May 1, 2006 News



Medical Marijuana


Allegany General Hospital has finally cracked.  After much pressure by national and state agencies, they have finally appointed a physician to head the psychiatry department.  They had had a psychologist in charge of mediation using physicians.  

Hospitals live in fear of JCAHO, but I wonder why. There has been a sentinel alert and protocols for avoiding for wrong sided surgery in place for years but the frequency of the wrong side surgery occurrence is increasing.  

In an article from the AP, there is a good discussion of the competition between hospitals and physicians for ambulatory care treatments.  The story focused on Missouri and the legislature pursuing a law that would make economic credentialing a thing of the past.  The legislature wants to make an affiliate staff of a hospital for those who own outside ASCs and are economically barred from hospital active staffs.  A reasonable idea to help patients who have an emergency stay locally and not have to go to a hospital 20 miles away.

St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles has had problems with its now disbanded liver transplant program.  It now faces a federal investigation of the program and has laid off about 100 people or 8% of its staff.  The hospital lost $12 million last year and over $15 million in the first eight months of this fiscal year.  Both patients and physicians have deserted the sinking ship.  I hope the money they received from the Saudi national for the transplant was worth it. 

As for another disgraced Southern California Hospital, University of California Irvine, a federal investigation is focusing on the money paid to physicians.  The physicians of their failed liver program who transplanted essentially no one were all paid well.  The investigation is looking into potential fraud in their billing. 

My favorite LA Hospital is back in the news.  This time for a minor accomplishment.  Drew/King hospital hired the Navigant Consulting Company for their turn around in 2004.  One and a half years later and after $21 million they are full compliance with about 80% of what the started out to do in their contract.  The company has failed to secure specialized consultants for several areas of the hospital, including the laboratory.  The hospital still has not reapplied for its accreditation that it lost during its heyday of miscues by the hospital and its Board. It is also still out of compliance with federal standards.  One of LA Board of Stupes that hired Navigant stated that the company is a dismal failure. They are now six month behind schedule and he finds this with a $20 million budget inexcusable.  The contract is over May 1.  It will be interesting what the Stupes will do. 

In New Orleans, there are now 77% less primary care physicians than before the hurricane.  This has caused the city to be declared a federal health shortage area which means the physicians get paid more for seeing federal patients.  This reminds me of the attorney from the city who wanted to put in a medical staff bylaws something about sanctions for physicians who did not go to their posts during a disaster.  I wrote her about the stupidity of the thought and she defended it.  Well, now I hope she sees what will happen. The family takes precedence over the hospital.      Top


Those that want universal healthcare have cited the statistics that we in the United States have a poor mortality rate as compared to other countries with universal care and 60% taxes.  A new report by the National Center for Health Statistics showed in 2004 the annual number of deaths dropped by about 50,000.  This is all the more amazing considering the longer length of life for most Americans.  This also went up to an average of 77.9 years, a record but which is still nothing to write home about.  The death causes were heart at 27%, cancer at 23% and stroke at 6.6%.  The three all had decreases presumably due to better treatments.  

Remote patient monitoring is not getting off the ground since insurance companies, including Medicare will not pay for it or if they do pay it is a low amount.  This is a disincentive for hospitals to purchase the expensive tele-medicine equipment needed. The hospitals would rather be paid for doing the acute care than preventive care.  The same is true for physicians as they don't get paid for interpreting data from afar but they are liable. 

A study was done to see how much the ill thought out People's Republic health plan would cost on the Left Coast.  The answer was an additional $9.4 Billion.  The difference is many more in California do not have health insurance and there is more employer based insurance in the Republic.  The study also questions the true cost of the program for the tiny state as it has not yet gone into practice. As an aside in the People's Republic, the Democratic legislature has overridden the veto by Governor Romney and put back in the bill the $295 fee on businesses that do not provide employee heath insurance.  This calculated move gets the Republican Governor off the hook for his Presidential run in 2008. This makes all eight vetoes Romney made overridden.            Top

Medical Marijuana

The FDA has continued the misinformation on medical marijuana.  In a probable solicited statement the organization said that marijuana has no medical properties.  This is in spite of the IOM stating that it does, the failure of the NIH in funding any true studies with good marijuana not grown in the official government bed and a double blind study from the University of California San Francisco that is having alot of problems getting published.        Top


DISCLAIMER: Although this article is updated periodically, it reflects the author's point of view at the time of publication. Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice. Readers should consult with their own legal counsel before acting on any of the information presented.