Our medical malpractice practice was exceedingly active in the last quarter of 2013. This is the first chance I have had to post any updates on our blog. It seems like a good time to reflect on events of 2013. Unfortunately, there is scant good news to report — the story of modern medicine continues to be dominated by profiteers who put dollars before patients.
If you read our blog, you know that I monitor the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), and a variety of consumer and industry services to keep abreast of developments in medicine. The stories that reveal abuses in the field of medicine are what stand out to me the most. For example, studies have come out showing the cardiac stenting is overprescribed. At the same time that JAMA reported that coronary stenting did not hold up well against bypass grafting or in conjunction with medical therapy, the American College of Cardiology softened guidelines for stent use. There is an obvious conflict of interest here, but as patients we should mostly feel betrayed by and distrustful of cardiologists.
The profit motive has also perverted the pharmaceutical industry. Reports show that marketing efforts by Big Pharm, including efforts to make treatment guidelines more favorable and coopting willingly physicians with financial incentives, has led to a massive increase in the number of children who are prescribed ADHD medications. No one really knows how these medicines impact neurodevelopment over the long haul.
We have seen profit-seeking hospitals cut and deskill nurse staffing to unsafe levels, unnecessary medical procedures, irresponsible marketing of medical devices (e.g., DaVinci robotic surgery), and the failures of the electronic medical record which come on the heels of more irresponsible marketing. Sadly, rates of medical malpractice will continue to soar as our nation’s decisionmakers continue to ignore this public health crisis.
Friends, I sincerely wish you a safe, healthy and Happy New Year.