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Costs for Medical Testing in U.S. Soar

A new article published in the New York Times discusses the cost of medical testing and why the prices of routine diagnostic tests vary so significantly from hospital to hospital. One very interesting omission from the article is the widely debunked claim that medical malpractice lawsuits increase the price of healthcare, including “defensive medicine.” Instead, the article accurately describes the problem as follows:

Phoenix VA Chief Fired Amidst Scandal

The chief of the Phoenix VA has been fired. Sharon Helman was in charge of the Phoenix VA Health Care System, which had been at the center of a major scandal over the past several months regarding intentional delay of patient care. Ms. Helman denied the existence of a secret list that had been used to cover up significant delays in patient care. These delays led to worsening health conditions of our veterans and even death. In fact, the Inspector General confirmed that 3,500 veterans had been waiting for appointments on one of those secret lists. In addition to the lists, the Phoenix VA also hid the length of their wait times.

Home Blood Pressure Monitors May Be Inaccurate – Faulty Products Endanger Patient Safety

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Caption: Exemplar blood pressure monitor (courtesy of

A new study done by doctors at Ottawa Hospital is alerting people that their home blood pressure monitors may be inaccurate.

Guidelines typically recommend home blood pressure monitors to guide diagnosis and treatment of patients with hypertension. What the study concluded, however, is that many people know very little about the accuracy of the devices they use. To determine the devices’ accuracy, researchers compared measurements from home blood monitors with validated mercury sphygmomanometers (used in doctors’ offices). Comparing the data from 210 patients, investigators found that 63 of the home monitor systolic blood pressure readings had more than a 5mm Hg difference from the mercury systolic blood pressure measurement. An additional 16 units had more than 10mm Hg different. Diastolic blood pressures had proportions of 32% and 9%, respectively.

How Communication Causes Patient Safety Problems: How Basic Patient Safety Errors Cause Medical Malpractice

Healthcare Global, a magazine dedicated to providing healthcare information to industry leaders, recently published an article discussing nine ways that basic communication errors can lead to patient safety problems. Importantly, though, the article also provides how to solve these basic issues, thus preventing bad outcomes, including hospital negligence.

1. Patient test results can be delayed getting to the right doctor

According to the article, the Joint Commission has identified “delays in the communication of critical test results as a major problem for patient safety.” These problems also lead to longer hospital stays, higher hospital bills, and lawsuits. The solution to this problem, according to the article, is to enable text alerts or to have critical results flagged in to the electronic medical record system. While these may seem like obvious options that should already exist in most hospitals (especially the flagging), they unfortunately do not.

Study: Tort Reform Does Not Deliver

When Insurance Companies Win, Consumers Lose

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An article from the October issue of the New England Journal of Medicine finds that tort reform does not have the impact on emergency room medicine that supporters guaranteed it would.

Tort reform is an idea pushed by insurance companies that claims medical malpractice lawsuits cause the costs of medical care to increase, cause doctors to stop practicing medicine, and cause a trickle-down effect that impacts every person in our country. Most of the myths of tort reform have been debunked, but insurance companies have spent tens of millions of dollars promulgating this theory, and it still resonates with many people. The myth that this study sought to confirm or reject was that doctors live in fear of lawsuits, so they order excessive tests to rule out possible medical conditions; this increase in diagnostic testing leads to more charges to the insurance company, which, in turn, causes medical care to be more expensive.

Hospital Negligence Causes Newborn Deaths?

Just this weekend, four babies were reported dead at a hospital in Dehradun, India. While the specific details of these incidents of hospital negligence are not yet known, these tragedies bring up a bigger issue in our medical world: Why are so many people—babies and adults alike—dying at such a rapid rate? The answer can be found in what is causing hospital negligence.

A Promising New Treatment May Help Newborns Deprived of Oxygen at Birth

Oxygen deprivation during birth, also known as brain hypoxia or neonatal encephalopathy, has been linked to several debilitating conditions. Brain hypoxia can cause cognitive impairments, seizures, coma, and death. Newborn oxygen deprivation has been linked to autism and cerebral palsy. The severity of injury to the baby’s brain, and resulting neurological impairments, depends on the length of time the newborn was deprived of oxygen. Babies who experienced extended periods without oxygen during birth may need 24-hour care and extended long-term treatment.

The reason for oxygen deprivation during childbirth can vary. If the umbilical cord is compressed or twisted, oxygen may not be able to flow into the baby. The umbilical cord can end up twisted around a baby’s neck, cutting off oxygen supply to the brain. The baby may also end up wrongly positioned during delivery, becoming lodged in the birth canal without oxygen. In each situation, a doctor must act quickly, such as by performing an emergency Caesarean section, to avoid lasting damage to the baby.

A Single Molecule May Be the Key to Detect and Treat Brain Injuries

Car accidents in Maricopa County, falls, physical violence, blows to the head, and participation in sports can all lead to a traumatic brain injury. A brain injury is a serious injury that requires immediate attention. Although a brain injury may seem mild, correct diagnosis and treatment is necessary to contain and minimize the damage.

Why brain injuries are difficult to diagnose

Although brain injuries, no matter how mild they appear on the surface, need immediate attention, it is difficult to detect whether or not a person may be suffering from a brain injury because:

Arizona Supreme Court: Hospitals Liable for Mistreatment of Vulnerable Adults

There are few things as hard as seeing a parent or other beloved older adult grow infirm with age. Even people who once led healthy, active lives can be struck by conditions that render them unable to attend to some of their most basic needs.

Watching a loved one struggle with dementia, illness, or physical disability is never easy. In many cases, the families of these vulnerable adults put their faith in the doctors, nurses and other staff members at their local hospital. They hope that these professionals will recognize their loved one’s vulnerable state and provide compassionate and thorough care.

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