Is This Ethical?

April 28, 2007

Seems to me that this creates a huge conflict of interest issue which may interfere with providing proper and adequate medical care.

Perhaps this is a good time to review the Principles of Medical Ethics.

Doctors’ Ties to Drug Companies Called Commonplace

Most physicians (94 percent) reported some type of relationship with the pharmaceutical industry. Most of these relationships involved receiving food in the workplace (83 percent) or receiving drug samples (78 percent).

More than one-third of the respondents (35 percent) were reimbursed for costs associated with professional meetings or continuing medical education, while more than one-quarter (28 percent) were paid for consulting, delivering lectures or enrolling patients in clinical trials.

Cardiologists were more than twice as likely as family practitioners to receive payments, although family practitioners met more frequently with industry representatives than did physicians in other specialties.

Doctors in solo, two-person or group practices met more frequently with industry representatives than did physicians practicing in hospitals and clinics.

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Zelnorm Recalled

April 26, 2007

Zelnorm (tegaserod maleate) Recall Information

Zelnorm, IBS Drug Taken Off the Market

FDA Public Health Advisory

FDA is issuing this public health advisory to inform patients and health care professionals that the sponsor of Zelnorm (tegaserod maleate), Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, has agreed to stop selling Zelnorm. Zelnorm is being taken off the market because a new safety analysis has found a higher chance of heart attack, stroke, and worsening heart chest pain that can become a heart attack in patients treated with Zelnorm compared to those treated with a sugar pill they thought was Zelnorm.

FDA announces the following, effective immediately:

* At FDA’s request, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation has agreed to stop selling Zelnorm.

* Patients being treated with Zelnorm should contact their physician to discuss alternative treatments for their condition.

* Patients who are taking Zelnorm should seek emergency medical care right away if they experience severe chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, sudden onset of weakness or difficulty walking or talking or other symptoms of a heart attack or stroke.

* Physicians who prescribe Zelnorm should work with their patients and transition them to other therapies as appropriate to their symptoms and need.

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The Fox in Charge of the Hen House

April 26, 2007

OSHA Leaves Worker Safety in Hands of Industry

WASHINGTON, April 24 — Seven years ago, a Missouri doctor discovered a troubling pattern at a microwave popcorn plant in the town of Jasper. After an additive was modified to produce a more buttery taste, nine workers came down with a rare, life-threatening disease that was ravaging their lungs.Puzzled Missouri health authorities turned to two federal agencies in Washington. Scientists at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which investigates the causes of workplace health problems, moved quickly to examine patients, inspect factories and run tests. Within months, they concluded that the workers became ill after exposure to diacetyl, a food-flavoring agent.

But the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, charged with overseeing workplace safety, reacted with far less urgency. It did not step up plant inspections or mandate safety standards for businesses, even as more workers became ill.

On Tuesday, the top official at the agency told lawmakers at a Congressional hearing that it would prepare a safety bulletin and plan to inspect a few dozen of the thousands of food plants that use the additive.

That response reflects OSHA’s practices under the Bush administration, which vowed to limit new rules and roll back what it considered cumbersome regulations that imposed unnecessary costs on businesses and consumers.

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Tort Immunity

April 26, 2007

Lawsuits Against Va. Tech Face Hurdles

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Five years before the massacre at Virginia Tech, a deeply disturbed student went on a murderous rampage at the Appalachian School of Law, killing three and wounding three others.

Some victims and family members sued the law school and eventually settled for $1 million. Similar lawsuits are virtually certain after the Virginia Tech shootings, but legal experts say it could be very difficult to win damages.

The gunman in the law school shooting in Grundy, Va. _ graduate student Peter Odighizuwa _ had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

Plaintiffs claimed in their $23 million lawsuit that school officials ignored a pattern of threats and disruptive behavior that should have warned them Odighizuwa _ who had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia _ was dangerous.

Like Odighizuwa, who is serving six life terms, the Virginia Tech gunman, Seung-Hui Cho, had displayed aberrant behavior that some say should have been recognized as warning signs.

Along with the similarities in the two cases, however, there is one significant difference: While the Appalachian School of Law is a private institution, Virginia Tech is a state school and therefore enjoys a level of immunity.

How much immunity is a question that likely will be tested in court.

“When plaintiffs’ lawyers get a hold of this, people may be surprised by their creativity,” said Ashley Taylor, a former deputy attorney general who represented the state’s colleges.

The state, its institutions and employees are largely protected from civil lawsuits by “sovereign immunity” _ a doctrine rooted in a monarchical tradition that allowed grievances against the king only if he said it was OK.

“We do not expect perfection out of our government,” said David N. Anthony, chairman of the Virginia Bar Association’s civil litigation section. “Our government can make mistakes. If they do, we can’t recover from them unless it falls into a category where they say we can.”

Virginia’s government has waived sovereign immunity in a limited fashion through the Tort Claims Act, which permits damages of up to $100,000 for bodily injury caused by the state’s negligence.

Anthony said sovereign immunity will make it exceptionally difficult for anyone to successfully sue the state for more than that.

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Check Your Policy!

April 26, 2007

An Insurance Policy You Probably Don’t Have

A number of home and business owners hit by the massive weekend storm in the Northeast are discovering yet another type of coverage they didn’t know they needed — sewer-backup insurance.

As flood waters and runoff overwhelmed many sewer systems in New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and elsewhere, sewage backed up in residents’ bathrooms and basements. But some property owners there are learning that they aren’t covered for backed-up sewage, just as many learned after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina that they weren’t covered by homeowner insurance …

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We Need This in Illinois

April 26, 2007

Colorado Springs Business Journal
A bill being considered by the Colorado General Assembly would either provide more transparency about medical malpractice insurance for consumers, or would drive doctors out of Colorado — depending on whom you ask.

Senate Bill 248 is known as the “disclosure bill” to the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association, which is supporting the bill. It would require insurance companies that serve more than 65 percent of the market to publicly announce rate changes of more than 5 percent. “Any qualified person” could request a public hearing at the Department of Insurance to challenge the rate adjustment.

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To Move or not to Move

April 26, 2007

Is it possible at all to find a set of jurors who are not influenced by what they know and have heard about the Oswego crash? I am not sure that is possible…

Judge warns of pre-trial publicity in Oswego crash case

Kendall County Judge Thomas Mueller is warning both sides not to talk to reporters about the Oswego crash case, or risk a transfer out of local courts.At a hearing Tuesday for Sandra Vasquez, the 23-year-old Aurora woman accused of driving in a Feb. 11 crash that killed five Oswego teens, the judge ordered both prosecutors and defense attorneys not to speak to either print or broadcast media about the case.

“The bottom line is this court has a strong desire to keep this case in circuit,” Mueller said. “I don’t know why anyone agreed to talk to him (ABC-TV reporter Chuck Goudie). Unless they wanted this case to go far away, this has got to stop.”

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Great Resource

April 26, 2007

You can find pretty much everything about Illinois here. A must-bookmark site.

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