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“Brazilian butt lift” takes another life

“Brazilian butt lift” takes another life

Last year I blogged about a cosmetic surgeon in Florida named Osak Omulepu who had several bad patient outcomes resulting in the Florida Board of Health prohibiting him from performing Brazilian butt lifts. A lot has happened since then. On June 1st of this year, Lattia Baumeister, a 30-year-old mother of six from Illinois, died of fat emboli after a Brazilian butt lift performed by none other than Dr. Omulepu. Wait, hadn’t he been banned from doing that procedure? According to the Miami Herald, “Florida officials had tried three times since February 2016 to stop Omulepu from performing liposuction and a fat transfer procedure to the buttocks known as a ‘Brazilian butt lift,’ his self-declared specialty. Each time, the same state appellate court in Tallahassee restored Omulepu’s practicing privileges under his Florida medical license.” Ironically on June 1st, the appeals court had denied the state board’s request to stop him from doing liposuction procedures while his appeal was in progress. His lawyer had argued that because he almost exclusively performed liposuction, stopping him from doing that procedure would have constituted a “de facto suspension” of his license. Four days after Baumeister’s death, the court ordered Omulepu, who is not board-certified in any surgical specialty, to stop performing plastic surgery, but did not lift his license stating that “a board-certified physician must be present for any other medical procedures” he does. A ruling from the court on the state’s continuing efforts to remove the doctor’s license is pending. The clickorlando.com website reported that Omulepu has had 12 complaints registered with the state. When I blogged about him last year, I...
Nonadherence to medications: Who’s to blame?

Nonadherence to medications: Who’s to blame?

No foundations or patient advocate groups are promoting awareness of nonadherence. There are no colored ribbons, no fundraising walks, runs, jogs, trots, or swims. The New York Times says nonadherence to prescribed medications is “an out-of-control epidemic” in the US and quotes a review in Annals of Internal Medicine, which found “20-30% of medication prescriptions are never filled, and approximately 50% of medications for chronic illness are not taken as prescribed.” For example, “a third of kidney transplant patients don’t take their anti-rejection medications, 41% of heart attack patients don’t take their blood pressure medications, and half of children with asthma either don’t use their inhalers at all or use them inconsistently.” Many reasons for nonadherence were discussed—aversion to chemicals, a desire to do things “naturally,” pills represent reminders of sickness, self-experimentation with stopping medications and noticing no change in perceived health, and drug costs. Another Times piece discussed a study showing that Medicare patients fail to adhere to prescriptions for high-intensity statins. At 6 months after discharge, 58.9% were taking their high-intensity statins as prescribed, and at 2 years, the percentage had fallen to 41.6%. The study involved almost 30,000 Medicare beneficiaries who all had Medicare fee-for-service and pharmacy benefits coverage. In addition to the reasons listed above, some say the problem must be because doctors are not to educating their patients about the importance of taking their medications. From the Times: The senior author of the statin study, Dr. Robert S. Rosenson, a professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, said, “Health care providers have an obligation to educate the patient. We...
Transgastric appendectomy: The answer to a question no one is asking

Transgastric appendectomy: The answer to a question no one is asking

  No one really wants to know if taking out an inflamed appendix using an endoscope passed through the mouth, esophagus, and stomach is a safe operation. But some German surgeons have published another paper on the subject. Their first paper, which I critiqued in 2013, was what is known as a pilot study—kind of a “let’s see if this works at all” before doing more formal research. In that one, 15 patients underwent transgastric appendectomy with five significant complications. Undaunted, the investigators pressed on. The current paper, published ahead of print in the journal Surgery, is a nonrandomized comparison of standard 3-port laparoscopic appendectomy to hybrid transgastric appendectomy. The procedure is called “hybrid” because a small abdominal wall incision must be used to insert an instrument to facilitate visualization and ligation of the appendix. From October 2010 to May 2013, the investigators screened 273 patients with appendicitis and after patient refusals and exclusions for various criteria, transgastric appendectomy was offered to 65 patients. Of that group, 30 agreed to undergo the NOTES procedure, and 35 opted for standard laparoscopic appendectomy. The groups were similar in age, sex, and body mass index. The duration of surgery for the NOTES patients was 94.5 minutes compared to 69 minutes for the laparoscopic cohort, a statistically significant difference. The duration for both procedures far exceeds the norm of 20 to 40 minutes for a laparoscopic appendectomy in the US. NOTES patients did not tolerate a regular diet until postoperative day 2 vs. day 1 for the standard patients, a statistically significant difference. Although the median length of postoperative stay after surgery was...
System errors, human errors, and common sense

System errors, human errors, and common sense

  “It was a system failure.” That’s what United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz said in an interview with ABC News about the recent incident involving the violent removal of a seated passenger from a plane. I’m not so sure. I have blogged many times about the tendency of hospitals and other organizations to blame mistakes on systems when human error is often the real cause. Here are a few examples. Delta Airlines allowed a nine-year-old boy to fly from Minneapolis to Las Vegas without a ticket or boarding pass. In the post, I pointed out that the system wasn’t the problem. Several humans failed to do their jobs in order for it to have happened. A 16-year-old patient suffered complications after he was given 38 antibiotic pills by a nurse who failed to question the order. 38 pills? She should have questioned the order but put too much trust in the electronic medical record and its supposed infallibility. I once worked at a hospital where every mistake was blamed on the system. Corrective actions to the system had to be developed through endless root cause analysis meetings. In a post called “System failure often really means someone made a mistake,” I discussed several papers which found most medical errors were caused humans, not systems. Many people have missed the fact that the United flight from Chicago to Louisville was not simply overbooked. The problem arose when four members of a United crew who need to get to Louisville to staff a flight the following morning showed up at the airport. Every seat on what was the last flight to...
Will robots ever be able to perform surgery independently?

Will robots ever be able to perform surgery independently?

Will robots ever be able to perform surgery independently? And if they can, should they? In my last post, I wrote about some unresolved issues with driverless cars and ended by saying “So are you ready to have an autonomous robot perform your gallbladder surgery? I’m not.” But the robots are coming. A recent paper in Science Robotics proposed six different levels of autonomy for surgical robots. The authors say some devices are already at level 3. A surgeon can tell a robot to put in a row of sutures, and the robot will do so without hands-on control by the surgeon. Major issues — cyber security, privacy, risk of malfunction resulting in harm to the patient — arise as the robots approach complete autonomy. The cost of satisfying FDA regulations escalates as the robots take on more high risk activities. For such a device, the cost of premarket approval approaches $100 million and takes 4½ years to accomplish. A completely autonomous level 5 surgical robot will actually be practicing medicine raising the question of robots not only requiring FDA clearance but also licensing by medical organizations and board certification. Will they need to take examinations and participate in maintenance of certification? A huge problem already affecting pilots involves the deterioration of skills when ceding all control to the robot. Crashes, notably Air France Flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris, have occurred when computers malfunctioned and human pilots had to take control. The Air France incident occurred when ice covered a sensor resulting in autopilot disengagement. The human pilots failed to recognize the plane had stalled, and...
Some autonomous robots are not ready for prime time

Some autonomous robots are not ready for prime time

A Twitter friend posted this on a blustery Wisconsin morning: His car wasn’t being driven by a robot, but the tweet highlights some issues. Driverless cars use sensors—radar, cameras, and lasers—to detect obstacles and road edges. The radar sensors and cameras were iced over. If he had been in a driverless car, would he it have had to pull over and wait until the storm passed? Even if the sensors were working, a Business Insider article pointed out that snow and heavy rain can confound the sensors because they need to detect lane markers to keep the car out of trouble. This problem might be overcome by employing high resolution three-dimensional maps that depict not only the road but the presence of signs and other landmarks. Driverless cars also find it difficult to deal with situations where speed is a factor such as merging onto a highway. The normal cues about how traffic will behave inferred by a human driver are not detected by robots. A different problem with speed took place on a race track in Buenos Aires. Two driverless cars were competing with each other in a “Roborace” when one of them missed a curve and crashed. According to a BBC article, Roborace’s chief marketing officer put a positive “spin” [pun intended] on the crash, “It’s actually fantastic for us because the more we see these moments the more we are able to learn and understand what was the thinking behind the computer and its data. “The car was damaged, for sure, but it can be repaired. And the beauty is no drivers get harmed because… there...
How much would you pay for a nap?

How much would you pay for a nap?

Los Cruces High School in New Mexico decided to address the growing problem of sleepy students by allowing naps. Last week the Wall Street Journal ran a story about it. With permission from a teacher, students can take 20 minute naps using “sleep pods” (shown below). A student who had been sleeping only 3 hours per night “for days” said she felt refreshed after using one of the pods. The article did not explain why the 17-year-old was getting so little sleep at home. Research has shown that teenagers need more sleep than adults, and their circadian rhythms shift from signaling the need to go to sleep at 8 or 9 PM as preteens to 10 or 11 PM. Many parents and educators are pushing for high school starting times later in the morning to coincide with the change. Meanwhile, sleep pods might help alleviate the problem but only for a select few. The entire Las Cruces school district has four sleep pods purchased with the help of a government grant. The high school’s Facebook page says it has 2300 students. Even if all four sleep pods are available to its students, they will not solve the problem for the entire sleepy student body. The UCLA Sleep Center website lists a number of more practical and less disruptive suggestions to help adolescents sleep better at night. Here are some of them: • Maintain a calm atmosphere in the home at bedtime. • Avoid activities that will excite the senses late in the evening such as computer games, action movies, intense reading or heavy studying. • No caffeine (including soda...
Stronger Malpractice Laws Don’t Reduce Complications

Stronger Malpractice Laws Don’t Reduce Complications

A study of over 890,000 Medicare beneficiaries shows that states with malpractice environments unfavorable to physicians do not see improved postoperative outcomes for 11 different types of mostly elective major operations. States with higher general surgery malpractice insurance premiums had significantly more episodes of postoperative sepsis, pneumonia, acute renal failure, and gastrointestinal bleeding. Those with higher numbers of paid claims per 100 physicians had more postoperative myocardial infarctions, surgical site infections, acute renal failure, hemorrhage, prolonged length of stay, readmissions, and deaths. When a composite score was used to judge malpractice environment, patients in states with higher malpractice risk settings continued to experience more postoperative complications. So much for the theory that malpractice suits influence doctors to be more careful and improve quality of care. States with tort reforms such as attorney fee limits, damage caps, and pretrial panels saw neither increased nor decreased rates of 30-day complications. The procedures studied were resections of the colon, rectum, lung, esophagus, urinary bladder, and pancreas and total knee replacement, craniotomy, gastric bypass, abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, and coronary artery bypass graft. In a Reuters story about the paper, senior author, Dr. Karl Y. Bilimoria, Director of the Surgical Outcomes and Quality Improvement Center at Northwestern University, said the risk of litigation did not result in better outcomes. He added, “It doesn’t really work—malpractice environment doesn’t influence doctors to provide better care. Rather, it may lead to defensive medicine practices where more tests and treatments are ordered unnecessarily just to try to minimize malpractice risk.” The paper points out that defensive medicine can lead to overdiagnosis and overtreatment which may cause more...
The Burnout Paradox: Why Are We Still Surprised?

The Burnout Paradox: Why Are We Still Surprised?

If you go to medical school, you will be stressed—bigly. It should not come as a surprise. Two posts on the Kevin MD website highlight the problems facing many medical students today. The first was by an anonymous rising fourth year student who has come to the conclusion that going to medical school was “a terrible, terrible decision.” It ended with a comment that medical school “is not fun. It’s jarring, scary, disappointing and absolutely depressing.” The second was by another anonymous student who described how miserable he (or she) has been since he started medical school. He said “’burnout’ is the word I would use to best describe my medical school experience.” On the day he wrote his post, he was about to text the surgery residents to tell them he would not be there for the last day of his rotation because he was too anxious. He mentioned a strong family history of anxiety disorders and being diagnosed with depression and anxiety as he was applying to medical school. He did not disclose this during the application process. Burnout is not limited to a few students. A literature review in 2013 found “at least half of all medical students may be affected by burnout during their medical education.” Nor is the problem confined to medical students. A national survey published in Academic Medicine in 2014 found that 58.2% of medical students, 50.8% of residents/fellows, and 40% of early career physicians screened positive for depression. Last week, Medscape’s 2017 Lifestyle Report, a survey of practicing physicians, found that 51% were burned out—an increase from 40% in 2013. The...
Who Has Grit? Cutting Resident Attrition Rates

Who Has Grit? Cutting Resident Attrition Rates

What is grit? In an article in The Guardian, Angela Duckworth, a psychologist often called the guru of grit, defined it as the commitment to finish what you start, to rise from setbacks, to want to improve and succeed, and to undertake sustained and sometimes unpleasant practice in order to do so. She said in a paper that grit is perseverance and passion for long-term goals. I think we’d all agree we would want our doctors, particularly our surgeons, to have grit. That sounds great, but how do we find people who possess grit? This is especially important in surgery because attrition rates in general surgery residency programs have been about 20% for many years. In 2014, I blogged about a paper that used grit levels, measured by a brief survey—the Short Form Grit Scale (SFGS), to predict who might drop out of surgical training programs. However the authors did not find that low grit made a significant difference because attrition rates in the programs studied were lower than expected. A recent study published ahead of print in the American Journal of Surgery used the SFGS to identify potential residency dropouts and found that residents with less grit thought about leaving their program more frequently, but the numbers were again too small to show a significant difference in resident attrition. Those with higher grit levels had a better sense of well-being which is nice. One of the problems in trying to measure grit is that the grit scale is fairly easy to “game.” For example, in response to the statement “I am a hard worker,” how many surgical residents...
Should patients bail out when their doctor is burned out?

Should patients bail out when their doctor is burned out?

Google “physician burnout epidemic,” and you will find quite a few articles and blog posts on the subject. By all accounts, physician burnout is getting worse. Causes are many, including job dissatisfaction, loss of control, work-life imbalance, tuition debt, government and insurance regulations, electronic medical records, and more. Solutions are few, and not many have been validated. The emphasis has been on the plight of doctors, but what about patients? Doctor burnout has been associated with suboptimal patient care. Neurologist John H. Noseworthy, President and CEO of the Mayo Clinic, has a suggestion—fire your doctor. In an interview on Chicago’s PBS outlet WTTW, he was asked what patients should do if they think their physicians may be burned out, cynical, or not empathetic. He replied, “I think the first thing is to recognize it and change physicians. Candidly, it is too risky to be cared for by someone who is impaired. It is difficult to say that but it is true. You can say, ‘Doctor, you used to be a great doctor. You used to care about me. You seem different. I hope you are getting some help.’ But in the meantime, patients and their families have to look after themselves.” In answer to a follow-up question, he said it might be helpful if patients told their doctors why they were being fired. Dr. Noseworthy’s advice is problematic because the average patient would neither be able to diagnose burnout nor be willing to confront a doctor with suspicions of burnout. Even more importantly, how easy would it be to change doctors? In late 2015, a survey by investigators from...
Wrong Body Cremated: ID’ing Patients By More Than a Name

Wrong Body Cremated: ID’ing Patients By More Than a Name

The wrong body was cremated by the county coroner’s office in Los Angeles. Jorge Hernandez died of an overdose, and the body of another Jorge Hernandez, an indigent patient scheduled for cremation, was also present in the morgue. The distraught family of overdose victim Jorge Hernandez  had planned a funeral with a viewing and were shocked when they were told his body had been cremated by mistake because a morgue attendant failed to verify the coroner’s case number. According to the Los Angeles Times, “the coroner’s office has a strict policy requiring staffers to check the name and the coroner’s case number to make sure there are no misidentifications. A spokesman for the corner ‘said this system has generally worked.'” That’s reassuring. The coroner’s office is short staffed and underfunded, but it’s hard to believe they’re so busy that no one had time to check a number which might take all of 10 seconds. The family has retained a lawyer. Another case of mistaken identity recently occurred in Massachusetts where the wrong patient had a kidney removed. Although details are vague, the mixup apparently began before the patient was admitted to the hospital. Another patient with the same name had a CT scan showing a tumor in the left kidney. The wrong patient was admitted and underwent a left nephrectomy. That patient’s medical record contained no CT scan report showing a tumor. Whether the actual CT scan images were viewed in the operating room on a digital radiology system is unknown. No tumor was found on pathologic examination. Since the error originated outside of the hospital, it blamed the...
A tube misconnection and a death: a medical whodunit

A tube misconnection and a death: a medical whodunit

Here’s what we know. In September 2016, a 72-year-old former member of the Australian national soccer team suffered what must have been an extremely painful death when his oxygen supply was somehow connected to his urinary catheter. The oxygen filled his bladder until it burst, and then the gas expanded his abdomen so much that his diaphragm was pushed up causing his lungs to collapse. The flow of blood returning to his heart was also obstructed. What we don’t know is how this could have happened. Some have speculated that it was caused by a system problem. For example, the design of the connections on the urinary catheter and oxygen tubing might be similar and easily confused. Although this would be a simple explanation and might lessen the degree of human error involved, I’m not buying it. The types of connections used for urinary catheters and oxygen tubing are quite different. The end of a urinary catheter is a female connection with a relatively wide diameter to accommodate the male end of the tubing leading to the drainage bag. See figure below. The oxygen administration tubing is usually a combination of tube and nasal prongs as a single unit. See figure below. Considering the incompatible tubing, it is difficult to imagine how the oxygen could have been connected to the urinary catheter by the elderly patient. Yet it is also inconceivable that any hospital staffer could think that oxygen should be given via the bladder. At the coroner’s inquest, which is still in progress, one account says a nurse recalled seeing a white connector between the green oxygen tube...
Unmatched Graduate: “Med Schools to Blame”

Unmatched Graduate: “Med Schools to Blame”

The following was submitted as a series of comments on my Physician’s Weekly post about Missouri’s new law allowing medical school graduates who did not match into residency positions to work under supervision. The comments have been edited for length and clarity: I am a 38-year-old US medical graduate who has attempted to match 3 times with no success. I decided not to throw the money away again this cycle. I have half a million dollars in educational loans. I would exchange my situation with any non-US-IMG because they probably don’t have massive loans. I have seen kids coming fresh from India with no loans who match in their first attempts because they score high enough on USMLE to separate themselves from people like me. Based on USMLE scores, the matching system is fair to a lot of us. What fails US grads is the educational loan structure that allows us to borrow without any accountability of medical schools that are benefiting most. If medical schools are going to produce doctors who cannot match after genuine attempts, the schools should be blamed. They have standards that require students to pass each course in order to graduate. If they believe a student is not good enough to become a doctor, they shouldn’t graduate the student. Students would benefit more if the medical schools could determine which med students won’t be good doctors earlier on and dismiss them. Then the students will not pile up so much debt. Some graduates find that their training is not good enough to become a physician. It’s a scam. Why do medical schools get a...
Parking lot needlestick yields $4.6 million payout

Parking lot needlestick yields $4.6 million payout

A jury awarded a woman $4,618,500 for a needlestick injury she sustained in the parking lot of Target. Skeptical Scalpel shares his opinions. A South Carolina jury awarded a woman $4,618,500 for a needlestick injury she sustained in the parking lot of a Target store. She had parked her car and while walking to the store, her daughter picked up a hypodermic needle. As she swatted the needle out of the child’s hand, it punctured the woman’s palm. She went into the store and notified an employee. HIV post-exposure prophylaxis medications were prescribed which she said rendered her sick and bedridden. Her husband had to take time off from work to care for her. Hepatitis and HIV testing proved negative. Her lawyer asked Target for $12,000 to compensate her, but the store offered $750. The plaintiff’s attorney said, “When we started this, we were just trying to get Target to make my client whole, to pay for her medical bills and the time that her husband had to take off work. We tried to be reasonable and not take this to trial. But Target took a really hard stance on it … and I think the jury sent a message.” Not surprisingly, Target is considering appealing the verdict. I have some problems with this. If the verdict stands, does it mean a store is responsible for anything left in its parking lot at any time? Should stores hire people to comb the premises 24/7? That seems overly burdensome. There is an issue of possible negligence on the part of the plaintiff. Is swatting a needle out of the hand...
Is burnout inevitable during medical training?

Is burnout inevitable during medical training?

An emergency medicine resident blogging on KevinMD, thinks so. Here’s why. He started with the competition for grades in college and the process of applying to medical schools—lamenting the time, effort, and cost of both. Getting into medical school is only the beginning. It turns out that the first 2 years of medical school require lots of time and effort too (despite “sickness, holiday or special occasion”), and of course, the tuition expense. The clinical years were even worse. On top of mounting debt, the author was subjected to criticism, cruelty, and long hours. He conceded that “Some students, my colleagues, included, went to different hospitals and loved going to and leaving work each day, growing more competent and confident with each shift, and consequently making my experience infinitely more painful to endure.” For some reason, the author decided to do his 4-year emergency medicine residency training at the same malevolent hospital he rotated through as a medical student. His first year was spent on various general medical rotations where he says adherence to the work hours rules was spotty at best. According to the author, the good news is “The emergency department is the least malignant environment, by a substantial degree.” Although least malignant, the ED consisted of hectic 12 hour shifts, switching from days to nights, and an ICU rotation with greater than 24 hour shifts without sleep. Depression ensued. He said, “The patient load, increasing resident responsibility, extended work hours, and lack of personal time provide a net unhealthy environment for a resident.” He is “thoroughly exhausted” and has considered quitting but “Lack of marketable skills...
Why can’t more doctors apologize for mistakes?

Why can’t more doctors apologize for mistakes?

“The unintended consequences of these seemingly well-intentioned laws are doctors who can’t apologize for harming their patients even if they want to…” A recent JAMA article about disclosing medical error described a hypothetical situation involving a dermatologist who, after completing skin biopsies on two patients, discovered that the instruments had not been sterilized. He wondered if he should tell the patients and what he should say. The authors of the piece said patients should be told what happened, and the doctor should apologize. All concerned parties should review the error, and quality assurance, risk management, and the malpractice insurance carriers should be informed. The advice is sound and should be followed by anyone who identifies a medical error that could potentially harm a patient. The authors chose a rather simple scenario. It is very easy for a physician to apologize for an error committed by someone else. It’s a bit different if the doctor is the one who made the mistake. “37 states and the District of Columbia have laws excluding apologies from admissibility in court”   I support disclosing fully, expressing sympathy, and apologizing and did so myself when I felt I was responsible for what happened. But a couple of issues are unresolved. The JAMA article states “healthcare systems must develop a safety culture. An essential element of this is a culture that fosters open reporting of errors, assists clinicians in disclosing errors, and provides emotional support to stressed personnel involved with the error.” Four years ago I wrote that most hospitals had not established the so-called “just culture,” and I don’t believe much has changed since...
Misinterpretation of Medical Error Deaths from BMJ Paper Continues

Misinterpretation of Medical Error Deaths from BMJ Paper Continues

About 6 weeks ago, I wrote a post called “Overestimating the effect of medical errors can be detrimental.” I cited a few examples of blind acceptance of the massively flawed BMJ paper “Medical error — the third leading cause of death in the US” by Makary and Daniel. In my post, I wrote that without critical analysis naïve journalists had accepted as facts that 251,000 deaths were caused by medical errors — now the third leading cause of death in the US. Unfortunately I underestimated the severity of the problem. Here are some examples of the continuing misinterpretation of “Medical error — the third leading cause of death in the US.” Notice how uncritically the numbers are reported. A website called Public Source stated, “Heart disease is the culprit in one in every four deaths. Cancer took more than 591,000 lives in 2014. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, the next leading cause of death is medical errors.” From NBC News Washington, “A recent study found medical errors cause up to 250,000 deaths each year in this country.” Health Leaders Media: “We’ve all heard harrowing stories about medical errors. They are the third leading cause of death in the U.S., estimated to be responsible for more than 250,000 deaths per year.” Dallas-Fort Worth Healthcare Daily: “…research by surgeons at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, proclaims that medical errors kill more Americans than anything except heart disease and cancer. That study, published in May in The BMJ medical journal, argued that more than 250,000 Americans die from medical error each year.” The Seattle Times: “Medical errors are the...
Gas Mix-Up Causes Newborn Death

Gas Mix-Up Causes Newborn Death

In mid-July, a baby born by cesarean section died about one hour later due to the administration of nitrous oxide instead of oxygen in the hospital’s neonatal resuscitation area. Nitrous oxide, an anesthetic, was apparently mistakenly connected to an oxygen outlet in the baby’s room at the Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital in Sydney, Australia. Another baby treated in the same location in June of this year suffered severe brain damage presumably due to the the unrecognized nitrous oxide error. A pediatrician figured out what happened after the death of the baby in July. One report says that the company that installed and certified the gas lines was responsible for the error, and another says that the company, the hospital, and an anesthetist supposedly signed off on the installation. An investigation is still in progress. The faulty installation took place in January 2015 but the room in which the two babies were resuscitated was infrequently used. Although the baby died on July 13, the parents were not told the cause until 10 days later. Many years ago, hospitals and regulatory agencies acted to prevent gas mix-ups by standardizing couplings. For example, an oxygen hose coupling will not fit into a nitrous oxide outlet because the configurations of the connections for the two gases are different. As the events in Sydney illustrate, a mistaken hook up between a storage container and a pipe leading to the wall outlet is still possible. Several questions come to mind. Why didn’t any of the caregivers notice the subtle but distinctly sweet odor of nitrous oxide? Who signed off on the gas line installation, and what were...
Shocker: Hospitalists’ “Unprofessional” Behavior Is Normal

Shocker: Hospitalists’ “Unprofessional” Behavior Is Normal

By their own admission, medical hospitalists are guilty of many types of unprofessional behavior, says a paper published a in the Journal of Hospital Medicine. A group of researchers from the University of Chicago surveyed medical hospitalists from three major Chicago area teaching institutions. The respondents themselves rated each listed behavior on a professionalism scale. There were 77 responses from a pool of 101 hospitalists who were sent the questionnaires. The study asked respondents to state whether they had either engaged in and/or observed unprofessional conduct. The key findings were as follows: Most of the respondents had engaged in at least one unprofessional behavior. The most common unprofessional behavior was (I hope you are sitting down) having non-medical/personal conversations, such as discussing plans for the evening, in hospital corridors. [Gasp!] Over 60% of these doctors admitted that they ordered a routine test as “urgent” as a way of obtaining results more quickly. (Can you believe it?) My favorite is that 40% confessed that they had made fun of or disparaged the emergency department team for missing findings. (Unreported but very likely true is that 60% of those questioned committed another unprofessional act, which was lying by claiming they had never made fun of or disparaged any ED MDs. The only physicians I know who do not routinely make fun of the ED staff are pathologists because they never deal directly with the ED. Before all you ED docs get your panties in a knot, I am certain all of you disparage all of us too.) Other alleged unprofessional behaviors were celebrating a blocked admission, going to work when ill,...
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