Another large emergency department is on the verge of closing in Memphis, TN. The Regional Medical Center at Memphis, or “The MED,” as it is called, is in need of $32 million in the next few months or the emergency department and ambulance services will be discontinued. The heart of the issue resonates all over the country. Hospitals can’t provide free care to everyone and remain solvent for very long. Tennessee isn’t paying The MED enough to care for Medicaid patients and neighboring states of Arkansas and Mississippi owe millions of dollars to The MED for providing out-of-state indigent care.
A quote in this article about the potential closure confirms a prediction I had when discussing similar problems in New York City: “Those patients have to be cared for somewhere,” Smith said. “Most of them are uninsured so the new receiving institution would have that financial burden shifted to them.”
A game of hot potato with uninsured patients … coming to a hospital near you?
When a dog gets whooped on in a dogfight, where does it run to? You guessed it. The emergency department. Now if I could just get certified in doggie CPR.
Emergency department tweezer thief gets an all-expense paid trip to the Greybar Motel. Moral of the story: Go buy your own tweezers to pluck your nose hairs … and show up at your court dates so warrants aren’t issued for your arrest.
Taser International issued a press release advising police agencies not to shoot stun guns at a suspect’s chest, since doing so could pose an “extremely low risk of an adverse cardiac event.” Ummm … it’s not like police have a choice where to shoot the electrodes when suspects lunge at them or try to steal their guns. All about CYA for the lawsuits. Best quote in the article: “Critics called it a stunning reversal for the company [that had previously stated] its stun gun was incapable of inducing a cardiac arrest.” No pun intended, of course.
In other news, police agencies have issued a press release on how suspects can avoid Taser-related cardiac events altogether: Do what the frick police officers tell you to do so you don’t get tazed in the first place.
If we want your opinion, we’ll give it to you … The Senate passed a health care bill to the House that contains a “public option” plan. States have until 2014 to opt out of the plan. One commenter to the cited article raised an interesting factoid – no states have ever opted out of another public option plan called Medicare. If the House passes the plan, insurance companies will have to compete against the government. Then we’ll see what kind of pressure insurance companies put on State governments to “opt out”.
Is the public plan option what you expect? Newsweek columnist Robert Samuelson thinks the plan is a bunch of smoke and mirrors.
But the public option plan is to get rid of the obscene profits made by the health insurers, right? According to the LA Daily News, health care insurers only made 2.2% profit last year. How much more is there to trim? (thanks to Denise for the tip)
According to the American Association for Justice, there’s a lot to trim. Medical malpractice insurance company profits are in the top 1% of all Fortune 500 companies. The AAJ says that insurance company profits average 31.2%. Whom should we believe?
Get ready for health care spending cuts. A Thomson Reuters report released October 26, 2009 states that inefficiencies, defensive medicine, and fraud amount to between $505 billion and $850 billion in health care costs each year – nearly one third of total health care spending. With that much “waste” in the system, you know a certain Uncle with a blue and white stove pipe hat is going to try to tighten up the purse strings. The report states that “defensive medicine” accounts for up to $300 billion in costs per year. Funny how the largest “unnecessary” cost in health care gets a measly $25 million Band-Aid thrown at it.
Melancholy story about a doctor-patient encounter in the emergency department. Just because you had a job doesn’t mean you won’t end up needing “indigent care”.
Interesting take by a lawyer on the medical malpractice crisis – or lack thereof – in Montana. Raises a very good point – in the past 10 years of dental malpractice cases in Montana, only one dentist was sued. The case went to trial and the dentist won. How much are dentists paying for malpractice insurance and why are they paying it?
Better question: What is the source of the fear and why are medical professionals buying into it?
This happens to me all the time. Ten interruptions per hour in the ED? With me, that number is on the low side. I’m in with a patient and get a phone call. Go back in with patient, critical patient comes in. Back in with patient, another phone call. By the fourth time, I joke with the patient that I’m going to go get a hammer and nails to nail the door shut. The system sucks, but how do we fix it?