November 1, 2006 News 





The current plan at Drew/King institution would be to transfer patients around the county as the institution is downsized, restaffed and control passes to Harbor.  Harbor needs to upgrade its staff to care for the influx of patients from King.  This would allow for the closing of the hospital and the re-opening on March 1 as a 42 bed hospital.  The hospital would then grow gradually over the following three years to a maximum of 114 beds.  The LA County Board of Stupes certainly has chutzpah.  King has already received notice that their federal funding will be cut on December 1.  The Board wants this to be delayed one year plus give the hospital a one time $50 million transition fee.  The feds have not even ok'd the transition of patients and the Harbor takeover.

Drew University is starting to lose it's accreditation.  This is a direct result of the King fiasco and the non-workings of the LA County Board of Stupes.  The loss of King would mean the loss of training for Drew students, one of only a few black medical schools. Drew has to the beginning of the year to appeal the ruling.  The county continues to drag its collective feet about who will pay the residents if they go to other hospitals.  

It is hard to believe but politics again rears its ugly head.  The feds have granted an extension to the nation's worst hospital Drew/King.  They will not yank the funding as they should on November 1 (today) but will keep the money in place until at least March 31.  The feds at least turned down the idiotic plea for $50 million for transition fees.  The Drew/King institution must be incorporated into Harbor by then and the problems fixed by the Harbor people.

Still in Los Angeles, as reported in past editions, Memorial Hospital is about to transfer patients.  Almost 800 employees have received their pink slips.  They will have to reapply for the positions and in reality about 150 will actually lose a job.         

Imagine your hospital sending you a letter asking you to write a national polling company about how good the hospital is.  This is what the University of Pittsburgh did to the local physicians.  A letter was sent from the chief medical officer asking the local physicians to write the US News and World Report.  This shows how hospitals get into the top ranked hospitals in the country and what a farce the rankings are.  

It's been almost a year since Kaiser was accused of patient dumping to skid row.  Now another hospital has apparently done the same thing.  The Los Angeles Metropolitan Medical Center has been accused and denies the allegation.  The dumping is on videotape.  The hospital agreed that they hired ambulances to take people to the skid row addresses but they state this was the patient choice.  The patients agree with the police.  

Yet another California hospital has dropped out of Medicaid.  This means that they will only take Medicaid patients as an emergency and not any elective patients.  The hospital is Eden Medical center in Castro Valley and San Leandro, California.    Top 


Think about this in terms of money needed for care for either the uninsured or healthcare in general.  Mr. William McGuire, the former CEO of UnitedHealth, has resigned due to illegal backdating company stock options.  He will get $5.1 million a year plus $6.5 million lump sum payment and stock options that were last valued in 2005 at $1.78 BILLION.  It is outrageous that UnitedHealth would allow this to occur.  The Board of Directors needs a good cleaning out.  

UnitedHealthcare is having problems in Northern California.  Their PacifiCare branch has caused physicians not to join.  This reluctance on the part of physicians has caused Sun Microsystems and possibly others to drop UnitedHealth for their employees.  Sun has replace United with Blue Cross.

Imagine this.  The Connecticut trial attorneys are asking the state regulators to lessen the insurance costs for physicians insured by Connecticut Medical Insurance Company.  The rationale is the bottom line of the company is good.  The real reason is that this would take the away any impetus for tort reform and the lawyers feeding at the trough. 

Tufts Health, the going broke HMO, is moving to cheaper quarters.  They are moving from Waltham to Watertown where they already have an office.  They make some money on the lease they are leaving as the Waltham area has a scarcity of large spaces.  

The last newsletter told of the over $40 million that Kaiser spends per year on advertising instead of patient care.  In a recent article in the Fresno, California Bee, tells how Kaiser is downplaying its role as a restrictive HMO and accentuates its preventative care.  The problem is that insurance brokers are used for companies and if the insurance is too restrictive or too expensive it will not be chosen.  

You have read about the Kaiser and other organ transplant scandals.  Now the United Network for Organ Sharing, the national oversight committee has itself been blasted for lack of oversight. The LA Times has a story on the lack of oversight by the organization.  The former and current CEOs agreed with the story and that changes are being made.  The organization has only once actually closed a program, only put them on probation. 

Ah yes, Electronic medical records.  Yet another laptop has been stolen with patient information.  This one from an Allina Hospital nurse's car. The information was double password protected.  There were about 14,000 households in the Minnesota twin cities affected.  

The Seattle Swedish Medical Center had an employee who stole the information on 1100 patients. These are both inpatients and day surgical patients.  This poorly run Center did not offer to pay for the credit checks they recommend to the patients they injured.  They did hire a third party to help patients.  

The dear sweet Sisters of St. Francis Health in Indianapolis lost the data for about 250,000 people for three days earlier this year.  They are now disclosing it months later.  The data was probably not accessed but no thanks to the employee who took the information to work on it at home.  The dear Sisters stated the delay was due to investigation.  The letter asked the patients to check their credit reports but did not offer to pay for the checks.

On October 23, the AHA sent another nastygram to the Joint Commission.  They just don't like to share power with physicians and the letter is about the proposed MS 1.20.  They like that hospitals can now force medical staffs to put important policies in areas that do not require member votes.  They want to make sure that the medical staff can not adopt bylaws to send to the Board for ratification but must instead propose the bylaws changes to the Boards.  They also state that it will take about three years to get all the bylaws modified to incorporate the changes.  

There is potential trouble in Michigan.  Wayne State University and Detroit Medical Center are at odds.  This problem may result in problems with accreditation and about 900 residents would be pulled from Detroit causing more limited access to care.  The problem is over future control. 

The Brits are the same as their colony.  The Daily Mail states that the National Health Service (NHS) has 34,000 deaths per year in the hospitals.  In Great Britain safety and medical errors are a low priority. The various areas have separate safety standards and they do not have any common ability to find the errors so they are not repeated. The Brits are the same as some our hospitals, using a blame culture and not looking inwards for system problems.       Top


There is a testing machine on the market that sells for about $5000.  It is the NC-stat made by Neurometrix.  It is FDA approved and the primary care physicians are buying it. The test in 15 minutes tests nerve function and can generate about $250 per test. It is used to test for carpel tunnel syndrome, diabetes and low back pain. Medicare and some but not all private insurers pay for the test.  It is causing a turf battle between primary care physicians and neurologists.  The neurologists state they are getting fewer consults and the diagnosis is wrong on occasion.  Neurometrix is now under investigation for their marketing and claims.  If physicians steer other physicians to the company they are rewarded with a gift of $200 disposable biosensors.  The company went public and wants fast growth.  There is a large short position in the stock.  This means the investors believe the stock will fall.   

The American College of Physician Executives did a poll and found that about 60% of the physicians in the US are frustrated with the health system.  The low morale was loss of autonomy, low reimbursement, red tape, patient overload and loss of respect.  All these are directly related to the rise of the HMO revolution in the late 1980s and the 1990s.  The physicians interviewed stated they feel fatigued, have emotional burnout and marital discord.  Those that work in group practices are better than those who work for the government of insurance companies.     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.