April 21, 2010
That common sense conclusion is the recent finding from the RAND Corporation, a think tank and research center.
In a recent study, the group finds that when patient injuries were reduced in California hospitals there were fewer medical malpractice claims.
The cries for tort reform to limit a patients’ ability to bring an injury claim, frequently fail to look at the impact an improved patient safety picture can have on reducing malpractice claims against doctors.
The research group analyzed medical malpractice insurance records in California from 2001 to 2005. California was chosen because it initiated medical malpractice reform 35 years ago and any fallout would not be recent. It also has a large and diverse population.
Researchers studied medical malpractice claims – that is claims by patients who had received poor care such as contracting a hospital infection, having a surgical instrument left in them, and receiving the wrong medication, among other preventable adverse events.
Using the records from four of the largest medical malpractice insurers in the state, researchers analyzed 365,000 adverse safety events and 27,000 malpractice claims that followed.
January 22, 2010
Isn’t this precious? These people are in a airplane crash–the plane crash landed in the Hudson River–and AIG is playing hardball in paying their claims. Insurance companies have generally adopted the triple “D’ approach to claims: Deny, Delay and Defend. Do not be intimidated by this tactic–it quickly falls apart when legitimate claims are brought before juries.
In yet another P.R. coup for everyone’s favorite bailed-out insurance company, AIG balks at paying claims to passengers from the US Airways flight that miraculously landed in New York’s Hudson River last January. According to The New York Times, the firm tells passengers with medical bills to file claims with their own health insurers — assuming they have health insurance — and limits the number of therapy sessions for passengers traumatized by their brush with death to three.
December 2, 2008
Dr. Emanuel, Mr. Steyer and others plan to brief Washington policy makers on the study on Tuesday. Joined by researchers at Yale University and California Pacific Medical Center, Dr. Emanuel’s team analyzed almost 1,800 studies conducted since 1980 and identified 173 that met the criteria the researchers set.
In a clear majority of those studies more time with television, films, video games, magazines, music and the Internet was linked to rises in childhood obesity, tobacco use and sexual behavior. A majority also showed strong correlations — what the researchers deemed “statistically significant associations” — with drug and alcohol use and low academic achievement.
The evidence was somewhat less indicative of a relationship between media exposure and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, the seventh health outcome that was studied.
Dr. Emanuel, whose brother, Rahm, is the president-elect’s chief of staff, said he was surprised by how lopsided the findings were. “We found very few studies that had any positive association” for children’s health, he said.
December 2, 2008
It was the middle of the night, and Laura Silverthorn, a nurse at a hospital in Washington, knew her patient was in danger.
The boy had a shunt in his brain to drain fluid, but he was vomiting and had an extreme headache, two signs that the shunt was blocked and fluid was building up. When she paged the on-call resident, who was asleep in the hospital, he told her not to worry.
After a second page, Ms. Silverthorn said, “he became arrogant and said, ‘You don’t know what to look for — you’re not a doctor.’ ”
He ignored her third page, and after another harrowing hour she called the attending physician at home. The child was rushed into surgery.
“He could have died or had serious brain injury,” Ms. Silverthorn said, “but I was treated like a pest for calling in the middle of the night.”
Her experience is borne out by surveys of hospital staff members, who blame badly behaved doctors for low morale, stress and high turnover. (Ms. Silverthorn said she had been brought to tears so many times that she was trying to start her own business and leave nursing.)
July 10, 2008
I was surprised to see that Allstate beat State Farm in this race for Worst Insurere Title. Now you can decide with whom you should insure yourself.
The American Association for Justice, an organization of personal injury attorneys, often has to go up against insurance companies. So they might be considered a good source for knowing which ones actually pay and which do not.
Drum roll please – The number one worst insurer for consumers is Allstate, says AAJ.
AAJ investigators sorted through thousands of legal documents, financial filings, as well as complaints filed with state insurance departments, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and FBI records, to determine how many claims were paid and how often the company employed hardball tactics against policyholders.
“While Allstate publicly touts its ‘good hands’ approach, it has instead privately instructed its agents to employ a ‘boxing gloves’ strategy against its policyholders,” said American Association for Justice CEO Jon Haber says in a statement. “Allstate ducks, bobs and weaves to avoid paying claims to increase its profits.”
Allstate is known to force consumers to accept lowball claims or to deny claims altogether. One Allstate employee reported that supervisors told agents to lie and blame fires on arson, and in turn, were rewarded with portable refridgerators.
Among other wrongdoings AAJ found were extravagant salaries for upper-ranked executives and raising premiums while hoarding profits.
Rounding out the rest of the Top Ten are:
* Unum – which sells disability insurance. In 2005, Unum agreed to a settlement with insurance commissioners from 48 states over their practices.
* AIG – The world’s biggest insurer, AIG’s slogan was “we know money,” and is accused of engaging in massive corporate fraud and claims abuses, paying $1.6 billion to settle a host of charges.
* State Farm – Lawyers are familiar with State Farm’s deny and delay tactics, especially during Hurricane Katrina.
* Conseco – Conseco sells long-term care policies, typically to the elderly, unfortunately a delay may mean that the insured either died or gave up. Company was fined for filing misleading financial statements with regulators.
* WellPoint – Health insurer with a long history of putting profits ahead of policyholders, canceling policies of pregnant women and chronically ill.
* Farmers – Swiss-owned ranks at or near the bottom of homeowner satisfaction surveys, partially based on its “Quest for Gold” policy that offered incentives to those agent with low claims payout goals.
* UnitedHealth – Following an SEC investigation, the former CEO had to return more than $600 million in compensation.
* Torchmark – According to Hoover’s In-Depth Company Records, Torchmark’s very origins were little more than a scam devised to prey on low-income Southerners and minority policyholders.
* Liberty Mutual – Like Allstate and State Farm, Liberty Mutual hired consulting giant McKinsey to adopt aggressive tactics.
While the insurance industry has relied on McKinsey Consultants to determine how best to attain and retain profitability, over the last decade the industry has enjoyed annual profits exceeding $30 billion while taking in more than $1 trillion in premiums annually.
CEOs took home an average of $8.9 million in 2007, while median company CEOs can earn $1.6 million per year.
July 8, 2008
Federal drug safety officials have imposed the government’s most urgent warning on Bayer’s AG Cipro and similar antibiotics, citing risks that they can cause tendon ruptures, a serious injury that leaves some patients incapacitated.
The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday ordered makers of flouroquinolone drugs — a potent class of antibiotics — to add a ‘black box’ warning to their products which include Cipro, Levaquin, Floxin and other medications.
Labels for the antibiotics already include cautions about the tendon problems, but the bolder, boxed warning would be stronger, the FDA said.
The risk is greater in patients 60 and older, those who have had certain organ transplants and those using concomitant steroid therapy, the agency said. It added doctors should restrict use of the drugs to conditions clearly caused by bacteria.
Patients should immediately stop taking the medications if they develop any tendon pain, swelling or inflammation.
June 2, 2008
This study shows that the intensity of care in hospitals is generally more in private providers as opposed to public ones. Yet, the result is pretty much the same.
The Dartmouth Atlas, from which the data is drawn, includes 46 New York City hospitals: 8 public and 38 private.
The Consumer Reports rankings allow consumers to look at data from hospitals across the country, and examine the intensity of care during the last two years of life. Intensity is measured by how many days the average patient spent in the hospital, how many times a doctor visited that patient and how much the patient or private insurer spent for doctors beyond what Medicare covered.
Patients in the city’s private hospitals averaged 54 visits from doctors, while those in public hospitals averaged 24 visits during the final six months. In private hospitals, 56 percent of patients saw 10 or more physicians, compared with 32 percent in public hospitals.
And private patients paid an average of $4,000 out-of-pocket over two years, nearly double the $2,200 per patient at the city-run institutions. But in terms of the ultimate outcome, there was little difference.
The Dartmouth Atlas showed that 58 percent of the public-hospital patients died in the hospital as opposed to at home or in hospice care, compared with 57 percent for private hospitals. Thirty percent of patients in public hospitals had been admitted to intensive care units before their death, compared with 27 percent in private hospitals.
Many fewer patients from public hospitals — 7 percent — were enrolled in a hospice than patients from private hospitals, where the rate was 12 percent, according to the Dartmouth data.
May 18, 2008
Critics have long pointed out that consumers are in no position to purchase prescription drugs without their doctor. The sole point of advertising to consumers, they claim, is to prompt consumers to specifically request a particular prescription drug.
At the hearing, the AMA discussed the need for FDA regulation over DTCA and shared guidelines for DTCA that address advertising content, disclosures, and audiences targeted.
“The AMA guidelines for DTCA can help ensure that patients receive information about prescription drugs that is accurate, educational, well-balanced and encourages patient-physician communication,” Nielsen said.