Scores of physicians nationwide fell for the promise of easy money, dropping upwards of $2.5 million in a bogus Web hosting firm before federal regulators stepped in last month.
The Securities and Exchange Commission got an emergency restraining order against what it called a boiler room operation in Miami called Web Hosting Headquarters Partnership. The five people behind the scam suckered at least 132 physicians in 38 states into investing in the phony operation. Seems the quintet failed to disclose that two of them had histories of securities fraud, a serious no-no in the eyes of the feds.
According to the SEC, the tricksters placed ads in the New England Journal of Medicine soliciting investors for a firm they said was going public. What the ads didn't mention was that 62% of the proceeds went to line the pockets of the principals and telemarketers, the SEC says. The schemers also allegedly acted as unregistered broker-dealers in the transactions.
That's also a no-no, for those who didn't learn much about securities laws in seven years of medical school.
Unnecessary stick. Some doctors never can remember where they put their catheters. Or, rather, if they put their catheters somewhere in the first place.
A full 28% of attending physicians, medical residents and medical students at four university hospitals were unaware if patients in their care were connected to urinary-tract catheters, according to a recent study.
The study also showed that nearly a third of those patients who did have catheters didn't need them, placing them at significantly higher risk for infection.
Blame inexperienced med students perhaps? Not so fast. "Unawareness rates" were 21% for students, 22% for interns, 27% for residents and 38% for attending physicians. The study concludes, "Systemwide interventions aimed at discontinuing unnecessary catheterization seem warranted."
Equal justice. After decades of research supporting the conclusion that blacks have poorer healthcare outcomes than whites, here comes a study at 147 Veterans Administration hospitals that concludes just the opposite: Blacks fare better than whites.
According to the study, reported in the Jan. 17 Journal of the American Medical Association, black VA patients admitted for treatment of angina, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic renal failure, congestive heart failure, diabetes and pneumonia had lower mortality rates than whites admitted with similar illnesses. The measurements of outcomes were the same even after adjustment for severity of illness by comparison of comorbidity.
Ashish Jha, M.D., chief medical resident at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and co-author of the study, says equal access to medical care would explain why blacks had similar outcomes to whites, but not better outcomes. "To be honest with you, we don't know what caused the difference," Jha says. "I think the thing to take away from this is African-Americans do well in the VA system."
How unfortunate that all blacks aren't eligible for treatment in Veterans hospitals.
Not-quite reality TV. In NBC's popular drama "The West Wing," characters twice this season have confronted health insurance issues.
The show has won accolades for its sharp writing and for addressing realistic issues. But a couple of points likely made insurers wince.
During an episode early in the season, Josh Lyman (played by Bradley Whitford), deputy White House chief of staff, decides to sue his health plan after learning it will cover only 20% of the cost of the life-saving procedure he underwent
after being shot. According to the plotline, Lyman was treated out-of-network and didn't get preauthorization for his procedure.
First, as a federal employee, Lyman would be covered under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and could likely have been in a fee-for-service arrangement. FEHBP has provisions covering catastrophic situations such as this.
Besides, even the coldest of health plans wouldn't deny coverage under those circumstances.
In a more recent episode, White House staffers were forced to cut a deal with the opposition that limited to 15 minutes serious discussion of a proposed patient bill of rights. Hard to imagine either side agreeing to a limited 15-minute debate on a hot-button issue.
Then again, most of us watch television to escape.