Cigarette Companies and Their Red Handed Researchers

In 2006, a study by Dr. Claudia I. Henshke of the Weill Medical College at Cornell University shocked the medical professional world by reporting that the widespread use of CT scans could help prevent 80% of lung cancer deaths. The study was published in the renowned New England Journal of Medicine, and sent shock waves of hope through the medical profession. Unfortunately, the good news would be tainted by the discovery of a crippling conflict of interest: The study was funded almost entirely by the cigarette industry.

After Ms. Henshke reported her study to the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, an investigation revealed a long string of deceivingly named non-profit funding, leading all the way back to big tobacco. After its startling discovery, the council wrote to the Journal, explaining its concern over the validity of Ms. Henshke’s findings.

The study failed to disclose that Dr. Henshke’s work had been underwritten in part by a $3.6 million grant from the parent company of the Liggett Group, a cigarette maker, something the journal editors said they had been unaware of.

The council’s criticism was received quickly by the Journal, who quickly moved into damage control mode. A letter in response from the Journal stated, “When we published Dr. Henschke’s article in 2006 it was not routine NEJM editorial policy to publish details about… funding. Since that time our thinking on this issue has evolved.” The journal now asks authors to disclose all royalties related to their research, and it publishes the information with the studies. The letter was signed by Dr. Jeffrey M. Drazen, the journal’s editor in chief, as well as Corinne Broderick, executive vice president of the medical society.

The New England Journal of Medicine has taken the proper steps to remedy this immoral conflict of interest. Unfortunately, not every journal has taken the hint. When reading a medical study that might effect your decision making process, remember to read the fine print. Don’t let your well being be effected by corporate influence on greedy doctors.

Contact an Attorney in NJ

Contact an Attorney in PA

A Quarter of Nursing Homes Flunk the Test

In mid December, the federal government unveiled its new rating system, which it uses to help advise the public on the quality of care they are receiving from their local area nursing homes. This system will help individuals make informed decisions about the institution they trust with the care of their loved ones.

Under the new system, five stars means a nursing home ranks “much above average,” four stars indicates “above average,” three means “about average,” two is “below average” with a one indicating “much below average.” The rankings will be updated quarterly. Senator Herb Kohl of Wisconsin stated that the new ranking system would help bolster transparency, which is, “…the key when it comes to nursing home quality.”

Unfortunately, along with the progress of informed decision making came the shocking realization that almost a quarter of all nursing homes in the country have been given the federal government’s lowest possible rating: one out of five stars. Receiving such a low rank in particular had to do with the high percentage of patients with bedsores after their first 90 days in the nursing home and the number of residents whose mobility worsened after admission.

When nursing homes are understaffed, over worked, and improperly trained, the results can be catastrophic. Where there is lack of individual patient attention, pressure sores and decreased mobility are sure to follow. When it comes to protecting your loved ones, please pay strict attention to the federal rating system. Alice Hedt of the Insititute for Nursing Home Reform states that, “Our initial reaction is that consumers should probably avoid any facility with a one- or two-star rating and even a three-star rating unless people they trust convince them that the rating is inaccurate or unfair.” However, the rating system alone is not enough to properly judge. Ms. Hedt advises that, “…Nothing should substitute visiting a nursing home when making a decision.”

If you are in the process of finding a nursing home for your loved one, please pay strict attention to the federal ranking system. If you have a family member already in a nursing home, please remember to check on them regularly. Bedsores are a life threatening injury, and should be checked for regularly. If your family member has been subject to bedsores due to a lack of proper care, please contact an attorney to help remedy the situation as fast as possible.

Related Information:

New Jersey Lawyers – Nursing Home Abuse

Sleepy Doctors Increase Harm to Patient by 700%, and Death Up by 300%

It doesn’t take a genius to know that without the proper amount of sleep, job performance drastically decreases. Sleep deprived workers in any profession increases the risk of error, and injury. When sleep deprivation occurs in the practice of medicine however, lives can be lost. So why is it that in a majority of hospitals around the country, studies have found that resident doctors are simply not getting enough sleep to provide proper care to their patients?

According to recent study by the Institute of Medicine, doctors in training should work no longer than 16 hours in a row without a five-hour nap to reduce risk to patients. The study was performed after increasing alarm amongst researchers who observed a majority of hospitals allowing 30-hour shifts without a required amount of sleep. To make things worse, Resident doctors, who are under paid and overburdened with student loans, usually end up having to supplement their income by moonlighting at other hospitals.

When the individual in charge of your well-being has not slept for 30 hours, they become a danger to themselves, and that danger passes on to you. According to a study by the Public Library of Public Medicine, it has been found that, “…sleep-deprived doctors are at high risk of making mistakes that injure or kill patients. When residents reported working five marathon shifts in a single month [30 straight hours or more], their risk of making a fatigue-related mistake that harmed a patient increased by 700%, and the risk of an error that resulted in a patient’s death shot up 300%.”

Figures of this size are unacceptable. The recent study demanding 5 hours of sleep per 16 hours of work is indeed a step in the right direction, however it is not enough to solve an epidemic problem in our health care system. Simply put, at current rates, residents are not getting enough sleep to properly care for patients. Although all residents have only the highest of intentions, they can easily make mistakes when hospitals force them into these marathon shifts.

If you or a loved one is currently in the care of a hospital, and you suspect they have been have not received proper care due to a sleep-deprived staff, please inform the hospital immediately. Hopefully mistakes and accidents can be avoided by bringing it to the hospital’s attention. If you suspect wrongful death or injury due to a sleep deprived hospital staff however, please do not hesitate to contact an attorney. You may be entitled to compensation.

Find a Medical Malpractice Attorney in PA

Find a Medical Malpractice Attorney in NJ