Longer looks: 'Reckless' drug prescriptions lead to patient deaths; The struggles to reopen NY hospitals

Published on December 14, 2012 at 1:22 AM · No Comments

Every week, KHN reporter Shefali S. Kulkarni selects interesting reading from around the Web.

Los Angeles Times: Reckless Prescribing Of Narcotics Endangers Patients, Eludes Regulators
Dr. Carlos Estiandan was up to no good, and the medical board of California was on to him. He prescribed powerful painkillers to addicts who had no medical need for them, conducted sham examinations and appeared to be a key supplier for drug dealers, according to court records. He wrote more prescriptions than the entire staffs of some hospitals and took in more than $1 million a year. ... By the time the medical board stopped Estiandan from prescribing, more than four years after it began investigating, eight of his patients had died of overdoses or related causes, according to coroners' records. It was not an isolated case of futility by California's medical regulators. The board has repeatedly failed to protect patients from reckless prescribing by doctors, a Los Angeles Times investigation found (Lisa Girion and Scott Glover, 12/9).

The New York World: Emergency At The Emergency Room
The sign at the entrance to Beth Israel Medical Center on First Avenue at 16th Street screams "EMERGENCY ROOM," but five hours into her wait to be seen for sharp pain in her ribs, it didn't feel that way to Yamira Velazquez. Her regular hospital, Bellevue Hospital Center, shut down after Hurricane Sandy ripped through the northeast. So did NYU Langone Medical Center next door. Bellevue won't reopen its emergency room until at least February, and NYU has not yet announced a date. And so, like thousands of others seeking immediate medical care, she ended up in the emergency room at Beth Israel, the last standing hospital for two and a half miles in any direction. ... Before it closed, psychiatric patients and arrested criminals went to Bellevue. Now, they're showing up at Beth Israel (Curtis Skinner, 12/6).

Modern Healthcare: Recovery Mode
As superstorm Sandy made landfall, the water that surged toward Long Beach (N.Y.) Medical Center knocked through bricked-over windows and punched holes through walls, easily pouring over a 3-foot-high concrete barrier along the hospital's northern wall built 20 years earlier to keep out floodwaters from an adjacent channel. Until late October, the 142-bed hospital had withstood decades of hurricanes and nor'easters, largely without flooding. ... Now, as hospitals severely damaged by the storm race to rebuild and reopen their inpatient services, hospital executives are drafting plans to better defend against future forceful storms as experts convened by state and city officials work to devise recommendations in coming months that could force hospitals to meet new standards for storms (Melanie Evans, 12/8).

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