Forbes had a great article on the benefits of music to assist memory.  Music therapy, a relatively new form of cognitive therapy has been recently applied to patients suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia.   However, most nursing homes have no music for residents to listen to.  This lack of music could be a missed opportunity to invigorate patients and help them gain better control of their cognitive functions. Music creates strong psychological implications – with certain songs connecting with memories.

Music is a part of our everyday lives; we hear sounds wherever we go.  How many times have you heard a song that brought you back to a time or place? Maybe it was the song that played at your wedding, maybe it was the song that played at your prom.  Whatever it is, music holds a very powerful connection with memories. For patients suffering from memory impairment, music can allow them to regain a sense of themselves.

Music & Memory, a Long Island organization, is a program dedicated to allowing patients with dementia to be able to experience themselves again.  Music & Memory brings nursing homes iPods which they fill with patients’ favorite music, as provided by family and friends.  More than 60 nursing homes participate in Music & Memory, although none in SC.

The program has become so popular that a documentary was made about the organization.  Alive Inside: The Story of Music and Memory¸ showcases the work done by the organization and the effects on patients. In a clip in the article, an elderly man named Henry can be seen before and after listening to his iPod.  Before, he is barely responsive and mostly immobile. Afterwards, he is moving his feet, crooning along with the tunes. The benefits don’t end there. When the nurse takes off the headphones, Henry is much more responsive to questions, able to answer in sentences where before he could hardly manage yes or no.

People can donate to the program by sending in their gently used iPods and power cords.



Doctors vow to do no harm. But when preventable errors occur, sometimes the people who are saving your life can be killing you as well.  In an article and video by USA Today, victims talk about the retained foreign bodies that have cost them so dearly.  Whenever something, like a sponge, is left in the body, it is referred to as a retained foreign body. The body doesn’t welcome the sponge; it begins to fight it, rejecting the sponge. This causes infection and can lead to long term complications, including death. This is preventable and unnecessary. The medical community calls these instances ‘never events’. But these so called never events occur quite frequently.

Read More →

NPR had a great article on a scary "nightmare bacteria" on the rise. CRE, carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or superbugs, as they’re called by many, are germs which are resistant to antibiotics. These CREs create drug resistant infections which are resistant to all antibiotics, including antibiotics that doctors use as a last resort. The worst part of these CREs is that the drug resistance can spread to other infections.

The number of cases reported have increased from 1% to 4%. In long term hospitals, the number is even higher, around 18%. While this number may seem small , the real threat is in the spreading of CREs. If the germs were to spread outside the hospitals, with common infections becoming drug resistant in communities, it could be a major problem. Experts say that hospitals need to contain the CREs to prevent this from happening. The only way to prevent the migration from hospitals to homes is to test patients to see if they’re carrying CREs and to keep them away from other patients, and sterilizing their surroundings. This tactic has been proven to help reduce the number of CREs.

In other countries and in Florida, these tactics have helped to contain the threat. However, the rapid spread of CREs isn’t the only concern. Doctors have to be more careful when prescribing antibiotics. Unnecessary prescription of antibiotics and misuse of antibiotics are creating these CREs. Doctors need to be more conscientious when prescribing antibiotics and patients need to ensure that they follow the doctors’ orders. Not completing the full round of antibiotics can help create resistance in infections. To combat these nightmare bacteria, hospitals, doctors, and patients must all be more careful.

An article Connecticut Post reported that Fernwood Rest Home Inc. in Litchfield, Connecticut has been ordered to pay a $2000 fine, hire a temporary manager, and make staff and procedural changes that improve resident care. A report from the Department of Public Health mentioned numerous complaints, including diet, treatment, and a lack of recreational activities. The DPH report and worker confirmation indicate that residents were called monkeys by the staff. Staff members would put a chain on the dining room door while they made a gourmet breakfast for themselves, while simultaneously instructing workers to keep the ‘monkeys’ out of the room.

The facility offered eggs only two days a week, with other days consisting of cold and hot cereals, and stale doughnuts on Sunday.  If residents reported being hungry, they were given a granola bar as their only snack.  If still hungry, they were told they would have to wait until tomorrow.

Read More →

The Edwardsville Intelligencer reported on the jury verdict against Rosewood Care Center involving a fatal overdose of fentanyl administered to a resident.  The jury’s verdict of $273,607 against Rosewood and in favor of Diana Oberneufemann, executor of the estate of Kathleen Adams, a 66-year-old woman who died shortly after a Rosewood employee negligently placed a second Duragesic narcotic patch without realizing that an earlier patch was still in place.

"The award includes $195,000 for loss of normal life experienced; $50,000 for pain and suffering experienced as a result of the injuries; and $18,607 for medical care, nursing care, treatment and services. There was also an award of $10,000 to Oberneufemann and her sister, Donna Evans, for grief, sorrow and mental suffering."

"As he did during his opening statements, attorney Robert Gregory displayed a picture of a beaming Adams taken six months before her death. While acknowledging that she suffered from osteoporosis when she was admitted to Anderson Hospital “there was nothing wrong with Kathleen Adams when she left Anderson for Rosewood Care Center,” he said. Her only reason for going there was to get short term care to allow her “to get back on her feet and go home.”"

“Far too often, unfortunately, in Madison County jurors are not given credit for the good job that they do,” he said. “They listened to an entire week of testimony and I think they clearly saw that the evidence was that Rosewood was negligent for applying the patch 24 hours prematurely without removing the first one.”


ProPublica had a great article on Charles Ornstein’s experiences with end of life care decisions. Compassion and objectivity don’t always mix. Health reporter Charles Ornstein never thought about this quandary until his mother lay in the hospital, dependent on a ventilator to breathe. As a reporter, he approached end of life care from a general and financial standpoint. The cost of end of life care is high, constituting a quarter of Medicare payments in the last year of life alone and studies show that this care is often futile. While his mother remained in the hospital, Ornstein and his family decided to consult a second opinion. They knew the financial facts, and yet, when faced with the decision of having to prolong his mother’s life with assistance, or pulling the plug, they still felt ill prepared and unsure. Ornstein knew his mother’s prognosis was grim, but he wanted to ensure that her condition was as grave as the doctors said, that there would be no miracle recovery. His mother’s end-of-life wishes were to not be kept artificially alive if there was no chance for a meaningful recovery. Still, Ornstein needed to exhaust all the reasonable options before he felt satisfied that he could obey his mother’s wishes.
Ornstein received a second opinion, confirming the worst. Harriet Ornstein, mother, wife, and friend would never again be the same animated lady who walked her son down the aisle with a broken nose, a week after being mugged. Ornstein and his family decided to unhook her from the ventilator. Though doctors had said it was unlikely, Harriet breathed on her own for several hours. She died peacefully later that night.
Despite his background in the health care field, and his experience and opinions of end of life care, when Charles Ornstein was faced with his mother’s situation, he didn’t care about the financial realities of long term care. When end of life care became a personal issue, instead of simply a political and financial debate, Ornstein no longer cared how Medicare was being affected by those two extra days Harriet remained hooked up to the ventilator. In the end, Ornstein was affected more by his mother’s suffering than by the statistics of end of life care.

The price tag of American medical services has been increasing for years, but this new study finds that the price for an average ER trip has become more than what some people spend on rent.  A new NIH study found that the average cost of an Emergency Room visit was over $2000, 40% more than most people spend on their rent each month. ER trips can have a large price tag, but because of the range in pricing, most Americans have no idea what the final cost will be. This study finds that when the IQR, interquartile range, is factored in, Americans pay more or less than the average prices of these services. The study looks at the most common reasons for visiting the ER and doesn’t factor in how much of the cost will be paid by insurance.

The IQR represents the difference between the 25th and 75th percentile of charges, meaning that it shows the variation between charges. The study looks at the top 10 most common reasons for visiting the ER: sprains and strains, other injury, open wounds, normal pregnancy/delivery, headache, back problems, upper respiratory infection, kidney stone, urinary tract infection, and intestinal infection. The average charge and the IQR are compared. This study shows that what people should be charged, the IQR cost, is rarely what they’re charged. In almost all instances, the average charge is higher than what it should be.

If the median IQR is what most people should pay, why are some people paying more and some people paying less? The healthcare system needs more transparency in its pricing and cost evaluations. Because when people do the math, it just doesn’t add up.
See article at ThinkProgress.


SCNow had an article discussing the well-known nuisance at Lee County Landfill owned by Republic Services headquartered in Arizona.  The South Carolina Supreme Court will hear arguments on a suit against the Lee County Landfill.  The jury found the landfill was operating as a nuisance and awarded punitive damages.   The residents are concerned about ridding "their property and their lives of the putrid smells emanating from the nearby landfill."  Plaintiffs purchased property in Bishopville within a two-mile radius of the dump before it began accepting waste in 1994.

"Last March a federal jury awarded three Lee County couples a total of $2.3 million in damages after their attorney argued that the strong odors from the dump located off of Interstate 20 were lessening their quality of life, disrupting tranquility and damaging their property values."

"During post-trial motions, the defense asked Federal Court Judge Joseph Anderson to throw out the award, arguing that nuisance law should not cover the $1.8 million of putative damages, only the actual damages that reflect decreased property value."

"However the plaintiffs’ attorney, Gary Poliakoff, said plenty of nuisance case law indicates the landfill is responsible for more than just damages to physical property, and that’s what he plans to tell the justices in oral arguments Tuesday."

We rely on numerous nuisance cases from the state of South Carolina from the past century which talk about the types of damages that can be awarded for nuisance and those types of damages include loss of quality of life, annoyance, inconvenience and interference with mental tranquility,” Poliakoff said. “All of those are from South Carolina Supreme Court cases for decades. The defense wants to undo those prior cases and say that damages should be limited to loss rental value, which we believe would be an absurd outcome.”

"Poliakoff and his clients maintain the Lee County Landfill has been a “horrendous, notorious landfill with terrible odors emanating for miles out for years.”"

Motorists driving the 70-mile stretch of I-20 between Florence and Columbia can certainly attest to that. Odors emanating from the area of the dump are noticeable almost every day.

Poliakoff said his clients hope the dump is closed outright by a court order, or alternatively, that the court will order the waste management company to comply with a list or regulations. Some of those controls on the landfill include an overall limit to the amount of waste accepted annually, limits on the types of waste accepted – such as human sewage sludge from more than 550 miles away that causes particularly strong odors – and additional gas wells and partial capping of some areas.

Meanwhile, the national waste industry lobbyists have filed amicus briefs attempting to influence the Supreme Court’s decision on a South Carolina issue. Waste360 reported that several waste and recycling associations filed a brief with the South Carolina Supreme Court attempting to overturn the federal jury verdict.  "Combining on the amicus brief filed in support of the Lee County Landfill was the South Carolina chapter of the National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA), the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) and the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA)."   See article at Waste & Recycling News

 Fits News reported an interesting twist.  The article begins with an explanation how human sewage sludge waste leaves Staten Island, New York and weeks later ends up in the Lee County landfill home to a massive 150-foot tall landfill which receives all of this feces. “The waste has been rotting and stinking in the sun for two weeks by the time it gets to the landfill,” one of the facilities’ operators stated during a recent court case."  Fits News goes on to explain legislation currently pending before the South Carolina Senate which would limit their ability to refuse such shipments. In fact the legislation – S. 203 – would enjoin municipalities from passing any ordinance which blocks the feces.

Former S.C. Lt. Governor Bob Peeler supports the legislation on behalf og the waste industry. One of the primary sponsors is Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler (R-Cherokee) – who is Bob Peeler’s brother.   In fact Peeler’s Medical Affairs Committee will determine whether the legislation makes its way to the floor of the S.C. Senate for a vote.

"That’s our beef with this legislation. Stripping local governments of their right to object to these facilities – or at the very least limit the amount of toxic human waste they accept – strikes us as a crass usurpation of individual liberty and of home rule. Also, the fact the waste industry is using Bob Peeler’s family connection to shove this legislation through the Senate is downright shameful – and typical of the corruption we’ve come to expect from state government in South Carolina."



WISH TV reported the family of a nursing home resident has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home after the home failed to show any remorse for the neglect sufered by their loved one.  The lawsuit alleges that Health & Hospital Corporation (HHC) of Marion County and American Senior Communities, LLC (ASC) were negligent in causing the death of Betty Riley.

Riley died from an assault that caused subdural and subarachnoid hematomas.  During the assault, Riley fell causing blunt force trauma to her head.  Family members said they’ve tried to talk to the nursing home to find out from administrators what happened, but leaders there refused to talk with them.

"No sympathy whatsoever towards the family or anything," said Riley. "That’s what really grabbed us as being pretty difficult to handle. They didn’t want to act like they did anything, but yet, they didn’t want to say sorry or anything."

"If they would have offered to pay the bills, like [my lawyer] said, she had about $30,000 in hospital bills," Mark Riley, Betty’s son, said Tuesday. "If they would have shown some kind of consideration towards what happened to my mother that would have made everything a lot better."



San Francisco Gate had an Associated Press article on the attempts of West Virginia legislators to include nursing homes under the tort reform caps meant for doctors who commit medical malpractice.  Nursing home lawsuits do not involve medical malpractice.  The allegations typically include simple negligence of unlicensed certified nurse aides or nursing malpractice.

"The measure explicitly includes nursing homes under the protections of a 2003 law that places limits on medical malpractice suits. The Medical Professionals Liability Act places a $500,000 cap on the non-economic damages for which health care providers are liable."

The West Virginia Association for Justice, a group representing plaintiffs’ lawyers, called the bill unnecessary. "Nursing homes are already identified as medical providers under West Virginia’s existing Medical Professional Liability Act," said Scott Blass, the group’s president. "This is an attempt by nursing homes to try to further limit their liability when their patients are harmed."