Articles Posted in Orthopedics & Sports Medicine

medscrewsuw-171x300Patients, regulators, hospitals, and doctors themselves need to open their eyes and ask tougher questions about the eyebrow-raising trend occurring among a specialized set of “sawboneses” — orthopedists and neurosurgeons.

Hundreds of them are profiting handsomely, not on their  medical skills  but rather their investments in and relationships with surgical hardware. The specialists also are increasingly reliant, in dubious fashion, on medical device salespeople.

Fred Schulte, an investigative reporter with the independent, nonpartisan Kaiser Health News service, has written a pair of detailed news articles raising yet more questions about medical devices, specifically the $3 billion that floods a peculiar pipeline between those who operate on patients’ backs, knees, hips, and shoulders and the companies that provide the surgical hardware for the procedures.

davincirobot-300x176Hospitals finally are saying bull feathers to the leading maker of surgical robots that cost institutions millions of dollars annually to buy and maintain. New lawsuits against Intuitive Surgical dispute the company’s business practices, including the exclusivity it demands for its costly services and products.

But will the civil claims also crack open the door to bigger questions about daVinci robots and other such medical devices and whether they benefit patients or just add backbreaking costs to their hospital bills?

Intuitive has declined to comment on the suits filed against it in federal courts in California by the Franciscan and Kaleida health systems. The company has denied one aspect of the media reports about the suits — that it shut down its robots remotely in the middle of a patient’s operation, forcing a surgeon and his team to improvise and finish the procedure (without problems) using standard techniques.

cookmizzoudmv-150x150It’s long been routine, if often controversial, for operating rooms to welcome medical device sales people and surgical trainees to watch the work of surgeons and nurses. But now the University of Missouri health system may have reset the bar with its $16.2 million settlement with almost two dozen patients over questionable knee surgeries.

The contested procedures were performed in part by a veterinarian.

That vet, James Cook, is listed on the university’s web site as the William & Kathryn Allen Distinguished Chair in Orthopaedic Surgery. The explanatory text online and a posted video has him describing how his chief role at the school focuses on research in people and animals in joint disorders. He says he is experimenting with techniques, notably in dogs, in which live materials can be used to replace problem joints.

crackdownushealthscams-300x200With the Covid-19 pandemic ensuring that even more dollars are flooding into health care than ever, nefarious parties — including doctors, nurses, and other licensed professionals — have targeted ordinary Americans and the federal government in big-time scams. U.S. prosecutors have punched back with a nationwide fraud crackdown.

They announced that they have charged 345 individuals for “submitting more than $6 billion in false and fraudulent claims to federal health care programs and private insurers, including more than $4.5 billion connected to telemedicine, more than $845 million connected to substance abuse treatment facilities, or ‘sober homes,’ and more than $806 million connected to other health care fraud and illegal opioid distribution schemes across the country.”

The biggest part of the federal busts targeted bunko crimes in telemedicine, the medical care option that burgeoned in popularity as patients fearful of infection with the novel coronavirus sought distanced treatment.

escooterzerali-300x201As visitors and workers in the Washington, D.C., area slowly return from the Covid-19 home-stay restrictions, they may be hit with a worry about a different kind of distancing: Keeping themselves safe on byways more heavily trafficked by bicycles and scooters, notably rental models whose mechanical soundness is under increasing question.

It is difficult to predict precisely how a new normal will settle over what had become for many a difficult and sometimes distressing trip to and from the office, or for throngs of tourists, visits to sites scattered across the metropolitan area.

But transportation experts know that health precautions may force a lightening of the load on public transit, whether trains, buses, or the subway. More people may crush into the District of Columbia in cars, worsening the commuting nightmares. That also may push workers and travelers into heavier reliance on bikes and scooters — a practice that District officials had sought to foster before the coronavirus struck. They had started to thin the number of startups renting e-scooters with apps and credit cards, promising to supervise the enterprises’ activities more closely and to crackdown on the businesses’ related hazards.

dcscooter-300x150In the cooler, rainier autumnal weather, transportation officials may be planting the seeds of significant change for the health, safety, and way that residents and visitors get around Washington, D.C. They may allow a smaller number of private companies to double the number of scooters zipping around the nation’s capital by the new year. By the spring, the devices may quadruple in number.

This could mean the estimated 5,000 or more scooters in the district now would increase to 10,000 by January and to 20,000 by June.

District officials say they’re responding to a spike in demand from the public for convenient ways to get around and to do so with needing to use multiple clumsy and confusing smart phone apps.

ctscan-300x214As Walmart tries to work with its 1 million-plus U.S. employees in controlling health care costs, the retailing giant has not only struck a blow for quality medical treatment, it also has raised key questions about a costly and booming specialization in health care: medical imaging.

Walmart decided to shake up this diagnostic field by telling its employees to pay more themselves or to first seek CT scans and MRIs at one of 800 imaging centers that a company-retained health care consulting firm has identified as providing high-quality care. Covera Health, a New York City-based health analytics company, “uses data to help spot facilities likely to provide accurate imaging for a wide variety of conditions, from cancer to torn knee ligaments,” Kaiser Health News Service reported.

KHN reporter Phil Galewitz said Walmart targeted improved imaging based on the giant retailers’ experiences already in funneling workers to select facilities its research has found to offer efficient, high-quality care in specific areas, such as organ transplantation, back and knee surgeries, and heart and cancer treatment.

Bracescamarrest-238x300Federal authorities have busted up what they say is a $1.2 billion Medicare fraud that should give taxpayers and patients pause about long-distance medical consultations and the huge sums of cash washing around the medical device industry.

Two dozen people, some of them doctors, have been charged in a complex ploy to gull seniors into asking about back, shoulder, wrist, and knee braces that were promoted as free on TV and radio ads nationwide. When the older adults called to inquire about the devices, they were transferred to telemarketing centers in the Philippines and Latin America.

In the far-away boiler rooms, trained operators extracted important personal information from callers, then connected them for “telemedicine” consultations with cooperating doctors. The MDs asked cursory questions before then prescribing the devices, whether needed or not. The orders were filled by select companies, which then would send out the braces and charge them to Medicare.

footballinsurance-300x218Parents and young athletes may have wrestled with the decision whether to play contact sports, as research shows the injuries that players can suffer from blows to the head. But lesser known parties to the games may be the undoing of  professional and organized soccer, hockey, and football: Insurance companies.

The firms, which provide necessary and invaluable protections to players and organizations by spreading the financial risks of harms, have fled professional and amateur sports, declining to offer them coverages, even at high costs, Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada of ESPN’s Outside the Lines program reported.

Insurers are balking not only at providing liability policies but also worker compensation for pros, ESPN says. The dearth of coverage has hit hard the NFL, collegiate and Pop Warner programs, as well as football helmet makers. They’re forced to hunt far and wide for the few firms willing to assume sports risks — and they pay high and accordingly, if they can get policies.

knees-300x81With a graying nation projected to see millions of patients undergoing knee replacements each year at an annual cost to taxpayers running in the billions of dollars, it may be past time to ask if surgeons and hospitals promote and perform these popular procedures to excess.

Liz Szabo, in a story written for the nonprofit, nonpartisan Kaiser Health News Service (KHN) and published in the Washington Post, reported that knee surgeries have their “risks and limitations,” and “doctors are increasingly concerned that the procedure is overused and that its benefits have been oversold.”

As she wrote:

Patrick Malone & Associates, P.C. listed in Best Lawyers Rated by Super Lawyers Patrick A. Malone
Washingtonian Top Lawyer 2011
Avvo Rating 10.0 Superb Top Attorney Best Lawyers Firm
Contact Information