HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Friday, September 15, 2006

E-Coli Outbreak

Toss out that bagged spinach (which is usually quite tasty and a terrific timesaver)!     According to CNN.Com, the e-coli outbreak has spread to twenty states.  The site reports,

Federal health officials say an outbreak of E. coli has spread to 20 states and sickened 94 people.

The news prompted health officials to warn the public that even if you wash the spinach, you still could be at risk.

Sober warnings for salad lovers came from federal health officials Friday as they struggled to pinpoint a multistate E. coli outbreak that killed one person and sickened dozens more.

Bagged spinach -- the triple-washed, cello-packed kind sold by the hundreds of millions of pounds each year -- is the suspected source of the bacterial outbreak, Food and Drug Administration officials said.

The FDA warned people nationwide not to eat the spinach. Washing won't get rid of the tenacious bug, though thorough cooking can kill it. Supermarkets across the country pulled spinach from shelves, and consumers tossed out the leafy green. (Watch CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta explain why this advisory is significant -- 2:07) . . . .

FDA officials said they issued the nationwide consumer alert without waiting to identify the still-unknown source of the tainted spinach.

I always thought that the triple-washing made the bagged salad greens, including the spinach rather safe.  I have more to learn obviously.

September 15, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ER Homicide

CNN.Com and other news sources report that a corner's jury found that the death of a heart attack patient who waited approximately two hours in a hospital waiting room was a homicide.  According to CNN,

Beatrice Vance, 49, died of a heart attack, but the jury at a coroner's inquest ruled Thursday that her death also was "a result of gross deviations from the standard of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in this situation."

A spokeswoman for Vista Medical Center in Waukegan, where Vance died July 29, declined to comment on the ruling. (Jury's findingsexternal link)

Vance had waited almost two hours for a doctor to see her after complaining of classic heart attack symptoms -- nausea, shortness of breath and chest pains, Deputy Coroner Robert Barrett testified.

She was seen by a triage nurse about 15 minutes after she arrived, and the nurse classified her condition as "semi-emergent," Barrett said. He said Vance's daughter twice asked nurses after that when her mother would see a doctor.

When her name was finally called, a nurse found Vance slumped unconscious in a waiting room chair without a pulse. Barrett said. She was pronounced dead shortly afterward.

Barrett said he subpoenaed records after finding discrepancies in the hospital's version of events.

It wasn't immediately clear if the ruling would lead to criminal charges. Dan Shanes, a chief of felony review for the state attorney's office, said his division needed to review the case.

I have heard some radio reports as well but not too many more details.  I haven't heard of this happening before - it is very tragic.

September 15, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

New Disability Law Case: Obesity

Professor Sam Bagenstos at The Disability Law Blog has a great discussion of the recent 6th Circuit decision in EEOC v. Watkins Motor Lines, Inc, a case involving a worker who had been fired due to his morbid obesity.  As Professor Bagenstos explains,

"The Sixth Circuit held that the worker did not have a "disability" for purposes of the ADA, because he did not show that his obesity had a "physiological cause" and therefore qualified as a "physiological disorder." Although the EEOC had shown that the worker's weight was more than 100% greater than the norm (sufficient for a diagnosis of morbid obesity under the traditional definition), they failed to show that the weight was "the result of a physiological condition."

This decision seems to me quite confused, though it's a confusing area so I cut the court some slack. What does it mean to say that morbid obesity has a "physiological cause"? All of our behavior has some physiological cause, if only from hormones and brain activity. And there's lots of reason to believe that brain proteins that alter appetite and activity levels, not to mention genetics, are substantial contributors to morbid obesity. More broadly, every fact about our body is by definition physiological. And morbid obesity, being a condition of one's physiology, is by definition a "physiological condition.""

As a commentator notes, the court seems to be adding a personal responsibility issue into the disability law.

September 14, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Overview of Supreme Court Term

Law.com's Howard Bashman provides a brief overview of the upcoming Supreme Court term.   It should be an interesting term.  Not too many health law items on the agenda - the federal abortion ban cases Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood and Gonzales v. Carhart appear as the most watched health law cases at this time. 

For a funny look at the upcoming term, see AbovetheLaw.com

September 14, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Just for Fun - Zidane Video Clips

I don't know how many of you watched the World Cup Soccer final this summer but some of you may recall that a French player (Zidane) headed one of the Italian players in the chest late in the game and was ejected.  This website shows how individuals from various countries viewed this behavior.  I found it amusing and also a somewhat helpful teaching tool.  The website shows some of the difficulties with eyewitness testimony because it demonstrates (in a rather extreme manner) that many people watching the same incident may view and remember that incident entirely differently. 

September 13, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New GAO Report on Health Savings Accounts

Ezra Klein provides a brief overview of some of the findings of the new General Accounting Office (GAO) report on Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), the alleged wave of the future for helping to control health care costs.  He quotes some of the key language from the report:

HSA proponents see the accounts as a way to incentivize account holders to shop carefully for health care services, but GAO did not find that to be the case in questioning members of focus groups. "Few participants researched the cost of hospital or physician services before obtaining care, although many participants researched the cost of prescription drugs," the report found.

Oops!  Perhaps we should re-think these.  The report also discusses how HSAs do not work well for individuals with chronic medical conditions who use health care providers and services on a regular basis.

September 13, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Lateral Moves by Law Faculty

Concurring Opinions provides an updated list of lateral moves by law faculty over the past year.  Looks like lots of people were on the move.  I hope everyone is happy with their new school!

September 13, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 11, 2006

For Those Advising Students Looking for Judicial Clerkships

Here is a link to a new blog to help with your students with this Fall's judicial clerkship hunt:  http://lawschoolclerkship.blogspot.com/

The opening paragraph describes how the Clerkship Notification Blog works:

Welcome to the Clerkship Notification Blog for the hunting season of 2006. The goal of this blog is to provide a forum for law clerk applicants to share information regarding their clerkship applications. By using the "comments" function applicants can easily find and share information as to which judges have started calling applicants, which judges have started making offers, and which judges have completed their hiring. Posting is entirely anonymous (though you are, of course, free to sign your name).

September 11, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Chronic Pain

PrawfsBlawg has a moving piece about chronic pain that I thought you might find interesting.  Here is a brief excerpt:

At Prawfsblawg, we've often lauded the scholarly and more informal writings of Bill Stuntz of Harvard Law School.  This week, in the New Republic, he has a strikingly more autobiographical piece describing his struggles with chronic pain stemming from an intractable back problem.  The cutline suggests Stuntz is writing a book on the topic as well.  Some of what he has to say:

    • I used to think the "chronic" part of chronic pain was the really bad part. Now I'm not so sure. Neverending pain wears you down; it's exhausting. But, on the whole, I think I'd rather have constant pain than the variable kind. . . . Pain is largely about the gap between expectation and reality: the distance between what you feel now and what your mind tells you you're supposed to feel. As reality slides downhill, expectations slide, too. Which makes reality feel less awful.
    • Something very important follows from this. Hope hurts; optimism amplifies suffering. The pain-free, healthy world is gone; this is my world now.
    • Work feels more satisfying, even though it's much harder to do. . . . Athletes have a terrific expression for this phenomenon: They say, "He left it all on the field," meaning there was nothing held back; the reserves were all spent. These days, I leave it all on the field--because there isn't any good alternative.

Stuntz's piece compels me to share some observations.  We're not normally about sharing here at Prawfsblawg, but what the hell.  I speak as someone who has had arthritis since the age of 4, who is the not-so-proud possessor of two artificial hips (implanted at the too-early age of 21), and who, alas, also suffers from some of the same back problems that Stuntz deals with.  My students are all too used to my classroom pattern of switching between brief stints of standing and longer spells in a chair at the front of the class.  (I might add that they are entirely gracious about it.).

The entire piece is well worth a read and the author has significant insights in dealing with chronic pain.   Thanks to Professor Paul Caron for sharing this article with me.

September 11, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Chronic Pain

PrawfsBlawg has a moving piece about chronic pain that I thought you might find interesting.  Here is a brief excerpt:

At Prawfsblawg, we've often lauded the scholarly and more informal writings of Bill Stuntz of Harvard Law School.  This week, in the New Republic, he has a strikingly more autobiographical piece describing his struggles with chronic pain stemming from an intractable back problem.  The cutline suggests Stuntz is writing a book on the topic as well.  Some of what he has to say:

    • I used to think the "chronic" part of chronic pain was the really bad part. Now I'm not so sure. Neverending pain wears you down; it's exhausting. But, on the whole, I think I'd rather have constant pain than the variable kind. . . . Pain is largely about the gap between expectation and reality: the distance between what you feel now and what your mind tells you you're supposed to feel. As reality slides downhill, expectations slide, too. Which makes reality feel less awful.
    • Something very important follows from this. Hope hurts; optimism amplifies suffering. The pain-free, healthy world is gone; this is my world now.
    • Work feels more satisfying, even though it's much harder to do. . . . Athletes have a terrific expression for this phenomenon: They say, "He left it all on the field," meaning there was nothing held back; the reserves were all spent. These days, I leave it all on the field--because there isn't any good alternative.

Stuntz's piece compels me to share some observations.  We're not normally about sharing here at Prawfsblawg, but what the hell.  I speak as someone who has had arthritis since the age of 4, who is the not-so-proud possessor of two artificial hips (implanted at the too-early age of 21), and who, alas, also suffers from some of the same back problems that Stuntz deals with.  My students are all too used to my classroom pattern of switching between brief stints of standing and longer spells in a chair at the front of the class.  (I might add that they are entirely gracious about it.).

The entire piece is well worth a read and the author has significant insights in dealing with chronic pain.   

September 11, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)