by • July 1, 2007 • UncategorizedComments Off on NewsSpots2009

© The Medical-Legal News, 2007

• 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.

— 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.


• 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

• 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

• 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

• 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.


• 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 Management

• Two million children per year are abused or neglected in the U.S.

— Nursing Made Incredibly Easy!

• 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


• 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 is 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.


• 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.


• 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

• About 800 bicyclists die each year in bike accidents.

— Consumer Product Safety Commission

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