February 16, 2006
Apology Bill Introduced in Utah Senate
78-14-18. Evidence of disclosures -- Civil proceedings -- Unanticipated outcomes -- Medical care.
In any civil action brought by a patient as an alleged victim of an unanticipated outcome of medical care, or in any arbitration proceeding related to such civil action, any and all statements, affirmations, gestures, or conduct expressing apology, fault, sympathy, commiseration, condolence, compassion, or a general sense of benevolence which are made by a health care provider or an employee of a health care provider to the alleged victim, a relative of the alleged victim, or a representative of the alleged victim and which relate to the discomfort, pain, suffering, injury, or death of the alleged victim as the result of the unanticipated outcome of medical care shall be inadmissible as evidence of an admission of liability or as evidence of an admission against interest.
February 15, 2006
"Death By Denial": Annals of Health Insurance
News stories of insurance denials are as common as summer rain, but this one (Frankfort (Ind.) Times) caught my eye. I've heard of denying coverage for a cancer patient because the proposed treatment is experimental or otherwise not medically necessary and appropriate, but oral morphine for a patient with end-stage cancer (primary site in the kidneys, with mets to the lungs and brain)? [tm]
When Is A Physician Not A Physician?
That's the question asked by Scripps Howard's Dan Thomasson, who continues:
Is it when the doctor refuses to offer treatment because of disapproval of the medicine available or the way the patient's disease occurred? How much leeway is there in the Hippocratic oath to allow a doctor to spurn those in medical need because of religious conviction or concept of morality?
And what about pharmacists who refuse to honor legitimate prescriptions or even to stock certain authorized medicines because the drugs run counter to their religious beliefs? Is there a case to be made for the primacy of conscience in those cases, even though a pharmacist's responsibilities are not dissimilar to a doctor's? Is refusing to fill a prescription tantamount to breaking the law and to making a pharmacist's judgment more important than the doctor's?
These and other questions surrounding the dispensing of modern medicine are being asked by state legislatures, ethics boards and public forums throughout the nation in the wake of controversial new research and compounds and treatments that run counter to fundamental religious convictions on such issues as stem-cell development, abortion, AIDS, the right to die. Chances are excellent that before the debate is over, it will change the way health care is dispensed in this country.
The rest of Thomasson's story, "Faith Shouldn't Outweigh Hippocratic Oath," is here. [tm]
February 14, 2006
Health Policy: L.A. Times Editorials
Courtesy of the Harvard World Health News:
Shopping for Health Care...
(Feb. 6, 2006)
"In recent years, most politicians have talked about health care reform as though there is a one-size-fits-all solution out there that we haven't thought of before. There isn't. The president should be commended for seeking to make the economics of medical treatment more efficient. But that must be tied to social programs that can help those on the margins. Extending refundable tax credits for health insurance to the working poor would be a good start."
... As the Bills Come Due
(Feb. 6, 2006)
"The disastrous implementation of the new federal prescription drug benefit has cost the states hundreds of millions of dollars, as they have had to foot the bill for millions of low-income seniors and the disabled who have been left without coverage. But as the states and the federal government argue over reimbursement terms, a far larger battle looms over the troubled new program."
Medical Marijuana: The Latest Chapter
From the Feb. 3 issue of Health Law Week, we have the following news of the latest -- but surely not the last -- development in the continuing saga of California's Medical Marijuana law:
San Diego Supervisors Sue To Stop Medical Use Of Marijuana; San Diego, Cty. of v. California, State of, No. 06-CV-130 (S.D. Cal. complaint filed Jan. 20, 2006) - DEx 105767
Three San Diego County supervisors have filed a lawsuit against the state in an attempt to overrule the legal use of medical marijuana. The California Legislature passed a law in 2003 requiring counties to provide identification cards to registered users of marijuana. San Diego County voted to refuse implementation of the identification system.
Three supervisors -- Bill Horn, Dianne Jacob and Pamela Slater-Price -- also voted to sue the state in opposition to the law. The lawsuit argues that the California Legislature violated federal drug laws by allowing the registration of medical marijuana users.
In addition, the suit relies on an international treaty signed by the United States in 1961 that prohibits the production and possession of the drug.
February 13, 2006
Homelessness and Health Care
Today's issue of The New Yorker has an interesting piece on homelessness by Malcolm Gladwell (of Tipping Point fame). Along the way, there's discussion of the health care bills for the chronically homeless (and mostly chronically inebriated) citizens featured in the article, including "Million-Dollar Murray." It's compelling reading and a pointed reminder of the intersectionality of health-care and other social issues . . . . [tm]
February 12, 2006
Children's Health Study Not Funded in New Bush Budget
Laura Beil of the the Dallas Morning News is one of the few reporters who have picked up this story, but if there's any justice in this world, it will draw more attention as the new budget season develops. Here's the lead:
Medical researchers fear that the most ambitious study of children's health ever planned will be lost to federal budget cuts.
The National Children's Study was to follow 100,000 children from the womb to age 21. Authorized by Congress in 2000, it was scheduled to begin enrollment in 2007. Scientists have already spent more than $50 million in planning, design and pilot studies.
But the Bush administration's fiscal 2007 budget, released last week, does not include any money for the study and dictates that planning for the research must stop by the end of this year.
"I was outraged," said Dr. Alan Fleischman of the New York Academy of Medicine, who heads the study's advisory committee. "We stand to lose the answers to the questions that parents and grandparents are asking every day."
The AP gave this development one paragraph at the end of their analysis of the proposed budget, though Lois Collins' article in the Deseret (Utah) News did a good job with the story. For more on the National Children's Study, click here. The President's budget documents are here, and NPR's reporters offer some informed analysis here. [tm]