When it comes to working or operating in the medical field, there’s a lot you’re going to need to cope with. The patients, the long hours, the paperwork, or if you’re on the other side of the spectrum: the long waiting times, the misdiagnosed illnesses, and the cost of picking up the drugs you need from the pharmacy. However, there’s nothing more heavy to cope with on both sides of the equation than a healthcare scandal that gets published in the news.
Healthcare is always on our minds. We need insurance for it, and the costs can be astronomical just for a few sutures if we’ve cut our eyebrow open. On top of that, considering we’re now in the New Year, let’s take a look back at everything that happened in the medical field during the previous year. A lot can happen in the space of 12 months!
Concerning the Big Names
We’ve heard a lot about products on our supermarket shelves that have a possible link to cancer, but none of the companies who produce these products have been targeted as much as Johnson and Johnson. This talcum powder company has had quite a few lawsuits laid at their door over their formula and its apparent cancer inducing properties, which the company itself have seemed to gloss over.
These lawsuits aren’t over! The latest of these stories comes from August of last year, in which they were ordered to pay $417 million by a jury to a woman who stood up and declared the baby powder Johnson and Johnson are famous for formed ovarian cancer.
However, in October this ruling was thrown out by a judge, despite protests against this. Johnson and Johnson claimed that there were errors in the trial, and were granted a new one upon request. It would seem that the link between baby powder and cancer is still not assured.
Prescribing Illegal Drugs
Thousands each year are lost in misprescribed medicines, and that makes anyone who indulges in the practice a huge target. This is usually just; patients deserve to know what could be going in and out of their bodies after all. So we’re always going to have hospital medical errors, which usually happen by accident and are not representative of the medical field as a whole, but sometimes they can appear to be premeditated.
For example, there was a doctor in Virginia who was banned from ever practicing in the medical field again after prescribing Ritalin and Hydrocodone, and was forced to pay $472,000 in damages. Thankfully these drugs were prescribed to an undercover agent looking for malpractices in the healthcare sector, meaning no one was harmed in the process.
On the other hand, it doesn’t even have to be the wrong medicine that doctors will sign off on. There was a news story during September in which it was found a physician had defrauded a state benefits program of about $25 million by giving prescriptions to patients he never saw. It’s these kinds of actions that give the healthcare profession a bad name and untrustworthy nature, and make programs like Medicaid a lot more expensive to manage.
When we think of medicare, we think of healing hands and trustworthy practices. However, in practice, a doctor is unlikely to cure you, and sometimes we come across people who go the extra mile with harmful practices. These happen more often than we like to think, but rarely because of a malicious intent. Simple unsafe practices such as not washing your hands or not properly sanitising your drugs can lead to a lot of trouble for the people you serve.
These kind of unsafe practices can range from the big and small, from broken packaging to outbreaks of serious diseases. One big story from last year about this happened in October, in which a pharmacist caused a meningitis outbreak with his unsanitized drugs. 753 people were made sick by this, and 76 of them were fatally affected, but no serious charges of harm were brought against him.
On a slightly bigger scale, there was also the HCA hospitals who had to pay $8.6 million due to ambulance kickback charges. If you don’t know what that means, it refers to the practice of passing on federal medical duties to third parties, which can take the pressure off of the hospital itself and often means a lowered price for the patients being transported to pay when the service is over, but is illegal in the long run. That’s not to mention the unreliable nature of third companies being involved in healthcare procedures. It’s for these kinds of reasons that people often drive themselves to the hospital!
Misusing Elderly Care
A lot of fiction and non fiction alike are based around this issue, with people taking advantage of those put in rest homes for the good of their health. As the children of aging parents, we do whatever we can to make sure they’re looked after in their twilight years, and yet sometimes things don’t go the way we planned out.
With this in mind, it’s good that people like the former CEO of Benchmark Healthcare was caught in his attempts to pocket the medicaid money that was meant to go towards the patients under his care. He had to pay $667,000 in a fine, and was quickly removed from the position and put into jail. The company continues to operate in good form.
And then there’s Insurance Fraud
We can all believe this happens quite a lot, considering the amount of money that goes into premiums and is paid out when someone needs surgery. It’s a cheap shot at making money, and often puts the prices up for everyone else when it comes to taking care of themselves and those they love.
A good example of this from October of last year was a personal trainer who posed as a physician and submitted about $25 million in claims to insurance companies. He has since been arrested and faces jail time and a hefty fine of $250,000. When we hear stories like this we often wonder how people get away with such crimes!
Another story on this kind of fraud comes from a nurse who gained $20 million from a home healthcare scheme. This scheme took place over a period of 8 years, allowing her to gain a sizeable amount of income due to the sheer practice alone. It became a simple process of simply billing patients who were not homebound as homebound, and then pocketing the extra cash.
There’s a lot of conspiracies to be on the lookout for, and knowing the most common of them as listed above is the best way to stay aware. Reporting on ideas and people we find suspicious because of their practice means people like this can be brought to the attention of the authorities a lot faster, and people are kept a little bit safer by it.
In general, being aware of the biggest medical malpractices around means we can be better prepared to spot the signs of one in the future. They may concern the physical, mental, or the financial, but they all share a profound effect on the people involved. The news often allows people to be brought to justice in bigger and better ways due to the reputation of those involved, and thus reporting on these kinds of stories is one of the best things we can keep doing.