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Contributing Voices
Neil Minkoff, MD

One thing is clear from the decision the Supreme Court rendered Monday: There’s going to be more litigation. The Supreme Court ruled 5–3 that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has the right to examine “pay for delay” deals between brand and generic manufacturers on antitrust grounds. It did not support the FTC’s contention that pay-for-delay deals are inherently illegal.

Pay-for-delay is the term coined to describe settlements reached between brand manufacturers and generic manufacturers where the brand manufacturer pays the generic manufacturer not to challenge a patent.

Contributing Voices
Steven Peskin, MD

At a recent Grand Rounds, a leading clinician medical ethicists told of a meeting with members of the family of a critically ill 6 week old boy who had been in a neonatal intensive care unit since birth. At the meeting were the mother and father, both sets of grandparents, an and aunt and uncle, three members of the hospital ethics committee and physicians and nurses who were caring for the seriously ill child. The one question that our speaker posed to the parents and any other family members that chose to offer a response:

"For what do you hope for your son/ grandson/ nephew?" 

Contributing Voices
Frank Diamond

Forget about patients not refilling their prescriptions. Many don’t fill them the first time, according to a study in the Canadian journal Plos One (http://tinyurl.com/non-adherence-study).

New prescriptions were given to 232 patients from April to August 2010 at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. Twenty-eight percent exhibited primary non-adherence at 7 days after discharge; 24 percent at 30 days. Perhaps more surprising is that patients discharged to home had a better adherence rate (26 percent) than those discharged to a nursing home (43 percent). There were no significant demographic differences between the adherent and non-adherent groups. Participants were all 66 or older; the average age was 78.

Contributing Voices
Steven Peskin, MD

Alice found a Wonderland.

What we found last week, when the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released cost information for the 100 most common diagnoses and procedures in over 3,000  hospitals, is beyond Alice’s imagination. Some of the cost differences for the identical billing diagnoses qualify for “you cannot make this stuff up.”

Two examples:

Contributing Voices
Frank Diamond

The appropriate cliché at the appropriate moment can have an impact. For instance, hearing “the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing” in a hospital might be enough to spin you right back out the revolving door. You know the horror stories. Wrong limb amputated. Forgotten utensils cozying up to innards for the long haul. Those are the sensational examples, but care coordination — or lack of it — was and remains a vexing problem.

Contributing Voices
Frank Diamond

Many economists wonder if health insurance exchanges will actually perform one of their primary functions when they open in October — increasing the competition among health insurers offering products to millions of new beneficiaries. This according to Stateline, a wire service for the Pew Charitable Trusts (http://tinyurl.com/Pew-exchanges).

Contributing Voices
Steven Peskin, MD

We know Watson, the supercomputer, for its vast fund of knowledge and thinking prowess when machine bested man, defeating the all-time Jeopardy champ for games won, Ken Jennings (74), and Brad Rutter, Jeopardy’s highest money winner ($3,470,102), and winning against Jennings in a head-to-head Tournament of Champions. Now, Watson is flexing her considerable problem-solving muscle in medicine, and, more specifically, in clinical decision support.

Contributing Voices
Frank Diamond

Sisyphus had to roll that boulder up the hill as punishment for deceit. Telling the truth has its own rewards, thankfully, because sometimes that too can seem a Sisyphean enterprise. Yet another warning that antibiotics are being overprescribed, this time in a letter in the April 11 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (http://tinyurl.com/antibiotic-prescribing). The authors note that over 50 percent of antibiotics are distributed unnecessarily and find — surprise!

Contributing Voices
Neil Minkoff, MD

A survey released at HIMSS by the American College of Physicians shows that there is growing serious dissatisfaction by practicing doctors with their EMRs. The type of practice doesn’t matter and neither does the brand of EMR.

It appears as if the doctors surveyed feel that the technology was oversold and does not live up to expectations. The results were compiled over by AmericanEHR Partners, an organization started by ACP and Cientis to help implement EMRs and focus on ways to use them to improve quality of care.

Contributing Voices
Neil Minkoff, MD

The title is part of a quotation from Henry Chao, a CMS official who is involved with building and launching the health care exchanges. The federal government is running or co-managing 33 exchanges. They are expected to be functional by October 1 to enroll patients for coverage starting on January 1.

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