Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cops: Hospital worker accused of rape kept working

Cops: Hospital worker accused of rape kept working
Seattle PI November 26, 2014

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut police say a hospital allowed a nursing assistant to continue working there for three months after a patient reported being raped by him.
The Connecticut Post reports ( ) that Gonzalo Flores was charged Tuesday with raping a paralyzed male patient in March at St. Vincent's Medical Center. He was already awaiting trial on charges he sexually assaulted another patient in June.
An arrest warrant says Flores admitted having other sexual encounters with patients.
The affidavit says the hospital's director of safety and security told police he knew about the allegation in March but could not substantiate it.
Flores' lawyer declined to comment.
Hospital spokeswoman Caryn S. Kaufman said Tuesday that St. Vincent's takes complaints by patients and staff very seriously and investigates all claims.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Dr. Hooman Noorchashm calls for FDA Deputy Director resignation over power morcellation conflicts

 American Recall Center
Oct. 30, 2014

Dr. Hooman Noorchashm, an outspoken critic of the use of power morcellators in gynecological operations, recently published an open letter calling for the resignation of Dr. William Maisel, the deputy director and chief scientist at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH). Dr. Noorchashm, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and surgical lecturer at Harvard University, accuses Dr. Maisel of a conflict of interest.
As it pertains to the deadly hazard of gynecological morcellators in the United States and abroad, your primary stated mission as a strong industry advocate represents a clear conflict of ethical interest in guaranteeing patient safety. Under your leadership, the CDRH has failed to call for a ban on power morcellators, nearly two months after the data was clearly delineated and the victims presented at the FDA advisory – nearly one year after we raised an alarm from Boston, MA.1
Dr. Noorchashm has been a central figure in the fight to ban power morcellation. When the FDA issued a safety communication recommending that patients talk with their doctors about power morcellation, Dr. Noorchashm criticized the FDA for not going far enough, arguing that a forced recall of power morcellators should be issued rather than simply advising people to talk with their doctors. To date the FDA has not issued such a mandatory recall, although Johnson & Johnson did voluntarily withdraw its Ethicon morcellation devices from the market, and several insurance providers have stopped covering morcellators as a surgical tool.
In his latest communication, Dr. Noorchashm accused the FDA of deliberately dragging its feet on a potential power morcellator ban.
It is now our understanding that the FDA may be delaying a final statement. This delay in a ban on power morcellators by the FDA is occurring despite the overwhelming evidence of deadly hazard. And many industry advocates appear to have been assured that FDA will not be banning the power morcellators from market.
[It seems] increasingly clear that this lethargy in FDA action to protect the public is directly related to industry lobby to which you, as a CDRH leader, have clearly stated your loyalty in the press.
Dr. Noochashm has called for Dr. Maisel “to do right by all those women harmed, resign from the CDRH and relinquish the responsibility to protect the public’s health to those of your colleagues at FDA with capacity and patient safety foremost in their highest priority.” The letter appeared as part of Dr. Noorchashm’s larger effort to build awareness about health risks related to power morcellation, which includes a petition on
For Dr. Noorchashm, the power morcellation issue is both a matter of public health and one of personal interest. His wife, Amy Reed, an anesthesiologist at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, received a morcellator-assisted hysterectomy in October 2013. A few days later, Dr. Reed learned that she had leiomyosarcoma, a rare form of soft-tissue cancer, and that the morcellation procedure may have worsened her prognosis. Since then, Dr. Noorchashm has been on a campaign to ban the use of power morcellators altogether.
Although it’s hard to predict how the FDA will respond to Dr. Nooschashm’s latest call for Dr. Maisel’s resignation—if the agency responds at all—the letter does seem to have drawn some attention to this important issue. Power morcellation has been discussed in recent days on popular shows like The Dr. Oz Show, and a number of articles have appeared in reputable publications like The Wall Street Journal and various health news outlets. Even if Dr. Maisel does not resign as Dr. Noorchashm wishes, at least more people are now talking about the potential problems of power morcellators.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Broken Bed Alarm Blamed for UCSD Walkaway Patient's Death

Broken Bed Alarm Blamed for Walkaway Patient's Death
Thomas Vera died after he became disoriented and walked away from his hospital room at UCSD Medical Center in May
By Steven Luke
NBC 7 San Diego
Sep 15, 2014

California Department of Health and Human Services records obtained by NBC 7 shed new light on what went wrong inside UCSD Medical Center when a disoriented patient walked away from his supervised room into a nearby canyon.

The [May 2013] lapse in hospital security led to a tragic search which ended when ...Thomas Vera’s body was found [several] days later less than a mile from the hospital entrance in Palm Canyon.

Family blames the hospital for allowing 58-year-old Thomas Vera, suffering severe head and neck injuries as well as [delusions], to leave the facility...

According to the CHHS investigation, Vera’s bed alarm never sounded. Vera was under video surveillance, and when nurses were notified, the report states they “attempted to contact security by paging security twice with no response and then pushing the panic button twice with no response.”

The panic button was “broken for 8 days,” according to the report.

State inspectors said the hospital failed to routinely test the buttons and failed to repair them when broken.

Prior to Vera’s disappearance, the most recent test had revealed more than 1 out of every 4 panic buttons at UCSD’s two main hospitals didn’t work.

“That’s incomprehensible to me. This is a big time, generally well thought of medical facility, and it’s like clown school” said legal expert Joel Brant, an attorney who specialized in elder care law.

[Maura Larkins comment: I don't believe they're clowns. The buttons were not a priority. UCSD pays huge amounts of money to maintain the equipment it wants to keep maintained. Were the walkaway patients paying full price? Were they a drain on UCSD financially?]

UC San Diego Health Sciences director of communications Jacqueline Carr released this statement in response to the incident:

“UC San Diego Health System underwent extensive internal and external investigations to identify the reasons that led to this tragic event...”

Fifteen months after the incident, CHHS says no fine or penalty has been issued as a result of the mishap...

Read more here.

Missing Hospital Patient's Body Found in Canyon: Officials
By Monica Garske and Dave Summers
Jun 1, 2013

The body of a missing hospital patient was discovered by search and rescue officials in a canyon Friday evening after an extensive search.

Chula Vista resident Thomas Vera, 58, had been missing since Monday. For the last several weeks, he had been a patient at the UCSD Medical Center.

Vera was admitted to the hospital after falling down the stairs at his home. He suffered a concussion and broken collar bone, according to his family, and was awaiting surgery...

A QUESTION OF PRIORITIES: Profits, Short Staffing, and the Shortchanging of Patient Care at UC Medical Centers

The public sees University of California Medical Centers as premier, world-class facilities. We rely upon them when our loved ones face the most serious illnesses because we expect them to provide the highest level of care. With the UC Medical System earning $6.9 billion in operating revenues and hundreds of millions in profits, it has the resources to do just that.

But recently, patient care advocates have witnessed something else: administrative decisions that prioritize UC’s profit margins over patients’ health. These decisions reflect a shift in values that reached a tipping point with a system-wide policy in 2011 that decentralized UC budget practices, and turned each medical center into an independent profit center.

This culture change is evidenced by a sharp rise in management salaries and compensation, excessive management costs, and unprecedented borrowing to construct new buildings.

Since 2009, management at UC Medical Centers has grown by 38 percent, adding $100 million to the annual payroll cost of management.

Debt service payments have almost quadrupled since 2006.

This diversion of patient care dollars results in management’s need to capture “efficiencies” to bolster profit margins.

While “efficiencies” can be positive, they can also have serious negative consequences. Often taking the form of aggressive cost-cutting measures, some translate into chronic short staffing, over scheduling of operating rooms, prioritizing “VIP” patients over everyone else, shortchanging charity care, and outsourcing essential services.

These degrade the medical centers’ core mission...

The State of California provides significant funding for the University’s Health System. In the fiscal year 2012-2013, it will provide approximately $300 million in public dollars for health sciences instruction....[Read more here.]

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Xanax, Valium Raise Alzheimer's Risk: Study

Xanax, Valium Raise Alzheimer's Risk: Study
10 Sep 2014

Older adults who habitually use sedatives for anxiety or insomnia may have a heightened risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, a new study suggests.

The drugs in question are benzodiazepines, a widely prescribed group of sedatives that include lorazepam (Ativan), diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax). Older adults commonly take the drugs for anxiety or insomnia, often long-term, according to background information in the study.

That's despite the fact that guidelines call for only short-term use of the drugs, at most. In 2012, the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) put benzodiazepines on its list of drugs considered "potentially inappropriate" for seniors, because of risks like confusion, dizziness and falls.

The current study isn't the first to link benzodiazepines to Alzheimer's risk, but it adds to evidence that longer-term use of the drugs -- beyond three months -- might be a risk factor, according to lead researcher Sophie Billioti de Gage, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Bordeaux, in France.

"For people needing or using benzodiazepines, it seems crucial to encourage physicians to carefully balance the benefits and risks when renewing the prescription," Billioti de Gage said.

But the study was only able to find an association between the drugs and Alzheimer's risk.

It wasn't designed to definitively prove that the drugs caused the memory-robbing condition, according to geriatrics specialist Dr. Gisele Wolf-Klein, who was not involved in the research.

One reason is that the findings are based on prescription records. "We know the drugs were prescribed, but we don't know how often people took them, or if they took them at all," said Wolf-Klein, director of geriatric education at North Shore-LIJ Health System in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

Regardless, she said, benzodiazepines have enough known risks to warrant concern.

"There is absolutely no doubt these drugs have dangerous side effects," Wolf-Klein said. "It's important for people to understand that they can be addictive, and increase the risk of confusion and falls."

The study was published online Sept. 9 in BMJ.

For the study, Billioti de Gage's team examined the histories of nearly 1,800 older adults with Alzheimer's, comparing each one with four dementia-free people of the same age and sex.

They found that people who'd been prescribed benzodiazepines for more than three months were 51 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer's, versus people who'd never used the drugs.

The risk was almost doubled if they'd taken the medications for more than six months. According to Billioti de Gage, people in the early stages of Alzheimer's can have symptoms like sleep problems and anxiety. That raises the possibility that benzodiazepine use is the result of Alzheimer's, and not the cause of the disease.

But she said her study was designed to counter this possibility. They only considered prescriptions that were started at least five years before a person's Alzheimer's diagnosis.

Billioti de Gage said the medications can be useful short-term. And, she pointed out, the study found no increased Alzheimer's risk among older adults who were prescribed the drugs according to international guidelines; that means using them no longer than one month for insomnia, and no more than three months for anxiety symptoms.

Read more

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Potassium-rich Foods Reduce Risk of Death and Stroke in Older Women, Study Finds

Potassium-rich Foods Reduce Risk of Death and Stroke in Older Women, Study Finds

Sep 05, 2014
..."Previous studies have shown that potassium consumption may lower blood pressure. But whether potassium intake could prevent stroke or death wasn't clear," said Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, the study's senior author and distinguished university professor emerita, department of epidemiology and population health, at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in a press statement...

The study lasted for 11 years and was conducted on 90,137 postmenopausal women, aged between 50 and 79 years... All participants were stroke-free at the start of the study. They also had an average dietary potassium intake of 2,611 mg/day..

At the end of the study, researchers found that women who ate more potassium-rich food were 12 percent less likely to suffer a stroke compared to those that ate lower amounts of potassium. They were also 16 percent less likely to suffer an ischemic stroke and 10 percent less likely to die than those who ate the least amount of potassium-rich food. Among the hypertension-free participants, those that ate more potassium had a 27 percent lower ischemic stroke risk and 21 percent reduced risk for all stroke types.
"Only 2.8 percent of women in our study met or exceeded this level. The World Health Organization's daily potassium recommendation for women is lower, at 3,510 mg or more. Still, only 16.6 percent of women we studied met or exceeded that," said Wassertheil-Smoller. "... Some foods high in potassium include white and sweet potatoes, bananas and white beans."
Previous studies have found that potassium-rich food blunts the effects of salt on blood pressure, which reduces the risk of developing kidney stones, and possibly decrease bone loss with age.

The current study was published online in the American Heart Association's journal Stroke. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute funded the study.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Many Women Have Died Unnecessarily Because of surgery with MORCELLATORS

Why does Morcellation surgery continue when we know it kills women?   Why do doctors continue to do the surgery?  The answer: profits for medical device companies, profits for doctors.

How Many People Have To Die To Show A New Surgery Technique Isn't Worth It?
By Harriet Brown
Prevention Magazine
May 2014

"...Noorchashm stayed up nights writing strongly worded letters, posting comments on every website remotely relevant to the cause, and having strategic conversations with anyone who would talk to him. The only resulting change he saw was in his own reputation. He'd gone from star surgeon to social leper, shut out of the operating room at his own hospital (though he can't prove it was because of the campaign) and avoided by colleagues and former friends. "They closed ranks on me," he says now, with sadness in his voice. "I broke the white code of silence; I hung out our dirty laundry."..."

Dr. Noorchashm asks: "When new technology makes
medicine cheaper and more convenient, how many
patients have to die to prove it's not worth it?"

Petition by Hooman Noorchashm, MD, PhD:

My wife [Dr. Amy Reed] had a surgical procedure that spread cancerous cells throughout her body. She now has stage 4 cancer. Please sign my petition demanding the FDA stop a procedure that has spread cancer in thousands of women.

My wife Amy is a mother of six, and an accomplished anesthesiologist who helped treat victims of the Boston Marathon bombing last year.

Now, because of a dangerous, but standard, gynecological procedure her early stage cancer was spread -- causing stage 4 cancer. 
Last Fall, Amy went in for a routine hysterectomy to treat what we thought were benign fibroids, and had a minimally invasive “morcellation” procedure to remove her uterus. Little did we know that this procedure would end up spreading malignant cancer cells throughout Amy’s belly. What's more is that “morcellation” is totally avoidable and it has devastated thousands of women and families by spreading and upstaging dangerous cancers of the uterus and ovaries. 
Now we’re taking a stand in hopes of banning this surgery for good, and saving the lives of countless women and mothers. And the momentum is on our side.
Because of the momentum of this petition, numerous hospitals around the country have stopped performing this type of hysterectomy. Last week, a major health insurer -- Blue Cross Blue Shield -- announced that they would no longer cover the procedure. And Johnson & Johnson, which manufactures some of the surgical tools used in this procedure, issued a worldwide voluntary recall of the tools called "power morcellators," saying that they couldn’t guarantee that the procedure was safe for women to undergo.
The reason this surgical procedure is so controversial is that doctors have no reliable way of testing whether patients are at risk of having cancerous cells spread throughout their body during the surgery. That was the case with Amy -- in the process of removing her uterus, undetected cancer cells were spread throughout her abdomen region, and stage 4 cancer developed. The same has happened to scores of other women, globally. Women who went in thinking they were having a “minimally invasive” procedure, left the operating room with an advanced stage of cancer.
Last month, the FDA held public hearings on this surgical procedure. Amy and I traveled down to Washington, D.C., to talk about this petition and to bring Amy’s story to the attention of FDA and congressional regulators. They are currently debating whether to ban this procedure or not, and that’s why I need your help today.
I cannot tell you what this means to my wife, to me, and to our family. Together, we can help potentially save the lives of thousands of women moving forward. No other woman should ever have her uterine cancer upstaged to an advanced stage by a gynecologist practicing this totally avoidable procedure they call "morcellation."
Thank you,
Hooman Noorchashm, MD, PhD
Boston, MA

Health Alert: Many Women Have Died Unnecessarily Because Dangerous Cancers of the Uterus and Ovaries Are Being Spread using MORCELLATORS. Stop MORCELLATION in Minimally Invasive Gynecological Surgery. 

Friends of the Public,

Many women have been harmed and have died prematurely or unnecessarily because of a routine but avoidable gynecological practice known as MORCELLATION. This world-wide practice has devastated many families for well over two decades now.

More than 600,000 hysterectomies are done in the US every year. By the age of 70, one out of every three American women will have had a hysterectomy. About 90% of these surgeries are done for what is presumed to be a benign condition called fibroids. More and more of these surgeries are done with minimally invasive techniques.  Usually, to get the uterus out of the body using the "minimally invasive" technique, it is cut into small pieces with a machine called a morcellator.  However, a devastating problem happens if in fact the woman did NOT have fibroids – but if she actually had cancer.  Unfortunately, the tests that are done before a hysterectomy do not identify these cancers well.  Many gynecologists don't even bother getting any tests. In fact, morcellating cancer spreads the cancer inside the woman’s body.

This is called ‘up staging’ the cancer.
It is important to understand:

1) The average life span following accidental morcellation of sarcoma is only 24-36 months.
2) Only 15% of woman who have leiomyosarcoma (LMS) that has spread (stage 4) will be alive after 5 years.
3) Women with sarcoma who are morcellated are about 4 times more likely to die from sarcoma than if they had not been morcellated. 

This is an avoidable disaster.

This problem has been recognized for more than two decades.  A review of the literature reveals that 1 in 415 women who go for fibroid surgery actually has sarcoma.  This means that everyday 2-5 women in the US – and more around the world will have a deadly cancer spread because of morcellation.

This catastrophic problem has happened in our own family and we are fighting to stop this dangerous activity called morcellation.  A chance of 1 in 415 for such a devastating outcome is much too high to accept.  Women should be told the truth and the practice should stop.
Please help us bring an end to spreading cancer with morcellation.  There are alternatives.  Some surgeons have begun using a special bag to avoid spreading cancer cells.  Several of the reasons why this has not yet become commonplace are the fact that: a) bag morcellation takes more time – and time is money; b) lack of training; and c) lack of awareness.  Other people opt for a traditional open hysterectomy.  People need to understand their options – but – currently, most women never hear anything about morcellation or about the possibility of cancer upstaging. We need your help.
Please sign our petition so we can get the word out.  We want the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology to change this "standard of care" by ending the needless waste of life caused by spreading cancer with morcellation.

For more information and original references see: ) (also see: (also see:
The attached video below shows an example of morcellation

The following companies manufacture and distribute uterine morcellator devices:

1) ETHICON: Gynecare morcellator
2) Storz: Rotocut Morcellator
3) Richard Wolf Medical Instrumentation Company
4) LiNA: LiNA Xcise Cordless Laparoscopic Morcellator
5) Blue Endo MOREsolution Tissue Morcellator

Intuitive Surgical's Da Vinci Robot deserves special mention, as the frequency of robotic hysterectomies performed by minimally invasive gynecologists is currently on the rise across the United States. Note that Intuitive Surgical builds and markets the DaVinci robot, which is not itself a "morcellator". However, use of the DaVinci robot almost invariably appears to require that the uterus be minced up, or morcellated, into smaller pieces inside the woman's belly cavity in order to extract from the abdomen. A clear example is shown in the following YouTube video of DaVinci being used to perform a robotic hysterectomy and manually morcellating the uterus using the endo-wrist component of the robot (morcellation is being performed at minute 5:30 of the video).

 Without morcellation using equipment manufactured by Intuitive Surgical, robotic hysterectomies would, likely, not be possible using the DaVinci Robot. It is noteworthy that the DaVinci robot does not appear to have a readily available warning label advising against its use to morcellate tumors with malignant potential inside the body. The company's Chief Medical Advisor, Dr. Myriam Curet, a surgeon herself, has been informed and advised of this severe hazard in the use of DaVinci for robotic hysterectomy and the absence of a readily available warning label.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

China watchdogs are going after rampant corruption in healthcare, among other enterprises

 Tread carefully, Dr. Binder!  Make sure the people you do business with in China aren't part of the "rampant graft" in healthcare there.  The anti-corruption watchdog in China has announced five more years of cracking-down on corruption.

China warns again of dark side of the mooncakes
Sep 5, 2014 

China's crackdown on corruption, a scourge Communist Party leaders fear threatens their hold on power, is likely to last at least another five years, an official said, warning also against the mid-autumn tradition of handing out mooncakes as gifts.
President Xi Jinping has promised to go after "tigers and flies" in rooting out rampant graft, a campaign that has brought down politicians and company executives in industries including oil, cars and healthcare.

UCLA is involved with healthcare company in China:

 ADICON, UCLA, and Second Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University form Triangle Telepathology services 
 UCLA Doctor Scott Binder and friends

In the morning of Apr. 23, ADICON’s COO Janny Yang, the head of UCLA pathology outreach service Scott Binder, and the chair of second affiliated hospital Jianan Wang, signed the telepathology service contract. Three parties will utilize their own resources and advantages to provide high-end diagnosis to the clients. The trilateral leaders attending the signing ceremony included ADICON’s COO Janny Yang, international cooperation manager Ti He; UCLA’s vice director of pathology department and supervisor of dermal pathology discipline Scott Binder, supervisor of gynecological pathology and cellular pathology discipline Professor Qian JianYu; the second affiliated hospital Zhejiang university medical school’s president Wang Jian’an, vice president You Xiangdong, admin office director Wang Kai, medical department vice director Xu Hangdong, medical lab director Chen Gongxiang, pathology department director Chen Derong, International affairs office vice director Yang Mingli.
Each party expressed their good wishes for the collaboration. Dr. Binder hopes to deliver better service capacities, as well as more chances of health education and research. Mr. Wang hopes that the participation of ADICON can reach more patients who need such services. The head of pathology, Derong Chen reiterates that the digital pathology is the trend of pathology services and communications. The involvement of three parties gives this service much more chances to enjoy the high-end resources not only in China, but also abroad. Janny mentioned that much more pathologists and patients can get access of the diagnosis through ADICON’s network and logistics. It will give the final result much bigger than we thought. ADICON expected to realize a “1+1+1>3” everyone-win situation through the collaboration.
UCLA is a leading medical center in US. From the ranking by USNews, multiple areas, such as GI, urology, ophthalmology are in top 5. Through this partnership, UCLA will deliver dermatology, gastrointestinal pathology, hematology, cytology services in China. Consisting of 47 clinical or medical departments, the second affiliated hospital Zhejiang university medical school is a renowned “AAA” hospital with a history of over 100 years. It will combine the existing strong capacities of Second affiliated hospital pathology team and ADICON pathology team to serve the patients.
This partnership also includes the technical training program and quality control program, in order to improve ADICON’s pathology team. ADICON will utilize this contract to solve the difficult-to-diagnosis cases, as well as to provide research chances. It will be a comprehensive platform of “diagnosis, education, research, and service”.