Friday, February 12, 2010

NHS gives man two left feet

When Patrick Morrison left hospital after having his right foot amputated, he thought the sense of imbalance he felt would vanish once he got used to his newly fitted artificial foot. But it was not until five months later, when he took off the protective socks, that he realised he had been given two left feet.

A prosthetic limb specialist had fitted an artificial left foot to his right leg - and failed to spot his mistake during two further check-ups. The foot was also too big - made to fit a size nine shoe rather than a size eight. The specialist, Malcolm Griffiths, was struck off yesterday after admitting a string of blunders.

Mr Morrison, 76, said: 'The paramedics who brought me home saw that I was leaning too much to one side. 'My wife and daughter noticed that as well. I thought it was just part of the process of getting used to having a false foot. I wasn't concerned.' It was only when Mr Morrison and his wife Alexia decided to change all three protective socks that they realised the mistake. The retired joiner said: 'We both got a big surprise. Thankfully, the hospital got it sorted out as quickly as they could.'

A disciplinary hearing of the Health Professions Council was told Mr Griffiths admitted 16 charges relating to his treatment of 11 patients at Edinburgh's Astley Ainslie Hospital. The prosthetist, who was absent from the hearing, was sacked by NHS Lothian in 2008.

Mr Morrison, from Bathgate, West Lothian, said he bore no ill-will towards Mr Griffiths and always got on well with him.

His ordeal began when an ulcer on his big toe grew worse. Eventually the toe was amputated, but the wound became infected with MRSA and surgeons had to remove the entire foot and part of his lower leg. He was sent to Mr Griffiths to have a prosthetic limb and shoe fitted.

At the disciplinary hearing in Edinburgh, the panel was told that Mr Griffiths not only admitted the charges against him, but had also requested that he be removed from the professional register. Its chairman Colin Allies said: 'The panel is satisfied that it is appropriate and proportionate to make the consent order as requested by the parties.'

As well as the charges relating to Mr Morrison, the prosthetist also admitted that he caused 'unnecessary delay and pain' to another patient by failing to complete work 'within a reasonable time-frame'. He also admitted failing to maintain adequate patient notes.

A spokesman for NHS Lothian said its senior clinical staff had apologised to Mr Morrison. He added: 'As soon as issues regarding this former member of staff's competence were raised, we set procedures in place to provide additional support and training. 'He was dismissed in September 2008 following a failure to engage in our competency supervision processes.'


Australia: Public hospital complaints go unanswered

But the light of publicity suddenly gets some action!

A YOUNG mum who can't hold her baby because of a botched hospital birth is among more than 20 Queenslanders whose complaints have been ignored by the independent patient safety watchdog. The Health Quality and Complaints Commission yesterday admitted that 22 online complaints about public hospital incidents had sat unread for up to five months because of a computer glitch.

The commission, which legally has 90 days to act, issued a receipt to patients but the complaints sat in a computer system until inquiries by The Courier-Mail alerted the HQCC to the problem.

One of the complaints was from Toowoomba mother Dawn Kelly, 20, who nearly died from a flesh-eating infection after having a caesarean. Her family believes the infection was caused by sloppy surgery and poor monitoring. Ms Kelly, who is allergic to latex, was given an epidural with a latex catheter. She has required 14 operations to repair damage to her uterus and abdomen since delivering her first child, Tyler, last April.

Ms Kelly and a neighbour who was visiting her in hospital say the surgeon said: "That's the way the cookie crumbles and this time the crumbs landed on you."

Ms Kelly's mother, Julie Parsons, said she had lost $25,000 in income while taking care of her daughter and Tyler, while Mrs Parson's husband David was working four jobs. "We've been kept in the dark on so many issues. There's nobody taking responsibility for anything," Mrs Parsons said. She had asked the HQCC to investigate in October, but was later told her online complaint was lost.

After being contacted by The Courier-Mail, the HQCC claimed the complaint was one of 22 unopened after being received online. The Courier-Mail understands the HQCC averaged one email every two days before the online complaints were shut down in November. "We apologise for the technical issue and wish to assure these complainants that we will manage their cases as quickly as possible," an HQCC spokeswoman said. The Parsons said their daughter had acute pain several times a week.

Queensland Health acting district chief executive officer Dr Peter Bristow said staff at the hospital "were sorry for the pain and suffering Dawn Kelly has been through. I realise that Ms Kelly's health problems have had a huge impact". Queensland Health said it was arranging an appointment for Ms Kelly to see a pain management specialist at a private hospital and to get surgery to permanently mend her abdomen in the near future.


The Roadmap to Real Health Care Reform

During his State of the Union Address, President Obama declared that “there will be many different opinions and ideas about how to achieve reform, and that is why I’m bringing together businesses and workers, doctors and health care providers, Democrats and Republicans to begin work on this issue next week.” One public servant providing practical solutions is Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who recently introduced his Roadmap for America’s Future Act of 2010. The Ryan bill outlines clear, sound principles to reform entitlement spending and health care. The Roadmap’s health care provisions would bend the cost curve in health spending, make insurance more affordable and accessible, and create a consumer-driven, highly-competitive system. This is how it is done:

1. Changing the Tax Treatment of Health Coverage

Current tax treatment of health insurance gives preference to employer-based coverage by making benefits tax free to the employee and the employer alike. Obviously, this tax policy only benefits those who receive coverage through their employer. It benefits those who also have the biggest benefit packages, usually, but not always, the wealthy. Ryan’s “Roadmap”replaces this inequitable system through creating a system of refundable tax credits of $2,300 for individuals and $5,700 for families for the purchase of health coverage. As Heritage experts have pointed out this will transform the market to respond to patients’ needs, allow portability of insurance between jobs, and further the goal of universal access.

Replacing the tax exclusion with a health care tax credit would not only help the middle class buy insurance and extend coverage to the uninsured; it would also set in place powerful incentives to reduce the rapid growth in health care expenditures…individuals and families will have the ability to choose the health plan they want, own it, and take it with them from job to job. This tax credit would also have the added benefit of allowing individuals and families to decide how much of their compensation comes to them in the form of health insurance

2. Promoting State- Based Reform and Exchanges

The Ryan “Roadmap” would create a Federal-State partnership to help states that wanted to do so create State Health Insurance Exchanges, featuring high-risk pools combined with guaranteed access to care with affordable premiums. A state health insurance exchange can be designed many different ways. The key question is what is the objective of such an exchange. For consumers who want to own and control their health insurance, and take it with them from job to job, a properly designed state exchange, as Heritage’s Robert Moffit argues, can make it easy for employees , especially those in small businesses to compare and buy affordable health plans. It can unleash the free market forces of choice and competition. An exchange designed to restrict health options, as is now being promoted by the Left, is just another regulatory roadblock to personal freedom.

3. Allow Interstate Purchasing of Health Coverage

Congressman Ryan’s proposal would also allow individuals to use their refundable tax credits towards the purchase of health insurance policies in any state. As Moffit explains, interstate competition would lead to broader and more intense competition, greater personal choice and more affordable coverage, and would secure value for consumers’ dollars.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office evaluated Congressman Ryan’s Roadmap favorably, finding that “[The health insurance tax credit] could impose significant downward pressure on… the growth of overall spending on health care.” The Roadmap would also reform Medicare, putting it on more solid fiscal ground and molding it into a more consumer-driven system.

Even the President has kind words to say about the Rep. Ryan’s Roadmap, calling it a “detailed” and “legitimate” plan to tackle our fiscal crisis. The question before the taxpayers is whether the president and the congressional leadership are really serious about pursuing bipartisan reform, or whether they want to continue to push the massive and unpopular House and Senate bills that are so unpopular with the American people.


Health Care Summit the Wrong Approach to Bipartisan Health Care Reform

Later this month, President Obama’s health care summit will aim to highlight input from both Democrats and Republicans. This last ditch effort for bipartisanship appears encouraging on the surface, but many predict it will mean little more than theatrics and sound bites, rather than actual inclusion for the minority in the legislative process.

If the President were serious about moving forward on health care with bipartisan support, he would conduct this meeting in a more serious manner. Rather than create a public illusion of “reaching out”, the President would engage in serious discussions with not only Republicans, but with state and local legislators who also will play a role in enacting reform. Most importantly, the President would ask legislators to start afresh by abandoning current legislation and creating an improved bill from scratch. By bringing both parties to the table to draft the legislation in the first place, lawmakers are more likely to find common ground on how best to proceed. And, as Heritage’s Stuart Butler pointed out in a recent article in the National Journal, there is plenty of common ground to be found. Butler highlights the following areas as those which would address serious problems in our health care system with bipartisan support:

* A firm Republican commitment to achieving affordable coverage for all Americans in annual stages, starting now, in return for a WH agreement to scale the current bills way back.

* A package of insurance reforms, such as extending HIPAA, designed to deal with pre-existing conditions.

* An agreement to provide states funding to address high-risk and chronically ill Americans through high-risk pools. In addition, giving states legislative waivers for left or right ideas to expand coverage — eg through the bipartisan Baldwin-Price House bill.

* An overhaul of the tax treatment of private health coverage to make it efficient and to provide cost-reducing incentives — limiting the tax exclusion by income to finance better tax relief for those who need it to afford coverage.

An effective and bipartisan health care bill is obtainable, but to achieve this, Congress and the President must seek it in a more sincere and productive manner. The President’s summit on health care is the wrong approach.


Pelosi Attempts to Raise ObamaCare from the Dead

Breathing new life into the most unpopular legislative abomination in recent memory, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is setting the stage for the last stand of ObamaCare. It is an effort that may ultimately fail, but one in which she is clearly unwilling to cede the battlefield.

Speaking at the Academy Health National Health Policy Conference, Pelosi's legislative director Wendell Primus stated that the reconciliation process was "the only way" for Congressional Democrats to pass the ObamaCare monstrosity.

No kidding. The House cannot pass the Senate bill without significant changes, particularly to the abortion funding that flies in the face of the Stupak amendment, named after Congressman Bart Stupak who led the charge with some 39 House Democrats to strip such funding from the House version.

And the Senate cannot pass any modified bill now that Republicans have the 41st vote against cloture on the radical takeover of the nation’s entire health care industry. The election of Senator Scott Brown ensured that.

Which leaves the only scenario left, as outlined by Mr. Primus: “The House would have to take up [the reconciliation bill] first because it would involve revenue changes and then the Senate would pass it and then I think hopefully with the passing of that legislation, the House, only then would take up the Senate bill and pass it… The trick in all of this is that the President would have to sign the Senate bill first and then the reconciliation bill would be signed second and the parts of the reconciliation bill that trump the relevant portions of the first signed bill.”

Only, reconciliation is a process that is supposed to be limited to budget bills, not substantial changes to the laws of the United States that the health care takeover would represent.

The idea here — and the problem — is that House and Senate Democrats want to eliminate the filibuster in the Senate to enact government-run health care, solidifying one-party rule despite the election of Senator Brown in Massachusetts. For, if reconciliation can be invoked to avert the filibuster on this issue, it surely would be used to enact other radical proposes such as caps on carbon emissions, the takeover of the energy industry, the nationalization of the banks, etc.

ObamaCare is a plan that would ration care away from seniors, drive the American people off of private health options and onto the public system, lower quality, increase premiums, and bankrupt the Treasury with over $2.5 trillion in costs over ten years once fully implemented. It would unconstitutionally force the American people to be covered under either a private or public plan.

It, like the rest of the nation’s entitlement spending, is unsustainable, and as ALG News has previously reported, will hasten the nation’s descent into financial Armageddon, as the U.S. would eventually lose its Triple-A credit rating.

Which is why this morbid resurrection of the ObamaCare abomination must be stopped now. The process has become slightly more complicated with the passing of Congressman John Murtha, which may bring the Democrat total votes in the House down to 217.

As reported by the American Spectator, “When the health care bill passed the House the first time around, it did so with 220 votes — giving Pelosi just two votes to spare. With Republican Rep. Joseph Cao no longer willing to vote for the bill given the weaker abortion language and Rep. Robert Wexler having retired in the middle of his term (a special election to replace him won't happen until April [13th])…” plus the death of Murtha, Democrats are conceivably down to 217.

The special election to replace Murtha probably won’t take place until May 18th, according to the Radio Business Report, and with no guarantees that a Democrat will replace him (or Wexler, for that matter), Congressional Democrats have a small window of opportunity to get this done, lest ObamaCare opponents get up to 218. Primus has indicated that the plan would be “very close to being done” by Easter recess, which begins April 3rd.

With 433 currently-filled seats, 217 would give Pelosi the barest of majorities to pass the government takeover of the health system. Coupled with the perversion of the reconciliation process and the elimination of the filibuster, it could be enough.

To review: Congress is planning on using reconciliation to eliminate the controversial abortion funding and pass the changes in the House. Then it would be passed in the Senate. Next, the House would pass the controversial Senate bill.

In the last stage, Obama would sign the Senate bill first, and finally sign the reconciliation bill which modifies the Senate bill. Congressional Democrats have a small window of time to do it, but it could work.

As such, this is a significant threat to the liberty of the American people and the institutions of limited government — and it must be stopped, before the ObamaCare abomination is raised from the dead, and the American people left to deal with the horrid consequences.


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