Federal prosecutors investigate double-booked #surgeries identified in Globe Spotlight series #MGH #qualityofcare

Note that the Globe’s story on double book has instigated some scrutiny from outside the world of medicine and journalism. ss2 (2)

Federal prosecutors have subpoenaed 10 years of internal records from Massachusetts General Hospital and have interviewed several physicians as part of an investigation into surgeons running two operating rooms at the same time, according to individuals with direct knowledge of the probe.

Some MGH staff members have raised concerns for years about double-booked operations in the renowned hospital’s orthopedics department, a dispute little known to the public until a Globe Spotlight Team report last month. Hospital officials say concurrent surgery is safe and improves efficiency, but critics say the practice is risky and that, too often, patients are not told their surgeon plans to manage a second, simultaneous case.

Also note that MGH feels the article treated the institution unfairly.

MGH 2010

MGH 2010

MGH set up a website for patients in response to the Spotlight report and sent out e-mails to employees defending double-booking.

“There is no quality and safety issue that the MGH has scrutinized more carefully in recent years than overlapping surgery,’’ Dr. Peter Slavin, the hospital president, and Dr. Thomas Lynch, head of the Massachusetts General Physicians Organization, wrote employees on Oct. 30. “We do not believe that the Globe article provided a fair and balanced description of surgical practices at MGH.’’

A hospital spokeswoman said MGH has had no cancellations or postponements of surgeries and only a handful of questions from patients.


Stat, the new (Boston Globe?) life science site, is up

ss1After trickling into The Boston Globe in recent weeks, the STAT website is up. Looks impressive and has some big names on the masthead. (Can we still call it a masthead?) Congratulations to all.

If you are confused about its relationship with the Globe, you’re not alone. STAT is a new animal, digital first with its own staff and budget. The Globe still covers life sciences, but the three fine health reporters there are not part of STAT. Their former editors have migrated to STAT. The team’s science writer migrated to The Washington Post months ago and has yet to be replaced. So, it was STAT that hosted the recent Morrissey Boulevard party for the National Association of Science Writers, not the science-writer-less Globe.

STAT casts itself as a national publication and some  stories run in the A section of the Globe — a nice break from the wire copy that replaced reporting from the long-gone national and foreign desks. They also have columns on Kendall Square — the pharma capital of universe — and  Longwood Avenue — the medical capital of the universe. So, it’s kind of local. Or offering a nod to local?

ss2 (2)

Here’s hoping that they don’t suck the life out of the life-science reporting in the Globe. Not for nostalgia reasons, but for those of us in Boston who need good, local health and science watchdogs. And the team at the Globe does great work.

While Hollywood is celebrating the “Spotlight” movie about the paper’s reporting on the cover-up of rampant pedophilia in the Catholic Church, the latest Spotlight series raises question about overbooking of surgery at Mass General. While the practice may not be unheard of, the story raises important questions about patient safety, informed consent and the hospital’s treatment of whistle blowers.

You think going up against the Catholic Church is scary? Try going up against Partners Healthcare.

AT #ACEP15, emergency docs get serious, have fun, collect swag and visit Boston

The exhibit halls at medical conferences offer the usual swag — pens, hand sanitizer, and bowl after bowl of bite-sized candy bars.  To avoid conflicts of interest, your correspondent usually grabs no more than a Hershey bar. Today: a report on some of the wares.

#APEC15 Emergency docs gather in Boston for annual meeting

Pro Publica: #College students, campus #health and #privacy

From the investigative team at Pro Publica. Boston Students take note.

Universities walk a fine line when providing that treatment or mental-health services to students. If campus officials don’t know what’s going on or disclose too little, they risk being blamed if a student harms himself, herself, or others. If they pry too deeply, they may be accused of invading privacy, thereby discouraging students from seeking treatment.

Even after mental-health treatment ends, privacy issues persist. Disputes have erupted over whether colleges can consult patient records to defend themselves, such as when they are accused of not properly investigating a sexual assault.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that the schools are trying to strike the right balance,” said Paul Lannon, a Boston lawyer who advises colleges on legal issues. “They care for the students. They want the students to do well. They want the students to be healthy.”


Doctors try to get it right by listening and more #RCAW

If your doctor, nurse or anyone tending to your health seems to be giving you a little extra attention this week, he or she might be part of “RightCare Action Week.”

From Medscape:RightCareActionWeekLogo_Banner

The RightCare Alliance, … has representation from virtually all medical specialties as well as patients, patient advocates, consumer groups, community groups, business groups, and public health. The Alliance also has a specific focus on the critical evaluation of the medical evidence and promotion of evidence-based care.

A project of the Boston-based Lown Institute, the group is promoting a week-long effort that calls on providers to “take action to show patients that we have not forgotten what good medical care is. Actions can be as simple as taking a deeper social history or doing a house call.”

A bit more on the project from Health Leaders Media.

On the Brookline (Mass.) Tab website, Lown president Vikas Saini describes how that will roll out in Boston:

Everyone is fed up with the business climate in medicine that cheats patients out of the right health care and does little but bolster institutional bottom lines — all while health outcomes are poor compared to many other countries.

What can we all do about it?

The event is “a time for patients and clinicians to stand up and voice what they’d like to see their health care system become. More of the same? Or something better?…

A transformed healthcare system must be, before anything, a system that truly connects with patient needs. And we cannot make this connection if we do not listen. A listening booth is a way to publicly draw attention to the need to listen, by listening.

This week, as a part of RightCare Action Week, Lown Institute physicians will be heading out around the Boston area to set up listening booths. Tell them what you think about our healthcare delivery. They will listen.

Here is a list of their locations:


10 am to 12 pm – Davis Square,  park across from T station (Somerville)
2- 4 pm – Cambridge City Hall or Central Square TBA (Cambridge)
Contact person on site: Aaron Stupple, MD



10 am – 12 pm –Andrew Square, park across from T station (South Boston)
2-4pm    Boston Common (can you list across from ….?)
Contact person on site: Vikas Saini, MD



10 am – 12pm 510 Broadway Chelsea – park across from City Hall (Chelsea)
2- 4pm –    421 Broadway, Everett – park in front of library (Everett)
Contact person on site: Aaron Stupple, MD


10 am – 12pm – Jamaica Plain (TBD) Check back for updates
2-4pm Dorchester/Mattapan – location TBD
Contact person on site: Vikas Saini, MD

Or, go online to Tell your story .




KHN: Should you get a routine pap smear? #women’shealth

Two physician groups disagree on whether women should get the screening test. now known as a  pelvic exam. Kaiser Health News reports; Boston Women’s Health Collective weights in with this:khn-logo1

Judy Norsigian of “Our Bodies Ourselves” said it behooves consumers to make an informed choice. “Women should not be bullied by their doctors” into having an exam, but should make the decision that best suits their circumstances, she said. “Medicine is often slow to change, particularly in this field.”



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