Merck vs the grandmother:

Merck & Co. will be back in court in Atlantic City, New Jersey, next week as the next Vioxx liability trial gets under way with the drug maker facing a 68-year-old grandmother who blames the withdrawn pain drug for her 2004 heart attack.

Elaine Doherty says she used Vioxx daily for three years to treat pain from arthritis of the hands and knees, and even ...

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Some don't know when to give up:

"Patients don't like to give up," and neither do physicians, said Dr. Roy Herbst, a cancer specialist at the University of Texas' M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston who had no role in the study.

Overly aggressive treatment gives false hope and puts people through grueling and costly ordeals when there is no chance of a cure, cancer specialists said.


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Sometimes Dear Abby has some fascinating stories:

While I was waiting for my wife to awaken, I overheard a nurse talking to the wife of the patient next to us. She said, "You know, you can find out anything from them when they're coming out of anesthesia. They are completely incapable of lying." She said it in a lighthearted way - sort of giggling.

A few minutes later, I ...

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Now, this physician is pretty much finished after being accused of sexual assault:

"I know several of the women have already attorneyed-up to file suit," said Clare attorney Dwight R. Carpenter. "I pre-warned the doctor that people from every nook and cranny will jump on the bandwagon, and as far as we're concerned, that's exactly what's happening."
As an aside, I didn't know that "attorneyed-up" was a buzzword.

Apparently San Francisco is a hotbed:

The disease sounds like a nightmare. In fact, one Web site claims Morgellons was "invented" recently to help promote a summer horror movie. A search on the Internet reveals dozens of people who have posted magnified photos of their symptoms -- usually twisted, thread-like protrusions from the skin and sometimes hazy images that look like small bugs.

It doesn't help convince disbelieving doctors ...

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Next time, consult the physicians before making sweeping policy changes. It will save yourself significant embarrassment:

Doctors object to the way Regence is measuring their performance on those criteria. Its "silver standard" rating system relies on billing data rather than the industry "gold standard" of patient outcomes - information that Regence officials say isn'Â’t easily available . . .

. . . But insurance companies should at least ...

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Bizarre:

His statement of claim says Dr. Wisniowski failed to provide professional and competent therapy, that he breached the fiduciary doctor-patient duty by having a sexual relationship while providing marital therapy, that the doctor's actions were "intentional and malicious" and that he showed "careless disregard" for Mr. Baerken's well-being and his marriage.

How the overzealous persecution of pain doctors is harming patients:

Nearly all of the prior cases have followed a similar pattern. First, prosecutors blitz local media with reports of out-of-control prescription drug abuse problems and discuss the problem of "pill mills." Then, they swoop in with a SWAT team and arrest any doctor brave enough to actually treat chronic pain with doses of opioid medication large enough to work. They ...

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It's about time.

A sad commentary:

When these patients check into a hospital, they are increasingly likely to find themselves in a room with a wider doorway than the 42-inch standard, a bed that holds up to 1,000 pounds and a ceiling lift system to move them to the bathroom.

Toilets in such a room are extra-sturdy and mounted to the floor instead of a wall.

The NY Times spreads the panic. I wrote about this recently. Dr. Centor and Dr. RW chime in.

Bottom-line: this is a rare complication mostly found in IV bisphosphonates used to treat cancer. The benefits of Fosamax and other oral bisphosphonates continue to outweigh this rare risk.

As suspected, such a low dose of morphine was not responsible for a post-op death, discussed here recently. (via a reader tip)

Flea gets sued

Enlightening for those who have never been sued before. (via This Makes Me Sick)

The AAFP sent a letter to insurers stating that appropriate, high-level coding (99214/99215) is here to stay. EMRs are cited as one reason:

The overall aging of the general population coupled with an accompanying increase in chronic health conditions that are treated in the ambulatory care setting rather than in the hospital "result in patients needing more complex care than they did a generation ago," said Frank.

Other factors ...

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Anthem does the right thing and ends this extortionist policy:

In an abrupt about-face, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Ohio has announced it will discontinue its controversial blended-rate policy in southern Ohio. The announcement came just weeks after AAFP News Now reported that Anthem wouldn't budge on an issue that had the AAFP and other medical organizations crying foul.

Anthem will notify its contracted physicians by June 1 ...

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He has 3 CDs published. Here's a sample song, "Light at the End of Your Tunnel" (about colonoscopies):

You need a light at the end of your tunnel
Looking for a bump in the road
In order to see with more clarity
First you'Â’ve got to lighten your load.

More evidence to clean up the expert witness system:

"The complaint raises another example of greed, fraud, in lawsuits," he said. "Here in West Virginia a radiologist was paid nearly $10 million by personal injury lawyers to allegedly doctor X-rays of potential asbestos victims."

Harron's reputation earned him a mock Academy Award for "science fiction" in March from Cohen's non-profit group.

"Junk lawsuits and bad actors like Ray ...

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When it comes to paying for medications, many do without:

The researchers found that seniors who faced spending caps were more likely to visit the emergency room, be hospitalized and die than seniors who didn't.

"Their blood-pressure levels were worse, their cholesterol levels were worse, their blood-sugar control was worse," said study author Dr. John Hsu, a scientist with Kaiser's Division of Research in Oakland. "It was surprising."
Not.

Dartmouth is at it again with the next in their "more is less" studies:

Medicare spending was 58% higher in areas with the most resources compared with areas with the fewest. The study finds that 50% of physicians in high-intensity health care areas said they were able to obtain elective hospital admissions for their patients, compared with 64% of physicians in low-intensity areas. Doctors in high-intensity areas were less likely ...

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Still want "Medicare for all"? Give me a break:

A new study commissioned by Premera Blue Cross, based in Seattle, has found a rapid acceleration in higher costs to private payers in Washington State, for example, as hospitals and doctors grapple with constraints in the federal health insurance programs.

The study found that in 2004, the most recent year for which full data are available, hospitals ...

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