October 1, 2018 Recent News



The rising cost of healthcare is rightly seen by the average consumer as the hospital's fault.  This is especially true in this current wave of hospital purchasing physician practices to steer patients to their institution.  From 2010 to 2016 the national share of hospital based physicians has risen from 30% to 48%.  With this consolidation comes higher prices and more coordination of care.  Insurers can not negotiate lower prices as easily with consolidation and prices and premiums escalate.  One of the mist egregious problems is facility fees.  This is where the hospital charges a fee for the patient to see the same physician as prior to being an employee a fee for the honor to continue to see the physician.  This is approved by Medicare even though the physician now has no rent or other overhead and the RVS should actually decrease.  In Connecticut hospitals an health networks have received an estimated $1.2 Billion in outpatient facility fees from 2015 to 2017.  This patient received nothing for this fee.

A legal case between neurologist Diana Blum and Palo Alto Foundation Medical Group highlights the above.  She is suing stating the administrators have retaliated against her.  She states physicians ere encouraged to characterized ailments as more complex for higher reimbursement, discouraged fro referral outside Sutter so they would not lose business, encouraged to prescribe generic to lower costs and not given enough time and resources to treat patients due to productivity standards.  Blum refused a settlement offer of $201,000 and won at trial $28,415 for breach of contract.  The other claims were either dismissed or withdrawn.  Now Palo Alto wants their pound of flesh.  They are coming after her for $1.3 million in legal fees since she won less than the settlement offer.  This is legal in California.

There is a fight regarding the drug companies and states over the use of their drugs in lethal executions.  In Nevada there is now a court fight over this whether the state obtained drugs by subterfuge or lack of oversight by the drug companies.  The first person to testify was Ihsan Azzam, the state's top physician and is not a physician.  He was a physician in Africa but not here.  He is still qualified for the position.  The state's prisons director admitted he received letters from the companies prohibiting their use but filed them away without telling any state official since he believed his getting the drugs were not the state's fault.

Theranos, the Elizabeth Holmes led blood testing fraud company, has dissolved.  

In an article about nothing Reuters describes the "new shared decision making" of determining who should get screened for prostate cancer.  They talked to three co-authors of the paper who recommend those not at risk not be screened.  They say there is too much chance of overtreatment but the article ends by stating "because most physicians already think this way about screening, the new guidelines are unlikely to change clinical practice."

Thank God we do not have the NIH here.  England has denied CAR-T therapy for adults with adult lymphoma as it too expensive.  They have barred paying for this by both Gilead and Novartis.    They also denied a drug for MS which may delay the MS patient from needing a wheelchair for seven years.  In this case the manufacturer has agreed to lower the price.       Top    


Summa has announced it failed to obtain the requested training program for emergency medicine residency.  The ACGME had revoked their residency program in 2017 due to their change of ED physicians.  This also led to a vote of no confidence of the CEO and his eventual resignation.  

St. Luke's Medical Center in Houston has appealed its loss of Medicare funding for its heart transplant program.  At the same time the Houston Chronicle reports that one of the main factors in the hospital's loss of accreditation in the program is Dr. Bud Frazier who continued to do surgery transplants with rising complication rates.  He is now retiring.  After his leaving the surgial practice a new surgeon was hired and the statistics improved greatly.  However, the hospital still did not correct some deficiencies and that led to the termination of fed money.

Another heart transplant program has stopped doing surgery.  The Oregon Health and Science University has lost all of its cardiologists in the program.  The surgeons are still there but there is no one to follow up the new recipients.

Tenet's Detroit Medical Center has finally put away the hatchet with Wayne State Physicians Medical Group and signed a five-year agreement.  

It has been awhile since the Broward County Hospital has been in the news.  However, they are back.  They again are fighting with the General Counsel in the board meetings as she awaits trial for her role in the firing of former CEO Pauline Grant.        Top 


The Medical Board of California are looking to hang doctors for opioid abuse.  Their starting point has been to go through death certificates of overdose patients to find overprescribing physicians.  This abuse is being fought by the California Medical Association.  

Dr. Michael Simons was the recipient of the Yale University Waldemar von Zedtwitz chair for a total of two months.  After he was named the recipient the students and faculty loudly objected since he had prior had a 18 month suspension due to problems of pursuing a junior colleague in this holier than thou metoo era.         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.