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6 posts from September 2012


Whistleblower's take for spilling hospital chain's legal violations: $3 mil

National health care chain HCA will turn its head and cough after agreeing to pay $16.5 million to settle 2492839602_9a4b69fbfb_z claims it broke the law by enticed doctors to refer patients to a hospital.

The for-profit corporation was also accused of violating the False Claims Act, which involves cases of fraud against federal health care programs. A whistleblower who tattled on HCA will get 18.5 percent of the settlement, or about $3.1 million.

HCA has a large presence in North Texas with 10 hospitals, a Children’s Hospital, a Psychiatric Hospital, 12 ambulatory surgery centers, 13 Imaging Centers, an Oncology Center and a Freestanding Emergency Room in Dallas Fort Worth and the surrounding areas.  

In 2007, HCA, through subsidiaries in Tennessee, entered into financial dealings with a physician group and induced patient referrals by slipping doctors money through lease agreements.  

7900131666_56c542165a_zImproper business deals between hospitals and physicians jeopardize both patient care and federal program dollars,” said Daniel R. Levinson, Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services.   “Our investigators continue to work shoulder to shoulder with other law enforcement authorities to stop schemes that imperil scarce health care  resources.”

HCA owns and operates approximately 163 hospitals and approximately 109 freestanding surgery centers in 20 states and London, England. Overall company revenues in 2011 were $32.5 billion, up 6 percent from 2010.

-- Darren Barbee


ALERT: Violent TV may keep kids up -- preventing you from watching violent TV

Warning: This posting is not intended for children younger than 3, most of whom don’t read, but still.

I saw, I came, I sawedA study says that TV programs with violence — this includes virtually every program on television — and even cartoons with violence may be OK for older kids, but the younger crowd gets a bit bothered by them, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In fact, 3 to 5 year old children may not have a good night’s sleep Heart to heart especially when watching something disturbing, such as America’s Funniest Home Videos. (See photo, right)

Michelle Garrison of Seattle Children’s and University of Washington School of Public Health, said a study of 565 families revealed problems. Programs such as “Sesame Street” and “Curious George” were considered safe choices. The study, in the journal Pediatrics was Hmmmsupported, by the National Institutes of Health. See examples below.

“We really see significant improvements in sleep and that included things like decreased night wakings and nightmares, having an easier time falling asleep at night, being less cranky in the morning and just less tired during the day,” Garrison said.


-- Darren Barbee


If you’re chlid is watching this, consider a different kind of muppet.


This, on the other hand, should put the tyke right to sleep.







Former Texas priest accused of, uh, "bashing the bishop" on airplane, FBI says

Can’t blame the TSA for this one: Sometime after a plane's liftoff from Baltimore-Washington Taking offInternational Airport, a former Texas priest reportedly engaged in a takeoff of his own.

Daniel Michael Drinan, 63, who now lives in Reno, Nev., was arrested for sexually touching himself on an aircraft in full view of other passengers, according to the FBI and other federal authorities. He was previously accused of inappropriate behavior with a child in the Catholic Diocese of Austin.

No assigned seatingDrinan was on a flight to Denver when he connected to the aircraft’s WiFi and began viewing pornography, according to an affidavit filed with a criminal complaint. A woman seated next to Drinan saw him touching himself, gave up hope he would stop, and alerted flight attendants, the FBI said.

A male flight attendant reportedly asked Drinan to “put his pants back together.”

“At the time the male flight attendant talked with Drinan the defendant’s genitalia was totally exposed,” a press release said. Drinan was taken into custody Saturday night at Denver International Oh boyAirport for lewd, indecent, or obscene acts in public aboard an aircraft.

In 2002, Drinan was accused of what the Austin diocese called “inappropriate behavior with a child.” BishopAccountability.org, which describes itself as a database of publicly accused U.S. priests, says Drinan was charged with misdemeanor assault not involving sexual contact or injuries to a child. He paid a fine over the matter, the site says.

If convicted of crimes aboard an aircraft, he faces not more than 90 days in jail and up to a $250,000 fine, according to the FBI.

-- Darren Barbee


Texas medical professionals join the felon, fraud and drug addict club

Why not try methadoneYou can’t argue that Texas attracts medical professionals -- not that Melanie French Morrison, RN, had much of a choice.

Morrison, a nurse who used to work in Salina, Kan., had a drug addiction. She got a bus pass to Fort Worth from the Department of Justice following her convictions for tampering with a consumer product and adulterating drugs while caring for patients. She’s spending 36 months behind bars at Federal Medical Center Carswell in Fort Worth.

Morrison worked at a nursing facility, where she used her keys to open the narcotics cabinet, siphon off morphine from vials using a syringe and refill them with sodium chloride (AKA normal saline).

A federal court referred to her switcheroo as “reckless disregard,” since it can injure or kill someone. Sodium chloride can be dangerous, Which muppet has the shiv particularly to patients who suffer from congestive heart failure or kidney problems.

This month, Morrison was excluded from participating in federal health care programs. That means she won't be getting taxpayer money any more. Uh, except for housing, feeding and clothing her. 

-- Darren Barbee

As of September, here are the newest Texas members of the federal Exclusions Club:

BARBARA ALGAIER Nursing PARIS License revoked/suspended
ANNETTE BERNAL Nursing AMARILLO License revoked/suspended
KELLY BUNYARD Nursing HUMBLE License revoked/suspended
JAMIE FENTON Nursing LONGVIEW Health care felony, fraud
CARLA GAUSE Unknown ADDISON abuse/neglect conviction
BRENDA HARRIS Equipment HOUSTON Conviction
CYNTHIA MENCHACA Nursing CORPUS CHRISTI License revoked/suspended
MARY MERTINS Nursing HEREFORD License revoked/suspended
ELLA MOORER Nursing GEORGETOWN abuse/neglect conviction
RONALD POULIN Physician ANTHONY Conviction
MARY POWELL Nursing ENNIS License revoked/suspended
DEBRA SPRADLIN Audiology BRYAN Conviction
HOLLY STEVENSON Pharmacy tech MCKINNEY License revoked/suspended
SARAH WEISHEIT nursing KATY License revoked/suspended
SOURCE: LEIE Exclusions database


ATF agents handcuffed by Fast and Furious superiors resolve retaliation claims

Two more ATF special agents troubled by Operation Fast and Furious – one who watched supervisors Drug cartel gun battle ignore fears an officer would slain by the weapons they weren’t allowed to seize – have settled claims they were retaliated against.

Indeed, F&F was halted after a U.S. border agent was later killed by a gun buyer the ATF could have arrested, but was prevented from doing so.

Larry Alt and Olindo J. “Lee” Casa, two of the employees at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms filed retaliation claims with the Office of Special Counsel. The office said Tuesday they had resolved their cases through mediation. All mediation communications are confidential

Casa testified before congress that on many occassions surveillance teams followed gun buyers to the Phoenix area, watched them buy “devastating weapons” including AK-47 style weapons, .50 caliber rifles and pistols.

Holder“On many of those occasions, the surveillance team would then follow the straw purchasers either to a residence, a public location, or until the surveillance team was spotted by the straw purchasers,” Casa told Congress. “But the end result was always the same – the surveillance was terminated ... without interdicting or seizing the firearms.”

Casa said he and other agents warned superiors of something going wrong, but were ignored. On at least a couple of occasions, Casa said he witnessed a special agent ask supervisors if they were prepared to attend the funeral of slain agent or officer killed with one of the purchased firearms.

“Neither one answered or even seemed concerned by the question posed to them,” Casa testified.

The mediation follows the resolution last month of retaliation claims by ATF whistleblower Peter Forcelli.

-- Darren Barbee

Headline of the week (topic, irritable bowel syndrome)

This is either genius, or a terrible, terrible mistake. What looks to be an advertisement  for a clinical trial on a San Antonio radio station's website asks for people, at least 18 years old, to try out.  Digestion made easy

The pitch goes: "You know the feeling well, you’ve felt it before. You need a bathroom – now." 

The odd headline: The ins and outs of irritable bowel syndrome

Yes, we're 11 years old. But we're tall for our age.

-- Darren Barbee