HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Louisiana AG's Euthanasia Investigation Continues

CNN reports that "more than one medical professional is under scrutiny as a possible person of interest as Louisiana's attorney general investigates whether hospital workers resorted to euthanasia in the chaotic days after Hurricane Katrina shattered New Orleans."  The investigation centers on Memorial Hospital:

CNN has learned the investigation is looking at the possibility that medical personnel at the hospital were afraid of anarchy in the city, feared they could be the next targets of violence as they grew increasingly tired of horrible conditions inside the hospital.

Memorial Hospital had been a storm refuge for up to 2,000 people. Patients, staff and their families rode out the storm inside. But by Thursday, four days after Katrina hit, despair was setting in. The hospital was surrounded by floodwater. There was no power, no water and stifling heat. Food was running low. Nurses were forced to fan patients by hand. And outside the hospital windows, nurses tell CNN they saw looters breaking into a credit union.


December 31, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

L.A. City Attorney Warns Hospitals About Patient-Dumping

According to this Dec. 22 article in the LA Times, the city attorney is warning local hospitals to stop dumping homeless patients on skid row or he will pursue criminal or civil remedies. [tm]

December 31, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 30, 2005

"Miracle Worker" (or Quack) On Trial for Insurance Fraud

As reported on Dec. 28 in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a Georgia doctor is the subject of a federal 87-count indictment for treating desperately ill patients with alternative therapies -- including a chemical found in weed killer -- and billing insurance companies for covered standard therapies.  Once word of the indictment got out, the medical licensing board in Georgie issued a summary suspension of the 70-year-old physician's license (PDF). [tm]

December 30, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Pay-As-You-Go With a Vengeance

There's a fascinating first-page story in today's Wall Street Journal (paid subscription required -- the Chinese aren't the only ones who believe in "pay as you go"!) that describes the structural and operational features of the Chinese health care system.  [tm]

December 30, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Verdict on South Korean Stem Cell "Breakthrough": Total Fabrication

This story gets more bizarre by the day.  As reported here last month, stem cell pioneer Hwang Woo Suk fessed up to ethical lapses in the course of his groundbreaking stem cell research -- specifically, some of the eggs used in his research came from junior researchers in his lab.  If not an outright ethical lapse, it was considered "ethically murky" enough (a) for him to lie about it and (b) for his American research partner (Dr. Gerald Schatten of the Univ. of Pittsburgh) to withdraw from the partnership. 

Lots of stories followed concerning sloppy data keeping.  Then came the bombshell.

It is now being reported by AP (courtesy of MSNBC) that

[a]n already disgraced scientist lied about all of the stem cell lines he claimed were matched to different patients through cloning, investigating researchers said in a new jolt to the shattered reputation of Hwang Woo-suk.

Thursday’s announcement all but ends the fraud investigation into one of three major cloning breakthroughs claimed by the one-time scientific superstar and national hero. Probes of Hwang’s two other groundbreaking experiments are still under way at Seoul National University where he worked before resigning in disgrace last week.

The latest news was one more disappointment to the scientific world, which had viewed Hwang’s achievements as holding great promise for treating people with a variety of ailments, from spinal cord injuries to Parkinson’s disease. . . .

In the experiment deemed fraudulent, Hwang had claimed in a paper published in May in the journal Science that he had created 11 colonies of human embryonic stem cells genetically matched to specific patients.

An investigative panel at the university reported last week that Hwang had faked the research on nine of the stem cell lines. On Thursday, it confirmed he also fabricated his research for the two remaining cell lines as well.

Before his fall from grace, Hwang enjoyed rock-star status in South Korea.  Now two other majore breakthroughs reported out of his lab -- the extraction of stem cells from cloned human embryos and the cloning of a dog -- are also under suspicion and review.

The original article in the June 17, 2005, issue of Science is here. To its credit, the journal has diligently reported on the disturbing reports of ethical lapses and on Dec. 23 published an expression of editorial concern over the possible lapses in connection with the June paper and another paper published out of the Hwang lab on March 12, 2004. [tm]

December 29, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bird Flu Resources

There's a pretty good government website that collects a lot of data and links on this subject:  It appears to be a joint effort by HHS, CDC, and the Department of Agriculture.  There are good links on these topics:

  • Monitoring outbreaks (U.S. and international): WHO and European Commission
  • Planning and response activities (White House's National Strategy, HHS activities, other federal activities (Departments of State, Agriculture, and Homeland Secutirty; USAID, USGS National Wildlife Health Center); state, local, and globale activities
  • Planning checklists (state and local government & businesses)
  • Public health tools
  • Risk communication resources

Many of the goverment resources are a week or more out of date.  If you're a subscriber, though, the Wall Street Journal  is really on top of this story (see Avian Flu News Tracker).  For example, every official web site says there have been two confirmed human deaths in China.  This morning, however, Chinese officials reported a third case.  The WSJ interactive world map has already been updated to reflect the new number. [tm]

December 29, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

States' Tips Against Avian Flu

This morning's Bangor Daily News has a "Viewpoints" piece on various states' (e.g., Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Montana) recommendations for protection against the avian flu.  Summaries:

  • Have an emergency supply on hand of food, water, batteries and other necessities for your family to live in isolation for three to five days. Maine calls this an all-hazards kit, and it may be useful in the event of a pandemic.
  • Families also should develop a plan for who would be contacted through what telephone numbers or e-mail if an outbreak did occur and where the family would seek treatment.
  • Hand-washing is big in all states, also staying out of the line of sneezes and covering your mouth if you do sneeze.
  • Some limits on travel to Asian countries that have more serious outbreaks of bird flu is [sic] recommended - for instance, visits to poultry farms there are discouraged.


December 29, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Health Affairs' Most-Read Articles of 2005

Health Affairs is the pre-eminent health policy (and often health-law & policy) journal on this side of the Atlantic.  Today they published the list of 25 articles that were the most-viewed in past year.  To put this in context, #1 was viewed 70,000 times and every article garnered at least 20,000 views:

1. David U. Himmelstein, Elizabeth Warren, Deborah Thorne, and Steffie Woolhandler,
Illness And Injury As Contributors To Bankruptcy
Health Affairs 24 (2005): w63-w73 (published online 2 February 2005; 10.1377/hlthaff.w5.63).

2. Stephen Heffler, Sheila Smith, Sean Keehan, Christine Borger,
M. Kent Clemens, and Christopher Truffer
U.S. Health Spending Projections For 2004–2014
Health Affairs 24 (2005): w74-w85 (published online 23 February 2005; 10.1377/hlthaff.w5.74).

3. Jerald Winakur,
“What Are We Going To Do With Dad?”

Health Affairs 24, no. 4 (July/August 2005): 1064-1072.

4. Gerard F. Anderson, Peter S. Hussey, Bianca K. Frogner and Hugh R. Waters,
Health Spending In The United States And The Rest Of The Industrialized World
Health Affairs, 24, no. 4 (July/Aug 2005): 903-914.

5. Uwe E. Reinhardt, Peter S. Hussey and Gerard F. Anderson,
U.S. Health Care Spending In An International Context
Health Affairs, 23, no. 3 (May/June 2004): 10-25.

6. Richard Hillestad, James Bigelow, Anthony Bower, Federico Girosi, Robin Meili, Richard Scoville, and Roger Taylor,
Can Electronic Medical Record Systems Transform Health Care? Potential Health Benefits, Savings, And Costs
Health Affairs 24, no. 5 (September/October 2005): 1103-1117.

7. Cathy Schoen, Robin Osborn, Phuong Trang Huynh, Michelle Doty, Kinga Zapert, Jordon Peugh, Karen Davis,
Taking The Pulse Of Health Care Systems: Experiences Of Patients With Health Problems In Six Countries
Health Affairs 24 (2005): w509-w525 (published online 3 November 2005; 10.1377/hlthaff.w5.509).

8. Jan Walker, Eric Pan, Douglas Johnston, Julia Adler-Milstein,
David W. Bates, and Blackford Middleton,
The Value Of Health Care Information Exchange And Interoperability
Health Affairs 24 (2005): w10-w18 (published online 19 January 2005; 10.1377/hlthaff.w5.10).

9. John Holahan and Arunabh Ghosh,
Understanding The Recent Growth In Medicaid Spending, 2000-2003
Health Affairs 24 (2005): w52-w62 (published online 26 January 2005; 10.1377/hlthaff.w5.52).

10. David M. Eddy,
Evidence-Based Medicine: A Unified Approach
Health Affairs 24, no. 1 (January/February 2005): 9-17.

11. Bradley C. Strunk, Paul B. Ginsburg, John P. Cookson,
Tracking Health Care Costs: Declining Growth Trend Pauses In 2004
Health Affairs 24 (2005): w286-295 (published online 21 June 2005; 10.1377/hlthaff.w5.286).

12. Todd Gilmer, Lawrence J. Schneiderman, Holly Teetzel, Jeffrey Blustein, Kathleen Briggs, Felicia Cohn, Ronald Cranford, Daniel Dugan, Glen Komatsu and Ernlé Young,
The Costs Of Nonbeneficial Treatment In The Intensive Care Setting
Health Affairs 24, no. 4 (July/Aug 2005): 961-971.

13. Ann E. Rogers, Wei-Ting Hwang, Linda D. Scott, Linda H. Aiken, David F. Dinges,
The Working Hours of Hospital Staff Nurses and Patient Safety
Health Affairs 23, no. 4 (July/August 2004): 202-212.

14. Cynthia Smith, Cathy Cowan, Art Sensenig, Aaron Catlin and the Health Accounts Team,
Health Spending Growth Slows In 2003
Health Affairs 24, no. 1 (January/February 2005): 185-194.

15. Anne-Marie J. Audet, Michelle M. Doty, Jamil Shamasdin, and Stephen C. Schoenbaum,
Measure, Learn, And Improve: Physicians’ Involvement In Quality Improvement
Health Affairs 24, no. 3 (May/June 2005): 843-853.

16. Kenneth E. Thorpe, Curtis S. Florence, David H. Howard, Peter Joski,
The Rising Prevalence Of Treated Disease: Effects On Private Health Insurance Spending
Health Affairs 24 (2005): w317-325 (published online 27June 2005; 10.1377/hlthaff.w5.317).

17. Joseph R. Betancourt, Alexander R. Green, J. Emilio Carrillo, and Elyse R. Park,
Cultural Competence And Health Care Disparities: Key Perspectives And Trends
Health Affairs 24, no. 2 (March/April 2005): 499-505.

18. Robert Galvin,
‘A Deficiency Of Will And Ambition’: A Conversation With Donald Berwick
Health Affairs 24 (2005): w1-w9 (published online 12 January 2005; 10.1377/hlthaff.w5.1).

19. Victor R. Fuchs and Ezekiel J. Emanuel,
Health Care Reform: Why? What? When?
Health Affairs 24, no. 6 (November/December 2005): 1399-1414.

20. Dana Gelb Safran, Patricia Neuman, Cathy Schoen, Michelle S. Kitchman, Ira B. Wilson, Barbara Cooper, Angela Li, Hong Chang, and William H. Rogers,
Prescription Drug Coverage And Seniors: Findings From A 2003 National Survey
Health Affairs 24 (2005): w152-w166 (published online 19 April 2005; 10.1377/hlthaff.w5.152).

21. Barbara L. Brush, Julie Sochalski, and Anne M. Berger,
Imported Care: Recruiting Foreign Nurses To U.S. Health Care Facilities
Health Affairs 23, no. 3 (May/June 2004): 78-87.

22. Kenneth E. Thorpe,
The Medical Malpractice ‘Crisis’: Recent Trends And The Impact Of State Tort Reforms
Health Affairs 23 (2004): w20-w30 (published online 21 January 2004; 10.1377/hlthaff.w4.20).

23. Cathy Schoen, Robin Osborn, Phuong Trang Huynh, Michelle Doty, Karen Davis, Kinga Zapert, and Jordan Peugh,
Primary Care And Health System Performance: Adults’ Experiences In Five Countries
Health Affairs 23 (2004): w487-w503 (published online 28 October 2004; 10.1377/hlthaff.w4.487).

24. A.C. Enthoven and L.A. Tollen,
Competition In Health Care: It Takes Systems To Pursue Quality And Efficiency
Health Affairs, 24 (2005): w420-w433 (published online 7 September 2005; 10.1377/hlthaff.w5.420).

25. Jeanne M. Lambrew, John D. Podesta, and Teresa L. Shaw,
Change In Challenging Times: A Plan For Extending And Improving Health Coverage
Health Affairs 24 (2005): w119-w132 (published online 23 March 2005; 10.1377/hlthaff.w5.119).

December 28, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Top Downloads from SSRN's Health Law Collection

No changes in relative position among the top ten downloads since our last look at the list on Dec. 17 . . . .

  1. Safe Storage Gun Laws: Accidental Deaths, Suicides, and Crime
    John R. Lott Jr. and John E. Whitley
    American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and University of Adelaide - School of Economics
    Date Posted:May 22, 2000
    Last Revised:June 10, 2002
    Working Paper Series
  2. Abortion and Crime: Unwanted Children and Out-of-Wedlock Births
    John R. Lott Jr. and John E. Whitley
    American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and University of Adelaide - School of Economics
    Date Posted:May 16, 2001
    Last Revised:June 5, 2001
    Working Paper Series
  3. Stability, Not Crisis: Medical Malpractice Claim Outcomes in Texas, 1988-2002
    Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Vol. 2, pp. 207-259, 2005
    Bernard S. Black , Charles Silver , David A. Hyman and William M. Sage
    University of Texas at Austin - School of Law , University of Texas Law School , University of Illinois College of Law and Columbia Law School
    Date Posted:October 25, 2005
    Last Revised:December 5, 2005
    Accepted Paper Series
  4. What the Publisher Can Teach the Patient: Intellectual Property and Privacy in an Era of Trusted Privication
    Stanford Law Review, Vol. 52
    Jonathan Zittrain
    Oxford University
    Date Posted:March 9, 2000
    Last Revised:June 30, 2000
    Accepted Paper Series
  5. TRIPs, Pharmaceuticals, Developing Countries, and the Doha 'Solution'
    Alan O. Sykes
    University of Chicago Law School
    Date Posted:February 19, 2002
    Last Revised:March 7, 2002
    Working Paper Series
  6. Incentives in Nonprofit Organizations: Evidence from Hospitals
    James A. Brickley and R. Lawrence Van Horn
    Simon School, University of Rochester and Simon School, University of Rochester
    Date Posted:February 14, 2000
    Last Revised:April 2, 2002
    Working Paper Series
  7. Unintended Consequences of Medical Malpractice Damages Caps
    NYU Law Review, Vol. 80, pp. 391-512, May 2005
    Catherine M. Sharkey
    Columbia University - Columbia Law School
    Date Posted:February 17, 2005
    Last Revised:June 1, 2005
    Accepted Paper Series
  8. Bayh-Dole Reform and the Progress of Biomedicine
    Law and Contemporary Problems, Vol. 66, No. 1
    Arti K. Rai and Rebecca S. Eisenberg
    Duke University School of Law and University of Michigan Law School
    Date Posted:November 23, 2002
    Last Revised:February 6, 2003
    Accepted Paper Series
  9. Medical Problems and Bankruptcy Filings
    Norton's Bankruptcy Adviser, May 2000
    Elizabeth Warren , Teresa Sullivan and Melissa B. Jacoby
    Harvard Law School , University of Texas at Austin - Office of the Vice President and Dean of Graduate Studies and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - School of Law
    Date Posted:May 9, 2000
    Last Revised:July 29, 2000
    Accepted Paper Series
  10. The TRIPS Agreement, Access to Medicines and the WTO Doha Ministerial Conference
    Frederick M. Abbott
    Florida State University College of Law
    Date Posted:October 8, 2001
    Last Revised:October 15, 2001
    Working Paper Series


December 27, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)