is not a reliable proxy for genetic difference, the belief that it is has become embedded, sometimes insidiously, within medical practice,’ he wrote.”

coronaflawnursinghome-300x237Hundreds of thousands of institutionalized Americans have been infected with the novel coronavirus. Tens of thousands of them are dead. Yet a lethal bungling persists in the response to Covid-19’s savaging of residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Why?

Their owners and operators agree with medical scientists that significantly more testing is required, urgently, so the sick can be diagnosed, treated, and isolated.

But insurers and owners are bickering over who should pay for Covid-19 tests, notably for institutions’ staffers — many of whom are themselves getting sick and dying. As the New York Times reported:

asclepliusrodof-70x300As the Covid-19 pandemic has put huge stresses on medical systems around the globe, the strains have taken their toll:  The credibility and authority — of federal agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and elite professional journals like the Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine — have taken big hits in recent weeks.

In times of huge uncertainty and high anxiety, the public should be able to turn to these respected pillars of the health care establishment for steady, trustworthy, and independent information and execution of crucial policies that benefit the public.

The agencies are not just a pile of letters. Their work, based in rigorous medical science and the best available evidence, is supposed to reject damaging and dangerous rumor, hunch, myth, mis- and dis-information. They help to set standards for care, especially in crises, and they are charged with safeguarding us from disease, dangerous drugs and vaccines, and in protecting the old, sick, and injured in institutional care.

cmsnursinghomecases-300x146Federal regulators have issued, at long last, the data they have collected on the novel coronavirus’ effect on nursing homes, giving an incomplete but still  devastating look at how in just a few months some of the nation’s most vulnerable people have been savaged by Covid-19.

With 12% of the nation’s nursing 15,000 homes yet to report, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has tallied “25,923 resident deaths tied to Covid-19 … and 449 deaths among the facilities’ staff. The [U.S.] survey also found about 95,000 infection cases at nursing homes across 49 states, about a third of them among staff members,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

The newspaper finds that figure far too low, noting:

covidnhnoplan-276x300With hurricanes, wildfires and other calamities, authorities pound home to the public the importance of preparedness. So why should preparing for an infection outbreak be any different? Yet more disclosures have raised disturbing questions about the dearth of crucial emergency planning by nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, their owners and operators, and federal and state regulators.

Taxpayers likely will foot hefty bills — a new estimate says it may be $15 billion  —in the days ahead for facilities’ active resistance to oversight and forward thinking. These lapses played a part in the terrible toll in failing to safeguard the old, sick, and injured, and first responders and health care workers, too, reported ProPublica, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative site.

It cites data from AARP about the nationwide deaths in long-term care centers inflicted by the novel coronavirus:

chartGAOnursinghomeinfection-300x300Is the coronavirus’s staggering toll on patients in nursing homes something to be written off as a force of nature for which humans bear little fault? Or are there lessons to be learned about shortcomings that could help preserve lives the next time?

News media reports keep unearthing institutional misery and a blindness to the suffering of the aged, chronically ill, and seriously injured. Bad luck, shrug facility owners and operators, seemingly joined in by regulators and some politicians. Couldn’t be helped. Did the best we could.

In fact, investigations — by journalists and watchdogs — have shown the toll taken by nursing homes’ sloppy disregard for infection control, press for profits, and unacceptable paralysis as situations headed south.

howardnewhospital-300x169Even as the Covid-19 pandemic shows the terrible toll inflicted on African Americans in the District of Columbia by health care disparities, city officials have announced they are advancing with a pricey plan to plug a giant hole in area medical services by helping to fund not one but two new hospitals that will serve impoverished communities of color.

The facilities will be in Wards 1 and 8 and will replace the Howard University Hospital and the United Medical Center (UMC) in Southeast D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser has proposed.

The City Council in the days ahead will consider her latest $700 million or so plan to try to improve medical services for some of the poorest residents in the city by working with Howard, its medical school — one of the main training institutions for black doctors — George Washington University Hospital and two big health systems, Adventist and Universal Health Systems.

sagepoint-300x176With nursing home operators bleating up a storm of weak defenses and denials, soaring Covid-19 infections and deaths have laid siege to far too many long-term care facilities in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. The consequences have been dire.

In Maryland, the Baltimore Sun reported:

“Nearly three-fifths of Marylanders killed by the coronavirus are residents of long-term care facilities, according to [a recent state] update of nursing home data …The Maryland Department of Health reported that 793 of the state’s 1,338 victims, almost 60%, were residents of nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities and similar long-term care facilities. An additional 11 deaths were staff members of those facilities, with more than one of every five of Maryland’s confirmed infections being a resident or staff member of congregate living facilities.”

mitch-150x150It’s a little hard to fathom but actions speak louder than words: For political partisans, what seems to be scarier than a novel coronavirus that has infected more than 1 million Americans and claimed more lives in a few weeks than years of U.S. involvement in Vietnam?

Trial lawyers. Like me. Really?

Politico, the news web site, reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy have grown adamant that “any” legislation Congress considers in the days ahead involving Covid-19 must shield an array of business interests from liability from “frivolous” lawsuits. Politico quoted him, thusly:

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