Articles Posted in Medical Trends

Northern District of Illinois Federal Judge Ruben Castillo dismissed the whistle-blower lawsuit brought by Robert S. Goldberg, M.D. against Rush University Medical Center, Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, LLC and other named orthopedic surgeons under the provisions of the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. §3727 et seq. The lawsuit,Robert S. Goldberg, M.D. and June Beecham v. Rush University Medical Center, et al., 04-CV-04584, was brought in the federal court by Dr. Goldberg claiming that Rush University Medical Center, along with the orthopedic surgeons and their physicians group, had been overbilling Medicare.

Chicago medical malpractice attorney Robert Kreisman was interviewed by The Chicago Tribune’s Melissa Harris in an attempt to shed some light on the judge’s decision in Goldberg. While Illinois lawsuits involving doctors and hospitals typically are regarding medical negligence that has occurred, in the case of Goldberg, the Illinois lawsuit involved accusations made by one of Rush’s orthopedic surgeons of fraudulent activities committed against the government. These types of case, where a plaintiff brings forth an action because he or she believes that the government has been defrauded, are called whistleblower cases.

The fraud at issue in Goldberg was that a group of orthopedic surgeons at Rush University Medical Center were violating Medicare billing requirements when they overbooked surgeries and through their heavy reliance on residents to perform parts or all of the surgeries. Rush is a teaching hospital and is compensated for training its residents, not for allowing its residents to perform unsupervised surgical procedures.

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For many years, radiation therapy has been considered one of the standard treatments given for cancer patients with more than half of all cancer patients receiving some type of radiation therapy. And while radiation does help save many lives, it also presents serious risks for patients and may cause life-threatening injuries or result in potential Illinois medical malpractice.

Therefore, when radiation is used, safety rules must be strictly adhered to because sometimes even the most powerful and technicologically complex machines go awry. And while new technology allows doctors to more accurately attack tumors and reduce certain mistakes, its complexity has created new possibiliities for error through software flaws, faulty programming, poor safety procedures or inadequate staffing and training. When those errors and medical negligence do occur they can be devastating.

Hospitals and doctors trust computer systems and software to apply radiation in many cancer victims. However, there is no single agency that oversees medical radiation and no central clearing house of cases. Furthermore, radiation accidents are chronically underreported, and some states, including Illinois, radiation accidents are not required to be reported at all.

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Osteoporosis poses a serious health risk for women both in Chicago and nationwide. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, one out of every two women will experience an osteoporosis-related incident during their lifetime, compared to one in every five men.

Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by thinning bones as people age. More fragile bones means that even low-trauma, seemingly minor falls can be debilitating and costly for those who suffer from osteoporosis. An estimated $17 billion is spent nationwide for treatment of fractures connected to fractures to those afflicted with osteoporosis.

Common treatment for osteoporosis involves placing the patient on medications that attempt to slow the disease’s progression. However, there is some question as to at what point patients should be started on medications. For example, should patients whose bones are being to weaken be placed on medications even if they are not yet osteoporotic? Or how about those who have no history of any episode or prior fractures due to osteoporosis, but has osteopenia, a state of lower bone density that may or may not lead to osteoporosis?
To help answer these questions, the World Health Organization (WHO) devised a controversial tool called FRAX, an online risk calculator to help doctors and patients analyze the likelihood of future osteoporotic fractures and determine whether drug therapy might prevent them.

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A 59 year-old man with a large tumor on his liver recently underwent a grueling 43 hour surgery to remove the tumor and give him a new lease on life. The lengthy surgery was performed by a team of physicians at New York Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center.

This particular surgery is unique in that it was an ex vivo resection, which essentially involves removing the organs and operating on them outside the body. This type of procedure is done when tumors cannot be treated or removed in any other way. Once the tumor is removed, the organs are returned to the body and sewn back in.

Ex vivo resections are highly complicated and can require the work of dozens of surgeons and anesthesiologists, which is in turn reflected in the high cost of the procedure. However, according to one of the surgeons in the present case, Tomoaki Kato, MD, “If you don’t do it, the patient would have no chance to live.” Dr. Kato has been the lead surgeon in about 16 ex vivo operations and assisted in half a dozen others.

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High blood pressure is a fairly common complaint among Americans. A new study has shown that many Illinois and American patients with high blood pressure have a difficult time keeping their blood pressure under control. Generally, fewer than 40% of Americans with high blood pressure have their hypertension under control.

The Midwest study was conducted by researchers at the University of Iowa. The clinical trial involved over 400 patients with uncontrolled hypertension, i.e. high blood pressure, who were treated at six different clinics around the Midwestern state. While all of the clinics employed clinical pharmacists, only three of those clinics had the pharmacists teamed with physicians.

The outcome of the new study suggests that results can improve if the physician and pharmacist work together as a team to help lower blood pressure. After six months, 53.9% of the patients who were being cared for by a doctor/pharmacist team had gotten their blood pressure under control, compared to 29.9% of the patients of the regular care group.

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It is predicted that the number of Americans with diabetes would nearly double over the next 25 years. At the same time, the cost of care would almost triple as patients live longer and develop more of the disease’s long-term complications.

A University of Chicago researcher, Dr. Elbert S. Huang, the lead author of a recent paper says that, “In 25 years, there is going to be this convergence of the population getting older but also many people having had diabetes for a long period of time, and that would lead to higher costs”.

The projections estimate that the population of diabetic individuals will rise to 44.1 million by the year 2034. At the present time there are approximately 23.7 million persons afflicted with diabetes with medical spending increasing to $336 billion from $113 billion.

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Leading heart valve manufacturers Edwards Lifesciences and Medtronic are racing each other to perfect new heart valves that could revolutionize heart valve replacement surgery. The new heart valves would result in a less-invasive surgery because they can be inserted via catheters without the requirement for an open heart procedure. And because the procedure is less invasive, more people would be candidates to receive valve replacements. Currently there is a significant population of critically ill or elderly patients who are considered too frail to undergo open heart surgery and therefore are not able to receive new heart valves.

The new heart valves have been available in Europe for 18 months and have thus far yielded positive results. Medical trials of the valves are being conducted in the U.S. amongst older, critically ill patients who are not candidates for open heart surgery. Medical experts predict that if the devices live up to their makers’ claims they could revolutionize heart valve replacement, a common heart operation, and extend the lives of thousands of frail patients who are not now considered candidates for the open heart surgery.

An estimated 20,000 people die annually from heart valve-related diseases, including those too sick to withstand the open-heart surgery. The new valves would be meant to enable more such patients to have life-saving valve replacements. Furthermore, a less risky surgery lessens the possibility of transplant errors from occurring.

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Arthritis is becoming more and more of a common problem with research showing that as many as one in four Illinois residents suffering from some form of arthritis. Oftentimes there is no cure for arthritis so scientists are constantly searching for methods of alleviating arthritis pain.

A recent diet analysis involving various types of arthritis examined data from more than 800 patients taken from 15 studies. The analysis focused on several diets that were popular among arthritis patients.

A Mediterranean-style diet was found to be the most effective and emphasized eating fruits, vegetables, grains, fish, and olive oil while also limiting red meat consumption. Over a 12 weeks those on this diet reported about a 15% reduction in joint pain, but showed no improvement in morning stiffness or physical function.

The study showed that similar results could be achieved through a vegetarian diet that included eggs and dairy. Other research has suggested that consuming daily capsules of fish oil along with antirheumatic medications yielded greater benefits for tender and swollen joints than when the medications were taken on their own. These results are suspected to be due to the anti-inflammatory properties of oils.

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Over 20 years have passed since we were introduced to Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal of an autistic man in “Rainman”. Since then there has been little or no film portraits of Asperger’s syndrome, a complex and mysterious neurological disorder linked to autism, but that will all change this year as three upcoming films offer a broader view of autism disorder.

The first of these films, “Adam”, has already been released and has garnished significant attention, including receipt of the Alfred P. Sloan Prize at the Sundance Film Festival for outstanding feature films focusing on science and technology. The film centers on the life of an adult male with Asperger’s syndrome and a passion for astronomy and his romance with a neighbor.

Adam is portrayed as a young man with Asperger’s who is left to defend for himself after his father dies. Adam is about life, not his disability. It uses Asperger’s as the lens that views his life. The movie is about relationships, love and family. It is now playing at the Evanston Theater on Maple Street in Evanston, Illinois.

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Two years ago The New York Times published an article dealing with chemo brain, a type of mental fog experienced by cancer patients. Recent research has indicated that this phenomenon might be more widespread than previously believed.

While memory and concentration problems are common among chemotherapy patients, for most these effects are short-term and their cognitive function returns to normal. However, for about 15 percent of these patients the memory impairment is prolonged. It is these patients who are suffering from chemotherapy-induced cognitive impairment, or “chemo brain”.

Many studies are being done to try and pin down the cause of chemo brain. Some researchers are exploring whether there is a connection between hormonal changes from chemotherapy and chemo brain, while others are examining which drugs have the strongest links to chemo brain. Yet there are some therapists who argue that chemo brain is the result of the psychological strain of cancer and can be attributed to anxiety, depression, stress, fatigue and fear rather than direct effects of chemotherapy on the brain.

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