Monthly Archives: June 2010

Married Dr-Nurse Found Guilty: Handed Out Narcs Like Candy, Pts. Died

Stephen Schneider MD and his wife, Linda, a nurse, were charged in a 34-count indictment with unlawful dispensing of drugs, health-care fraud and money laundering. Thursday, a federal jury found them guilty on many of them, including some linked to the overdose deaths of 21 people. hey also found the doctor’s prescriptions led to 107 overdoses at local emergency rooms. Each faces up to a life sentence, with the most serious counts carrying a minimum of 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors had argued that 68 people died as a result of their over prescribing. Even when the doctor and his wife were advised their patients were dropping like flies by emergency rooms, hospitals, law enforcement, family members and morgues, Schneider made no changes in his free flowing prescription practices.

The doctor’s attorney, Lawrence Williamson, said after the verdict that it was “a sad day for our justice system. Dr. Schneider … (Continued...)

Medical Malpractice Claims: Myths and Tort Reform

The Urban Myths surrounding medical malpractice claims and their effect on Health Care costs are as equally void of truth ans the Urban myth notion that Tort Reform lowers the cost of Health Care. Ban malpractice lawsuits entirely and the cost of Health Care, if anything, will rise.

The first part of the malpractice myth is that frivolous claims abound leading to a ‘quick buck’, or a million, squeezed out of a victimized physician who was just trying to care for the sick and injured. This simply is not the case.

MYTH: Frivolous Claims Are Significant Problem

A 2006 study in the The New England Journal of Medicine challenged these myths. “Some critics have suggested that the malpractice system is inundated with groundless lawsuits, and that whether a plaintiff recovers money is like a random ‘lottery,’ virtually unrelated to whether the claim has merit,” said lead author David Studdert, … (Continued...)

STUDY: 25 Week Fetus Incapable of Feeling Pain

From the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist.

In reviewing the neuroanatomical and physiological evidence in the fetus, it was apparent that connections from the periphery to the cortex are not intact before 24 weeks of gestation and, as most neuroscientists believe that the cortex is necessary for pain perception, it can be concluded that the fetus cannot experience pain in any sense prior to this gestation. After 24 weeks there is continuing development and elaboration of intracortical networks such that noxious stimuli in newborn preterm infants produce cortical responses. Such connections to the cortex are necessary for pain experience but not sufficient, as experience of external stimuli requires consciousness. Furthermore, there is increasing evidence that the fetus never experiences a state of true wakefulness in utero and is kept, by the presence of its chemical environment, in a continuous sleep-like unconsciousness or sedation. This state can suppress higher

(Continued...)

Remembering EMS Heroes And Their Patients: MSP Trooper 2 Tragic Helicopter Crash

MSPTrooper2

Around 11:10 pm Saturday September 27th, 2008, Maryland State Police Medivac Trooper 2 responded to Waldorf, Maryland. The mission was to transport two car crash victims to Prince George’s Hospital Center’s trauma unit. After lifting off from the scene with 3 crew members and two patients on board, the pilot contacted the tower at Andrews Air Force Base for a diverted landing there, requesting assistance with an instrument landing, due to weather. Two ambulances were dispatched to the airfield to meet the helicopter and complete the patient transports. The helicopter never arrived. According to National Transportation Safety Board member Debbie Hersman, between the time the helicopter left its hanger at Andrews Air Force Base and when it was back in the same area, heading to the hospital, visibility had dropped from about seven miles to four miles. In that same hour, the cloud cover, or ceiling, went from 1300 feet … (Continued...)

Children of Flight Nurse Killed In Air Evac Crash Awarded $5.6 Million

A $5.6 million settlement was reached earlier this month over a AIR EVAC medical helicopter crash that killed a flight nurse and two others in August 2008. The lawsuit was filed by the National Bank of Indianapolis on behalf of the nurse’s two children, as reported by the Indianapolis Star.

The medical helicopter crash killed flight nurse Sandra Pearson, 38; pilot Roger Warren, 43, and base manager Wade Weston 38, when the rotor separated from the Bell 206 Longranger helicopter. The aircraft crashed in a field outside Burney. The lawsuit named Rolls-Royce, the helicopter’s engine maker; Decatur County REMC, the utility responsible for maintaining power lines in the area; Rushville Memorial Hospital, which dispatched the helicopter; and Bell Helicopter Textron, the rotor manufacturer, as the defendants.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) discovered that a flawed main rotor blade had shattered just after taking off.

The multi-million dollar settlement will … (Continued...)

Bipolar Anesthesiologist Dr. Reuben Sentenced To 6 Months For Research Fraud While Manic

Scott Reuben MD has been sentenced today in federal court to 6 months in prison after pleading guilty in February to one count of health care fraud. Dr. Reuben, 51, former chief of the acute pain clinic at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine, $361,932 in restitution to the drug companies that funded his research and to forfeit $50,000 in assets in the case. Once his prison term is up, Dr. Reuben must undergo three years of supervised release, the Justice Department said.

When Reuben entered his guilty plea, his attorneys claimed that he had been suffering from an undiagnosed bipolar disorder during the period when he committed the fraud, the apparent result of a manic phase. Reuben was unusually prolific with “research” projects during a 2000-2001 sabbatical, having published 8 papers. Dr. Reuben’s wife, Susan Romm Reuben, MD, is a psychiatrist.  … (Continued...)

ACGME Proposes New Duty Hours For Residents

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) is responsible for the Accreditation of post-MD medical training programs within the United States. As such the organization is responsible for setting standards for supervision of residents and resident work hours. Previous revisions to these standards earlier this decade curtailed the seemingly infinite work hours of residents to a mere 80 hours per week with a limit of 24 hours at a stretch. New standards have been proposed which require tighter supervision of residents by on-site attending physicians and a limit on first year residents working only 16 hours in a row. The 80 hour work week remains…and that is averaged over 4 weeks. Just as was the case with the earlier restrictions, various corners are complaining that physicians in training will suffer from obtaining less experience. Apparently the exhausted resident who has been up for more than 24 hours every other … (Continued...)

Glaxo-Smith-Kline Settles Hundreds Of Paxil Birth Defect Cases

GlaxoSmithKline, the pharmaceutical company that makes the antidepressant Paxil, has agreed to settle nearly 200 cases brought by plaintiffs who allege that the use of the drug during pregnancy resulted in birth defects to their children. The cases, all scheduled to go to trial, have been settled pre-trial for undisclosed sums. Plaintiffs alleged that GSK failed to warn physicians and patients of the danger of birth defects when Paxil is prescribed to pregnant women.

And a jury agreed. The willing settlements follow a devastating verdict against GSK in the very first Paxil case brought to trial in 2009. The jury awarded $2.5 million in damages to the family of Lyam Kilker, who was born with heart defects after his mother took Paxil during her pregnancy. Kilker reportedly was born with three congenital heart defects, specifically a defect between the upper two chambers of his heart, a defect between the lower … (Continued...)

JAMA Article: Delay Tracheotomy For Two weeks In ICU Patients

By Eleanor McDermid
04 June 2010
JAMA 2010; 303: 1483–1489, 1537–1538

From MedWire News: The timing of tracheotomy does not appear to affect the risk for ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) in intensive care unit (ICU) patients requiring mechanical ventilation, report researchers.

V. Marco Ranieri (University of Turin, Italy) and colleagues say that early tracheotomy may have increased the rate of unnecessary treatment, and support delaying tracheotomy for about 2 weeks. The team randomly assigned 209 ICU patients who needed mechanical ventilation to undergo tracheotomy after 6–8 days of laryngeal intubation and 210 to undergo the procedure after 13–15 days. In total, 145 and 119 patients in the early and late tracheotomy groups, respectively, ultimately underwent the procedure.

There was a nonsignificant trend toward reduced VAP risk among patients in the early tracheotomy group, with 14% versus 21% of late tracheotomy patients developing VAP … (Continued...)

Study Ranks U.S. Last in Health Care

Despite having the most costly health system in the world, the United States consistently under performs on most dimensions of performance, relative to other countries. This report—an update to three earlier editions—includes data from seven countries and incorporates patients’ and physicians’ survey results on care experiences and ratings on dimensions of care. Compared with six other nations—Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom—the U.S. health care system ranks last or next-to-last on five dimensions of a high performance health system: quality, access, efficiency, equity, and healthy lives. Newly enacted health reform legislation in the U.S. will start to address these problems by extending coverage to those without and helping to close gaps in coverage—leading to improved disease management, care coordination, and better outcomes over time.

That is the finding of a study by the Commonwealth Fund.

The U.S. healthcare system continues to rank behind the … (Continued...)

Former Yankee’s Orthopedic Surgeon Loses Appeal in Ballerina Malpractice Case

Dr. Marc J. Philippon, the specialist that the Yankees have sent Arod to, has lost his final appeal in a $2.15 million dollar malpractice lawsuit. Scott P. Schlesinger represented Katie Shreffler a young ballet dancer who underwent a hip arthroscopy after which she had debilitating complications, in the case against Philippon. “It appears that Philippon put too much pressure on the bone shaver, or may have broken a shaver during the surgery and caused cartilage damage while retrieving it”, according to Schlesinger. Shreffler says she is still in constant pain and needs to use a crutch.

A surprise witness, whom the plaintiff had demanded the defense produce and the Court ordered the defense to produce, was nowhere to be found until after the trial had started. Surgical technician Julie Snogles, found by an internet search by the plaintiff after proceedings had begun, was allowed to testify…and her testimony proved pivotal. … (Continued...)