covidnhomedatahhsig-300x175The coronavirus pandemic slammed nursing homes and other long-term care facilities hard in two heart-breaking waves eight months apart. Covid-19 caused the institutions’ fatalities to spike by almost a third over the year before, leaving roughly 170,000 of the elderly, injured, and ill dead, as well as 4 in 10 Medicare-covered residents infected.

Those are some of the grim statistical views of what occurred in nursing homes, notably to residents covered under the federal Medicare program, according to the Office of the Inspector General in the federal Health and Human Services agency (the HHS IG).

The top health watchdog examined “excess deaths” that occurred in 2020 during the pandemic among Medicare beneficiaries, noting that federal officials had exempted nursing homes from reporting Covid-19 cases and deaths in the early part of the year and such infections and fatalities often were not noted in official records, such as death certificates. As the Associated Press reported:

colorectalcancerhotspotmap-300x230While technological advances may help provide crucial warnings to young men, especially those who are black, about their heightened risk of early-onset colorectal cancer, the rise of other high-tech diagnostic aids may only worsen built-in, harmful racial biases in an array of medical practices.

Researchers at the University of Chicago, to their credit, have sought the assistance of health providers across the country to inventory and assess increasingly common medical software and the algorithms on which they rely to ensure whiz-bang decision-making tools don’t discriminate against patients of color.

The early results are distressing, showing how well-intentioned experts inject prejudices into programs that can lead to racially unfair choices about patient care. Ziad Obermeyer, an emergency medicine physician and co-author of the Chicago research, told Stat, the science and medical news site, this about algorithms used in many diagnostic tools:

covidvaxing62521chart-300x144The coronavirus—  little more than submicroscopic flecks of genetic material encased in protein and  barely a life form — is proving still to be a relentless, lethal bane of humanity.

While experts say the coronavirus vaccines may have highly rare side effects affecting the hearts of young recipients (who also respond well to quick treatment), the shots have helped to quell the pandemic, slashing infections, hospitalizations, and deaths in recent days.

That is occurring among the vaccinated, of course. For the unvaccinated, however, the global health menace is far from over, especially because the nasty coronavirus has mutated and its “delta” variant, first detected in India, is proving nastier still.

axioshospitaldebtsuitchart-300x261While medical debt menaces far too many patients, especially those who already struggle because they are poor, sick, and injured, big hospitals are too willing to exploit the legal system with aggressive collection efforts that generate little revenue but lots of grief for patients.

Those are some of the takeaways from a raft of articles and deeper digs into medical debt from the likes of the news site Axios (see here, here, here, and here), the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative site ProPublica, and the news columns of the Wall Street Journal.

Axios and ProPublica have built their reports around commendable work by researchers at Johns Hopkins medical school, who followed up their important 2019 published study on Virginia hospitals suing their patients.

devicemakerdocpay-300x225Billions of dollars have flown from medical device makers to specialists performing back, spine, knee, and hip surgeries, with unsavory cash and practices also accompanying that fiscal tide.

Industry officials and doctors defend the sizable and growing payment program, saying it results in better medical hardware that ultimately benefits patients, the independent, nonpartisan Kaiser Health News service reported. Data show the bulk of payments from medical-device makers to doctors were for royalties and licensing of products and consulting on them.

But investigative reporters Fred Schulte and Elizabeth Lucas have found that the enriching bonanza concerns regulators, ethicists, and patient advocates:

cdcjune19statevaxmap-157x300The Biden Administration may fall short of its goal of getting 70% of adults in the nation vaccinated against the coronavirus by July 4th, a campaign for which officials are pushing hard still in hopes of quelling the pandemic that has killed more than 600,000 people in this country.

All signs continue to point to this summer as a major turning point in months of the virus’ toll. New cases, hospitalizations, and deaths across the country have fallen to lows not seen since the earliest days of the pandemic.

The vaccination effort that the administration has hammered on since the beginning of the year has gotten at least one dose in the arms of 176 million Americans as of June 18: 65.1% of adults and 82% of those 65 and older have gotten their shots.

tbbacteria-300x200A rare outbreak of tuberculosis among dozens of surgical patients — some of them at hospitals in northern Virginia — is under investigation by federal health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The CDC  suspects the infections may be tied to a malleable bone putty used in spinal and other orthopedic procedures.

The substance includes human cells harvested from cadavers, according to Aziyo Biologics Inc., a regenerative medicine company that has voluntarily recalled 154 containers of its FiberCel product.

Patrick Malone & Associates represents patients infected with tuberculosis apparently from this FiberCel bone putty product. Our firm is actively investigating what happened to determine the legal liability of everyone involved and to see where the  breakdowns occurred in the checks and balances intended to keep medical products safe.

scotusbldg-300x193It’s three strikes now from the U.S. Supreme Court: Have Republicans finally gotten themselves thrown out of their game to strip tens of millions of Americans of their health insurance?

The conservative-packed high court, in a 7-2 vote, rejected the latest and third GOP attempt to overturn the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans in Congress also have failed to kill in more than five dozen votes over more than a decade.

The case decided by the justices — supported by the Trump Administration and brought by attorneys general in Republican-controlled states like Texas and opposed by their counterparts in Democratic-controlled states — proved to be the legal equivalent of a belly flop.

usawaterpolo-150x150It may be time to rewrite that country western tune and advise mommas maybe to not let their babies grow up to be athletes,  because of the rising chance that they may be sexually mistreated at high amateur levels, even with the complicity of legendary coaches now stained by ugly legacies of abuse.

The disturbing and increasing problems affecting young female and male athletes were only fueled further by a $14 million settlement reached by women in California over five years’ of wrongdoing in a program approved by the sport’s governing body USA Water Polo.

boschembechler-150x150The nightmarish accusations involving an abusive health service doctor and men in the athletic programs at the University of Michigan, meantime, took a grimmer turn with further tawdry revelations about football coach Bo Schembechler by his adopted son and his onetime players.

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.

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