Houston Fire Department Using Doctor Video Chats For Minor 911 Calls

From Houston Public Media:

The intervention is known as Project Ethan, an acronym for Emergency TeleHealth and Navigation. It rolled out across all city firehouses in mid-December.

“I think a lot of people are very surprised that they can talk to a doctor directly and have been very happy with that,” said Dr. Michael Gonzalez, an emergency medicine professor at Baylor College of Medicine. He’s the program’s director.

Houston firefighters learn how to use a live video chat program, so they can consult with an emergency medicine doctor while out on 911 calls. Image credit: HFD

Gonzalez said the idea is to direct patients like Carrington to primary care clinics, instead of just automatically bringing them to the emergency room, where ambulances can be tied up for precious minutes — even an hour — as EMTs do paperwork or wait for a nurse to admit the patient.

By diverting some patients to clinics, ambulances can stay out in the neighborhoods, and overloaded emergency rooms like Ben Taub can focus on urgent cases.

Patient privacy violated by ED information screen

From CBC News:

The use of a big screen containing patient information in the emergency department at Charlottetown’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital is a breach of privacy, says provincial privacy commissioner Maria MacDonald.

The screen helps staff keep track of patients in the treatment area. It displays a list of patients, including last name, first initial, age, room or bed number, initial of treating doctor and other notes.

In her report MacDonald said she doesn’t take issue with the use of the system but rather where it is. She said it is visible to anyone in the corridors and she has seen people looking at it.

MacDonald made a number of recommendations in her order. She suggested simply removing the names and using bed numbers.

Health PEI argued the display did not give enough information that would identify patients. The agency said removing names would interrupt the flow in the emergency and could place patients at risk. Health PEI also said it trusted the public not to read the display.

Feds investigating ‘patient dumping’ concerns at hospital

From SFGate:

Federal authorities are investigating an eastern Idaho hospital amid concerns the hospital violated the law by turning away patients who didn’t have the ability to pay.

In a letter to board members on Friday, Bingham Memorial Hospital Chief Executive Officer Louis Kraml said the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will close the hospital on June 2 if the hospital fails to take corrective measures.

Hospital spokesman Mark Baker said investigation is the result of a miscommunication between an emergency department doctor and an on-call physician on Jan. 15.

What kind of doctor operates on himself? A badass

From Philly:

A Pennsylvania  podiatrist last week came up with a novel way to save on health-care costs. He operated on himself.

Actually, he didn’t do it to save money, but Dr. Thomas Jiunta told me that he really didn’t trust anyone else to do it as well as he could.

The 45-minute self-surgery took place in Jiunta’s office last week in Kingston, Luzerne County, under local anesthesia.

Blues’ tax-exempt loss raises red flag

From Modern Healthcare:

The belated disclosure that not-for-profit insurer Blue Shield of California lost its tax exemption last summer raises questions of whether other not-for-profit insurers and hospitals may face similar scrutiny of their finances and community-benefit record.

The Los Angeles Times reported last week that the California Franchise Tax Board quietly revoked Blue Shield’s tax-exempt status in August, but the announcement was buried in the agency’s “revoked exempt organizations list.”