Study Finds that Waiting Time in the ER More than Doubled; Possible Violations of Federal Law (EMTALA)

An analysis by researchers at the Cambridge Health Alliance and Harvard Medical School found that the median waiting time to see a physician in hospital emergency departments jumped from 22 minutes in 1997 to 30 minutes in 2004, a 36% increase.

Ominously, according to results published in the journal Health Affairs, wait times more than doubled for the sickest heart attack patients. In 1997, half of them got to see a doctor within eight minutes; in 2004 it took 20 minutes. For a quarter of the heart attack patients, the wait reached 50 minutes or more – a particularly disturbing … Read the rest

New NY Public Health Law Tightens Oversight Over Office-Based Surgeries

A new public health law that took effect on January 14, 2008, is tightening oversight over outpatient medical facilities that provide office-based surgeries. Office-based surgery refers to any invasive process outside of a hospital where moderate or severe sedation or general anesthesia is used.

Experts have found that more than half of medical procedures, including surgeries, endoscopies, colonoscopies, rhinoplasty, and breast augmentation/reduction occur in offices and clinics, many of which are not accredited. This has resulted in many improper surgeries and negligent medical care. Many patients have suffered accordingly from this mistreatment.

The new law requires all ambulatory surgery centers … Read the rest

Report on Medicare/Medicaid Overbilling and Fraud in 2007 Focuses on Nursing Homes/Rehab Centers, Pharmaceuticals and Boutique Hospitals

Americas Watchdog and its Corporate Whistleblower Center have just released the results of its third annual study focused on Medicare & Medicaid fraud. The report continues to show widespread Medicare/Medicaid billing abuse and fraud involving all aspects of health care.

The Corporate Whistle Blower Center has just reported its 2007 year end findings on the state of Medicare/Medicaid over billing/fraud in the United States. The report included three areas where Medicare/Medicaid are being over-billed or defrauded; nursing homes/rehab centers, pharmaceuticals, and boutique hospitals, not for profits hospitals, or hospitals owned by doctors/investor groups.

1. Most Nursing Homes/Rehab Centers continue … Read the rest

Technology Being Introduced to Cut Risk of Surgical Sponges Being Left in Patients

Last month’s $10 million settlement of a suit brought by a woman who underwent surgery for diverticulitis of the colon wherein a surgical sponge was left behind is a reminder of how frequent this complication occurs and of how potentially dangerous it can be.

A 2003 study in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that sponges and other foreign objects were left behind after abdominal surgeries at a rate of 1 for every 1,000 to 1,500 such operations. Several medical-products companies say sponges are the most common foreign objects left behind in surgeries. Surgical sponges are made of gauze … Read the rest

8,500 More Patients of Dr. Harvey Finkelstein are Advised to Get Tested as Tests Find Additional Hepatitis Cases Among His Patients

Approximately 8,500 additional patients of Dr. Harvey Finkelstein will be advised to get tested for blood-borne diseases as a probe into his practice expands, a New York State Health Department spokeswoman said. Meanwhile, the Nassau County Health Department has said recent tests found six hepatitis B cases and six hepatitis C cases among Finkelstein’s patients, although it is unclear whether the liver infections stemmed from Finkelstein’s improper re-use of syringes.

Initially this past November, 628 patients of Dr. Finkelstein were advised to get tested for hepatitis B and C and HIV, all blood borne diseases, because they had received … Read the rest

Results of Survey of Practicing Doctors Renew Doubts Regarding the Medical Profession’s Ability to Regulate Itself

A survey of a national random sample of practicing doctors found that nearly half of all U.S. doctors fail to report incompetent or unethical colleagues, even though they agree that such mistakes should be reported. More specifically, while 96% of respondents said doctors should always report impaired or incompetent colleagues, only 55% of those with direct personal knowledge of such doctors in the past three years said they always did so. And while 93% of respondents said doctors should always alert authorities when they observe serious medical errors, only 54% of those who had such information in the past three … Read the rest

NY State Senator to Craft Bill to Open Doctor Disciplinary Process

State Senator Kemp Hannon said at a hearing held at Farmingdale State College to address questions surrounding the transmission of hepatitis C in the medical offices of Dr. Harvey Finkelstein that he would propose legislation to speed the notification of patients infected after improper practices and to make pubic charges brought against doctors by the Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OMPC), the state disciplinary board for doctors. The OMPC has come under heavy criticism for not disciplining Dr. Finkelstein for engaging in improper infection control procedures.

Criticism of the OPMC apparently contributed to the OPMC’s suspension of an ophthalmologist, Dr. … Read the rest

4,500 Patients of NYC Anesthesiologist to be Alerted to Get Tested for Hepatitis C: Not All of Dr. Harvey Finkelstein’s Patients Were Notified to Get Tested

Health officials in New York City earlier this year linked three cases of hepatitis C to an anesthesiologist who administered intravenous pain medication. Although they are still investigating the exact cause, officials are notifying 4,500 patients who received treatment from the doctor from December 2003 to May 2007 that they should get tested for the disease, according to a report in The New York Times (11/17/07). The officials would not name the doctor.

This report comes on the heels of last week’s disclosure that the New York Department of Health (DOH) has known for three years that Dr. Harvey Finkelstein Read the rest

Possible Statute of Limitations Bar to Over 600 People Who Doctor Might Have Exposed to Hepatitis B and C and HIV Illustrates Gross Unfairness of Lack of “Discovery Rule”

Earlier this week, 628 people were sent letters by the New York State Health Department urging them to get tested for hepatitis B and C and HIV, all blood borne diseases, because they had received epidural injections from Dr. Harvey Finkelstein, who used re-used syringes, from January 1, 2000 to January 15, 2005.

Even though the victims would have had no way of knowing that they had been exposed to the diseases until now, it may be too late for them to sue the doctor. This is because under New York law, the time period to bring suit (2 1/2 … Read the rest

Hospital’s Mistaken Medication Overdose of Dennis Quaid’s 2-Week Old Twins Underscores a Big Problem in Health System

Each year at least 1.5 million Americans are injured – and 15,000 die – after receiving the wrong medication or an incorrect dose, says the federal Institute of Medicine. Such incidents have more than doubled in the past decade. Causes include pharmacists stocking drugs improperly, nurses not double-checking to make sure they are dispensing the proper medication, illegible handwriting by doctors, and similarities between names of different drugs.

In the incident involving Dennis Quaid’s 2-week old twins, they were given 1,000 times the intended dosage of the blood thinner Heparin at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, one of the top hospitals in … Read the rest