© The Medical-Legal News 2007
• 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
• In the March/April issue of The M-L News, a headline about a $3 million lawsuit may have led readers to believe that said sum was the final settlement amount. The final amount is confidential, as was stated in the story. Also, the headline generically referenced an “LNC firm.” A real business called LNC Firm, owned by RN Market, LLC, exists and was in no way involved in the litigation.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• The FDA says that about 1 percent of the U.S. drug supply is counterfeit.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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
• 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.
• 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.
• A Louisiana appeals court has found tort caps there to be unconstitutional.
— Arrington v. ER Physicians Group
• 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.LNCExchange.com