Doctor Admits 'Greed Subverts Healthcare'

April 8, 2007,

It is likely known by all doctors, but very few will admit: Greed subverts healthcare.The following is an article in the Portsmouth Herald Local News about a brave doctor who is telling it like it is.

"Dr. Terry Bennett, the controversial and opinionated Rochester physician who has traveled the world practicing medicine -- including a stint as physician to the Saudi royal family -- does not have high hopes that a fix can be found for the country's broken health care system.
The reason, he contends, is that the amount of money involved in the system brings out one of the more negative human attributes -- greed.

"Unless and until these extraordinary costs unique to the United States are squashed into manageability, there is too much greed and too little control of greed being exercised," said Bennett, a Harvard Medical School graduate, who operates a practice that bases its fees on the ability of his patients to pay. "It does not matter what politician suggests what plan --- Republican or Democratic, that plan will fail."

There are four primary reasons for Bennett's pessimism: the educational debt carried by new doctors; the practice of hospitals "owning" the physicians who are affiliated with them; extraordinarily high prescription drug costs; and the advent of health management organizations, which have assumed a middleman position between patients, health care providers, pharmaceutical companies and hospitals."

Campaigning For Medical Error Disclosure

April 6, 2007,

Believe it or not, some state laws forbid the disclosure of medical errors.Below is an article from a Colorado woman seeking disclosure of medical mistakes:

"GOLDEN - The loss of her only son still a sharp wound, Patty Skolnik is determined to make Colorado the 16th state to publicize malpractice judgments against doctors.
Skolnik, of Centennial, appeared at a news conference Tuesday where Health Grades announced it has gone online with the first national data base with information on malpractice settlements against doctors. Information on malpractice judgments, settlements and arbitration awards against doctors from 15 states is available at .

Health Grades, which bills itself as the nation's largest independent health-care rating company, can only make available the information if the states don't shield it, said Sara Loughran, executive vice president."

Read the full article in the Rocky Mountain News.

Illinois Jury Awards $144 Million in HMO Fraud Case

April 4, 2007,

"A onetime Illinois HMO was hammered with a $334 million judgment Tuesday, the largest of its kind ever in northern Illinois and an amount almost equal to the company's profits since it was founded.
U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber added a $190 million penalty on top of an October $144 million jury verdict against Amerigroup Illinois and Amerigroup Corp. for purposely not insuring "unhealthies" and women in late-term pregnancies."

Read the full article in the Chicago Sun-Times.

News Media Vessel for Hospital Propaganda

April 2, 2007,

This is an interesting article written in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, addressing the problem with hospitals getting in bed with the news media:

"Local television stations are now making deals with hospitals to air their propaganda disguised as news. Frankly, I don't understand this new development, as based on over 30 years of closely observing the local television scene, local stations have often run the propaganda of hospitals disguised as news. Here's how that long-standing scenario works: The local medical reporter gets cozy with the hospitals who feed the station what the hospital would like to think are the latest medical advances or other medical news of interest. The hospital comes up with the happy patients, the doctors who treated them and the hospital backdrop for shooting the story. The reporter puts the hospital's sales pitch on the air, and everyone is happy. The reporter gets a flow of medical stories that are easy to shoot and produce and the hospital gets free advertising."

New Study Confirms Insurance 'Crisis' is Unrelated to Malpractice Claims

March 30, 2007,

"Americans for Insurance Reform (AIR) announced today the release of Stable Losses/Unstable Rates 2007, a new study that examines fresh insurance industry data to determine what caused the most recent medical malpractice insurance crisis for doctors.The study by AIR, a coalition of over 100 consumer and public interest groups representing more than 50 million people, finds that the insurance crisis that hit doctors between 2001 and 2004 was not caused by claims, payouts or legal system excesses as the insurance industry claimed."

Continue reading "New Study Confirms Insurance 'Crisis' is Unrelated to Malpractice Claims" »

Illinois AG Warns of Children's Jewelry Recall

March 28, 2007,

"Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan issued an alert on March 21st about a recall of children's necklaces that contain high levels of lead that may be toxic if ingested by young children and can cause adverse health effects. The recall was first by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in cooperation with Claire's Boutiques Inc.
The recalled children's necklaces have metal pendants shaped as monkeys, dolphins, and frogs holding colored marbles; a fleur de lis painted in various colors; a silver and black fairy; silver-colored letters "BFF" with rhinestones; and tiny handcuffs painted in various colors. The pendants hang from silver-colored chains. "Claire's" or "Claire's best friends forever" is printed on the packaging.

Approximately 58,000 of these necklaces were sold at Claire's retail stores nationwide from December 2005 through December 2006 for between $5 and $11."

Read the full article in the Insurance Journal.

Class Action Alleges Baby Bottles Pose Dangerous Health Risks

March 26, 2007,

The five leading manufacturers of plastic baby bottles and the retailers who sell the bottles were hit with a class action lawsuit March 12 based on allegations that a chemical used as part of the manufacturing process poses dangerous health risks to infant children.The complaint alleges that unsafe levels of a chemical called Bisphenol-A, or BPA, are found in the plastic products of baby bottles, 'sippy' cups, and other plastic children's items.The effects of BPA are most pronounced on an unborn fetus.The complaint provides more information about this interesting case.

Insurance Industry Posts Record Profits

March 24, 2007,

Looks like delay, deny, defend is really working for the insurance industry.

"(AP) - State Farm Insurance, the nation's largest insurer, said Thursday that profits climbed 65% in 2006 as claims dipped amid a relatively tranquil year for hurricanes and other natural disasters.
The Bloomington-based insurer posted earnings of $5.3 billion, up from $3.2 billion the year before when payouts soared after a flurry of hurricanes including Katrina, the costliest disaster in U.S. history.

State Farm said catastrophe losses dipped by $4.1 billion from 2005, when the company paid out a record $6.3 billion for claims and expenses in the aftermath of Katrina, Rita and other tropical storms."

Read the full article in Crain's Chicago Business.

Problems WIth ADHD Drugs Continue

March 22, 2007,

Last month the FDA directed all manufacturers of drugs approved for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to develop Patient Medication Guides alerting patients to the potential risks of the drugs.In addtion to past risks, the Medication Guides are intended to warn of possible cardiovascular events and adverse psychiatric events.

It seems that we are routinely hearing about new concerns and warnings regarding ADHD drugs. Considering the millions of people that take these drugs, the FDA should take a hard look at the benefits vs. risks of each drug in the class.

The full FDA news release may be found here.

Gamblers Sue Ameristar Casino Over Rewards Program

March 20, 2007,

"Seven upset gamblers sued the Ameristar Casino of St. Charles today, saying the casino cheated them out of money, food and points they could have earned in the casino’s rewards program.
St. Louis attorney Arthur G. Muegler Jr. filed the lawsuit in St. Charles County Circuit Court. The suit also names Ameristar’s Las Vegas parent company.

If it is certified as a class action lawsuit as Muegler hopes, it could affect as many as 100,000 to 300,000 casino customers, he said. They are seeking $150 million in actual and punitive damages."

Read the full article in the St. Lous Dispatch.

How Do You Defend The Indefensible?

March 10, 2007,

This week two Florida doctors that got hammered with a $217 million medical malpractice verdict are turning the table: on their own attorneys.Claiming that the attorneys failed to properly advise them of $1 and $3 million dollar settlement offers by the plaintiff, the doctors suing for professional negligence, fraudulently concealing information, and failing to properly advise.

Of course, the doctors would have quickly settled the case, but the defense lawyers are not paid by the doctors, they are paid by the insurance company.The insurance company absolutely refused to settle.One doctor has stated that he was pressured by attorneys to essetially perjur himself on the stand or his case woud be "indefensible and that he would be looking at a $20 million judgment against him.

You can read the facts here, but the doctors committed gross negligence and the case should never have gone to trial.However, the medical liability insurance company involved in the case stuck to the industry standard of delay, deny, and defend. Unfortunately, the defense attorneys in the case performed as essentially lackeys for the insurance company, and were forced to try the case.Big mistake.Now they are looking down the barrel of their own malpractice suit.Nonetheless, the malpractice insurance carrier committed the real malpractice and fraud in refusing to settle the claim.

Death Case Involving Ford Truck Fire Settles

March 8, 2007,

"An eastern Iowa man whose wife died in a fire he said was caused by a Ford pickup truck has settled a lawsuit with the auto manufacturer.
Earl Mohlis, 78, said Monday he still cries over the loss of his wife, Darletta Mohlis, 74, who died May 2, 2005, after a fire spread from their attached garage into their Westgate home.

Mohlis and his three grown children, Jeff Mohlis, Carolyn Howe and Kathy Brady, filed the lawsuit on Oct. 20, 2005. They claimed a cruise control deactivation switch in a 1996 Ford F-150 pickup started the fire.

Four months before the fire, in January 2005, Ford recalled nearly 800,000 vehicles because of a cruise control switch problem. It wasn't until four months after the Mohlis fire, in September 2005, that the company expanded the recall to include 3.8 million pickups and sport utility vehicles from the 1994-2002 model years."

Read the full article in The Insurance Journal.

$750,000 Florida Jury Award for Nursing Home Rape Victim

March 6, 2007,

"A $750,000 jury award against a Jacksonville nursing home where a 77-year-old woman was raped by a repeat sex offender has the daughter elated about the outcome, but not because of the money.
I don't care if it was $1, it was all about the ... verdict," Sandra Banning said Friday.

Banning is happy because she thinks Thursday's verdict in the civil case will help reignite legislation to protect people from sex offenders in nursing homes. She said she wants a law to prevent what happened to her mother from ever happening again.

In 2002, police said, Banning's mother was living in the Southwood Nursing Center in Arlington when an 83-year-old man raped her in her room, the Times-Union reported then."

Read the full article in the The Florida Times-Union.

Jury Finds Merck Failed to Warn of Vioxx Risks

March 4, 2007,

"A New Jersey jury found Friday that Merck failed to warn about the cardiovascular risks of the painkiller Vioxx in the case of a man who had a heart attack in 2001.

But the same jury found that Merck did properly warn of Vioxx's heart risks in the case of a second man, who had a fatal heart attack in 2002.

The jury also found Merck violated a New Jersey consumer-protection law, but hasn't yet assessed damages.

The trial in Atlantic City, N.J., now moves onto a second phase to determine whether Vioxx was a primary cause of Frederick Humeston's heart attack in September 2001. If the jury finds in Humeston's favor, it can award compensatory and punitive damages. In Friday's verdict in favor of Humeston, who survived his heart attack, the jury concluded that Merck failed to warn his prescribing physician of Vioxx's risks."

Read the full article at

Favorable Verdict in Prempro Retrial

March 2, 2007,

"A jury on Tuesday awarded $3 million to an Ohio woman who claimed a hormone replacement drug made by Wyeth caused her breast cancer.
Jennie Nelson, 67, of Dayton, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001 after taking Prempro for five years to treat symptoms of menopause. Her lawyers said Wyeth knew for decades the drug could cause breast cancer, but failed to warn patients.

More than 5,000 women have sued New Jersey-based Wyeth over its hormone drugs Premarin and Prempro. Wyeth has won two cases and lost two cases, which have been heard in Arkansas and Philadelphia.

Both drugs remain on the market and carry the approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and both continue to be prescribed annually to hundreds of thousands of menopausal women."

Read the full article at