Friday, July 28, 2006

Vacation: what a concept (Part Deux)

Now it begins . . . .

AHLA's Health Lawyers Weekly

With AHLA's permission, here's the Table of Contents of today's issue of Health Lawyers Weekly:I. Top Stories: House Clears HIT Legislation FDA To Improve Transparency Of Advisory Panel Conflicts, Official Says II. Articles & Analyses:A Discussion About Alternative Dispute Resolution In The Healthcare Field 2005-2006 In-House Counsel Year In Review 2005-2006 Labor And Employment Year In ReviewIII

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Vacation: what a concept!

HealthLawBlog will be on vacation for the next two weeks. With random exceptions, don't expect anything new here before August 10th. Stay cool. Be happy.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Yates: Not guilty by reason of insanity

Finally . . . .

NOLA murder arrests: further reflections

Today's CDC Public Health Law Newsletter has a link to a Chicago Tribune article that explores the ethics of triage and its applicability vel non to the NOLA cases previously discussed (here, here, and here):“Disaster plan: Time to think unthinkable?”Chicago Tribune (07/19/06) Ronald KotulakLast week, two nurses and a doctor were arrested in New Orleans on charges that they gave lethal doses of

Further thoughts on the Senate abortion bill

As previously noted, the Senate has passed a bill that would impose criminal penalties on anyone who helps a minor travel across state lines from a state that has a parental-notification or -consent law in order to obtain an abortion in a state that has no such restrictions. As the map on my post illustrates, 6 states have no restrictions on minors: Washington, Oregon, Vermont, New York,

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Senate passes prohibition on interstate travel for abortion

The Washington Post has the story. The Senate has passed a a bill (S.403) "to prohibit taking minors across State lines in circumvention of laws requiring the involvement of parents in abortion decisions [preamble]," thus (according to The Post) handing a long-sought victory to the Bush administration and abortion opponents":The bill would help about three dozen states enforce laws that require

Juvenile court orders teen to accept chemo, reversed by circuit court

Starchild Abraham Cherrix has Hodgkin's disease, and when the disease returned after his initial round of chemo, he refused a second round, opting instead for "a sugar-free, organic diet and take herbal supplements under the supervision of a clinic in Mexico" [Washington Post]:A social worker asked a juvenile court judge to require the teen to continue conventional treatment, and the judge on

Monday, July 24, 2006

The American Way of Death IV

While we're talking about patient and family perceptions of end-of-life care in the hospital -- we were talking about that, weren't we? just yesterday? -- Pamela Winnick's essay in the Wall Street Journal on July 21 is well worth considering. She talks about a resident nicknamed "Dr. Death" who pursues family members down the hall to harangue them about her father's alleged desire to be allowed

The HCA deal is done

The closing probably won't be till the 4th quarter, assuming the federal regulators bless it and the board doesn't get a better offer, but HCA's board has approved the sale of the company to an aglomeration of investment bankers and the founding Frist family. Of course, no one can quite agree whether the deal is worth $21 billion, $31 billion, or $33 billion, but what's a few billion here or

Sunday, July 23, 2006

HCA close to $21 billion buyout

After coming oh so close to closing a deal last weekend, it looks like the board is on the verge of approving a $21 billion deal tonight. As reported by the NY Times, "HCA, the nation’s largest for-profit hospital operator, was close to a deal last night to sell itself to a consortium of private equity investors for about $21 billion, people involved in the talks said. The investors would also

Criminal Law III: More on the NOLA murder prosecutions

AP/Yahoo has an article today entitled, "Many see accused New Orleans MD as hero." State AG made much of the fact that both morphine and Versed were found in the the bodies of the four patients whose deaths were the basis for his order to arrest Dr. Pou and the two nurses. Contrary to his assertion that the two drugs together can mean only one thing -- that the health care workers' intent was to

The American Way of Death III

NPR's Studio 360 program has a wonderful item this week on Emily Dickinson and her iconic poem, "Because I Could Not Stop For Death." The program is available as an MP3 file here.We read this poem every year in Law, Literature & Medicine, where third-year law students from SMU and fourth-year medical students from UT-Southwestern wrestle with Dickinson's verses, among many others.Because I could

The American Way of Death II

Thanks to Joe Paduda's "Managed Care Matters" for pointing me to this story in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal about a recent article in Mayo Clinic Proceedings: "Adult Intensive Care Unit Use at the End of Life: A Population-Based Study," by Seferian and Afessa [abstract; full text available in 6 months]. As reported in the business journal:Intensive care costs comprise 30 to 40

The American Way of Death I

Back in the day, the phrase "The American Way of Death" invoked Jessica Mitford's classic expose of the funeral industry. In bioethics and law, however, it has a more immediate connotation. With 80% of all Americans dying in an insitutional setting, what is the meaning of "a good death"? And is it possible to achieve in a hospital? Palliative care services notwithstanding, the standard of care

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Criminal Law II: follow-up on the Memorial Hospital case

Now that the Louisiana Attorney General has had his day (see my earlier post), the extent of AG Foti's grandstanding is starting to come to light. You'd never know it from his office's press release on this case, but consider the following:the state attorney general has no power to indict or prosecute for these alleged crimes;the physician and nurses involved have not been charged with any

Criminal Law I: promoting off-label uses of approved drugs

Today's New York Times has an article about the recent arrest and prosecution of Dr. Peter Gleason for promoting use of the drug Xyrem, which is approved by the FDA for the treatment of narcolepsy, for the off-label treatment of depression and pain.Now, it's horn-book law that physicians can use approved drugs for off-label uses. And it's equally well-settled, though perhaps a little less

Friday, July 21, 2006

Texas hospitals and immigration

There was a terrific article in The New York Times this past week on the different approaches taken by the public hospitals in Dallas County (Parkland) and Tarrant County (JPS), separated by about 40 miles and a river and a very different view of their missions. This country isn't close to figuring out a humane and sensible approach to immigrant health care, and the conflicts and contradictions

Thursday, July 20, 2006

House fails to override presidential veto

The House failed to override Pres. Bush's veto of H.R.810 by a vote of 235-193, almost the identical vote when it was originally passed by the House in May. Not exactly earth-shattering news, but I offer it for the sake of closure if nothing else.

An excellent primer on the stem cell issue

Everything a reporter might need to know to cover this story intelligently -- and the rest of us will find helpful as well -- has been collected, organized, linkified, synthesized, and analyzed by Al Tompkins at the Poynter Center in last Friday's edition of Al's Morning Meeting. Thanks to AJOB's blog for the tip.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

President signs fraudulent Fetus Farming Prohibition Act

The news stories on the president's veto haven't mentioned the other bill that was sent to him for his signature, but now that a transcript of the veto/signing ceremony is available from the White House, I can report that he has signed S.3504, the purpose of which is "to prohibit any person or entity involved in interstate commerce from: (1) soliciting or knowingly acquiring, receiving, or

President carries out veto threat on stem-cell measure

The AP's Mary Dalrymple reports that President Bush has vetoed H.R.810. Here are his reported remarks:"This bill would support the taking of innocent human life of the hope of finding medical benefits for others. It crosses a moral boundary that our society needs to respect, so I vetoed it," Bush said at a White House event where he was surrounded by 18 families who "adopted" frozen embryos that

Caplan on Bush's veto of stem-cell bill

Art Caplan is at his best today in his column about Bush's promised veto of H.R.810. Here are the opening and closing paragraphs:President Bush’s embryonic stem cell policy began with lies and has now ended with one. Bush reserved his first veto as president for one of the only valuable things this do-almost-nothing Congress has managed to actually get done. With a flourish of a veto pen that has

HCA nearly bought out in recent days

The Wall Street Journal reports (link good for 7 days) that a group of private investors, including members of the founding Frist family, nearly consummated a buyout of HCA over the weekend. With a market capitalization of $17.6 billion, HCA's sale would have been one of the largest in recent memory. It apparently cratered because of the size of HCA's debt ($11 billion), which left the parties

Stem cell minuet proceeding almost as planned; Bush set to veto the most meaningful of three bills

Congress' action on three stem cell bills yesterday and today's expected veto of one of them by President Bush are front-page stories in this morning's Washington Post and New York Times, as was the case in the Dallas Morning News and I suspect most of the dailies around the country. As previously discussed here, this has been a carefully choreographed performance by the Congressional leadership

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Tenet physician and 2 nurses arrested for murder in Louisiana

According to the state's attorney in Louisiana, a physician and two nurses euthanized four patients in LifeCare Hospitals' long-term-care unit at Tenet's 603-bed Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans in the days after Hurricane Katrina devastated that city. (Modern Healthcare). The three were arrested, charged with four counts of second-degree murder, and released on personal recognizance

Monday, July 17, 2006

Union boss to Fortune 500 CEO's: let's reform health care together

Andy Stern is president of the Service Employees International Union and in today's Wall Street Journal (link good for at least 7 days), he makes the case for moving health care away from the employer-provided model and toward "a universal system that provides affordable coverage, choice of doctors and insurance plans, core benefits, and shared financing among employers, employees and government.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

SSRN roundup: health law

The 5 top-downloaded health law articles on SSRN:Safe Storage Gun Laws: Accidental Deaths, Suicides, and CrimeYale Law School, Law & Economics Working Paper No. 237John R. Lott Jr. and John E. WhitleyAmerican Enterprise Institute (AEI) and University of Adelaide - School of EconomicsDate Posted:May 22, 2000Last Revised:June 10, 2002Working Paper Series 8966 downloads Abortion and Crime: Unwanted

Capital punishment and organized medicine: still a no-go in Mo.

As reported in this morning's New York Times, U.S. District Judge Fernando J. Gaitan, Jr., previously "had demanded an overhaul of the system after the doctor who now mixes the drugs for the state described an improvised process that Judge Gaitan found so chilling that he temporarily barred executions in Missouri."In a sworn deposition, the Missouri doctor, whose name is being withheld by the

Friday, July 14, 2006

Has the Texas legislature made performing abortions a capital offense?

That's the question raised by a recent request for an Attorney General's Opinion (RQ-0501-GA). The literal question posed by David Swinford (R) (chair of the House Committee on State Affairs) is a bit more technical than that, of course:Does a physician’s failure to comply with the requirements of either § 164.052(a)(18) (restricting third-trimester abortions performed on viable unborn children)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Pain control and end-of-life care are not simply their own reward

Excellence in end-of-life care and pain management are also sometimes rewarded by others, in this case by the AHA, which recently gave nurse practitioner Peg Nelson and St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Pontiac, MI, its Circle of Life Award (which includes $10,000). This article from the Detroit Free Press has the details of their approach to end-of-life care.

Senate votes to allow drug reimportation by individuals

On Tuesday, the Senate approved (68-32) S. Amdmt. 4548 to H.R. 5441 (Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2007): "To prohibit the United States Customs and Border Protection from preventing an individual not in the business of importing a prescription drug from importing an FDA-approved prescription drug." As reported by The New York Times on Wednesday, the House is unlikely to

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

NYC unveils pandemic preparedness plan

From today's CDC Public Health Law News:"City unveils a plan to identify, and contain, a flu pandemic" -- The New York Times (07/11/06) Diane Cardwell [link]New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and city health commissioner Thomas R. Frieden this week announced a new plan to address avian influenza preparedness. The plan details the steps for identifying and containing an outbreak and

Senate stem-cell vote set for next Tuesday

Laurie Kellman of The Washington Post has the story on the upcoming Senate vote on three stem-cell research bills, which were first discussed here two weeks ago:The Senate will vote next week on three bills related to stem-cell research, including a measure that would expand federal funding for a procedure that uses and destroys human embryos in the drive to cure diseases that afflict millions of

Monday, July 10, 2006

The current issue of Health Affairs is dedicated to public health. There are some terrific articles, but I particularly commend these:Can Public Health And Medicine Partner In The Public Interest? [link]J. Michael McGinnisAbstract: The dominant issues for health and health care today can be effectively engaged only if public health and medicine work together as better partners. Yet historical,

Sunday, July 9, 2006

NH court: Doc has 1st Amendment right to be a jerk

As reported by the Associated Press, New Hampshire judge Edward Fitzgerald "has ordered the state Board of Medicine to stop disciplinary proceedings against a doctor accused of telling a patient she was so obese she might only be attractive to black men and advising another to shoot herself following brain surgery." The article reports that Terry Bennett, M.D., says "he planned to sue everyone

Thursday, July 6, 2006

Many hospice patients live longer than expected

Terrific story (via Kaiser Family Foundation's Daily Health Policy Report) about hospice:McClatchy Newspapers/St. Paul Pioneer Press on Wednesday examined how some patients who check into hospices believing they are near death later go on to recover and leave hospice care. For Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries to cover hospice care, the patient's doctor and the hospice's doctor must agree that

HPV debate moves to the states

On June 30 published a useful summary of the issues surrounding the recently recommendation from the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices that all 11- and 12-year-old girls receive the vaccine for the most dangerous strains of human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer. As a public health matter, the advisory committee's recommendation is pretty

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

NEJM Perspective on Roe

There's an excellent (and free) article on Roe and partial-birth abortion in this week's New England Journal of Medicine. The authors leave no room for doubt as to their position on legal abortions, including late-term procedures, but their article is no more polemic: it's reasoned and supported by data and careful argument, ending with these four paragraphs:Watson Bowes, emeritus professor of

Health care costs going up by 9.6%

An article in today's Wall Street Journal (click here - link should be good for about a week) reports that "Americans should expect to pay more for medical costs whether they are employed or retired, according to two new studies. The reports, by Milliman Inc. and Watson Wyatt Worldwide, show that health-care costs are still rising at a fast pace -- despite slowing from double-digit rates in

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Happy 4th of July

There's something really stirring about listening to the news-readers and commentators on NPR read the Declaration of Independence every 4th of July. If you missed it this morning, click here.For some Independence Day fun, check out the National Archives' Charter of Freedom exhibit, where you'll find some interesting information about the signers (for example, 24 of the 56 signers were lawyers) [

Sunday, July 2, 2006

Garry Trudeau on creationism

[click for larger view]