Neurosurgeon sues Seattle Times for libel over ‘Quantity of Care’ special investigation – iMediaEthics

It’s very unusual to see this lawsuit happening and read the article below. I’ve talked to medical professionals who have  been in operating theatres and while they were not amazed that Dr. Delashaw was running concurrent operations, they were surprised by the number of operations he allegedly oversaw. My sources told me that it is routine procedure for surgeons like Dr. Delashaw to oversee multiple operations, leaving it up to others in the room to open, close, and do the routine procedures during the operation that don’t require the surgeons’ skill and decision making ability. This frees the surgeon to move between theatres and get more done in a day. They were also not surprised that the Dr. was being paid in some way per procedure, which, while the Doctor is claiming in his lawsuit that he was ‘on salary’ it is also routine that almost all hospitals these days do grade surgeons on their ‘numbers’. It is one reason that a noted surgeon in a hospital on the Olympic Peninsula left town, that he was unhappy with being forced to ‘make the numbers.’ This pushes surgeons and other staff to live by the old maxim “if you have a hammer everything looks like a nail.”  It does not lead to better healthcare, only more healthcare, sometimes, as the Seattle Times investigation found out, whether it’s the right thing to do or not.

The Seattle Times is being sued for libel over a Pulitzer Prize-nominated series that reported on a local neurosurgeon. The Seattle Times special investigation “Quantity of Care” looked at Swedish Health’s Cherry Hill hospital, which was acquired by Providence Health & Services in 2011.

Medicine affordability recommendations made for the U.S

From the Consumer Health Digest

An ad hoc committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has issued a 235-page report on Making Medicines Affordable: A National Imperative. The report includes 14 findings about the complexity of the biopharmaceutical marketplace, 18 findings about factors influencing affordability of prescription drugs, and these eight recommendations (each accompanied by suggested actions):

  • Accelerate the market entry and use of safe and effective generics as well as biosimilars, and foster competition to ensure the continued affordability and availability of these products.
  • Consolidate and apply government purchasing power, strengthen formulary design, and improve drug valuation methods. This includes modifying existing legislation to allow the Dept. of Health and Human Services to negotiate drug prices for Medicare and other programs (p. 127).
  • Assure greater transparency of financial flows and profit margins in the biopharmaceutical supply chain.
  • Promote the adoption of industry codes of conduct, and discourage direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs as well as direct financial incentives for patients.
  • Modify insurance benefits designed to mitigate prescription drug cost burdens for patients.
  • Eliminate misapplication of funds and inefficiencies in federal discount programs that are intended to aid vulnerable populations.
  • Ensure that financial incentives for the prevention and treatment of rare diseases are not extended to widely sold drugs.
  • Increase available information and implement reimbursement incentives to more closely align clinicians’ prescribing practices with treatment value.

Pages 52 and 53 cover Medicare drug price negotiation in detail. Pages 96 to 98 discuss drug reimportation. The full report can be read online or downloaded free of charge by registered users of the Academy’s site.

340B is a well-intentioned drug discount program gone awry -Stat Magazine

There have been questions raised here in Jefferson County about the issues that are covered in this article. A good example is the following statement:

A study in the journal Health Services Research examined the impact of the 340B program on the cost of cancer care. It found that hospital participation in the program is associated with a shift of patients’ care from more affordable physician offices to more expensive hospital outpatient care centers, contributing to market-wide increases in per-patient spending.