2007 News of the Day Archive

• Medicare spends about $120 billion a year to treat Alzheimer’s patients. The number of people with the disease will increase by 75 percent or so in the next few years from the present five million.
— CBS News

• Uninsured children admitted to a hospital with traumatic brain injury are more than twice as likely to die there as insured children.
— FamiliesUSA

• In a study, brain-damaged newborns who were placed in cooling blankets for a few days showed signs that the brain damage was mitigated.
— Newscom

• The drug Rituxan has been implicated in several fatal brain illness cases. These fatalities occurred while Rituxan was being used off label to treat Lupus.

• The use of nanotechnology in chemotherapy drugs is on the rise.

• Presently there is no national certification for medical interpreters.
— The Massachusetts Medical Interpreters Association

• The popular substitute to trans fat is interesterified fat, but in a recent study even the new substitute was associated with increased diabetes risk.
— Science News

• Most people don’t wash their hands the required 20 seconds it takes to kill germs.
— Cleaning101.com

• Physicians have been slow to adopt e-mail for doctor-patient communications, though studies have shown it can lessen workloads. One reason may be that doctors are less likely to be reimbursed for electronic consultations than for in-person ones.
— Center for Studying Health System Change

• From 1999 to 2003 about 100 brains from corpses were sent from a Maine medical examiner’s office to the Stanley Institute without survivors’ permission.
— Lexington Herald Leader

• A second large study shows no relationship between childhood MMR vaccines and autism.
— Pediatrics

• Since 2005, about 18,000 cases of medical identity theft have occurred, or about 2 percent of all identity theft cases. The number is actually believed to be much higher.

• Since 1983, about 1.5 million people have had adverse reactions to herbal supplements and vitamins.
— U.S. Poison Control Centers

• In a study of medical malpractice cases involving patient harm, poor documentation, scheduling problems and miscommunication were key factors.
— The Annals of Internal Medicine

• In a study of automated medicine dispensing cabinets, about one-half of all cabinets let nurses obtain all medications without pharmacist approval when they did an override.
— McKesson Medication Management Company

• The FDA has approved the use of iridescent or shimmering coatings or drug tablets. Drug makers hope creating wild new colors will reduce medication errors and counterfeiting.
— EMD Chemicals

• Twelve states do not require children under eight to be in booster seats.

• The three lawyers who allegedly mishandled $200 million of fen-phen settlement money said they destroyed their notes showing how much they paid themselves and their clients.
— Kentucky.com

• The AMA recently adopted a position that nurses and other non-doctors who have PhDs will “create confusion, jeopardize patient safety and erode trust.” Some nursing groups have cried foul claiming that the AMA resolution is an effort to protect doctors’ power and money.

• In a study of 360 ventilated tube-fed patients, about one-half of the patients developed pneumonia.
— Critical Care Medicine

• By 2010, 40 percent of American nurses will be over 50.
— Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

• The FDA says that about 1 percent of the U.S. drug supply is counterfeit.
— FDA.gov

• In a study, nonstick fry pans and microwave popcorn gave off high levels of toxic per fluorinated chemicals. Cookware manufacturers plan to phase out these dangerous coatings by 2015. PFOAs are carcinogenic and mimic estrogen.
— Environmental Science & Technology

• The U.S. healthcare system squanders $100 billion on waste and errors, and 150,000 people die needlessly each year. A 2006 report showed marginal gains in healthcare quality in several sectors, with hospitals having a 7.8 percent quality improvement.
— Leapfrog Group, AHRQ

• Community hospital profits were at an all time high in 2005 at $28.9 billion.

• Drugs such as Prilosec and Nexium, known as PPIs, that are used to treat acid reflux, are linked to a tripled risk of bone breakage.
— University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

• A liquid protein-based bandage has been developed that can be painted on.
— LiveScience.com

• Waste and errors cost the nation’s health system 100 billion dollars per year.
— Commonwealth Fund

• Adverse drug interactions are believed to send at least 700,00 people to hospital EDs each year.

• The U.S. House and the NRA are working on legislation to make it tougher for mentally ill individuals to buy guns.
— AP

• Complications can develop several weeks after the stoppage of the blood clot drug Heparin.

• A 2006 report on the U.S. healthcare system showed marginal gains in quality in several sectors, with hospitals having a 7.8 percent quality improvement.
— Leapfrog Group, AHRQ

• Sugar slows the uptake rate of alcohol into the blood, but sugar free sweeteners do not. People imbibing on mixed drinks made with artificial sweeteners are apt to be more intoxicated.
— Royal Adelaide Hospital, Australia

• X-ray scans in airports use about one-tenth the radiation of a normal medical X-ray.
— Albert Einstein Medical College

• The number of doctors in group practices has tripled since 1965. Group practices tend to be more profitable.

• Arsenic in building lumber may become a major problem in New Orleans hurricane debris.
— University of Miami

• Numerous patient safety performance tools can be found at ismp.org and at physiciansafetytool.com.
— Modern Healthcare

• The FDA recently investigated a “designer embryo service.” The service was fertilizing eggs and selling them based on predicted characteristics that they should possess once grown into children. Ethics issues were inferred.
— AP

• Twenty-five years ago about 5 percent of Americans scored themselves as procrastinators. Today the number is 26 percent.

• EMTALA fact: An ED patient’s treatment cannot be delayed to request bill payment or insurance information. The ED can ask about financial matters so long as the query does not delay treatment.

• A liquid protein-based bandage has been developed that can be painted on.
— LiveScience.com

• Maine and Alabama have been recruiting hairdressers to alert them to signs of spousal abuse.
— Los Angeles Times

• In a survey, 67 percent of hospital CEOs said that financial issues were their biggest worry. Quality came in fifth and patient safety sixth.
— American College of Healthcare Executives

• About one-half of hospital EDs are believed to be overcrowded. There has been an almost 20 percent increase in ED visits in the last 20 years.
— CDC, Lewin Group

• About 40 percent of patients in hospitals may experience alcohol withdrawal. Caregivers are advised to recognize it.
— Nursing Made Incredibly Easy

• An expert witness is not needed if a defendant medical caregiver freely admits that his service was below the standard of care.
— Missouri Court of Appeals

• The number of psychiatric patients who visit an ED is on the rise, though many staffers in EDs have little psychiatric training.
— RN

• The first penis transplant was done in China last year. The surgery went well and the organ was not being rejected by the recipient’s body. However, the patient requested removal of the new organ because of psychological concerns.
— European Urology

• Almost one-third of nurses say they know of other nurses leaving their jobs as a result of verbal abuse by doctors.
— Nursing2007

• Disciplinary actions against nurses taken by a board of nursing are usually documented in a “public order” in most states. This order is public record and a permanent mark on the nurse’s record.
— RN

• Pecans, pistachios and walnuts have been found very helpful to blood vessel health.
— Loma Linda University

• Buying drugs on the Internet can be risky because no physician may be involved in filling the order, even if one is promised.
— The Miami Herald

• Ninety percent of ER and ICU nurses believe the quality of nursing care has gone down in recent years.
— Newscom

• The off-label use of pharmaceuticals is at an all time high. Recent court rulings, coupled with the volume of drugs that are made, has reduced the FDA’s power and oversight of such uses.
— Newscom

• Cancer treatments cost $206 billion a year. Patients pay $78 billion out of pocket.
— CBS News

• The U.S. Supreme Court returned a $79.5 million dollar punitive damage lawsuit to the Oregon Court System to be reviewed. The case was against Philip Morris. The Supreme Court said that the jury had been improperly instructed by considering the damages to non- litigants.
— The Oregonian

• The shortest-term premature baby that survived was born in Miami, in October 2006. The baby girl weighed 10 ounces and her head and torso were about the length of an ink pen.
— The Lexington Herald-Leader

• Children of mothers who smoked before pregnancy are 2.5 times more likely to have ADHD. Children with high lead levels in their blood are four times more likely to have ADHD.
— Cincinnati Children’s Hospital

• Fifty-eight thousand children per year are abducted by non-family members. Most are returned safely, though slightly more than 100 are held for long periods or killed. Most of the 100 eventually come home.

• A Dayton, Ohio, woman was charged with killing her newborn daughter by microwaving her. The child was about one month old.
— Wire services

• Believe it or not: Zimbabwe, the nation of much recent racial tension, has an inflation rate of 1,593 percent. Such a rate causes price changes to be posted hourly.
— Lexington Herald Leader

• Inhaled anesthetics during surgery may increase Alzheimer’s plaques in patients’ brains.
— University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

• Tennessee is the most recent state to place the cost of common procedures in its hospitals online: http://tnhospitalsinform.com. Kentucky recently began its site at www.kyha.com/pricing.
— Tennessee Hospital Association

• The profession of holistic nursing was recently officially recognized by the American Nurses Association (ANA) as a nursing specialty.
— AHNA.org

• The Supreme Court in late April ruled that ramming a suspect’s car to end a high-speed chase did not violate the suspect’s constitutional rights.
— McClatchy News Service

• In a study, the majority of participants in mediation of medical malpractice suits were satisfied. Attorneys on both sides claimed to have spent only 10 percent of the time preparing for mediation as compared with preparing for a trial.
— Health Affairs

• The Virginia supreme court ruled in a recent case that internal quality control reports of a factual nature about patient care can be admitted into evidence, as they are not privileged material under the auspices of a quality assurance committee.
— JONA’s Healthcare Law, Ethics and Regulation

• Tort caps in Illinois are being challenged in a med mal case involving substandard prenatal care.
— AP

• A Louisiana appeals court has found tort caps there to be unconstitutional.
— Arrington v. ER Physicians Group

New Guidelines…

• The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recently published the following policy statements: Antiviral therapy and prophylaxis for influenza in children; Enhancing the diversity of the pediatrician workforce; Increasing antiretroviral drug access for children with HIV infection; Prevention of influenza: Recommendations for influenza immunization of children, 2006-2007 (update).

• The American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases has updated their guidelines on chronic hepatitis B.

• The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has released the following: Patient testing: Ethical issues in selection and counseling (committee opinion); Premature rupture of membranes (update, practice bulletin)

• The American College of Physicians has released new guidelines on screening mammography for women age 40 to 49.
— Complied by Elizabeth K. Zorn, RN, BSN, LNCC, comoderator of LNCExchange, www.LNC Exchange.com Source: www.ecri.org

• New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Washington, D.C. all have some sort of bans on using cell phones when driving. California has a ban going into effect in 2008, and Washington state just passed a no-text-messaging bill.
— Los Angeles Times

• The FDA has almost 80,000 food processing plants or importers to regulate. Critics say the FDA is overwhelmed.
— The Washington Post

• The U.S. House and the NRA are working on legislation to make it tougher for mentally ill individuals to buy guns.
— AP

• It is thought that in some foreign countries as much as 10 percent of the population has a disease called membrane sensitivity syndrome, similar to chemical sensitivity. It may result from excessive exposure to radio and cell phone waves.
— Science and Public Policy Institute

• Honeybee populations have plummeted in recent years. Some evidence points to electromagnetic waves from cell phones or satellites as the cause.
— George Carlo, MD

• Elementary school achievement tests are quite accurate at predicting IQ, and income success, in adults. Also found in a study was that IQ is fairly steady over time.
— University of Iowa

• Preliminary data suggest that baby boomers are not as healthy as their parents, with obesity cited as a key factor.
— The Washington Post

• In a study, 90 percent of accidental CO poisonings were caused by portable generators. In half of the cases the generators were outside the house.
— American Journal of Preventive Medicine

• Scientists can now make flu vaccines from caterpillar cells, up-staging the current lengthy method of using chicken eggs.
— University of Rochester

• Female stem cells repair damage to tissues better than do male stem cells.
— Journal of Cell Biology

• A web-based professional portfolio management service can be found at www.decisioncritical.com. The service provides an automated and organized repository for portfolios, replacing the hard copy process. Price is $59.95 per year.
— decisioncritical.com

• The Vickie Milazzo Institute has begun a free directory for attorneys at www.naclncdirectory.org to find Milazzo Institute graduates (CLNC®s) and healthcare experts. The Institute may not review or warrant the listed CLNC®s.
— legalnurse.com

• Wal-Mart plans to open in-store health clinics. As many as 2,000 may be opened.
— Lexington Herald-Leader

• Temp nurse shift scheduling software companies such as ShiftWise, Symbio Solutions and BidShift are growing fast.
— Business 2.0

• Most people who undergo chemotherapy suffer from various cognitive problems, or “chemo brain.” About 15 percent fail to fully recover. Researchers are not sure why.
— New York Times

• The nation’s organ transplant network is calling for a plan that would prioritize kidney patients based on need as opposed to length of time spent on waiting lists.
— Organ Procurement and Transplant Network

• On-line organ trading is on the rise, as people are desperate for transplants. A Nashville-based organization called Life Sharers is behind a movement to require donors to receive organs only if they agree to donate their own. About 6,000 people a year die while waiting for organs.
— Wire services

• Tens of thousands of defibrillators and pacemakers have either been warned about or recalled in the last couple of years. Medtronic lost a court battle in late 2006 to have hundreds of lawsuits dismissed centering on its heart defibrillators. About a third of Americans who receive defibrillators probably do not need them.
— JAMA, University of Michigan Medical Center

• The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard the case of Brendlin v. California, a case that deals with passengers detained in traffic stops. The Fourth Amendment is felt to apply to passengers against illegal search and seizure.
— Wire services

• During the late 90s and through the early 2000s, more than 900 hospitals and 425 ERs closed.
— Detroit Free Press

• About 1.5 million people are harmed by drug errors each year.
— Newscom

• A Texas court ruled that a prisoner may sue a nonprison nurse for violations of Eighth Amendment cruel and unusual punishment rights because the nurse was working for a hospital under contract with the prison system.
— Carter v. Benevites (Texas)

• The Florida Supreme Court recently ruled that the state law requiring doctors to disclose abortion risks to women is legal.
— Newscom

• Americans spend $2.2 trillion on healthcare each year.

• Almost 13 percent of all babies born are premature. The price tag for preemies is $26 billion per year.
— Newscom

• The number of surgeries for obesity has soared by 2,000 percent among middle-aged patients.

• The ability to have one’s entire genetic makeup available inexpensively is thought to be about 10 years away. Such knowledge would revolutionize prescriptions and drug effectiveness. Critics of “personalized medicine” are concerned about genetic discrimination. [See related story, Page 10].
— Personalized Medicine Coalition

• A company called Asthmatx makes a device that kills airway muscles with heat, reducing the effects of asthma. The procedure is called bronchial thermoplasty. The device is not yet FDA approved.
— Science News

• The most dangerous time to be in a hospital is in July and August. This coincides with the time when medical students begin their new residencies.
— Bottom Line Retirement

• Simply calling a document an incident report does not offer it legal immunity.
— Hayes v. Premier Living Inc. (N.C.)

• An unconscious patient was seriously burned during surgery. A defense verdict was appealed on the basis that the principle of res ipsa loquitur warrants a plaintiff verdict. The appellate court disagreed, and said that a jury has the right to find no one at fault.
— Boling v. Stegemann (N.Y.)

• Congress continues to cut spending on Medicare. By 2015 payments will be cut by one-third of today’s levels. This is also a time when many baby boomers will be well into retirement. Five percent of the sickest Medicare patients use up about 50 percent of Medicare money. Pilot programs that send doctors to make house calls to seriously ill patients are being explored as a way to cut costs.
— The Heritage Foundation, Contra Costa Times

• People who are heavily exposed to raw cotton dust are much less likely to develop lung cancer than those who are not.
— Journal of National Cancer Institute

• By 2020 there will be 340,000 fewer nurses in practice than now.

• Heartburn medicines such as Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec increase hip fractures by almost 300 percent.
— University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

• Medical tourism is on the rise as many complex and controversial procedures can be acquired in foreign countries more cheaply than in the U.S.
— Newscom

• A large New Jersey abortion clinic was closed in February over lax infection prevention measures.
— Asbury Park Press

• Sexually abused children often have vague symptoms such as disrupted sleep or mysterious pains.
— RN

• Heart failure patients with high blood pressure (above 161 mm Hg) are more likely to survive than those with lower pressures. As the pressures go down, the risk of dying increases. Ventricular ejection fraction, a common measurement of heart function, is not statistically important.

• The reason $19.99 is more appealing than $20.00 is because the brain processes information from left to right.
— Drexel University

• In an international poll, the flushing toilet, and antibiotics, were considered the two most important medical breakthroughs since 1840.
— British Medical Journal

• New guidelines were issued in 2006 for the sedation of children.
— American Academy of Pediatrics

• In 2003 New Jersey became the first state to have a tough law against driving while sleepy. More than 1,500 people die each year in traffic accidents related to drowsy driving.
— Lexington Herald Leader, NHTSA

• Dr. William Ayres was arrested recently and charged with 14 counts of child molestation. Ayres was once head of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
— AP

• The FDA says that about 1 percent of the U.S. drug supply is counterfeit.
— FDA.gov

• In a study, nonstick fry pans and microwave popcorn gave off high levels of toxic perfluorinated chemicals. Cookware manufacturers plan to phase out these dangerous coatings by 2015. PFOAs are carcinogenic and mimic estrogen.
— Environmental Science & Technology

• The U.S. healthcare system squanders $100 billion on waste and errors, and 150,000 people die needlessly each year. A 2006 report showed marginal gains in healthcare quality in several sectors, with hospitals having a 7.8 percent quality improvement.
— Leapfrog Group, AHRQ

• Community hospital profits were at an all time high in 2005 at $28.9 billion.

• A liquid protein-based bandage has been developed that can be painted on.
— LiveScience.com

• Cell phones do not interfere with medical devices, so says the latest study.
— Mayo Clinic Proceeding

• Adverse drug interactions are believed to send at least 700,00 people to hospital EDs each year.

• The cost of going green: Controlling the U.S.’s carbon emissions will cost 70,000 manufacturing jobs over the next 20 years, and mean a reinvesting of $127 billion. The U.S.’s new ethanol push will consume the U.S. corn crop, sending corn and other grain prices soaring worldwide.
— ConnectKentucky.org, Science News

• Women dress in more attractive clothing when they are ovulating.
— Hormones and Behavior

• Believe it or not: The U.S. and Russia have about 20,000 nuclear weapons. In 1986 the two countries had more than 60,000.
— Science News

• The IHI, which had a successful 100,000 Lives Campaign, has launched the 5 Million Lives Campaign, which will conclude in 2008.
— Nursing2007

• Some states require self-extinguishing cigarettes. Cigarettes cause many house fires.
— Lexington Herald Leader

• The New York Downtown Hospital is exploring ways to offer uterus transplants to barren women.
— New York Downtown Hospital

• A cure may be in sight for mad cow disease and scrapie in sheep.
— Institute of Neurology in London

• For the first time, scientists have developed what they consider a 3-D microscope. This new technology would be a boon to surgeons.
— University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

• Most developed nations, including the U.S., only spend about 3 percent of their healthcare budgets on preventative care.
— The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

• Only 16 percent of millionaires became rich by inheriting their money.
— World Wealth Report

• Half of all California’s hospitals are at risk of collapse during a major earthquake.
— RAND Corp

• Dr. Anna Pou and the two nurses (Lori Budo, Cheri Landry) believed to have committed mercy killings in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina have all had charges against them dropped.
— AP

• The FDA recently ordered a “black box” warning for diabetes drug Avandia (rosiglitazone). The drug has been shown to raise the risk of heart attack by as much as 40 percent, though doctors are not being urged to have patients stop taking it. Rosiglitazone is also found in Avandaryl and Avandamet.
— Newscom

• Regulators in California have moved to close King-Harbor hospital in L.A. Several recent egregious acts of patient neglect there have garnered media attention.
— Los Angeles Times

• Researchers have been able to “reverse-create” stem cells from mouse skin, theoretically eliminating the need for using embryos. Perfecting the procedure in humans could take as long as 20 years.
— Wire services

• The TB bacterium has about 4,000 genes. Slight mutations in these genes mean that different strains of TB can have wildly different effects on the humans they infect. There are at least 875 strains that fall into six broad families. [See story, Pages 10, 11].
— Science News

• In a California case a patient could not sue caregivers for involuntarily holding him. His mental status was so poor, and because he was thusly documented, good faith required the providers to keep him.
— Skobin v. Cunningham

• Electronic stability control systems in cars would save 9,600 lives per year if such systems were mandatory. ESC systems are optional and more often found on luxury cars.

• In an Arkansas case a nursing home was sued and the plaintiff received a default judgment against it. The nursing home had lost the lawsuit papers and failed to respond in a timely manner. In short, losing paperwork is not a defense.
— Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter

• Patients lose confidentiality of their medical records when they file a lawsuit, even records earlier or later than the incident. The records even can be unfavorable to their case.
— Court of Appeals of Michigan

• The average 300-bed hospital spends $3 million per year on time lost just moving supplies and medicines around. A market is growing for hallway robots to transport such items.
— aethon.com

• The EPA has been asked by an advisory group to consider classifying PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) as a toxin. PFOA is found in the blood of most people and comes from seep-proof coatings used to package foods. The chemical breaks down slowly and is slow to be excreted.
— Science News

• Women are not the only people who might benefit from the HPV vaccine. People with oroptharyngeal throat cancer were found to carry a high concentration of HPV in their throat cells. Oral sex is thought to be the mechanism of transference. [See story, Page 16]. More than one-fourth of American women carry the HPV virus. Women age 14 to 24 have an infection rate of 34 percent.
— New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA

• The children of an elderly woman fixed up her home to raise its value before the woman entered a nursing home. The home’s value increased, but when the children discovered that all of the home sale proceeds would have to go to the nursing home, they decided to pay themselves as contractors. The court disallowed this, noting that the children were not legitimate contractors, and that their work should be deemed a gift.
— Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter

• Scientists believe they are close to a blood test for Alzheimer’s disease.
— Johns Hopkins University

• Lethal injection may be inhumane. The three-drug cocktail used to execute prisoners was created in 1977 and has never been evaluated for efficacy. The injection includes the sedative sodium thiopenthal, pancuronium bromide which causes paralysis, and potassium chloride to stop the heart. Insufficient sodium thiopenthal may cause the condemned person to be self-aware while the other drugs take effect.
— University of Miami

• In a simulated course, surgeons who played video games frequently made 37 percent fewer mistakes than did surgeons who never played.

• RNs spend about 60 percent of their time on actual patient care and the rest on administrative or other functions.

• Pesticide poisoning among children is on the rise. In California alone, from 1996 to 2005, there were almost 600 illnesses caused by drifting agricultural pesticides.

• The beleaguered airline industry faces a new threat: In the past 25 years airline companies have awarded more than 19 trillion frequent flyer miles. About 14 trillion of those miles are unredeemed. Because of rising ticket prices and fuel costs, some experts believe more people will be redeeming the miles and further straining the airline industry.
— Reuters

• Your personal DNA can be turned into art. DNA 11 can create a large wall photograph of your DNA in your choice of colors.
— www.dna11.com

• The majority of high-achieving men want to marry a woman who is their professional equivalent, but the majority of high-achieving women will settle for a man with less education than themselves.
— “Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women”

• A new test, called a gene expression test, can accurately predict the likelihood of the growth of breast cancer cells, lessening the need for unnecessary chemotherapy. MammaPrint and Oncotype DX are two trade names.
— Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

• Pregnant women living in areas with poor air quality give birth to babies with lower birth weights.
— Environmental Health Perspectives

• Medicare is not enough: A couple in their mid 60’s who retire in 2007 will need from $150,000 to $300,000 to cover out of pocket items, co pays, drugs, and other things not covered by Medicare.
— Bottom Line Health

• In a New York case a hospital was ordered to provide worker’s comp benefits to a nurse who suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder after a needle stick that was believed to be HIV positive.

• From 1998 to 2005, the level of nicotine rose more than 11 percent in all cigarettes, except for Basic and Winston.
— Harvard Tobacco Control Research Program

• Wages paid in fast food restaurants are often better than wages in nursing homes or long-term care facilities.
— International Longevity Center

• Good-looking bosses are perceived to be more competent and better delegators than are less attractive ones.
— Image Architect

• Elderly women with osteoporosis who received yearly injections of zoledronic acid had 33 percent fewer fractures than did a control group.
— University of California, San Francisco

• Scientists are working on early detection of pancreatic cancer by detecting microRNA.
— Ohio State University

• The sales of erectile dysfunction drugs have leveled off, in contrast to a predicted continued increase in sales.
— Zacks Equity Research

• In a study in Brazil, Type 1 diabetics had their immune systems neutralized and then rebuilt from their own stem cells. The patients were then able to stop taking insulin during the study.

• Offering legal insurance as a benefit to employees grew 6 percent in 2006.
— Houston Chronicle

• Legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House to force the FDA to limit how OxyContin is prescribed.
— Lexington Herald Leader

• In a study, 56 percent of MBA students admitted cheating, 54 percent of graduate students in engineering admitted cheating, and 48 percent in education and 45 percent in law admitted cheating.
— AP, Rutgers University

• Veterans Administration officials are under pressure to install an electronic health records system to lessen delays for injured soldiers. Installing such a system will take years, according to experts.
— Lexington Herald Leader

• Even though people can receive news 24 hours a day from on-line sources and cable TV, 35 percent of Americans still watch a nightly network news program every day. Eighty-one percent watch the nightly news once in a while.
— Gallup News Service

• The third-ever successful hand transplant was recently done at a Louisville hospital. Surgery lasted 15 hours.
— AP

• Members of the violent McCoy clan of Appalachian lore are believed to have suffered from Von Hippel-Lindau disease, which causes tumors on the adrenal glands. Sufferers tend to be combative and agitated.
— Vanderbilt University

• About 15 percent of hospital patients are misdiagnosed.
— Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

• By 2025, 18 percent of the American population will be over 65.
— Business 2.0

• Health insurance for pets is a booming business. The market was $200 million in 2006 and will grow by 25 percent by 2007.
— Business 2.0

• Web MD has announced that it will offer free on-line health records to every American citizen.
— Health Data Managemen

t• Two million children per year are abused or neglected in the U.S.
— Nursing Made Incredibly Easy!

• About 800 bicyclists die each year in bike accidents.
— Consumer Prod

• Injection pens are becoming popular, but there are some dangers. Some have error prone designs and some are easily misread.
— Nursing2007

• The top drugs involved in errors from automated dispensing cabinets are morphine, heparin, oxycodone, diltiazen, ketorolac, meperidine, dopamine, hetastarch, methylergonovine and promethazine.
— USP-ISMP Medication Errors Reporting Program

• Even though children under age two should not receive cough and cold medicines, 1,519 children in this age bracket were treated for bad reactions to these medicines in 2004 and 2005.
— Nursing2007

• JCAHO requires that an event report be filed after a sentinel event.

• The patients most likely to be concerned about medical errors are parents with children, middle-aged adults and Afro-Americans. Patients in small rural hospitals are the least concerned with errors.
— Joint Commission Resources

• Deaths from accidental drug overdoses of both prescription and over-the-counter drugs rose 62.5 percent from 1999 to 2004.
— Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

• A mother prevailed in a lawsuit seeking damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress. The woman had been told her fetus was not viable, so she had a D&C. She later delivered a healthy child. The court noted that the peril in this case was a real physical peril.
— Strasel v. Seven Hills OB-GYN Assoc., Inc. (Ohio)

• Topical anesthetics, which are used to numb the skin in cosmetic surgeries, can be fatal if applied too heavily. The FDA recently issued an advisory concerning them.
— Medical Malpractice Law & Strategy

• The irritable bowel syndrome drug Zelnorm has been pulled from the market because of serious side effects.

• Moderate coffee consumption by pregnant women did not affect the birth weights of their infants.
— Newscom

• In 2004, 12.5 percent of all births were premature. The cost to care for preemies is $26 billion per year.
— McClatchy Tribune

• Infants deprived of oxygen can benefit if placed on a cooling blanket. In a study, cooling such infants for three days lowered brain and body temperature and prevented permanent brain damage.
— South Florida Sun-Sentinel

• People who have bariatric surgery have a diminished ability to absorb medications. (See related chart, below left).
— University of Kentucky

• The demand for air ambulance services is growing. Travelers often buy insurance for these services when they travel outside the U.S.
— Harvard Health Letter

• Doctors usually are not held liable for the actions of hospital employees who are not in their employment, but a doctor may be liable when he or she finds negligence on the part of an employee and fails to avert it, or when the employee is under the direction of the doctor in such a way as to create a master/servant relationship.
— Medical Malpractice Law & Strategy

• Viagra (Sildenafil) relieves jet lag, particularly among those flying eastward, where the days are “shortened.”
— Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

• Men who have migraines are more likely to have heart disease and heart attacks.
— Archives of Internal Medicine

• ER visits for nail gun injuries among do-it-yourself carpenters tripled between 19991 and 2005. The rate among professional carpenters held steady in the same period.
— Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

• Acetominophen is not properly processed in the livers of obese people, making these people more susceptible to toxic reactions and liver damage.
— Wayne State University

• CT scans of the lungs do catch small tumors early, contradicting a previous study underestimating the value of the scans.
— Weill Medical College

• A plaintiff sued the opposing defense firm alleging that the firm did not return her X-rays in a timely manner, thereby hampering her ability to retain an expert. An appeals court ruled that there was no cause of action against the defendant firm.
— Medical Malpractice Law & Strategy

• Check bacteria levels at beaches by going to www.epa.gov.beaches.

• The Symbex company has developed sensing technology for sports helmets that can instantly give medical personnel — wirelessly — details about a head injury’s location, acceleration, time, angle, etc.
— Health Data Management

• Need electronics destroyed? Argus Connection of Grand Prairie, Texas, shreds computer hard drives, cell phones and other devices.
— Health Data Management

• Though not a well known service, people with bad credit can “buy” a better credit score from people with high credit ratings. One company that offers this service isinstantcreditbuilders.com. Credit reporting services are looking into the legality of this practice.
— AP

• The pancreas does not have stem cells that divide and produce insulin, giving a twist to current research in the diabetes field. Insulin in the pancreas appears to be made by abundant division of beta cells and without any contributions by adult stem cells.
— Developmental Cell

• The annual cost of staying in a nursing home in the U.S. is $75,000, and assisted living facilities run $32,000. Staying at home with services brought to the house costs about $52,000.
— Genworth Financial

• A company called ZixCorp offers HIPAA-compliant e-mail encryption.
— zixcorp.com

• Public Citizen released its annual list of best and worst states for rates of doctor discipline. The bottom ten states — those with the lowest serious disciplinary action rates for 2004-2006, were, from bottom, Mississippi, South Carolina, Minnesota, South Dakota, Nevada, Wisconsin, Washington, Delaware, Maryland and Connecticut. The states with the highest rates, from the top, were Alaska, Kentucky, Wyoming, Ohio, Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa, Colorado, Arizona and Nebraska. These results cannot determine if a board with, for example, a low disciplinary rate, may have been given limited funds by its state.
— citizen.org

• The FDA has approved Xpert EV, a test to distinguish between bacterial or viral meningitis. The test takes 2.5 hours, much shorter than the seven days needed for current tests.

• The magazine Nursing2007 had an extensive infection-themed survey of nurses in the June 2007 issue. Most nurses answered correctly most of the time. There were some notable differences in age, experience and training levels of the nurses.
— Nursing2007

• A surgical consent form must be written in clear language and contain no acronyms. If a patient does not understand the form, it is not valid. [See story, Page 19, about arbitration agreements and what can invalidate them].
— Shellie Karno, RN, JD via RN

• Climate change issues are expected to keep attorneys busy in the future. The bartering and litigating of carbon credits will be complex, and litigants will seek compensation for climate-related changes and torts.
— The Dallas Morning News

• The Commonwealth Fund recently ranked states by their healthcare performance. Hawaii was on top, with Mississippi and Oklahoma at the bottom. The Fund’s data conclude that 90,000 lives per year could be saved if all states’ quality of care rose to the level of the top-tier states.
— Modern Healthcare

• A new prostate cancer test called EPCA-2, to be available in about two years, is more accurate than the older PSA test.
— Johns Hopkins University

• The Supreme Court has upheld that home healthcare aides are domestic workers offering “companionship services” and hence not, by tradition, subject to minimum wage requirements.
— Wire services

• The German company Brainlab sent a notice that a malfunction in its radiation machines may cause “injury or death.”
— AP

• The FDA plans more oversight of the multi-billion dollar cadaver industry. Lax regulations may have led to recent problems with organs carrying infectious diseases.
— Houston Chronicle

• Eli Lilly & Co. alleges that legal ads smearing its drug Zyprexa are keeping mentally ill patients from taking the drug and, presumably, hurting sales.
— San Jose Mercury News

• Half of all continuing medical education in the U.S. is funded by pharmaceutical companies.
— Daniel Carlat

• 6.4 million Americans have abused prescription drugs.
— CBS News

• Men who take ibuprofen, acetaminophen and aspirin for long terms for pain or for blood thinning have a 26 to 48 percent greater likelihood of having high blood pressure.
— Archives of Internal Medicine

• There is a 5 percent rate of harmful or fatal medication errors in perioperative (during surgery) patients. Among pediatric perioperative patients, the rate is 12 percent. Poor communication during hand-offs was cited.
— U.S. Pharmacopeia

• 3-D printers, known as rapid prototypers or stereolithographers, are becoming more common. Some models cost under $5,000 and prices are expected to continue to drop. The ability to make on-demand plastic parts has implications for engineering and medicine.
— Cornell University

• Americans are exposed to about 600 times more medical radiation than they were 25 years ago, mostly because of the increased use of CT scans. CT scans produce ionizing radiation, the most hazardous form.
— The New York Times

• Beard Audio Conferences offers 90-minute by-phone training sessions in lessening medical malpractice risk for hospitals and staffers. The instructor is Samuel Steinberg, PhD. The cost is $295 and any number of people can listen by speaker phone.
— beardaudio conferences.com

• Spending on on-line ads jumped to $4.9 billion in early 2007, a 26 percent increase over the same period in 2006.
— Lexington Herald-Leader

• Phages are viruses that break up plaques, and may be useful in Alzheimer’s treatment.
— Tel Aviv University

• Even though tort reforms in Tennessee have meant fewer lawsuits against nursing homes there, insurance rates for nursing homes have risen as much as 500 percent in recent years.
— Nashville City Paper

• In a large study it was discovered that men who had been fathers of only daughters were 40 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer. A defect in the Y chromosome is suspected.
— Mailman School of Public Health

• German scientists have devised a way to make sperm cells from bone marrow, raising the possibility of restoring fertility to men made sterile by cancer treatments.
— Gamete Biology

• The risks and side effects of magnesium sulfate outweigh the drug’s benefits. The drug is used to prevent preterm labor.
— Stanford University

• About 16 percent of the U.S. population has “compulsive buying disorder.”
— Stanford University

• Scientists recently grew heart stem cells on an array of extremely small nanowires. The wires supplied electrical current to coax the cells into growing into the desired heart tissue.
— UC Berkeley

• The new rules about limiting medical residents’ hours to less than 80 per week do not appear to be solving the problem of chronic sleepiness among the young doctors.
— American Thoracic Society

• Since 1987, 3,500 cases of documented “medical miracles” have occurred.
— Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing

• Sixty percent of the recalled products in the U.S. in the first half of 2007 came from China, and the budget-strapped Consumer Product Safety Commission struggles with monitoring. U.S. law does not require drug and food makers to reveal the national origin of ingredients.
— Charlotte Observer

• A company called SRA International will manage the med mal databases required by law under HIPAA and HCQIA.
— The Washington Post

• Consumer class action cases are on the rise, displacing PI class actions due in part to a growing inability to certify the PI cases.
— law.com

• The reporting of Avandia’s heart-risk side effects tripled in June, possibly because heart problems experienced by Avandia patients were not previously recognized to be linked to the drug.
— The Washington Post

• The state of Pennsylvania surveyed 60 hospitals and found wide inconsistencies in the quality of care, versus the cost, of heart bypass surgeries. The highest-paid hospitals (from Medicare or private insurance) received $97,000 on average, with the lowest paid receiving $18,000 on average. Patients at both financial extremes sometimes faired comparably in terms of length of stay or death rates. No strong correlations could be drawn.
— Chicago Tribune

• The U.S. House passed a bill on July 12 that gives the FDA more power to detect risky side effects of drugs already on the market. The bill calls for establishment of a computer system to detect patterns in insurance and pharmacy records that could indicate problems, adds new rules to ensure that the latest scientific information is in doctors’ drug literature, gives the FDA the power to order follow-up safety studies, and sets up risk management plans tailored to a drug. The bill, if it becomes law, also creates a system for approving biologic drugs.
— Los Angeles Times

• In an average office visit, patients forget 50 percent of what their doctors tell them.
— Dr. Mehmet C. Oz via NPR

• Fifteen percent of doctors’ diagnoses are wrong. Possible reasons: A doctor may make an “attribution error” —when he or she prejudicially believes a condition originates from a certain source; A “premature closure” error results when the doctor does not consider all possible causes of an ailment.
— Dr. Jerome Groopman via Bottom Line Health

• Indiana has adopted rules mandating that hospitals report medical errors to the public.
— Indianapolis Star

• About 1.2 million hospitalized patients experienced an adverse drug event in 2004, though 90 percent of these unwanted side effect cases were from drugs that were administered correctly. Corticosteroids, blood thinners, anti-cancer drugs and drugs for organ transplant rejection were the top culprits. Only a small percentage of patients were given the wrong medicines or the right medicines incorrectly.
— “News and Numbers” via ahrq.gov

• Bed bug bites are on the rise, and so are lawsuits dealing with them: A woman recently sued a resort in New York claiming she received 500 bites that “scarred her body and mind”; plaintiffs in a Chicago rental building are seeking $50,000 each for lax eradication efforts by the landlord; and an opera singer is seeking $6 million in damages from a hotel for 150 bites she received while a guest. Motel 6 lost a case in 2003 and paid almost $400,000 to two guests who were bitten.
— RN

• In a survey, 64 percent of critical care nurses said they had experienced verbal abuse in the workplace, and about 20 percent had experienced either physical abuse or sexual harassment. In the same group, 88 percent said they would recommend the nursing field to others.
— American Association of Critical-Care Nurses

• Believe it or not: A lightning bolt has as much power as 500 lbs. of TNT, and heats the air it touches to 54,000°F, five times the temperature of the surface of the sun.
— Science News

• A class-action suit has been filed against CarFax, claiming that the popular internet company did not gather data in all 50 states and overstated what it could tell consumers about vehicles’ histories.
— Newscom

• Osteoporosis drugs called bisphosphonates, such as Fosamax, have been implicated in jaw deterioration diseases, often called “bisphossy jaw.” About 400 cases have been documented, while about 22 million Fosamax prescriptions are written per year, so the rate of complication appears small.
— Newscom

• A fight arose between two psychiatric patients in an Indiana hospital. The injured patient filed suit, and his claim was based on premises liability. The court ruled this was proper as no medical services were being rendered, not unlike a third-party visitor to the hospital.
— Madison Center v. R.R.K.

• In a Virginia case the state supreme court has held that injury to an unborn child can also be physical injury to the mother.
— Castle v. Lester

• In a Florida case a court has allowed a med mal suit to continue against a hospital that was claiming immunity — a suit had been brought against a doctor who was an independent contractor.
— JONA’s Healthcare Law, Ethics, and Regulation

• The FDA recently asked makers of anti-depressant drugs such as Prozac and Zoloft to expand warnings about prescriptions given to young adults. Young adults sometimes become suicidal when they first start taking such medicines.
— AP

• A judge tossed out a suit against Kentucky Fried Chicken recently: the plaintiff failed to show that trans fats in KFC’s food had harmed him. The plaintiff alleged that KFC did not disclose the use of the fats. KFC no longer fries food in trans fats.
— Lexington Herald-Leader

• A small minority of people develop a serious bleeding problem (thrombocytopenia) when taking vancomycin.
— New England Journal of Medicine

• New guidelines have been released for preventing multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs). Hand sanitation was listed as the first line of defense.

• House bill 378 was recently introduced. The bill mandates that healthcare facilities have the proper equipment for lifting and transferring patients.
— Nursing2007

• As of early 2007, federal investigators had revved up their investigations of sham medical equipment dealers in South Florida.
— Lexington Herald Leader

• Proof has been found that a human fetus can develop immunity to a disease in response to a vaccine given just to the mother.
— Journal of Clinical Investigation

• About 30 percent of working-age people become disabled before retirement age.
— The New York Times

• California is toying with requiring all attorneys to have malpractice insurance. Almost three-quarters of the lawyers sued are sole practitioners or are with small firms.
— Houston Chronicle

• Johnson & Johnson has planned a radical new approach to launch its cancer drug Velcade in Great Britain — the national health service only has to pay if the drug works. At $48,000 per treatment, such an approach may be the only way to bring Velcade to market, and may be signaling a shift in the way drugs are priced, with the basis on performance.
— NPR, The New York Times

• A Boston woman is suing the IRS for not allowing her to deduct $25,000 for a sex change operation. Precedents are unclear. The IRS ruled against a sex-change deduction in 2005, but allowed write-offs of travel expenses to and from such an operation in 1993.
— AP

• About 14 percent of doctors surveyed said they did not feel obligated to tell patients about procedures that violated the doctors’ religious or moral convictions.
— New England Journal of Medicine

• The hepatitis B drug entecavir causes HIV in recipient patients to become resistant to HIV drugs.
— Science News

• About 4 percent of children have been asked to upload sexually-explicit photos of themselves while on-line.
— Univerisity of New Hampshire

• It is the responsibility of doctors, not nurses, to obtain the patient’s consent for surgeries and procedures.
— RN

• There are about 2 million healthcare-associated infections in hospitals each year that cause 90,000 deaths and $4.5 billion in excess costs.

• Doctors have identified a gene that is linked to the higher rate of premature births among African-American women.
— Newscom

• Nurses who work with chemotherapy drugs have lowered levels of fertility.
— Epidemiology

• Among people 65 and older, those who can understand basic written medical instructions live longer than those who are confused by the instructions.
— Chicago Tribune

• About 18 percent of U.S. soldiers coming back from Iraq develop post-traumatic stress disorder.
— RN

• Dr. Anna Pou and the two nurses (Lori Budo, Cheri Landry) believed to have committed mercy killings in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina have all had charges against them dropped.
— AP

• Artificial intelligence computers have solved all possible moves in the game of checkers — 500 billion. The AI technology has collateral applications in medicine and biology.
— Science

• A Virginia-based social service consulting firm has agreed to settle allegations that it advised a Washington, D.C. family and child service agency on how to best bilk Medicaid using false claims. Maximus, the consulting firm, did not have to admit wrongdoing.
— The Washington Post

• A company called CapMed, a division of Bio-Imaging Technologies, has developed technology that allows a person to access his or her medical records via cell phone.
— Newscom

• About 54 million Americans — roughly one-fifth of us — care for family members or friends, with some doing it long-distance. The majority of caregivers show signs of depression, with about 20 percent having depression serious enough to warrant medical intervention.
— National Family Caregivers Association

• In an unscientific poll conducted by Nursing2007 magazine, 51 percent of nurses said they felt their colleagues were not competent.
— Nursing2007

• The University of California recently agreed to pay $7.5 million to settle claims that liver transplant patients at its UCI Medical Center were denied transplants and were misled about the center’s lack of a surgeon, resulting in 32 patients dying while waiting.
— L.A. Times

• A man who grew faint at the sight of blood while helping a nurse treat his wife in an ER fell and cut his head. He sued. The court said the hospital did not have a duty to the man — that its duties were to patients.
— Ziegler v. Tenet

• The AMA and the ANA, in a press release, have both decried the criminalization of medical personnel when they commit substandard medical care, especially during emergency and disaster situations.
— www.nursingworld.org

• Currently there are no federal rules for checking backgrounds of applicants who seek jobs to give care to the elderly. Each state has its own rules. Since 2003, in seven states, 5,000 applicants were denied jobs through a federal pilot project.
— Houston Chronicle

• A new gene therapy technique shows promise of curing pancreatic cancer.
— Cancer Cell

• The M-L News reported in its last issue that an eastern Kentucky county was considering suing Purdue Pharma, maker of Oxycontin®, for costs the county has incurred as a result of Oxycontin’s widespread addictive misuse. Costs include extra police and jails needed to deal with addicts. Pike County, Ky., and the state attorney general filed their suit in early October. At least 20 other counties have joined in the “hillbilly heroin” litigation. The litigants face several causation obstacles, one being to skirt the “learned intermediary” (the doctors) doctrine defense.
— Lexington Herald-Leader

• Lawyers who have been in practice for ten years or more are slow to recommend law to a young person. Only 42 percent of those polled recommended it, though 80 percent of those surveyed said they were proud to be attorneys.
— ABA Journal

• A Texas jury awarded $6 million to a man who was badly hurt when his motorcycle was hit by a tractor-trailer truck. The jury did not buy the argument that the accident was the cyclist’s fault.
— Waco Tribune Herald

• The DaVita dialysis company is under scrutiny about billing practices and the use of Epogen®, an anemia drug.
— The New York Times

• Senator Charles E. Grassley wants the medical device company Medtronics to disclose its history of making payments to doctors after its settling of a lawsuit over illegal kickbacks to doctors for use of its spinal devices.
— Wire Services

• Class action wrinkle? A study by the CDC found no connection between the mercury-containing vaccine preservative thimerosal and neurological problems in young children. About 5,000 lawsuits have been filed claiming that the preservative causes children to become autistic. The study did not test for a direct link between the preservative and autism. Conversely, a large private study by the group Generation Rescue found a strong link between vaccines and autism.
— The New York Times, Newscom

• Johnson & Johnson has long claimed that its drug-coated stents are not as likely to produce blood clots as were older products, but now that Boston Scientific is in a patent fight with Johnson & Johnson, Johnson is claiming that the newer stents’ safety concerns exclude them from Boston Scientific’s patent profile.
— The New York Times

Hospitals vary widely in their infection-control practices.
— Consumers Union

• 52 percent of hospital nurses complain of chronic back pain. In 2005, RNs ranked No. 8, ahead of construction workers, in occupations that were risky for strains and sprains.

• Class action wrinkle: That “new car smell” is created by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) coming from synthetic materials in new cars’ materials. There has been some concern that these VOCs are dangerous, but a new study says otherwise.
— Environmental Science & Technology

• In a survey, 45 percent of doctors said they thought that electronic health records would make them less vulnerable to malpractice suits. Twenty percent said their med-mal insurers offer discounts for EHRs. About 20 percent of respondents had a med mal case involving EHR data.
— HealthData Management.com

• Does federal regulation of pharmaceuticals preempt state law? The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that will clarify this.
— San Diego Union-Tribune

• The Arkansas Attorney General plans to sue Eli Lilly and Co. and two other drug companies for inappropriately marketing anti-psychosis drugs. The law firm, Bailey Perrin Bailey LLP, is engaged in suits in several other states.
— AP

• A television fell on a schoolboy at a private Chicago school and injured him. A jury awarded $19 million in damages in September. Among the awards was $5 million for a loss of normal life and $2 million for disfigurement.
— The Chicago Tribune

• A shortfall of 340,000 RNs is expected by the year 2020.

• More than half of RNs do not plan to stay in their first job for more than three years.

• The increased heart attack risk from taking the drug Avandia® is 42 percent, and a 109 percent increased risk exists for heart failure among those taking the drug for at least a year.

• An Alabama circuit court awarded $2.2 million to the widow of an Alzheimer’s patient who eloped from a nursing facility. The man had been wearing an ankle bracelet to trigger a security alarm, but the system was not working. The facility was an assisted-living facility, and the jury felt that the facility had no business admitting an Alzheimer’s patient. (Miller v. Terrace at Grove Park, 2007).
— Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter

• Class action watch: Office laser printers can spew extremely tiny particles of pollutants into the air. The smaller a particle, the deeper it will be inhaled into the lungs. In a study, various printer models were tested but no particular manufacturers’ products stood out as being dirtier or cleaner — the particle size varied among machines, not makers.
— Environmental Science & Technology

• The healthcare sector of the U.S. economy added about 350,000 jobs in 2006, while manufacturing lost 250,000.
— NBC News

• Grapefruit and oranges are good for the heart, according to a new large study. Both fruits contain large amounts of flavanomes. In a separate study, pomegranate juice was found to slow prostate tumor growth.
— Exponent Inc., Vastyr University

• Many patients do not tell the whole truth during medical check-ups — about half withhold information. Reasons given for not speaking up included such things as 1) not wanting to be judged, 2) feeling that the truth was too embarrassing, 3) thinking the information was unimportant or 4) not wanting to appear stupid.
— WebMD

• Legal work continues to be rapidly outsourced to India. About $80 million-worth of legal work per year goes to India now, but by 2015 the number will reach $4 billion. Indian attorneys charge about 90 percent less than American attorneys.
— ABA Journal

• A nurses’ aide stole patient information from medical charts and co-workers’ pay stubs and then sold the information for the purpose of fraudulently obtaining credit cards and engaging in a $250,000 spending spree. (U.S. v. Occident).
— Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter

• Believe it or not: If everybody in the U.S. switched to compact fluorescent lights, 80 power plants could close. In the U.S., 40 percent of all energy is lost as waste heat.
— earth-policy.org, McKinsey Global Institute

• Believe it or not: There is a correlation between index finger length, relative to ring finger length, and math and literacy skills.
— University of Bath

• The HHS Office for Civil Rights has subpoena power to investigate HIPAA violations.
— Health Data Management

• Researchers have recently attached molecules of the drug Taxol® to tiny particles of gold that can carry the drug directly to a tumor. This development also makes the drug water-soluble.
— Rice University

• Privacy watch: A new super-sensitive technique of testing wastewater can detect illegal drugs in sewage. The technique, if widely adopted, could beg privacy issues, i.e. how far down the line does sewage become public, or how far up the line is it private?
— Oregon State University

• Medicare spending was $436 billion in 2007, a 17 percent rise from 2006, and will rise to $854 billion by 2017. Medicaid spending was $192 billion in 2007, a 6 percent increase from 2006, and will reach $417 billion by 2017.
— Congressional Budget Office

• Seventy-two percent of nurses say they label drug syringes by writing on self-adhesive labels or tape and applying the labels to the syringe. This does not meet Joint Commission standards that call for labels to be affixed when the drug is prepared.
— nursingworld.org

• The risk of complications or death from office-based surgeries is ten times greater than in hospital or hospital-affiliated settings. Twenty-five million office-based surgeries are performed each year.
— People’s Medical Society

• Believe it or not: On average, American drivers waste an entire work week each year by sitting in traffic while commuting to or from their jobs.
— Texas Traffic Institute

• A Kansas hospital patient has filed a lawsuit claiming that bird droppings in the building’s air ducts caused a fungal infection. (Wolfe v. Via Christi).

• The Geisinger Health System has a new way of charging for surgeries: the hospital system charges a flat fee that includes 90 days of follow-up treatment. Essentially, the surgery comes with a warranty. Called “ProvenCare,” the surgical system compartmentalized heart bypass surgery into 40 essential steps that can be easily followed.
— The New York Times

• Accutane®’s maker, Hoffman-La Rouche may have to pay $7 million to a Florida man for failing to warn of the drug’s side effect of gastrointestinal disease.
— San Diego Union Tribune

• Believe it or not: Sudanese cell phone billionaire Mo Ibrahim confers a $5 million prize on African political leaders who peacefully step aside once their terms have ended.
— Chicago Tribune

• A child in New Jersey has won $11.7 million after suffering brain damage at birth. The suit hinged on the fact that Pitocin® and Cytotec® were erroneously combined to induce uterine contractions. It was reported that the manufacturer of Cytotec paid $2 million out of court for failing to warn about the dangers of mixing Cytotec with Pitocin. (Moeltner v. Rubio, N.J.).
— Legal Eagle Eye Newsletter

• Believe it or not: Whether or not the greenhouse gas problem is acted upon, the worlds’ oceans will rise by 39 inches by the year 2100, say most leading scientists — so large sections of pricey coastal real estate will be under water. Scientist Tim Flannery, an authority on global warming and author of a world-wide best selling book on the subject, said in a recent interview that greenhouse gas emissions had reached about 455 parts per million — way ahead of previous calculations.
— AP, Insurance Monitor

• A new report by the Joint Commission says that hospitals have made marked improvement in care in the last four years. Another study found that the most significant factor in improving patient safety was whether or not a hospital had Joint Commission accreditation.
— JCAHO, Journal of Health Care Management

• A New York bus driver has been found negligent for exposing high school kids to TB. The jury ordered the driver, Raul Garcia, and his Holiday Tours bus company to pay $5.25 million.
— New York Times, AP

• A Florida woman, a dance teacher, was rear-ended by a moving company truck. A jury awarded her $3.4 million because she will need care for the remainder of her life.
— Florida Times Union

• The popular clog-style shoes know as Crocs have been linked to accidents involving escalators. The shoes tend to become caught.
— Houston Chronicle

• There is a movement among many industries to seek increased federal government control. Companies seek this increased regulation as a way of deferring liability and preempting tighter local standards.
— The New York Times

• Rhode Island has proposed that three former manufacturers of lead-based paint pay $2.4 billion to clean up thousands of contaminated homes.
— AP, USA Today

• A new super-accurate brain scan has been developed. Called MEG, the device tracks magnetic signals in the brain and can detect such maladies as Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.
— Minneapolis Star Tribune

• Three California doctors have been charged $96 million for their part in a surgical fraud scheme. (Blue Cross Ala. v. Unity).

• Some medical ethicists worry that the mania to harvest organs has gone too far. In a recent incident involving a patient named Rueben Navarro, charges allege that doctors accelerated Navarro’s death by overdosing him in a rush to obtain transplant organs.
— The Washington Post

• The Vatican reiterated in September that removal of feeding tubes from patients in vegetative states is immoral.
— Wire services

• In a Nebraska courtroom a judge banned a rape victim from using the word “rape” and several other words that could “prejudice” the jury against the alleged assailant. A lawsuit has been threatened alleging violation of freedom of speech in the courtroom.
— Omaha World-Herald

• A New York medical center will pay $3.4 million to settle claims that it cheated Medicaid. (U.S. v. Catskill Regional).

• The U.S. government will have to pay $55 million to a 9-year-old girl who was paralyzed after an Army vehicle struck a car in which she was a passenger.
— L. A. Times

• Believe it or not: Pre-teen and teenage children spend 6.5 hours a day involved in some electronic medium such as TV, video games, PCs, etc.
— Kaiser Family Foundation

• Manufacturers of microwave popcorn knew about the health risks associated with a chemical in the popcorn for more than a year before their announcement that they would remove the chemical, which can cause a dangerous illness called popcorn lung. Allegedly the popcorn industry pressured the EPA to keep the report secret.
— Cox Newspapers

• Since 1998, deaths and adverse events from prescription drugs have almost tripled. Painkillers and arthritis drugs are the most problematic to administer correctly.
— L. A. Times

• Federal law requires that Medicare audit at least one-third of private insurers who receive Medicare payments, but in 2006 only 14 percent of companies were audited.
— The New York Times

• Jurors in an Illinois court found that a delay during a c-section caused permanent harm to the plaintiff infant, now a 7-year-old boy. They awarded $12 million, with $10.5 million to be put into a fund to care for the wheelchair-bound child who requires a feeding tube. The Illinois Verdict Reporter was quoted as saying that the award was the largest med mal award on record for DuPage County — bigger than a $7.2 million award in 2003.
— Chicago Tribune

• A Florida court awarded a woman $2.4 million for lost fertility after a surgical sponge was left inside her during a c-section in 2001.
— The Miami Herald

• The largest wrongful death verdict in Connecticut’s history was awarded in early October when a jury gave $22.5 million to the widow (Vita Carlson) of a man who had been misdiagnosed while having a heart attack in 1994. In 2003 a jury had awarded her $10 million, but the state supreme court overturned the verdict because the jury had not been allowed to consider the role of a second defendant.
— Hartford Courant

• From a large survey of medicines involved in patient harm, six medicines stood out as especially risky in acute care settings. The medications were insulin, heparin, opiods, injectable potassium chloride or potassium phosphate concentrate, neuromuscular blocking agents and chemotherapy drugs.
— Institute for Safe Medication Practices

• Kentucky has a doctor shortage. The Kentucky Institute of Medicine noted that most medical school graduates prefer higher-paying specialty work over primary care work in rural and low income areas. The group called for student loan help, increasing the number of students admitted to medical schools and implementation of tort caps as solutions for the physician shortage.
— Lexington Herald-Leader

• A pre-law student, Brian Marquis, sued the University of Massachusetts at Amherst after he received a C instead of an A-minus in a course. His gripe was that his deserved good grade was lowered after application of a grading curve. He noted that the bad grade would make him “less attractive” to a law school. He filed the suit in federal court. It was dismissed and he is considering an appeal.
— The Boston Globe

• A federal judge ruled in August that the HHS must release specific data from the Medicare Claims Database about doctors. Consumer advocacy groups hail the ruling as a shift toward healthcare industry transparency.
— L. A. Times

• The former dean at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey’s Camden campus has been accused of passing medical students who otherwise did not meet minimum standards. The students did appear to be aware of what had happened.
— The Philadelphia Inquirer

• Microsoft’s new medical information web site, www.healthvault.com, maintained and updated by patients themselves, has some privacy rights experts concerned. Critics fear that the data could be compromised, and are concerned about who owns the data. Microsoft is not the first company with such a site.
— Houston Chronicle

• The FDA is considering creating a new class of drugs that falls somewhere between prescription medicines and over-the-counter ones. Under the plan, patients could obtain items such as migraine medicines or birth control pills simply by talking to their pharmacists. Critics worry about the health and legal dangers of patient self-diagnosis.
— L. A. Times

• Eli Lilly has added strong warnings to the anti-psychotic drug Zyprexa®. The warnings acknowledge side effects that include high cholesterol, high blood sugar and certain metabolic problems.
— The New York Times

• The pharmaceutical company Questcor Pharmaceuticals raised the price of H.P. Acthar® from $1,650 a vial to more than $23,000. The dug is an anti-seizure drug for infants. The company justified the increase by saying it derives 90 percent of its revenue from the drug, and that it has been losing money.
— L. A. Times

• Believe it or not: Ninety-seven percent of the vertebrate biomass in the world is made up of humans and related food animals such as livestock. Only 3 percent of the biomass is original wild animals.
— Optimum Population Trust via NPR

• In a study, two gene variations were found that increased the chances that people on depression medicines such as Prosac would have suicidal thoughts. Screening for such genes could lessen bad outcomes with such drugs.

• A study found that people who receive help dying (physician-assisted suicide) tend to be educated and well off — the opposite of the type of people who have been believed to be most likely to utilize such means.
— Journal of Medical Ethics

• Wyeth, maker of the hormone replacement drugs Premarin® (an estrogen replacement drug) and Prempro® (a combination of estrogen and progestin), will have to pay $134 million to settle three suits from women who claimed the drugs caused breast cancer. Wyeth has about 5,000 such cases pending.
— AP, The New York Times

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