Latest "Medical Ethics" Posts

Largest Medical Device Lawsuit Ever Awarded

The largest medical device lawsuit ever awarded might surprise you. The award happened in May 2017, to the tune of $454 million. It was not a faulty imaging device or elaborate robotic surgery apparatus, rather a seemingly low-tech piece of equipment; surgical gowns. In this case, the surgical gown was made by Halyard Health, a former subsidiary of the Kimberly-Clark Corporation.

Halyard manufactured a gown called the MicroCool gown which by all standards is a medical device. The technology behind the gown is such that it was guaranteed to be cool, comfortable and most importantly, impermeable to infectious agents such as the Ebola virus and HIV. A medical device gown that can prevent workers from contracting a deadly disease while at the same time maintaining its comfort requires a sophisticated manufacturing process, enabling a microscopically small weave.

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Posted by Chuck Gallagher in Medical Ethics and tagged , , , , , ,

Opioid Epidemic: Vivitrol is a Miracle Drug (at only) $12,000 per Year

For quite some time, I have followed the news items about the national tragedy of opioid dependence in our country. It is estimated that on an annual basis, up to 60,000 people are dying of opioids and opioid-related incidents. In 2015 alone, more than 33,000 opioid deaths were reported.

It does not help that the very same medications that can cause dependency can also ease pain. Anyone who has undergone surgery can appreciate what a drug such as Percocet or OxyContin can do. The trouble is that certain patients can become addicted, and the addiction can be deadly. Some physicians have been guilty in the past as well, giving out opioids without properly monitoring patients.

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Posted by Chuck Gallagher in Medical Ethics and tagged , , , ,

Should Ethics Apply to Alternative Cancer Treatments?

Many years ago, I knew a young woman who developed a serious type of cancer (though of course any kind of cancer is serious). She opted for alternative cancer treatments because she did not want to listen to her physicians. She did not like what they told her, and frankly she was convinced by friends that “Western Medicine was evil.” Sadly, she passed away after spending tens of thousands of dollars of her own money on cures that didn’t remotely work.  The question about alternative cancer treatments and choice raises serious ethical questions.

In a recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Skyler Johnson, who was the lead physician of the report said that patients who refuse or delay conventional treatments in favor of alternative cancer treatments are more than doubling their chances that they will succumb to the disease.

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Posted by Chuck Gallagher in Medical Ethics and tagged , , , , , ,

What’s the Government’s Game with Deflazacort

The drug deflazacort has been used for many years to treat a terrible disease called Duchenne muscular dystrophy. About 15,000 Americans suffer from this incurable disease. Deflazacort is a drug that has been shown to be much more effective than conventional steroids. If someone in your family has the disease, you can import the drug for about $1,200 per year. If you try to buy it here, it will run you about $89,000 per year. This is not a joke.

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Posted by Chuck Gallagher in Health, Health Care, Medical Ethics and tagged , , ,

Is The Hippocratic Oath Sick in Modesto, CA? Medical Ethics

Every choice has a consequence. How often have I said that and in how many settings? Yet, some people and even professions believe it always applies to the other guy. Big shots think that unethical behavior is the domain, for example, of automobile mechanics. Truth is, I have known many, extremely ethical automobile mechanics. Poor ethics is not determined by income, nor class, education or profession. Proof in point is what has just occurred in Modesto, California.  Seems that medical ethics has gone bad!

Medical Ethics

Modesto is a lovely community in the middle of the California’s Central Valley. It is surrounded by agriculture; almonds, fruit trees, dairy farming and grapes. This case of bad medical ethics involving five medical doctors plus medical billing businesses and pharmacies smells more like the substance that farmers put on their fields.

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Posted by Chuck Gallagher in Medical Ethics and tagged , ,

Is There More Corruption in Our Ethically Sick Healthcare System?

Healthcare industry “experts,” and there are many, never cease to offer their opinions on how to improve the system. Healthcare costs have spiraled, and everyone seems to be blaming everyone else. Politicians love the debate. They can remain above the fray. After all, they get healthcare for free!

Healthcare insurance form with calculator

For the rest of us poor souls who pay premiums, co-pays, pharmaceutical costs and for supplies “not part of your plan,” healthcare as an industry often seems sicker than we are. Where does all of the money go? We maintain that it goes down the drain of bad ethics. I also feel that the healthcare debate, as massive as it is should start and end with good ethical practices.

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Posted by Chuck Gallagher in Medical Ethics and tagged , , , , ,

What Does a Medical Ethics Failure Look Like? Jeremy David Duke Knows!

This case of opioid diversion from May 2017, took place in the State of Mississippi, Jackson to be specific, but it could have occurred in any state in the nation. In fact, in 2016, in Indiana alone, there were 37 healthcare providers charged with opioid embezzlement.  What does Medical Ethics Failure look like?  Here it is!

It is important to add that nationwide, opioid deaths are up to 90 people a day. It is especially troubling when these drugs go through back-channels courtesy of physicians and registered nurses looking to make easy money. The age range most commonly affected by opioid addiction is 25-40; younger people who have a drug dependency problem, not a condition or post-surgical pain. The money gained by unethical behavior – Medical Ethics Failure – can be made by stealing, but more often through over-prescription. The over-prescription, whether intentional or unintentional, still leads to addiction and death.

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Posted by Chuck Gallagher in Medical Ethics and tagged , , ,

Medical Ethics: Where High Drug Prices are Leading Us

Not long ago, I was walking along a city street on my way to delivering a keynote speech. It was chilly, but not uncomfortably so, though a rain had fallen. I saw a man, obviously homeless, standing outside of a large pet shop. He was eating something from a can using a soup spoon. My worst fears were confirmed as I passed him; it was cat food.  The scene was sad, but it goes much further than cat food.  The question is where are high drug prices and the cost of medical care leading us?

High Drug PricesThe sight moved me and I slipped him a few dollars. He didn’t ask for it, he wasn’t begging, but I could not help myself.

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Posted by Chuck Gallagher in Medical Ethics

Medical Ethics and Insurance: Where is this all going?

Every so often, a picture hits the internet and goes exponentially viral. Usually, these images are of cats playing banjos or one of the Kardashian sisters reading a book but the most recent image causes everyone to stop and think. The image is of an elderly couple, both in wheelchairs, saying good-bye to one another. They are holding hands, crying, wiping their tears with tissues.  So touched when I saw this I had to ask about medical ethics and insurance – wondering where this is all going.

Medical Ethics and InsuranceWolf and Anita Gottschalk have been married for 62 years. Wolf is drifting into dementia and also has lymphoma as well as congestive heart failure. Anita is growing feeble as well. You would think they would be comfortably settled into an assisted living home and living their last year’s side by side.  But no!  Issues related to medical ethics and insurance is creating another outcome.

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Posted by Chuck Gallagher in Medical Ethics and tagged , , , ,

Insurance Fraud – A Medical Ethics Free-for-All

Miami has set up a task force to deal with insurance fraud, and with good reason. In Miami it is a $1 billion dollar industry that is an ethical free-for-all where the biggest losers are you and me.

Insurance FraudIn the most recent case, the clinic had worked out a bizarre scheme. The Brothers Medical Center has been under investigation since September 2015. Led off in handcuffs earlier this week was the clinic’s physician, his head therapist and a receptionist and administrative person. They have been charged with filing false or fraudulent insurance claims, third-degree grand theft and organized scheme to defraud.  This is insurance fraud pure and simple.

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Posted by Chuck Gallagher in Medical Ethics and tagged , , ,