More states consider ‘Death with Dignity’ laws

Share

sln_mar09_16x9

Death-with-dignity advocate Brittany Maynard and husband Dan Diaz at their wedding. Maynard’s death by lethal injection in November drew attention to the aid-in-dying issue now being considered in several states. (PRNewsFoto/Compassion & Choices)

By Michael Ollove
Stateline

After he decided to hasten his death, Erwin Byrnes, who had advanced Parkinson’s disease, set about planning all the details of the memorial service that would follow.

He designated the nearby DoubleTree Hotel in Missoula, Montana, as the venue. He asked his old friend Gene to serve as master of ceremonies. He selected the entire menu—shrimp (because no one doesn’t like shrimp), sandwiches, beer and the hotel’s oatmeal cookies with chocolate and walnuts that he relished. He selected music that would soothe his mourners, including the Frank Sinatra tune “September Song” and Louis Armstrong’s classic “It’s a Wonderful World.”

It came off just as the former high school principal had wished—just as his death had five days earlier on St. Patrick’s Day last year. Byrnes, later described by his wife as “a good Irishman,” had selected that day as most suitable for his departure from this world. On that morning, with his family surrounding him, he squeezed a valve on a tube leading to his body, sending a fatal barbiturate his physician had legally prescribed coursing into his bloodstream.

“It was a beautiful way to be able to end his life,” said Erwin’s wife of nearly 64 years. “In peace and in control and with dignity.”

AidDyingMap_v2

It happened only because of a Montana Supreme Court decision in 2009 that has put the state in company with four others that allow assisted suicide or, as proponents prefer, “death with dignity” or “medical aid-in-dying.” The states permit physicians to prescribe lethal medications for terminally ill patients, who then self-administer the medications. Continue reading

Share

Employers: SHOP deadline for April Coverage is March 15

Share

SHOP Health Insurance Marketplace

The SHOP Deadline for April Coverage: March 15

Complete your SHOP application by March 15 for coverage starting April 1.

If you submit your initial group enrollment by March 15 and make your initial payment, your coverage can be in place as early as April 1.

Enroll Now blue

Need Assistance?: Call the SHOP Call Center at 1-800-706-7893 (TTY:711) Monday through Friday from 9am to 7pm ET or visit HealthCare.gov. For in-person assistance, find a SHOP-registered agent or broker in your area.

 

Share

Top five stories of the week

Share
Credit: Dan Shirly

Credit: Dan Shirly

Share

Ebola-infected nurse contends Dallas hospital violated her privacy

Share

by Charles Ornstein ProPublica

It was a touching scene, meant to buck up a hospital 2013 and a community 2013 shaken when one of its own nurses was infected with the Ebola virus.

Last fall, when Dallas nurse Nina Pham was about to be transferred for treatment from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas to the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Maryland, a doctor videotaped her farewell from her hospital bed.

“I love you guys,” Pham says, wiping away tears.

“We love you Nina,” the doctor replies.

The hospital released the video as it fended off accusations that it did not do enough to protect its staff after a patient who had contracted Ebola in Liberia sought treatment at Texas Health Presbyterian and died.

Now, in an interview with the Dallas Morning News published over the weekend, Pham contends she didn’t give permission for the hospital to record her or to make the video public.

Pham filed a lawsuit Monday against the hospital’s parent company, Texas Health Resources (THR), claiming not only negligence related to her Ebola infection, but violations of her privacy.

A federal patient privacy law, known as HIPAA, prohibits health providers from releasing information about patients without their permission.

“Never once did THR get Nina’s permission to be used as a PR pawn like this,” the suit says. “Never once did THR discuss its purposes or motivations or tell Nina what it was going to do with the information it sought from her. Instead, THR went to this young lady who was not in the position to be making any such decisions, and used her when she was in the darkest moment of her life, all for THR’s own benefit.”

Beyond that, the lawsuit contends, “Nina’s record was grossly and inappropriately accessed by dozens of people throughout the THR system.” Continue reading

Share

50 years later the US Older Americans Act limps along, relying on local and state agencies to provide services

Share

A younger man holds an elderly man's handBy Rita Beamish
Stateline

This year marks a half-century since Congress created the Older Americans Act, the major vehicle for delivering social and nutrition services to people over 60.

But there’s little to celebrate on the golden anniversary of the law that helps people age at home.

Federal funding hasn’t kept up with the skyrocketing number of America’s seniors, now the largest elderly population in history.

That’s left states and communities struggling to provide the in-home support, meals, case management and other nonmedical services that help seniors avoid more costly nursing home care and enrolling in taxpayer-funded Medicaid.   Continue reading

Share

Many in U.S. live too far from advanced stroke care | Reuters

Share

Illustration of the skull and brainMany Americans would not have quick access to the best healthcare options during a stroke, even under the most ideal circumstances, according to a new computer model.

In a hypothetical model, if each state had up to 20 hospitals providing the best possible care for people having strokes – which is not the current reality – more than a third of Americans would still be more than a 60-minute ambulance ride away from one of those medical centers.

via Many in U.S. live too far from advanced stroke care | Reuters.

Share

FDA finds little evidence of antibiotics in milk – AP

Share

Photo by Maciej Lewandowski

In response to concerns, the agency in 2012 took samples of raw milk from the farms and tested them for 31 drugs, almost all of them antibiotics.

Results released by the agency Thursday show that less than 1 percent of the total samples showed illegal drug residue.

Photo by Maciej Lewandowski

via News from The Associated Press.

Share

Mediterranean Diet associated with lower heart disease risk

Share

Olives MediterraneanAdults who adhere to a Mediterranean style diet—one that stresses eating fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, fish, olive oil and moderate consumption of red wine—were 47% less likely to develop heart disease than peers, according to a Greek study.

The diet is more a suggested eating pattern than a strict prescription for food intake. It calls for avoiding sugar, refined carbohydrates, and red meat.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Sanja Gjenero

via More Good News on Mediterranean Diet.

Share

UW medical school to be ranked in the top 10 for research and primary care by US News & World Report

Share

UW US News & World Report is offering a “sneak peek” at its 2016 Best Graduate School Rankings due out next week. University of Washington will be ranked in the top 10 in the nation for research and for primary care.

via 2016 Best Graduate Schools Preview: Top 10 Medical Schools – US News.

Share

Unplanned pregnancies cost US $21 billion a year

Share

Close up on a pregnant woman's belly cradled by her hands

Government spending on the births, abortions and miscarriages resulting from unintended pregnancies nationwide totaled $21.0 billion in 2010, according research by the non-profit Alan Guttmacher Institute.

Highlights:

  • Nationally, 51% of all U.S. births in 2010 were paid for by public insurance through Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Indian Health Service.
  • Public insurance programs paid for 68% of the 1.5 million unplanned births that year, com- pared with 38% of planned births.
  • Two million births were publicly funded in 2010; of those, about half—one million—were unplanned.
  • A publicly funded birth in 2010 cost an average of $12,770 in prenatal care, labor and delivery, postpartum care and 12 months of infant care; when 60 months of care are included, the cost per birth increases to $20,716.
  • Government expenditures on the births, abortions and miscarriages resulting from unintended pregnancies nationwide totaled $21.0 billion in 2010; that amounts to 51% of the $40.8 billion spent for all publicly funded pregnancies that year.
  •  In the absence of the current U.S. publicly funded family planning effort, the public costs of unintended pregnancies in 2010 might have been 75% higher.

Photo by Bies

To read the full report here.

Share

Widow sues Virginia Mason; hospital begins notifying ‘superbug’ victims | The Seattle Times

Share

creTheresa Bigler, of Woodway, is suing Virginia Mason Medical Center and a medical-device manufacturer after the death of her husband following a “superbug” infection. Hospital officials have reversed course to reach out to affected patients and families.

via Widow sues Virginia Mason; hospital begins notifying ‘superbug’ victims | The Seattle Times.

Share

Ducklings and chicks: Nature’s impossibly cute little bacteria factories

Share

At least 39 Washingtonians report illness after contact with live poultry, during 2012-2014

Chicks chickens

From the Washington State Department of Health

The season for seeing chicks and ducklings tweet and quack their tiny ways into people’s hearts is officially underway. But it’s not always wise to follow the flock when a brood or clutch is concerned.

At least 39 Washingtonians have reported getting ill from Salmonella bacteria after coming in contact with live poultry in the past three years, according to reports reviewed by disease investigators at the state’s Department of Health.

These 39 cases were associated with three separate national Salmonella outbreaks that caused more than 1,200 people to get sick.

Contact with live poultry may also have contributed to more than 100 other cases of salmonellosis in our state in the past three years that weren’t associated with any known outbreak.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Siehe Lizenz under Creative Commons license

Continue reading

Share

Patient safety advocate to pay $1 million to settle kickback allegations

Share

20150302-patient-safety-300x200By Marshall Allen
ProPublica

Dr. Chuck Denham, once a leading voice for patient safety, will pay $1 million to settle civil allegations that he took kickbacks to promote a drug company’s product in national health quality guidelines, the Justice Department announced Monday.

Denham, a patient safety consultant from Laguna Beach, Calif., had allegedly solicited and accepted monthly payments from CareFusion Corp., maker of the antiseptic ChloraPrep, while serving as co-chairman of a National Quality Forum committee in 2009 and 2010.

The nonprofit quality forum in Washington, D.C., reviews evidence and makes recommendations on best practices that are considered the gold-standard by health care providers nationwide.

ProPublica previously reported that Denham hadn’t disclosed the payments to the panel of experts he was leading for the forum, and that other members of the Safe Practices Committee had not intended to endorse ChloraPrep. But Denham had advocated for the drug during the group’s meetings.

The committee’s final report recommended the product’s formulation to prevent infections, ProPublica found.

“Kickback schemes undermine the integrity of medical decisions, subvert the health marketplace and waste taxpayer dollars,” said Benjamin C. Mizer, acting assistant attorney for the Justice Department’s civil division, in a news release announcing the settlement.

PHOTO: SafetyLeaders/Flickr

Continue reading

Share