Skip to content

Week in Review

by Kroger Burrus on December 16th, 2012


Retama Manor Nursing Center v. Pennington
The wife of a man who died after he fell from his nursing home bed filed suit alleging that the home’s nurses were not adequately trained or supervised. The nursing home objected to the plaintiff’s Chapter 74 report on the basis that the expert did not provide a fair summary and that the expert’s position as Regional Director of Cosmetic and Weight Loss Centers of America did not qualify him to render an opinion on the standard of care. The San Antonio appellate court held that the expert was qualified, noting that his practice includes treating patients who are considered a “fall risk.” The report provided a fair summary of the expert’s opinion that medical records suggested that nursing staff did not comply with fall prevention measures ordered by a physician.

Hendrick Medical Center v. Texas Podiatric Medical Association
Prompted by concern over the scope of podiatry practice, a medical center eliminated ankle privileges for the podiatrists on its medical staff. Two podiatrists filed suit, seeking an injunction and a declaratory judgment that the restriction violated the medical center’s bylaws. The medical center sought dismissal on the basis that the podiatrists’ claims were health care liability claims and the plaintiffs failed to file a Chapter 74 expert report. The medical center argued that the definition of “health care liability claim” included language referring to “professional or administrative services directly related to health care” and that the decision to limit ankle privileges was administrative in nature. The Eastland appellate court held that because the medical center’s privileging decision was not an “inseparable or integral part of a patient’s care or treatment” it did not qualify as a health care liability claim.

Brown v. Bolin
A pretrial detainee with a history of several serious medical conditions died in custody after vomiting large quantities of blood, prompting his family to sue the county and the jail’s physician for violating the detainee’s constitutional rights. The family alleged that a jail nurse treated the detainee with antacids and an antiemetic, but that she refused to arrange for the detainee’s transport to a hospital out of fear she would upset the jail physician. The district court granted summary judgment for the physician and county on the basis of qualified immunity. The 5th Circuit affirmed, holding that the plaintiffs had not proven that the incident reflected a systemic failure of emergency medical care or that the physician had actual knowledge of the detainee’s condition.


Medical Advances Lead to Longer, Less Health Lives
Americans are living longer, but often in poor health due to medical advances that improve the odds of surviving chronic health conditions. The 2012 America’s Health Rankings highlighted an increase in longevity, as well as troubling levels of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and sedentary behavior. Researchers have also identified a small decline in the rate of childhood obesity, suggesting that the nation’s obesity epidemic could be reversing course.

Feds Reject Partial Medicaid Expansion Proposals
States hesitant to fully expand their Medicaid programs as envisioned by the Affordable Care Act will not be eligible for federal matching funds if they choose to only partially expand Medicaid coverage. The Obama administration recently announced that states must expand Medicaid coverage to adults with incomes up to 133% of the poverty level in order to receive additional federal funding.

Brain Cancer Research Sparks Scandal at UC Davis
A California medical school neurosurgeon has taken a leave of absence in response to a scandal over experiments conducted on dying brain cancer patients. Four malpractice claims have been issued against the surgeon, who was banned last year by the university from conducting research involving human subjects. The CMS and Joint Commission are investigating.

Doctor Sentenced to 20 Years for Cancer Center Fraud
A federal judge sentenced a Mississippi doctor to 20 years in prison for fraud she committed at a former cancer center she founded. The doctor, who pled guilty to one count of health care fraud and two counts of making false statements, was also ordered to repay nearly $8.2 million. The clinic’s office manager was sentenced to 13 months in prison for her role, while another employee who handled the clinic’s billing was sentenced to three months’ house arrest and three years’ probation after pleading guilty to conspiracy.

Study Suggests Surgeons Peak at Middle-Age
Surgeons may reach the peak of their skill at middle age, according to a large-scale study of thousands of complex surgical procedures. Researchers found that patients who underwent coronary artery bypass, pancreatectomy, and carotid endarterectomy procedures performed by doctors between age 41 and 60 were more likely to survive than those who were operated on by doctors older than 60. The study found no significant difference in patient outcomes in five out of eight of the procedures examined. The study also suggested that older physicians who maintain a full case load, rather than entering into semi-retirement, did not experience any loss in skill.

$10 Million Prize Funded to Develop Star Trek Inspired Medical Tricorder
A $10 million prize has been funded to encourage the development of medical diagnostic equipment similar to the device Star Trek’s Dr. Bones used to scan and diagnose crewmembers. The contest will award the prize money to the group that can create a mobile device able to diagnose a set of 15 conditions, including pneumonia, diabetes, and sleep apnea. Development is already underway on a variety of smart phone attachments that can measure vital signs, perform electrocardiograms, and read glucose levels.

Final Version of DSM-5 Approved
The American Psychiatric Association has approved the final version of the updated Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. New additions to the DSM-5, the reference manual used to diagnose mental disorders, include Attenuated Psychosis Syndrome, Internet Use Gaming Disorder, Non-suicidal Self-injury, and Suicidal Behavioral Disorder. The new edition also includes a diagnosis for Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder, i.e. a diagnosis for children who exhibit persistent irritability and outbursts three or more times a week for more than a year. This diagnosis is intended to address concerns about over-diagnosis and over-treatment of Bipolar Disorder among children.

High Rate of Diagnostic Tests Questioned
While diagnostic tests, such as electrocardiograms, can be important to identify medical conditions early on, some have raised concern that these tests are being ordered too often. A random sampling of Medicare beneficiaries found that 28.5% underwent an echocardiography test between 2004 and 2006, and 55% of those patients had a repeat echocardiogram within three years. Patients in Florida reported the highest frequency of repeat procedures, while patients from Portland, Oregon, San Francisco, and Sacramento had the lowest rates.

Hospital Bed Alarms Fail to Prevent Falls
A study of bed alarms intended to alert hospital staff when patients were in danger of falling found that hospital units that used the alarms observed no significant effect on injury rates. Some have speculated that the lackluster results are attributable to “alarm fatigue,” while others suspect that staff trusting the alarms to warn them of danger may become less vigilant.

Three Killed in Medical Helicopter Crash
A pilot and two flight nurses were killed after a medical helicopter crashed while traveling between two Illinois hospitals. No patients were on board when the accident occurred. Federal Aviation Administration officials are investigating the cause of the crash.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google Buzz
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email

From → Misc.