Feds’ Health Spending to Double in a Decade

From the Wall Street Journal Health Blog:

The federal government will spend twice as much on health care in 2017 as it did in 2007, as costs keep going up and as Boomers enroll in Medicare. The toll: federal outlays for Medicare and Medicaid will hit $1.5 trillion, up from $750 billion last year, according to an estimate published today in Health Affairs.

More on airline passenger…

From CNN.com

American Airlines defended its staff as professional and its equipment as sound Monday after a swift review of a passenger’s in-flight death, despite her family’s claims that the crew ignored her pleas until it was too late.

Carine Desir, 44, was pronounced dead Friday on a nearly full Haiti-to-New York flight by a pediatrician who said he tried to use the plane’s defibrillator on her as she faded, but her pulse was already too weak for it to work.

The doctor, Joel Shulkin, was one of several medical professionals who stepped in after flight attendants asked if any were onboard. Shulkin said through his attorney, Justin Nadeau, that two emergency medical technicians performed CPR on Desir, a diabetic.

Cousin: Dying woman twice refused oxygen on flight

From CNN.com

“Don’t let me die,” the cousin, Antonio Oliver, recalled Desir saying after the attendant allegedly refused at first to administer the oxygen Friday.

But Desir did die, Oliver said Sunday in a telephone interview.

He said the flight attendant finally relented but various medical devices on the plane failed, including two oxygen tanks that were found to be empty and what may have been a defibrillator that seemed to malfunction.

American Airlines confirmed the flight death and said medical professionals had tried to save the woman. A spokeswoman for the airline, Sonja Whitemon, wouldn’t comment Sunday on Oliver’s claims of faulty medical equipment on the plane.

Hospital cited in patient suicide

From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

A Douglasville hospital failed to meet patient safety standards when a homeless man committed suicide in its emergency department, federal regulators have found.

The patient, evaluated as a suicide risk by WellStar Douglas Hospital staff, was not properly monitored for two hours and was then found hanging in his seclusion room, said a federal investigative report. The death occurred Oct. 31.

Filipino nurses face criminal charges after quitting jobs caring for terminally ill children

From NC Times.com

RIVERHEAD, N.Y. — For months, the nurses complained that they were subject to demeaning and unfair working conditions — not what they were promised when they came to America from the Philippines in search of a better life. So they abruptly quit.

But in doing so, they put more than their careers at risk: Prosecutors hit them with criminal charges for allegedly jeopardizing the lives of terminally ill children they were in charge of watching.

The 10 nurses and the attorney who advised them were charged with conspiracy and child endangerment in what defense lawyers say is an unprecedented use of criminal law in a labor dispute. If convicted of the misdemeanor offenses, they face up to a year in jail on each of 13 counts, and could lose their nursing licenses and be deported.

More Controversy: Luring Doctors and Nurses ‘A Crime’

From the NY Times

Rich countries are poaching so many African health workers that the practice should be viewed as a crime, a team of international disease experts say in the British medical journal The Lancet. More than 13,000 doctors trained in sub-Saharan Africa are now practicing in Britain, the United States, Canada and Australia, leaving behind colleagues with impossible caseloads. African nurses and pharmacists are also sought after by clinics and drug store chains offering better pay and legal assistance with immigration, said the experts, who include the heads of several pharmacy and medicine schools in Africa. “The resulting dilapidation of health infrastructure contributes to a measurable and foreseeable public health crisis,” the article said. “The practice should therefore be viewed as an international crime.”

Controversial Article: Adding fuel to the doctor crisis


An excerpt:

It’s been proven repeatedly—female doctors “will not work the same hours or have the same lifespan of contributions to the medical system as males,” says Dr. Brian Day, president of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA). Family duties are at least partly to blame. Day’s own wife and his sister-in-law, both trained physicians, haven’t practised since having kids 10 years ago. Despite their demanding careers, women are still “given the bigger proportion of child care, housekeeping and elder care,” says Dr. Janet Dollin, president of the Federation of Medical Women of Canada. But this pressure comes with a price. Burnout—the workplace exhaustion to which females are particularly susceptible—drives many women out of medicine altogether.

Physicians Participating in OH Shortage Program Studied

From the Coshocton Tribune

CLEVELAND (AP) – Ohio’s program for foreign-born medical school graduates is not easing the state’s shortage of primary care doctors, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Monday.


Foreign-born doctors across the United States can apply for a visa waiver if they agree to practice in an underserved community for three years. Thousands of doctors sign up each year and the programs have become a major source of medical service for rural and poor communities.


More than half of the doctors who joined Ohio’s program in the past two years are working as specialists at major hospitals and are not primary care doctors, the paper found.


“We have such a hard time finding doctors. Why are multimillion-dollar hospital organizations using this?” said Joe Liszak, chief executive of Fremont-based Community Health Services, a federally qualified health center in Sandusky County. “That’s just not right. This program was designed for the underserved.”

Cardiac Arrest in Hospital is Deadlier at Night

From the Wall Street Journal Health Blog:

If you’re planning on going into cardiac arrest during your next hospital stay, try to do it on the day shift. You’ll have a better chance of surviving.

Researchers pored over data from nearly 87,000 cardiac arrests that occurred between 2000 and 2007, and found that 14.7% of patients whose hearts stopped beating between 11 p.m. and 6:59 a.m. left the hospital alive, compared with 19.8% of patients who went into cardiac arrest during the day and evening. Patients whose hearts stopped beating during weekend days and evenings survived 17.4% of the time. The study is published in this week’s JAMA.

Primary Care: Fewer US MDs, More Imported Docs

From the Wall Street Journal Health Blog:

In the past decade, the number of U.S.-trained MDs working to become primary care docs has fallen. Sounds terrible, but the shortfall has been more than made up for by a growing number of osteopathic docs and foreign-trained MDs, a government report says.


After med school, doctors go through several years of residency to become certified in a specialty. Primary care specialties — such as internal medicine, family medicine and pediatrics — have been losing their luster for domestically trained MDs, who have gravitated to more lucrative specialties, some of which also offer more predictable work hours.