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February 3, 2014 | By Jason Wells
The San Francisco hospital where a patient disappeared last year, only to be found dead 17 days later in a exterior stairwell, should share in the blame with the sheriff's department for "systemic" failures that led to the death, according to new report. Lynne Spalding Ford, 57, disappeared from her San Francisco General Hospital room Sept. 21 and apparently exited a door to the rarely used stairwell. Spalding Ford -- a vivacious British-born mother of two -- was wearing her street clothes and still had electrocardiogram pads on her torso and intravenous access lines in her arms when she went missing.
January 31, 2014 | By David Levine
The numbers are staggering: Almost 7% of the U.S. adult population - about 17.6 million people - is diagnosed with depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that depression costs 200 million lost workdays each year at a cost to employers of $17 billion to $44 billion. There are effective treatments for depression, including, researchers said recently, meditation. But neither talk therapy nor the existing medications work for everyone.
January 27, 2014 | By Scott Glover
A Burbank pharmacy that dispensed painkillers and other narcotics to five young patients who later died of overdoses had its license revoked Monday after the state pharmacy board found that its employees failed to properly scrutinize prescriptions that contributed to patient deaths. The pharmacy, Jay Scott Drugs on Glenoaks Boulevard, catered to patients of doctors Bernard Bass and Massoud Bamdad, both of whom were later convicted of crimes in connection with their prescribing. Pharmacists are required by law to scrutinize prescriptions, size up customers and refuse to dispense a drug if they suspect a patient does not have a legitimate medical need for it. Many of Bass' patients were in their 20s and traveled more than 40 miles from their homes in Ventura County to see Bass in North Hollywood, and then another five miles to Jay Scott Drugs where they typically paid cash for a combination of prescription drugs favored by addicts.
January 19, 2014 | By Saba Hamedy
Aja Riggs, 50, thought a lot about dying after she was diagnosed with uterine cancer. She endured surgery in October 2011, then underwent aggressive chemotherapy that made her feel as if her skin was burning. She was constantly tired. Then doctors found a second tumor, which they treated with two different types of radiation. "It was a pretty darn rough winter, actually," said Riggs of Santa Fe, N.M. "I thought to myself, I don't know if I want to go all the way to the end with a death from cancer.
January 9, 2014 | By Lisa Girion and Scott Glover
A Santa Barbara doctor some patients called "the candy man" because he so freely prescribed painkillers and other commonly abused narcotics pleaded guilty Thursday to federal drug charges. Julio Diaz, 65, pleaded guilty to 11 counts of drug dealing, stemming from prescriptions written from his storefront office on Milpas Street. As part of the plea, the doctor acknowledged prescribing drugs to patients who had no legitimate medical need. Diaz was taken into custody after the hearing in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, said Assistant U.S. Atty.
January 9, 2014 | By Scott Glover
A Santa Barbara doctor accused of illegally prescribing painkillers and other potent narcotics to patients who had no legitimate medical need pleaded guilty Thursday to federal drug dealing charges. Julio Diaz, 65, had been awaiting trial when he pleaded guilty to 11 counts of drug dealing in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana. Diaz was taken into custody after entering the plea, said Asst. U.S. Atty. Ann Luotto Wolf. He is scheduled to be sentenced in June. The doctor's attorney, Michael Guisti, declined comment.
January 8, 2014 | By Chad Terhune
Californians searching for a doctor have new ratings from Consumer Reports on 170 physician groups statewide. The scores released Wednesday are intended to help consumers see how different medical offices measure up on providing care and dealing with patients. Consumer Reports said the ratings showed all California physician groups had room to improve and that patients' experiences vary widely. For instance, in the Los Angeles area, patients' views on their overall care ranged from 51 to 73 out of 100. Those lowest scores mean about half of patients at those medical groups didn't think their care was the best possible.
January 3, 2014 | By Emily Alpert Reyes
The California Department of Public Health has taken steps to decertify three centers for the developmentally disabled from receiving Medicaid funding for some of their programs after discovering “situations involving immediate jeopardy” to patients, the agency said late Friday. The Porterville, Lanterman and Fairview Developmental Centers had been under review throughout the last year due to “deficient practices” and “chronic systems failures in providing patient care,” the department said in a statement.
January 3, 2014 | Sandy Banks
It will take more than doctors, judges and medical records to convince Nailah Winkfield that her child is dead. Winkfield's 13-year-old daughter, Jahi McMath, entered an Oakland hospital for tonsil surgery three weeks ago and wound up on life support. Now Jahi is hooked to a ventilator that handles the mechanics of breathing, but she's been declared brain-dead by several physicians, including a court-appointed neurologist from Stanford. Officials at Children's Hospital Oakland want to disconnect the machine; Jahi, they say, has zero chance of recovery.
January 3, 2014 | By Richard Winton, This post has been updated. See the note below for details.
A Montebello hospital accused of dumping a homeless patient on skid row will pay a $250,000 fine and face new protocols rather than face civil and criminal charges, according to the Los Angeles city attorney's office. Officials at the 224-bed Beverly Hospital in Montebello last year allegedly had the patient driven to skid row -- long a magnet for the region's most vulnerable citizens -- without any prearrangement with a shelter to take the patient in. The settlement, announced Friday, marks the first time in several years that a hospital has been caught dumping a patient without adequate medical care illegally on skid row. [Updated 9:40 a.m. PDT Jan. 3: The hospital agreed to pay $200,000 in civil penalties and $50,000 in legal fees.]
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