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Many Doctors Work While Sick, Survey Shows

Many health care professionals work when they are sick, putting their patients at risk for serious illness or even death, new research suggests.

The danger is greatest for patients with weakened immune systems, and the study authors noted that these practices also increase health care costs.

Since the consequences of these types of infections can be significant, the researchers wanted to know why health care professionals didn't stay home when they were ill.

So, they surveyed doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurse anesthetists and midwives. A team of researchers, led by Julia Szymczak of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, received anonymous responses from more than 500 health care professionals.

The vast majority of those surveyed (95 percent) believed that working while sick put their patients at risk. Still, 83 percent admitted to working while sick at least once in the past year and 9 percent said they worked while sick at least five times. They said they worked with symptoms like diarrhea, fever and significant respiratory issues; the study published online July 6 in the journal JAMA Pediatrics showed.

And why do they work when sick?

  • Almost 99 percent didn't want to let their colleagues down,
  • Almost 95 percent had concerns about staffing,
  • 92.5 percent didn't want to disappoint their patients,
  • 64 percent were worried about being ostracized by their colleagues,
  • Almost 64 percent were concerned about continuity of care.

"The study illustrates the complex social and logistic factors that cause this behavior," the researchers said in a journal news release.

Lowering the stigma that can come with sick leave "must factor in workplace demands and variability in patient census [count] and emphasize flexibility," Dr. Jeffrey Starke, of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and Dr. Mary Anne Jackson, from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, wrote in a related editorial. "Also essential is clarity from occupational health and infection control departments to identify what constitutes being too sick to work."

Source: Healthy News

Benefits of Telemedicine

Telemedicine is the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve a patient’s clinical health status. Telemedicine includes a growing variety of applications and services using two-way video, email, smart phones, wireless tools and other forms of telecommunications technology.

Telemedicine is not a separate medical specialty.

The practice of medicine through telecommunications, or telemedicine, began in the early 1960s when the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) first put men in space. Physiological measurements of the astronauts were telemetered from both the spacecraft and the space suits during NASA space flights. These early efforts were enhanced by the development of satellite technology that fostered the development of telemedicine.

Now, telemedicine is expanding and may soon redefine modern health care. With the aid of wearable health monitors, computers, and video, doctors will be able to evaluate, diagnose, and treat you—all without your physical presence in their office.

How is telemedicine used today?

Telemedicine provides opportunities to keep people healthy and outside of hospitals. For example, in certain regions and medical practices in the US:

  • You can send a digital image of a suspicious rash, along with your medical history, to a dermatologist, who will review it, diagnose, and prescribe medication to treat it.
  • You can check-in with your doctor after surgery for follow-up care in your own home.
  • If you have diabetes, you can monitor your blood sugar levels at home and upload the readings to your doctor's computer, saving yourself a time-consuming visit. Irregular blood sugar levels would generate an alert to the doctor's staff to call you in for immediate intervention to prevent complications.
  • If you have hypertension, you can wear a monitor that tracks your blood pressure daily and transmits your results to your medical record, allowing your doctor to track your progress.


Convenience. Need a quick consultation with your doctor? Telemedicine can save you travel time and the hassle of sitting in a waiting room with other sick people.

Increased rural access. There’s a shortage of doctors in many rural areas of the US. Telemedicine has a unique capacity to increase medical service to rural patients.

Cost and efficiency. Doctors often charge less for a telemedicine consultation than they do for an in-person visit. A telemedicine consult might cost $40 to $70, compared for $130 to $180 for an office visit. In addition, telemedicine allows doctors to efficiently and closely monitor patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Second opinions. Telemedicine allows a far-away specialist to evaluate your MRI, X-ray, or other scans and tests. This will help patients who want a second opinion, as well as doctors who want to consult with experts on complicated cases.

These technologies offer convenience and huge potential cost savings, but they are not without controversy. Some doctors are concerned about the safety of prescribing drugs without examining the patient in person.Can they really assess what the patient needs over a video link? They also worry that telemedicine could depersonalize your healthcare. In addition, some medical problems will always demand a personal exam.

Sources: Berkley Wellness

Osteopathic Physician Sentenced to Three Months for Health Fraud

U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny sentenced David Lester Johnston, 46, of Ridgefield, Monday to three months in prison for health care fraud.

Johnston is an osteopathic physician who operates Osteopathic Wellness Center, LLC, in Ridgefield.

 On Jan. 16, he pleaded guilty to one count of health care fraud and admitted that he engaged in a scheme to defraud several private health insurance companies by submitting claims for evaluation and management services (physician office visits) that he did not perform, and by misrepresenting the nature of the services that were performed, according to court documents.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Johnston submitted claims for physician office visits that were not performed at all. Instead, the patients only received massages and related services from a massage therapist. In addition, he falsely described the services rendered and falsely stated that he himself had rendered the services.

The investigation revealed that on several occasions Johnston was out of the country when the massage therapist was seeing Johnston’s patients.

Johnston was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $172,950.

In addition, as part of the resolution of this case, Johnston entered into a civil settlement with the government and has agreed to pay $270,528 to settle federal civil claims that Johnston submitted false claims to the Medicare program for office visits, osteopathic manipulative treatment and physical therapy services that were not performed. Instead, the Medicare patients treated by the massage therapist in Johnston’s practice only received massages and related services. Medicare does not recognize massage therapists as providers and they are not eligible to participate in the Medicare program. Johnston nevertheless billed the Medicare program as if he had provided the services in question.

Pursuant to the civil settlement, Johnston has been excluded from participation in all federal health care programs for a period of five years.