Sandweg & Ager, P.C.

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If you are injured in an automobile accident, you may find yourself at the Emergency Department. Maybe your injuries are minor enough that you can be discharged to home. Maybe they are more serious and you need to be admitted to the hospital. Either way, thank goodness, you have health insurance to pay for the hospital bills. After you have been home for a while, a letter comes in the mail. It is from the hospital or someone representing the hospital. It says, “This is not a bill,” and it is not. It is a lien on any recovery you…
One of the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic is that our drug development model and drug supply chain are broken.  Our western capitalist system has served us well for many years.  It provided products at a low price, which allowed us to enjoy a good standard of living.  It does not do everything well, however.  The profit motive has produced a dysfunctional drug development model and has also produced less-than-robust supply chains that rely on foreign manufacturers to produce the drugs we need. Here are just some examples of drug development and supply dysfunction. Orphan Drugs.  Orphan drugs are drugs created…
Here is a piece that a friend of mine sent me.  It appeared in a healthcare blog.  It recounts a probably fictional event in which a doctor saw a briefing paper intended for a hospital executive but accidentally left behind by a consultant.  The briefing paper described the steps the hospital administration could take to increase its control over the decision making of its medical staff.  Although written over five years ago, the trends it describes are even more pronounced today than they were then. I have written about conflicts of interest for doctors brought about by the increasing consolidation…
The Covid-19 pandemic has upended many aspects of our individual lives and the economic life of our country as well. We will be adjusting to its effects for many years to come. Some businesses are looking to use the emergency created by the pandemic to get legislators at the state and national levels to give them something that is on their perennial wish list: immunity from suit. Nursing homes, hospitals and doctors want immunity from suit. Although they are claiming they need it because of the pandemic, they don’t want it to be limited to what happens because of the…
We all want to look like we are young and healthy, even those of us in our later years.  Beauty is big business and, wherever there is big business, you can be sure charlatans will follow.  This is true in medicine and particularly true in cosmetic surgery. Unlike many other areas of medicine in which a doctor’s compensation depends on insurance company reimbursement rates, most cosmetic surgery is paid for by the patient.  Most often cosmetic surgery is not covered by medical insurance so the cosmetic surgeon is free to charge what the market will bear.  In the case of…
Recently, I was reading some articles about added sugar in our diets.  Most added sugar comes from processed foods and is already in the box or the jar before we bring it home from the store.  Dieticians and nutritionists recommend we review product labels before purchase as an aid to reducing sugar intake.  When I actually read some of the nutrition labels, I was surprised to see how many showed sugar was a substantial addition to the product. I also discovered that fruit juices and even some fruits were significant sources of added sugar in the diet.  Grapes were a…
How would you like to be kept alive in a permanent vegetative state for a year just so your hospital can continue to make money?  That is what happened to at least one patient at a hospital in New Jersey and probably to others as well.  Their stories are horrible examples of doctors and hospitals gaming the system to keep the dollars flowing.  If you think this hospital and these doctors are the only ones doing this, you are incredibly naive. Darryl Young, 61, a veteran and former truck driver, needed a heart transplant.  After four years with a mechanical…
Pity the poor carbohydrate.  Carbohydrates, also known as saccharides or carbs, are sugars or starches. They are a major food source and a key form of energy for most organisms.  We need them to survive.  Unfortunately, like people, there are good carbs and bad carbs.  Also, just like hanging out with bad people can land you in jail, running with a bad crowd of carbs can cause you lots of trouble. Most of the foods pictured above are examples of good carbohydrates.  They are complex carbohydrates and have a low glycemic index.  That means that they slowly release their energy into…
One of the cases we see over and over again is that of a patient, usually a man, who presents to the emergency department or to an urgent care facility with what turns out to be a myocardial infarction (“MI”) but who is sent home without treatment.  Myocardial infarction is the medical name for a heart attack.  The cases we see almost always have a bad outcome.  Either the patient goes home and dies or goes home and suffers further heart damage due to inadequate flow of blood to the heart.  How does this happen over and over again, especially…
Given the terrible effects of the Coronavirus on patients and their families throughout the world and the damage done to our economy and that of the rest of the world, it is hard to imagine how much more damage it can cause.  But there is one additional damage that will become clear as we go forward in time.  The coronavirus is going to indirectly damage those who have been the victims of medical malpractice. You must live under a rock, if you don’t know what heroic work doctors and nurses on the front lines of treating coronavirus patients have been…
Last month, I blogged on the alarmingly high rate of preventable medical injuries occurring in hospitals.  The blog post was based on a well-designed study of randomly-selected Medicare patients discharged from hospitals over a one month period of time.  The study was done by the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services at the request of Congress.  The study used a team of doctors and nurses to identify injuries which were preventable.  The doctors found that almost 12% of all of the Medicare patients experienced a preventable medical injury.  Most of those injuries were serious and some…
We are all familiar with non-profit hospitals.  They are pillars of the community.  They may provide free or nearly free care to the needy or they may do free medical research for the public good.  The one thing they don’t do is make money for themselves.  That is why they are called non-profit.  Sadly, very little of what we think we know about non-profit hospitals is true. Banner Health is a large non-profit hospital chain with its headquarters in Phoenix.  It operates 28 hospitals, urgent care facilities, clinics, and other health care facilities in six states.  In 2017, it had…
Here we are, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. If there is one thing we hear over and over again, it is the importance of washing our hands. While this is undoubtedly important in the current situation, it obscures the fact that personal hygiene among medical providers has long been honored more in the breach than in the observance. It hasn’t been that long since medicine discovered what is called germ theory: that bacteria exist and cause infections.  In 1846, germ theory was still unknown and an obscure Hungarian doctor, Ignaz Semmelweis, was puzzled. His hospital had two maternity…
Doctors and hospitals win 85% to 90% of the medical malpractice cases tried across this country.  This percentage holds true even when the facts strongly favor the patient.  Why can’t patients get a favorable verdict from their fellow citizens?  There are a number of likely explanations. One of the likely explanations is the successful campaign by the health care industry and its insurers to persuade the public that most medical malpractice cases are frivolous.  National and state legislators believe this, especially if they are Republicans.  They pass restrictive laws to take away patients’ rights in the name of saving the…
Florida is one of the states in which the state legislature fell for the argument that there was a medical malpractice crisis that required taking away the rights of patients in order to protect doctors, hospitals and their insurance companies.  Millions were spent lobbying the legislature and, for those seeking special treatment at the expense of their fellow citizens, it was money well-spent.  Florida passed a number of laws which restricted patient rights in an attempt to end the “crisis.” One of the laws prohibited the adult children of people who died because of medical malpractice from seeking damages arising…
I have written from time to time about the priority our health care system gives to making money.  The most important goal for our health care system should be addressing the health issues of the patient.  Instead, making money is often the most important goal, at least if we are to judge priorities by the way the system is set up and operates.   Not only are patients harmed by this emphasis on profit, so are the doctors themselves. Most doctors are caring people who entered the medical profession to help people.  When they find the health care delivery system’s emphasis…