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43% of COVID- 19 deaths linked to nursing homes

Traditional germ theory explains the deaths & spike in COVID-19 cases in the US better than any political accusations going around. But, some politicians do carry real blame, however denied:
“”You had this political conspiracy theory that the deaths in nursing homes were preventable,” said Mr. Cuomo.””

At a press conference today, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo insisted that his March order requiring NH’s to accept COVID positive patients from the hospital didn’t cause deaths – in spite of the fact that it’s estimated that those orders caused more than 6300 such transfers.

The NYTimes previously reported 43% of COVID19 deaths have been linked to nursing homes.
State NH deaths

Click to view the percentage of death in NH by State

The problem with the spread of disease has been a lack of common infection control where it counts: in the care of the most vulnerable in nursing homes (“NH” ) and hospitals, as well as the failure to protect healthcare workers who come into close contact with the vulnerable and infected — and who travel between facilities & the community.
The first reported US case led to an outbreak in a Washington State nursing home and the local hospital. It began after a traveler returned from China – while that country still denied person-to-person spread – and sought treatment at the hospital. Employees carried it between facilities and into the community.
In spite of this history, New York & New Jersey governors each ordered nursing homes to accept COVID positive patients from the hospital & the Minnesota Department of Health insisted that hospitals discharge positive patients back to NH’s that weren’t prepared. It’s estimated that 1/4 of NY NH workers contracted the disease between March and June.

NY didn’t mandate NH testing until mid-May. NJ required testing by May 26th!

The Atlantic” gives more details about the lack of anticipation about the NH risk in a July 6 article.
The cycle of poor infection control in facilities caring for the vulnerable elderly – with inadequate protection for residents, employees, & their contacts – spread the virus.

Wear a mask if you, too, are at risk or will spend time with someone who is. Wash your hands! But, please don’t politicize this disease.

Right to Life, COVID, 16 May, 2020

The “Right to Life” means the negative right not to be killed by intentional acts. It’s not the right to force others to invest our life, liberty or property other than the duty to intervene against infringement. This is a basic negative right, not a positive right.

There’s a huge difference between personal responsibility in avoiding a risk to yourself and actively causing harm to someone else. Self-defense rather than selfish demands, using only appropriate force on others.

You know, the old “your right to swing your fist ends at my nose!” (Especially Appropriate in this case.)

*You* take the actions *you* believe are responsible. Only frequent places/businesses that require masks if you want, do the work necessary to maintain the social distancing you are comfortable with. Don’t force everyone else to do your work for you.

Test the story! (COVID-19 Fake News)

Even after all this time, bad explanations – fake news and myths – are being spread in Social media about COVID-19.
One of the more pernicious is the accusation that the hypoxia caused by COVID-19 isn’t due to pneumonia or ARDS. Oh, no, instead, there’s a “secret, ” new mechanism for the morbidity and mortality caused by COVID-19. The theory is based on the fact that one of the complications in the sickest COVID-19 patients, as well as earlier SARS1 and MERS patients, is increased coagulation that causes lots of tiny blood clots in the tiniest blood vessels in all the organs if the body. We’ve known for quite a while that viruses cause inflammation, causing the body to inappropriately produce antibodies against proteins called phospholipids. These antibodies attack the platelets and red blood cells, causing blood clots.
Last night I was referred to what my Facebook friend, a non-physician, called “one of the more detailed links” on the research. I would hate to see the others.

Right at the top of the page is this disclaimer: “”Anyone can publish on Medium per our Policies, but we don’t fact-check every story. For more info about the coronavirus, see cdc.gov.'” Good advice.

The author the blog post isn’t identified except by a pseudonym and avatar. While he does admit that he’s not a doctor, we aren’t given a real name, much less a profession or qualifications and clicking on the avatar yeilds no information. There’s not even a link or citation for the origin of the “scientific” quote upon which he bases his entire premise.
(In contrast, a quick Google search, “Coronavirus red blood cell iron,” yeilds an article,“Debunking the hemoglobin story,” by a man who not only gives his name, he also describes his credentials, a seven (7) year MD/Ph.D program in hematology. He tells us he is writing with two other, *named,* Ph.Ds. Dr. Armdahl is worth reading for more detail than I give, here.)
The pseudonymous author has a brand new explanation for the hypoxia due to COVID-19: the virus supposedly breaks iron free from the hemoglobin molecule in red blood cells (RBC), poisoning the cells so they can’t carry oxygen. That is proposed as the cause of hypoxia, low oxygen, that leads to the need for increased oxygen and ventilation, as well a being responsible for the damage to organs other than the lungs.
The first author describes the virus “attacking” the red blood cell (RBC) with a “glycoprotein ” produced by the virus. He’s apparently unaware that the RBC does not have a nucleus or the cellular apparatus to produce proteins, much less copies of viruses. That’s a dead end for that virus particle and for any virus that does work that doesn’t enable reproduction.
Further, where is the evidence that these glycoproteins exist in the blood or bone marrow (where RBCs are produced) in concentrations that are significant? Where are the measurements of these mythical glycoproteins , any free iron or the RBCs containing free iron?
Why would there be a “secret?” ***What would be the purpose of the medical community ignoring a valid explanation of the etiology for morbidity and mortality due to SARS-CoV-2? *** The hematologists would be all over this.
The pseudonymous writer isn’t happy with promoting fake physiology and function of the RBC. He also displays his ignorance of the fact that we’ve known at keast since 2007 that the proper treatment for ARDS is low, not high, tidal volume ventilation. More important still, are personalized ventilator settings. More information, here.
If I may make a suggestion, when you come across a story that interests you and that seems new and significant – especially if it’s outside your area if expertise – don’t just share it. I suggest that you do a search looking for evidence that it’s false, as well as evidence that it’s true. Test the story!

#BVILove, #Coronavirus Delayed, not “beaten.” (One small country’s COVID-19 story)

Here in the small Nation of the British Virgin Islands, we’ve delayed, but we haven’t “beaten,” or completely avoided, the disease caused by the novel, or new, Coronavirus, COVID-19. Everyone who hasn’t yet been infected is still at risk. A lot of us will eventually catch the virus if and when we once again interact with the world at all.

If you want to learn about the current state of the science, this video is excellent by a fantastic teacher.

The Nation has done an excellent job of blunting the effect of the disease, beginning with closing all ports of entry to everyone except residents, back in March, followed by a 6 day “lockdown” with an in-home curfew at night and limitedbusiness and shopping.

Beginning about April 2, Government began enforcing a 24 hour in-home curfew, shutting business and forbidding residents from leaving our homes.

There have been 5 people with positive tests. 4 of them caught the disease in other countries and one person may have caught the disease from the last of those 4. The first 3 had mild cases and appear to be recovering.

Unfortunately, that last case was a woman whose disease was only discovered when she became very sick and had to be admitted to the hospital. She died the next day. One of her contacts has tested positive, but has mild symptoms. Unfortunately, not all of the people she might have interacted with have been identified and tested.

Hopefully, over the last 6 weeks, the BVI health department has had time to plan and prepare for multiple sick patients.

Even more: I hope that researchers around the world will come up with good treatments and discover why some patients get so sick so fast.

If there’s ever a vaccine, it’s years away There haven’t been any successful vaccines for other human strains of coronavirus.

It appears from some recent random testing in the US, that about 25% – 30% of an exposed population contracts the disease. Most either have no symptoms or mild symptoms. A small minority gets sick enough to be hospitalized, and a fraction of those end up in the ICU.

You may have heard about the high “case fatality rate,” reported anywhere from 0.01 to 10. Remember that this statistic only counts those who have been tested, predominantly those sick enough to be admitted to the hospital.

There is good news in addition to the fact that most infected people have mild or no symptoms: evidence that we have immunity after recovery comes from one of the treatments undergoing research: serum containing antibodies from the blood of recovered patients helps other people get well.

The scary part of the story is that the virus is very contagious, largely because people without symptoms can spread the disease. Medical personnel have been surprised by what appears to be the unprecedented, rapidity of the onset of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) in some patients, usually about day 12 to 14 of the symptoms. In a matter of a few hours, patients become very short of breath, requiring intubation. 80%- 90% of those intubated have died in the ICU.

The virus can also cause the body to produce proteins causing increased coagulation (the tendency for blood to clot). It also can directly infect the heart muscle and brain.

As our country opens up, and goes back to (relatively) more normal interaction, it’s important to remember that infected people may not have symptoms, but are still able to share the virus and spread the disease. They don’t know they have it and you certainly can’t tell by looking at them.

We will probably see our neighbors continue “social distancing” and wearing face masks when we leave our homes. And yes, inevitably, some of us will get sick.

Front lines in the ICU with COVID-19

Reality is teaching a hard reality lesson with COVID-19.

This video concerns the minority of COVID-19 patients who require intensive care and the less than 1 percent who die of the disease. The discussion about the course of the disease and treatment is possibly too technical and brutal for the general public, so watch the whole thing with care.

However, I’m hoping to spur conversations about end of life in light of the broader COVID-19 crisis and specific crisis events.

This is a tough, highly technical discussion between Dr. Zubin Damania, a blogger otherwise known as “ZDoggMD” and Barbara McClean, MN, RN, CCRN, NP-PC, an expert in Critical Care & Intensive Care medicine in an Atlanta, Georgia teaching hospital with over 100 ICU beds. The first few minutes show Barbara McClean as a compassionate caring practitioner and educator. I believe and trust what she says about the worst case (stressing, again: fortunately these are the minority!) outcomes with COVID-19.

If you want to get to the meat of the video, there’s a “philosophical discussion” about the very real, unique in this modern age, futility of CPR in COVID-19 patients whose hearts stop due to the disease at 35:00 to 41:00.

There’s also interesting information about Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) difficulty (not shortage, but the physical reality) at the segment 30:00 to 35:00 minutes.

COVID-19 is, as Ms. McLean says, an unpredictable, sometimes deadly disease. Currently, patients can go from minor symptoms to death due to respiratory failure and cardiac arrest in as little as 4 hours. There is very little success to date in attempts to resuscitate patients who “code,” whose hearts stop, while in distress due to the virus.

I can’t stress enough that we need to talk, we need to make decisions among our families and to understand that this disease takes some options, some autonomy we have come to assume are our rightful “choices,” completely off the table. This disease doesn’t care what we want.

I’m unable to turn comments back on for this post. Please post comments to my Facebook page and I will try to keep up with replies. Let’s keep this on the level of philosophy and medical ethics. I will delete political criticisms.

Let’s keep this on the level of philosophy and medical ethics. I will delete political criticisms.

People ‘shed’ coronavirus early, but most likely not infectious after recovery

A study of only 9 people, but it’s a start.

Essentially, you can spread the virus even when your symptoms are mild, but probably won’t after 8 days.

Don’t eat the COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

The good news is that we were warned and it’s Spring, not Winter. (And we don’t routinely greet acquaintances with real kisses in the US.)

The really good news is that you aren’t helpless.

Chances are, most of the people who get sick picked the germs up with their hands and put them in their mouth, nose or eyes. (Gross, I know, but, trust me, I’m a doctor and a mother. I can be more gross than that when I want to get your attention.)

I tend to be a skeptic about panics, and so much of the news coverage about coronavirus is political hyperbole, but … I’m reading some worrisome stories from doctors dealing with the outbreak of COVID-19 in Italy.

Don’t panic, and don’t share! The coronavirus is spread by particles, droplets that have to enter your body by way of your nose, mouth or eyes. While it’s possible that someone might infect you by sneezing or coughing in your face, most viral infections are spread because of poor personal hygiene.

Virtually no one is immune to this coronavirus and we won’t have a vaccine for months, so people are panicking. I’m not, and here are some reasons why:

The US isn’t Italy. For one thing, we have a younger population. And, although the Lombardy region in Italy is modern and advanced, we have a higher intensive care capacity.

After all, we easily absorb the burden of influenza: up to 49 million infections, half a million hospitalizations, and 50,000 deaths every year due to influenza and hardly anyone even notices.

And we’ve had more warning than they did.

Here’s how fast influenza spreads each year in the US. If we don’t practice excellent self- protection, it’s a preview of how fast COVID-19 could spread.

Confirmed hospitalization history for Influenza in the US. Red = 2019-20, Orange =2017-2018

What’s the rate of spread of influenza in the US each year? This year? The graph above shows the historic rates of confirmed hospitalizations in the US. The red line is this year and reflects just over 16,000 patients, so far. The bright orange at the top is 2017, when we had a poorly matched vaccine.

There have been 200,000+ positive influenza tests reported to the CDC this year, 16,000 hospitalizations, and 136 pediatric flu deaths – not elderly patients with chronic diseases – this year.

We call it “seasonal” influenza for a reason. People tend to share the virus more in winter because of Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings (and travel) and because children are in school. Sharing germs.

The coronavirus cases in the US sometimes have unknown “patient 1,” but the bulk have all involved clusters of patients with known physical and/or close contact with someone who was sick. The deaths have mainly been patients in one nursing home and a (different) hospital. In these sites, sick people were exposed to the droplets much more than you or I might be, because medical treatment accidentally aerosolized secretions.

COVID-19 symptoms are a fever over 100.5, a dry cough, and, for some, rapid onset of trouble breathing. Ther might be a runny nose or diarrhea, but there isn’t vomiting.

Use common sense and easy-to-achieve precautions. Wash your hands, don’t touch your face (eyes, nose, mouth), stay out of crowds, kindly and gently use what influence you have to encourage others to do the same.

If you get a fever, don’t go to the ER unless you are having trouble breathing. Call your doctor, and “self-quarantine.”

Most of all, Don’t share your germs and don’t pick up others’ viruses and put them in your body.

(Comments are closed. Please comment on my Facebook page.)

To kill or not to kill – or even to call it killing?

It seems that an advocate of Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (EAS), which is legal in Canada since 2016, complained to the “The Protection of Conscience Project” administrators about their use of the word, “killing,” rather than “Medically Assisted Death” (MAD) when writing about the law. The wording of the objection exposes the potential limitations even on thoughts, much less the act of refusal, of physicians who object to participating in EAS.

In response, Sean Murphy, an Administrator of the Project, discusses and defines the acts and prohibitions involved in EAS, threatened conscience protection in law as decided by Canadian legislators and courts, and policy statements of the Canadian Medical Association.
A recent case decided by the Supreme Court of Canada considered “whether or under what circumstances physicians and institutions should be allowed to refuse to provide or collaborate in homicide and suicide.” While the Canadian courts have not made it illegal to refuse, the author points out that the Canadian Medical Association now considers EAS medical treatment. Although refusal isn’t illegal, if it becomes “unethical,” the licenses of conscientious objectors may one day be at risk. (Mr. Murphy let me know that the CMA is trying to respect both views)*
Just as all inalienable rights are dependent on the protection of the right to life, all medical ethics principles (autonomy, beneficence, justice) are based on the foundation of nonmaleficience, “Cure when possible but, first, do no harm.” This is the First Principle of Medicine.
The editorial gives an useful “litmus test” for discerning between ethical and unethical acts carried out under the umbrella of medical therapy: it’s considered a “failure” if the patient doesn’t die as a result of EAS.
In contrast, the intent of withdrawal or withholding medical treatment is not necessarily to cause death, but to stop acts that are unwanted or medically inappropriate because they do not heal, cure, slow the progression of the disease or relieve pain and suffering, but actually exasperate suffering and may cause damage beyond that inflicted by the disease.
To use a current case in the news in the USA (which I recently covered here), Baby Tinslee Lewis’ doctors wish to withdraw life sustaining treatment that they believe is medically inappropriate. The doctors would not consider it a failure if, rather than die of her severe heart and lung damage, she continued to live.
Canada is already far down the slippery slope of mandating participation in induced (elective) abortion and “MAD” by designating each as “therapeutic and medical services.” The Project Conscience authors rightly predict the possible consequences:
“[I]f the state can force unwilling people to kill or help to arrange for the killing of other people, there would seem to be nothing that the state cannot demand of its citizens. This would promote the development of dangerous forms of authoritarian and even totalitarian government: ultimately more effective and deep-rooted, perhaps, within a democratic framework than they ever have been in dictatorial regimes.”

(*EDITED An earlier version stated that licences were at risk. Not yet.

BBN 11 February 2020 12:30 AM)

More thoughts on Texas Advance Directive Act

I was asked about the #BabyTinslee case and what we should do, what can we do, in the disputed cases.

We need to educate more. People don’t understand basic medical ethics in this day of “choice.”

Autonomy doesn’t supersede nonmaleficience. In other words, the First Principle of medicine, “Cure when possible, but first do no harm,” always should guide us, rather than “wants” or “choice.”

In the end, doctors are the ones actually performing the acts and we’re most likely to understand the projected outcome. We benefit from oversight by colleagues and the community, both informally and in the process prescribed by the Texas Advance Directives Act.

Some people demand that every one of these cases go to court, for “due process” and “cross examination.”

But judges and courts can’t be as knowledgeable as doctors are. Their decisions are necessarily informed by dueling (paid) lawyers and (hired) medical experts.

In all the cases that have gone to court, the family has had quite a lot of notice, but the 48 hour notice before the committee meeting is perceived as too abrupt, especially since the relationships all appear to be adversarial by that point.

(And who could get your family to a meeting in 2 days?)

The 10 days isn’t thought to be long enough to arrange a transfer, either. Again, in many of the Court cases, the attempts to find another doctor willing to accept the patient’s care has begun before the committee meeting.

Doctors acknowledge the great trust and privileges we are given by agreeing not to abandon our patients. When we have a disagreement with a patient or surrogates (usually a familymember), we accept that we must continue treatment for a period of time. But not indefinitely.

If we could get the reforms that have been attempted to lengthen the statutory timeframe (multiple times) since before 2005, the TADA would be much better. It’s still the best process we have, currently.

Miracles in a predictable universe

We are blessed with a universe that’s predictable and testable, yet we pray for miracles. And we pray for miracles, but act as though human actions can block them. Is the will of the Creator Who spoke the physical laws into existence limited by humans if they act as though the universe is predictable and testable?

Those of us who practice medicine are limited by the physical laws, the predictable and testable, with an emphasis on the tested. Our education and experience is based on these tested predictions and guide our decisions, and we’re watched and sometimes redirected by our colleagues, patients, laws and the community.

And then, there’s the best test of all: time.

In fact, I once noted that a patient who outlived the “10 Day Rule” might have proved the doctor (who instigated the process from the Texas Advanced Directive Act) wrong. There might have been a few cases like this, just as I believe there have been miracles. 

However, can you tell me how to measure these events and predict their occurrences, much less practice medicine based on them?

In the majority of TADA cases when treatments weren’t withdrawn, the patient died in the exact manner the doctors predicted, after the same interventions -and sometimes more invasive and tortuous “treatments” than the ones the doctor originally objected to. 

Doing to, not for (Baby Tinslee & TADA)

“We’re doing things to her. Not for her.” (Wini King, spokesperson for Cook’s Children’s Hospital, January 3, 2020) This may be the best description of a very sad case. 

Tinslee Lewis was born prematurely on February 1, 2019, with severe heart and lung defects. She had cardiogenic shock and was admitted to the Cardiac ICU at Cook’s Children’s Hospital immediately. ♡(See Cardiac Pathology ♡below.)

Even after three open heart surgeries, a fourth to close her sternum, a short time on ECMO (essentially, heart-lung bypass) and constant ventilator since July, of 2019, Tinslee’s enlarged heart and small, damaged lungs can’t keep up with the necessary blood circulation and exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, even with the assistance of multiple blood pressure medicines, diuretics and the ventilator on high, except when she’s still and quiet with the help of sedating and paralyzing drugs.


In response to a lawsuit against Cook’s Children’s Hospital,  where Tinslee has been in the CICU since birth, Tinslee’s medical records were submitted to the Court.  I’ve been able to review approximately 200 pages that are now public record, describing the constant,  repetitive interventions necessary to keep Tinslee alive on the ventilator.  

Tinslee’s doctors (and, the notes show, the nurses and staff) believe that they are being forced to cause Tinslee pain and suffering, while keeping her paralyzed and sedated. They report increasing difficulty with managing the ventilator so that her damaged heart & lungs can maintain oxygenation. She requires repetitive heart, lung and blood tests to guide adjustment of meds & treatments and has had several infections requiring treatment. In contrast to my earlier presumption, the notes in the records show that the ventilator and all its required meds and manipulations are indeed causing undesired problems, including fluid overload, infections and cardiopulmonary distress, in addition to her underlying lung disease. Even the baby’s growth, something we usually celebrate, increases her risk of cardiopulmonary insufficiency. 

Those records also contain notes from many attempts to explain and council Trinity Lewis,  Tinslee’s mother,  about her baby’s underlying problems and prognosis and the reasoning behind, in contrast to some past media reports.

Ignoring the fact that doctors, not hospitals, practice medicine in Texas, Texas Right to Life Lawyer Joe Nixon is quoted, claiming that the “hospital ” has decided to withdraw treatment. Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, is shown to have Tweeted that the problem is a “legal issue,” rather than an ethics and justice matter of forcing doctors (and by their orders, nurses and other staff) to cause pain and suffering for a little girl who is dying as her body fails to heal, in spite of every intervention possible.

Many people, out of compassion, object that “the family ” should decide when to withdraw life support. Yet, the family  members aren’t watching the oxygen levels drop while they rinse Tinslee’s airways with a bicarbonate solution to keep her lungs clear. And it’s certainly not the lawyers that are probing, injecting, measuring and adjusting constant, innumerable hourly interventions done to a baby who must be sedated and paralyzed to prevent cardiac and respiratory distress. 

In spite of the diligent  complicated interventions and care of the doctors and nurses at Cook’s, there have been comments in blogs and social media that the “hospital” wants to “kill” Tinslee. Startlingly,  AG Paxton called the latest Court ordered, indefinite hold on removal of life support  a “Stay,” as though the doctors, not her multiple medical problems, would kill Tinslee. He also misrepresents the process that Cook’s Children’s Hospital and Tinslee’s doctors followed,

“The statute fails to require that physicians provide an explanation of why they refused life-sustaining treatment and provide the patient’s family with adequate notice and opportunity to argue their position prior to the committee reaching a decision, effectively allowing the government to deny an individual’s right to his or her own life and to do so without due process.”

In fact, though, it is the lawyers, particularly at Texas Right to Life, who are turning a little girl’s tragedy into a continuation of their legal battle against the Texas Advance Directive Act. I’ve covered the benefits of and the struggle to improve the Act – repeatedly blocked by TRTL and their lawyers – for years on both WingRight.org and Lifeethics.org

The Act, TADA, was hammered out in 1999 by a group of stakeholders   including  patient and disability advocates, hospitals, doctors, ethicists and lawyers. Texas’ prolife organizations,  including TRTL and the organization for which I served on the Board of Directors for 15 years, Texas Alliance for Life, and for whom I wrote this essay.  

Briefly, TADA allows a balance and legal options when there’s a difference in opinion between a patient’s desire for a given treatment and the medical judgment (a combination of education, experience, and the standard of care) of the doctors who are tasked with the most difficult medical and surgical cases. 

I’ll admit that it’s my opinion – and only my opinion – that the lawyers hate that TADA provides a safe haven from lawsuits if doctors follow the law (!). I slowly came to this conclusion over the years because at virtually every Legislative hearing and stakeholders’ meeting about any changes to the Act, the lawyers bemoan the fact that doctors don’t have to go to court over each of these cases and that they face no legal penalty or “liability.” 

Poor Tinslee Lewis will most likely never leave the hospital alive. Disease and death don’t respect “due process,” but, they are predictable and an inevitable part of life. Hopefully,  we will see her mother and those who love her come to find peace with her death, celebrating the time they’ve had to be with her, especially these last 2 months. However, I fear that the lawsuits will continue for years, adding to their grief.

Edited 1/19/2020 for a typographical error: in the secondparagraph, “cardiogenic” replaced “carcinogenic.” BBN

♡Ebstein Anomaly – Cardiac Pathology 101, about as simple as I can make it (and understand,  too);

Ebstein Anomaly
(Thanks to Mayo Clinic)

Babies born with Ebstein Anomaly have a malformed right and atrium and ventricle and misplaced (tricuspid) valves between the right sided ventricle and atrium. The larger right ventricle can’t pump efficiently. 

In addition,  the blood the right ventricle tries to pump into the lungs leaks/flows/churns (risking blood clots) back into the right atrium, which grows even bigger, with even thicker walls. The ventricle also grows bigger. When the  muscle fibers of the chamber walls get stretched apart enough, they are less inefficient. (Think of two hands gripping at the fingers. The farther out the grip, palm > 1st joint  > fingertips,  the less strength and pull on the opposite hand.) (For the geeks: Frank-Starling law.

The lungs aren’t efficiently filled with blood, they don’t expand, the pressure builds up in them and efficient exchange of gasses doesn’t take place. 

In the meantime, the blood backs up in the body, the liver, kidneys and extremities & eventually the left side of the heart, which can hypertrophy , too. 

The enlarged heart puts pressure on the lungs and nearby soft tissue,  including the blood vessels coming to the heart.

The combination of leaking high pressure blood vessels and the body’s increasing fluid in order to try to pump what oxygen there is, leads to edema or swelling of the body.

Sometimes,  the fetal atrial-septal defect stays open, allowing mixing of the un-oxygenated blood from the right, with the oxygenated blood. This malfunction can help, temporarily. 

With the high pressure, poor flow, and actual physical damage due to the mass of the heart, none of the organs can function well. Increased activity, stress, and growth will increase the demand for oxygen, kidney & lung function.

Experimental Abortion – Schrodinger’s Fetus

What ethics review board approved a randomised trial to temporarily prevent the ending of the life of a human embryo or fetus, with a planned surgical abortion as an end point?

Horrifying report about human experimentation: Obstetricians at the University of Southern California have announced that they stopped a study using progesterone to reverse the anti-progesterone effects of mifepristone in medical abortions.

According to the NPR:

For the study, the researchers aimed to enroll 40 women who were scheduled to have surgical abortions. Before their surgical procedures, the women received mifepristone, the first pill in the two-medication regimen that’s used for medical abortions. The women were then randomly assigned to receive either a placebo or progesterone, which advocates claim can block the effects of mifepristone.

Ignore the fact that only 12 women signed up over 6 months, that in spite if the claims if the researchers, the mifepristone was the actual, immediate cause of the complications that included 3 women needing ambulance transport to a hospital for excessive vaginal bleeding and 2 others dropping out due to some other side effects.

But you should certainly – they hope – forget that 4 of the babies exposed to progesterone and 2 who received placebo after the mifepristone continued to live for 2 weeks until their death at the hands of an Obstetrical surgeon. That’s half of the study group!

There’s no question that I consider it unethical to cause the intentional, interventional death of any human who isn’t a threat to life for another. It’s heinous that our laws allow the best medical technology in the world to kill members of our species, because they aren’t considered human-enough to possess the inalienable human right not to be killed.

But there’s an additional ethics problem in this case: a strong “yuck factor” (aversion) to the idea of purposefully experimenting with ¢ lives of humans, both the mother and her child, planning to monitor the signs of the prenatal human’s life, anticipating his or her death by surgical abortion.

Half of the original mothers had planned two weeks (14-16 days)delay with serial ultrasounds, confirming her baby’s heartbeat. (Remember this experimental protocol the next time an abortion advocate complains about State-mandated waiting periods and pre-abortion ultrasounds.)

Let me repeat: half of the nascent human beings experimented upon/ lived two additional weeks after exposure to the mifepristone poisoning. Only one of the 12 pregnancies resulted in what would be considered a “normal” medical abortion.

Eventually however, all of them were finaly “terminated.” After two weeks of observation – Schrodinger’s humans.

Note: Due to some sort of technical problem at the website, I wasn’t able to purchase the article, so this is based on the abstract and NPR report.

Edit 12/9/19, BBN: I was able to purchase access to the article (24 hours for $60!). There’s no change in the facts other than to note that the authors report continued life of the prenatal humans as 6 of 10 subjects: 4 of 5 who finished the trial and received progesterone, and 2 of 5 who were randomized to the placebo arm.

Parachutes don’t save lives?

Not when the jumper starts only 2 meters from the ground.

“Parachute use to prevent death and major trauma when jumping from aircraft: randomized controlled trial
BMJ 2018; 363

“”Ah, but the method of madness matters! The non-participating passengers flew at 800 km/hr at an altitude of 9,146 m, but the trial participants jumped a whopping 0.6 meter (2 feet) from a plane traveling at an incredible 0 km/hr. The authors point out their trial’s glaring limitation — an inability to generalize to higher altitude jumps — and use it make a point that health journalists would be wise to remember:

“When beliefs regarding the effectiveness of an intervention exist in the community, randomized trials might selectively enroll individuals with a lower perceived likelihood of benefit, thus diminishing the applicability of the results to clinical practice.

This study was conducted in response to a Christmas, 2003 BMJ article decrying the lack of RCT (Random Controlled Trials) for the efficacy of parachutes. As the authors of this article point out, even RCT’s have their limits.

As one review explains,

Put plainly, if most people already think an intervention works, then an RCT may end up with enough bias in its design that the conclusion ends up clinically meaningless. Sometimes, an RCT is truly unethical, and other times an RCT really might be needed to test an intervention taken for granted. Health journalists should scrutinize an RCT’s methods closely.

I’ve disabled comments on the blog. Please leave your comments on my Facebook page, “Beverly Nuckols.”

Baby Tinslee Lewis and the Texas Advance Directive Act

I was a relieved to hear that the doctors caring for 9 month old Tinslee Lewis decided not to remove her ventilator on Sunday, November 10, 2019. Their decision, most likely due to public outcry, was announced 2 hours before removal was planned. Later in the day, and a local judge issued a restraining order that mandates continuing the ventilator until at least November 22 unless an appropriate transfer to another facility can be arranged.

At first glance, this sounds like several other stories about disputes between the family of a patient and medical professionals who have invoked the provision in the Texas Advance Directives Act(TADA) that allows for removal of life sustaining treatment. However, from what I’ve read and the hospital’s statement, I’m concerned that this time the law may have been invoked based on “quality of life” rather than the futility of the treatment and the suffering it causes.

(Note: I want to be very careful to point out my limits. The following medical and legal information about this case comes from what I’ve gleaned from Facebook, blogs and Twitter posts, as well as a few news articles like this one. I’ve tried to be as factual and accurate as possible. It’s important to understand that I don’t know all the details and that any conclusions I draw are merely my opinion.)

Tinslee has lived her whole life in the ICU at Fort Worth Cook’s Children’s Hospital. She was premature and was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, Epstein’s anomaly, that in spite of several surgeries led to heart failure and caused her heart to become so enlarged that it damaged her lungs. She’s been on a ventilator since July.

Her doctor or doctors reportedly believe that Tinslee is in pain and suffering. In order to keep her comfortable and to prevent her pulling the ventilator and feeding tubes, they must use paralyzing drugs and sedation. An attending doctor responsible for Tinslee’s care invoked TADA and a hospital committee agreed that the continued use of the ventilator is inappropriate. On October 31, the family was notified that the ventilator would be discontinued at 5 PM on November 10.

I became concerned when I saw the video posted at Texas Right to Life, showing a beautiful girl with apparently healthy skin, reacting to voice and touch. In the video, she doesn’t move her right leg, barely opens eyes and only seems to point her eyes to lower right. Still, the treatments, including sedation, seem to be working and she doesn’t appear to be in distress or pain.

A hospital spokesperson, Winifred King, assistant vice president of public relations for Cook Children’s Health Care System, sent out a statement by email, that is quoted in part by the Fort Worth Star Telegram:

“In the last several months, it’s become apparent her health will never improve,” King said in a statement via email. “Despite our best efforts, her condition is irreversible, meaning it will never be cured or eliminated. Without life-sustaining treatment, her condition is fatal. But more importantly, her physicians believe she is suffering.”

And,

“While we believe every child’s life is sacred, we also believe that no child should be sentenced to a life of pain,” said Winifred King, assistant vice president of public relations for Cook Children’s Health Care System, in a statement. “Removing this beautiful child from mechanical ventilation is a gut-wrenching decision for Cook Children’s physicians and staff; however, we feel it is in her best interest to free her from artificial, medical intervention and suffering.”

(Kaley Johnson, Fort Worth Star Telegram https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/fort-worth/article237223826.html accessed 11/10/19)

Hesitantly, I find myself second guessing the decision of Tinslee’s doctor(s) to invoke TADA and of the hospital ethics committee to affirm that the ventilator is inappropriate medical care. As I wrote above, I can’t know the real medical circumstances and certainly haven’t examined Tinslee or even read her chart. I’m not a pediatric cardiologist or pulmonologist and may not understand her prognosis as she grows and develops. Has she required chest tubes because of the ventilator? Is she growing? Will a larger body put too much strain on her heart or will growth allow time – and room – for her lungs to heal? Will she be able to have a tracheostomy and would it make her care easier and her more comfortable?

However, there’s no sign that the ventilator itself is causing damage to her lungs and there is evidence that the medication helps Tinslee tolerate the mechanical intervention.

The wording of Ms. King’s statement makes it appear that the doctor(s) decided to end the ventilator treatment based on a perception of her quality of life, rather than on their knowledge of the futility of the treatment and the damage it causes. In my opinion, “quality of life” is a very personal value judgement. As I’ve noted before,

“Although no reason is required by law, in every case I know of the doctor has made it clear that the requested treatment is causing suffering and/or actual harm and violates the First Principle: “Cure when possible, but first, do no harm.”’

The good news is that TADA allows, and Tinslee’s family were able to, access practical and legal assistance.

Ms. King shared a list of 19 hospitals that, as required by TADA, the hospital administration has contacted in an attempt to find other doctors and facilities that will accept Tinslee as a patient. All refused the transfer, apparently agreeing with Tinslee’s doctor (and casting doubt on my conclusion).

TADA also allows the family to seek a delay through the local courts. Texas Right to Life helped Tinslee’s family by providing a lawyer and legal advice. They also sent out a plea on Friday, November 8, asking the public to call and email Cook’s administrators about Tinslee. Several State legislators have also become involved.

Now, Tinslee’s mother and family and the hospital will have another 12 days to try to find someone willing and able to treat her.

Questions still remain: Is there any long term facility that is able to offer the ventilator and sedation that Tinslee needs? Or must Tinslee live sedated and paralyzed in the ICU for the rest of her life?

But there shouldn’t be any question weighing whether Tinslee’s “quality of life” is worth living.

Texas transgender (7 yo) case

I don’t believe it’s appropriate for a child to undergo transition at such an early age, but there’s a few gaps in this story.

There is very little media coverage of the case, with opinion from only one side published online. I picked the report about the court decision that’s most comprehensive, even with some errors.

Mostly, this appears to be an especially ugly divorce battle. The dispute about transition has been going on since the child was 3 years old.

The child is one of two twins conceived by in vitro fertilization using the father’s sperm and a donor egg. The mother carried the two to term and delivered.

The mother filed the suit to end joint custody, but the father demanded that the jury decide custody, rather than the judge.

The jury was charged with 2 questions: should one parent have sole custody and should that parent be Mr Younger. They answered yes and no: one should have sole custody, but it shouldn’t be the father. The judge will rule this week on who gets custody & conditions.

I’m not sure, but I’m reading that there’s no immediate plans for puberty blockers & finding quite a bit of info that the blockers aren’t permanent.

I can’t help but hope there’s more to this story, because I still can’t accept a decision like this, at this age.

Entire abnormal human genome in vaccine?

What bunk, incredible, unbelievable junk “science.” No one is injecting cancer into anybody’s body!
There’s a video being shared on Facebook that claims that vaccines produced using human cell lines contain the”entire human genome” along with abnormal DNA that causes cancer. It’s riddled with baseless accusations and attacks on science.

Quintessential anti-vaccine propaganda. The first sentence indicts the source, Mike Adams, the founder of “Natural News” and seller of food supplements like Organic Broccoli Sprout Capsules with a side of conspiracy.

The cells aren’t injected into every baby. The cells certainly aren’t “put into the vaccines;” the vaccines are grown in the cell lines, the antigens are removed, purified, and distributed as vaccines. Note that “remnants” of cells were found in the vaccines, not cells, (and no mercury or preservatives, either).
Where are the tests of cell DNA in affected children or cancer tumor cell essays showing that the dead DNA fragments from vaccines have been taken up, inserted into the chromosomes, and not only reproduced in the nuclear DNA of vaccine recipients, but switched on and functional in producing abnormal but living cells?
The “study” isn’t a study: it’s a series of lab tests on the composition of vials of vaccines. It wasn’t published in a journal, but placed online by a private company that raised money based on opposition to current vaccines.
Then, there’s an “open letter that refers to a very poor non-peer reviewed opinion published in a “journal” devoted to opposing vaccines.
The progression of “facts” is really mere opinion, misrepresenting the few studied alluded to.
The letter as well as the Corvelva “study” fail to describe standard methods or referrals to the scientific literature, at all. There are no control vials tested, no independent evaluation of the data yielded.
**The video maker, the people who had some vials tested, and the “independent” “natural news” website all make money off of selling their opinion.** I hate to link to these sites, because that (and selling merchandize) is how they make money.

Yet, that’s what they accuse the “cancer industry” of doing.

Did you notice the tiny amounts of contaminants reported? These are consistent with environmental contaminants found in the lab where the machines were. Where are the controls?
Pregnant women have much higher levels of fetal DNA circulating in the blood during normal pregnancies.
The idea that there are enough contaminants in vaccine injections (1/2-1 ml., ~ 1/10th of a teaspoon) into muscle – not the blood stream – to cause high body concentrations is ridiculous.
As to the ethics of using those cell lines, here are 2 articles, from bioethics organizations whose views I trust:

Christian Medical and Dental Association

National Catholic Bioethics Center

Finally, the accusations in the video have been rejected in court. This, in spite of the low requirements for vaccine injury compensation.

Edit 10:15 AM 10/07/2019: The MMR assay report from Corvelva is here. I’m skeptical about the “entire genome” supposedly found. Are they saying that all 23 chromosome pairs are present in each dose? BBN

Vacationing for health

It’s good to have confirmation.

But jobs that don’t allow vacation probably have different effects than jobs that do allow time off.

Eye emergency: Floaters and Flashes

MEDICAL WARNING! (From a doctor who became a patient.) (On vacation.) (In England.)
If you have a sudden visual change including increased “floaters” (spots, threads or rings in what you see, that usually move around) flashes of lights or -especially! – a loss of part of your vision, including a “curtain coming down”over one or both eyes, get to the ER! It could be a retinal detachment! You need evaluation and urgent, if not emergency, treatment to save your eye!
The biggest risk factors are aging – over 50 years old – and nearsightedness, followed by direct trauma to the eye.
After 50 years old, the vitreous will deteriorate, becoming liquid like water, instead of its usual jelly-like consistency. The vitreous collagen fibers can pull on the retina and create a tear, fluid from the vitreous can ooze behind the tear, pulling the delicate tissue of the retina away from its nourishing bed. The retinal cells will soon die, taking your vision on that eye.
The good news is that sometimes, the symptoms are (like mine were) only due to aging and the pulling by the vitreous. They will eventually resolve on their own. (Even these can carry an increased risk of a tear in the first month, accompanied by a sudden visual change, as described above.)
We can save most of, if not all, of your vision with out-patient Laser therapy, *if* you get care early on. If you wait days, the dead cells can’t be replaced or repaired. Even with the best outcome, the treatment is much more complicated as time goes on, requiring surgery and carrying a greater risk of lost vision and an increased risk of cataract development.

While “on holiday” in England, I got to learn this lesson better than any medical textbook could teach me.

I first had the flashes and thought it was a painless migraine and that I was simply more aware of the floaters because of the flashes.
All of the symptoms were variable throughout the day, seemed to get better and even went away over the next few days. And who wants to go to an ER on vacation, especially in another country?
Then a week after the first flashes, I had a real scare: a sudden increase in the number of floaters and a very short time when it seemed as though I was looking through bad glass. I remembered a patient who had a retinal detachment who told me about seeing through “cracked” glass.
So, on a Saturday afternoon, I visited the local “A&E” at the hospital, followed on Monday by a trip to the Urgent and Emergency walk in clinic at the eye hospital in Oxford.
At the ER visit, I received a quick exam by the ER doc and, after reassuring me that there didn’t appear to be a detachment, I was given warnings about what to watch out for and the need to follow up with an opthalmologist for a dilated exam of the eye.

At the eye hospital, I had a visual fields test and a dilated retinal exam by an opthalmologist. There was no tear or obvious defect in my retina. I was reassured that I was experiencing “a normal process of aging,” but the warnings to return for new visual loss were repeated.
I met wonderful, kind and cheerful at both facilities and wasn’t charged a fee at all. I was told that “the first one is free!”
The waiting times were actually shorter than I expected, since neither department was very busy when I visited. (That must have been the slowest Monday morning clinic I’ve ever seen.)
My vision is fine, with a few more “floaters” than before. They’re more like strings or half rings at the the outside of my eye, and there’s one dot that floats past the middle of my vision occasionally.
(This is a re-write of a Facebook post.)

Arguing Abortion on YouTube

I usually agree with this doctor. But not about abortion. ZDoggMD, Zubin Damania, has a sense of humor and a sense of balance. But today, he demands that we to “come to the center” because 1 in 4 women in the US have an abortion by age 45. “It happens.”

Well, according to the 1860 US Census, approximately 25% of families owned slaves. “It happen(ed).” Common ground was hard to find there, too.

The question is whether or not abortion ends the life of a human that is human-enough to possess the Human Right not to be killed. Are they one of us and can we kill them if they don’t threaten our lives?

The first question has been definitively answered, at least scientifically. Louise Brown was born 5 years after Roe v Wade. Serial ultrasounds showing the progression of the egg to embryonic organism to fetus were possible soon after. (I’m tempted to echo the ZDogg, “Grow up and get into the 21st Century.” But of course, I won’t.)

Answering these questions according to ethics and law can’t be addressed by science and requires a bit more discussion. Nevertheless, the trend in Western societies has been toward including all humans as rights bearers endowed with at least the right not to be killed or treated as the property of another and preventing legally sanctioned killing and enslavement, regardless of characteristics, abilities, or background.

Beyond the life of the mother, the rest of ZDogg’s arguments are the usual justification for what I call, “I want” ethics, including arguments for the “control of the woman’s body,” the health of the woman, and exceptions for rape and incest.

Nik Hoot, a 20 year old young man from Indiana, lost his feet and part of his legs and fingers to an attempted abortion, but survived to be adopted, eventually a State Semi Finals high school wrestler, and a productive member of society. His mother’s body didn’t lose limbs; his did. As he says, he has to “live with someone else’s choice.”

As to the health of the mother, how could anyone know at 12 weeks that there will be sequelae at or after delivery?

The safety of abortion is most often reported using short term data. There’s support for increased mortality and morbidity in the long term, however.

Late discovery of fetal abnormalities isn’t a good argument in favor of induced abortion, either. After 15 weeks and definitely after 20, it’s statically safer for the mother to carry to term.

I won’t even entertain arguments that crime is down because the unwanted are killed. “Minority Report” has a double meaning, here.

Here’s an article from The Atlantic – not an “anti-choice” publication, by any standard – focusing on the rape exception.

Let’s face it: the wrong human is killed by abortion justified by reason of rape or incest. If you cringe at that statement, you might want to consider why.

Edit: Comments are closed. Please comment on my Facebook page.

Beverly B Nuckols, MD

Updated information on TRTL, end of life, and money

One Texas Right to Life (TRTL) lawyer has posted an update on Facebook about the “rescue” of Mrs Carolyn Jones. I’m afraid that, as with the declaration that another patient was “slain,” TRTL is gaming the Medicare funding and Texas medical systems for political purposes.

Emily Cook, General Council for TRTL, wrote that she worried that “funny business clinically would happen as we moved her” from the hospital where Mrs. Jones has been admitted for over 6 months, where the docs had weaned her off the ventilator and wanted her to transfer to a more appropriate level of care facility over 2 months ago.

Emily says TRTL spent their own money (*see my last paragraph) to put her in a private ambulance and take Mrs. Jones to another hospital ER. That hospital couldn’t provide dialysis, so they in turn transferred her via ambulance somewhere else, to yet another hospital until admission can be arranged at the nursing home.

Even Lawyer Cook admits that the first move wasn’t “legit.”

Cook-ing the system

There were comments on various sites that the original hospital had refused transfer. However, from what I’ve read, it’s likely the hospital was refusing to be complicit with “patient dumping.” For a hospital to knowingly discharge a patient for the purpose of transferring to the ER of another hospital without (or even with) the acceptance of the transfer from the docs at the other facility is highly irregular, and likely goes against Medicare regulations.

Mrs. Jones’ Medicare funding for the original hospitalization is bound to have run out some time ago. Normally, Medicare will allow 90 days per admission, with an extra 60 “reserve” days, once per person, per lifetime. The patient is responsible for part of the bill from the first day of admission, and for the total hospital costs after the eligible days.

But there are still Medicare regulations to deal with in the case of “Medicare eligible” patients, even when they aren’t paying.

As to the refusal of the original hospital to accept private payment for in-hospital dialysis, there were 2 issues: Medicare funding about privately payment for covered services and the probability that the physician-patiebt relationship would be reset, along with the 10 days in the statute.

Medicare makes it very difficult and risky for everyone to navigate the private pay process. When I had a question in my private medical office about whether Medicare would cover something, we had the patient sign an informed consent agreement and an acknowledgement that the patient might have to eventually pay if Medicare denied the service. Then we performed the service, filed the charge with Medicare, waited to be denied, and then tried to Bill the patient. I gave away a lot tetanus vaccines and removed a lot of moles and warts for free to avoid the risk of “fraud and abuse” from the likes of Janet Reno.

The same risk would have applied if the hospital had privately charged Mrs. Jones’ Dialysis.

I don’t believe the first new hospital is at risk for a charge of “dumping” if they documented a legitimate reason. However, both new hospitals will be able to charge the Jones copays and co-insurance. They may also find Medicare coverage limited because of the way Mrs. Jones left the original.

Another, discussion has concerned the delay in funding from Medicaid:

“Medicaid limits 2019” (a .PDF)

I certainly don’t know the Jones’ financial circumstances, and I may have over estimated the maximum income in early speculation. However, there are strict maximum Medicaid income and asset levels. These vary according to age, disability, and marital status. (Even the government bureaucratic Leviathan doesn’t want the spouse if a nursing home patient to end up indigent.)

In my experience, the social workers and benefits experts at hospitals and nursing homes are experts at negotiating and translating the bureaucracy. In addition, the disabled Medicare eligible person will have access to a benefits specialist. I’ve never had a hospital discharge and nursing home admission blocked by this “paperwork.” Certainly not for months at a time.

*TRTL hasn’t updated their Carolyn Jones fundraising numbers since last week. That “Family Assistance Fund,” part of their 403(c) PAC, (AKA the Educational fund”), has been posted as a little over $33,000, since last Friday.

I hope TRTL assists the Jones family with what is certain to be several enormous hospital bills. As long as they pay the bills directly, the funds won’t be counted as income to Mrs. Jones.

Why does TRTL lie? (UPDATE)

I can’t tell you why, but it’s true: Well below their “Donate Now” banner, Texas Right to Life (TRTL) is shamefully spinning another one of their false stories.
Just as they lied on their website that Chris Dunn was “slain by his doctors,

they now post that a woman, Mrs. Carolyn Jones, had to be “rescued” from hers, “racing” to another facility “in the middle of the night.”

Okay, it’s night in that picture. That and the proper names are the only things they got right.
Mrs. Jones wasn’t “rescued” from the hospital that has been giving her excellent care for over 6 months. Nor were her doctors and nurses “surprised.” that she was able to breathe on her own. After all, they were the ones who weaned her from the ventilator over a month ago.
What was expected was that Mrs. Jones would be transferred out if the hospital where she’s been admitted since November, 2018 to a more appropriate, lower level of nursing care two months ago.
On April 10, Mr. Jones testified to the Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee that, thanks to the hospital doctors, his wife now needed the ventilator only “occasionally at night.”

The family were given notice that they needed to transfer Mrs. Jones in March. They’ve had another doctor and three facilities capable of providing the treatments she needs waiting to accept Mrs. Jones.

When the family of a hospitalised patient refuses to allow her to be transferred to a more appropriate treatment facility, the attending doctor has no legal means other than the 166.046 process laid out in the Texas Advance Directives Act (TADA). This is the legislation that has been called the “Futile Care Law” in the past, but TRTL likes to call it the” 10 Day Rule,” now, in spite of their rejection of effort after effort, etc., to expand the time frame and increase transparency and assistance. This is the issue that led to the rebuke (.PDF) of TRTL by the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops and gleefully reported by the liberal press in Texas
The Jones family are real people, scared and hurting. Mr. Jones somehow was misled to believe the lie that “food and water” would be removed. I would have thought that at least one of the many, many lawyers at TRTL would have assured him that that is not legal under Texas law.
Instead, the Jones family’s fears – and your compassion – are being used as a means to TRTL’s political – and fundraising – ends.

And now, TRTL – in direct competition with – and with absolutely no mention of – Mrs. Jones’ family’s GoFundMe campaign – has been raising money in Mrs. Jones’ name. They state that the funds will be used for (TRTL) lawyer’s fees in addition to Mrs. Jones’ healthcare needs and that “excess” funds will go to help (TRTL’S) efforts for other patients.

I hope that TRTL’s money will also be used to pay for the very large hospital and doctor’s bills that the Jones family will receive. While there’s a chance that Texas Medicaid will pay for three months of medical bills, retroactively, Medicare doesn’t pay for hospitalizations over 90 days and has a 20% co-insurance (co-pay).

That’s bound to have added up in over 6 months.

We’ll just have to trust that TRTL won’t lie again.

Beverly B Nuckols, MD

Edit, Updated information:

One of the bloggers has told us more about that “rescue.” (Or today’s story, anyway.)

TRTL put her in a private ambulance and took her to *another ER,* one that couldn’t provide dialysis, so they then transferred her somewhere else.

There were comments about the first Hospital refusing transfer — no, refusing to be complicit with “dumping” a patient. Discharging to without ( or even with) acceptance of the transfer from the docs at the other facility is highly irregular and likely illegal.
Much has been said about funding. Yes. It appears that Medicare funding ran out, so no longer paying. 90 days per admission, with an extra 60 days over, under certain conditions.

About that Medicaid funding: I don’t know the limits of the mandatory asset tests, but the yearly income level is $60,000. One way to adapt is to spend money on medical costs.

Medicare makes it difficult to navigate the private pay process. When we had some question, we got informed consent, promise to pay, then performed the service, filed with Medicare, waited to be denied, then tried to Bill the patient. The risk is always a charge of “fraud and abuse.”

The same thing would have happened if the hospital had privately charged for Dialysis.

(5/20/19, BBN)

Alabama bans all elective abortions

There’s an exception for the life of the mother. Doctors can be prosecuted, but mothers can’t. (Similar to the way we treat assisted suicide: the one who assists can be prosecuted, the victim isn’t, if he survives.)

Twitter is filled today with outraged hashtags: #HumanRights #HumanRightsAreWomensRights and #RoevWade

(I’ve had to create #NoIDidNtSayThat )

Eggs stop being eggs, or part of the woman’s body, when fertilized.

In #RoevWade, Blackmun stated that science doesn’t say when life begins. Louise Brown, the first “test tube baby,” was born just five years later. Any employee of an in vitro fertilization clinic can tell you the difference between the flasks with gametes and the ones containing embryos.

The embryo conceived by human parents is no other species. I can show you proof that he or she is the same human organism from the time the human sperm penetrates the human zona pellucida and enters the oocyte. From that moment, meiosis begins and the embryo refuses all other sperm.

Elective abortion infringes – aggresses – against the human rights of the one killed – and the people who are defrauded into believing the lies.
Everyone’s Human Rights are stronger when we recognize that all are equal & weakened when we call anyone less than human-enough. Disaster always follows.

Our Declaration of Independence declared that all are created equal, and legitimate government is organized to protect our individual rights.

All humans, even new humans, are human-enough to possess human rights.

(Edited typos 5/15/19 9:29PM. BBN)

Have they no decency?

Now, Texas Right to Life is blatantly lying, posting an article on their website entitled “American hero slain two days before Christmas …”

“slain?”

Far down in the piece, there’s this:

“Chris passed away naturally on December 23, 2015 – two days before Christmas.”

Mr. Dunn died from his metastatic pancreas cancer, on full medical treatments. His mother, Mrs. Kelly actually thanked those who cared for him at the hospital.

Every article on TRTL’s website has a “Donate” button at the top, prioritizing money over the people whose stories they use to raise money and influence the Texas Legislature. Now, we see this completely dishonest caption.

Just what is their mission and how can we trust them?

Hurting patients and families

Facing the life-threatening illness of a loved one is hard enough, without misunderstandings. It’s cruel when people who claim to be helping don’t correct those misunderstandings.
I can’t comment on on Texas Right to Life’s (TRTL’s) recent Facebook post, where the organization is, frankly, spreading falsehoods and perpetuating misunderstandings that are bound to make a difficult process even harder.
The story about the family of Mrs. Carolyn Jones is one I’ve covered before.
I believe that the Jones family could be – should be – reassured about the care and treatment that Mrs Jones is receiving. In my post, today, I would like to further clear up some of the problems in TRTL’s reporting.
Significantly, on April 10, 2019, Mr. Jones testified to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee ( at 52 minutes into the video, near the end) that, on March 8 of this year, after 4 months’ admission, the hospital held what he says was the second ethics committee meeting. After the meeting, the family believes that the hospital informed them that Mrs. Jones needed to be transferred by March 18, or her oxygen, food and water, and dialysis would be stopped.
Why hasn’t anyone told Mr. Jones that withholding or withdrawal of even IV Artificial Administered Hydration and Nutrition (AAHN) is prohibited by the very law he believes should be repealed?
Mr. Jones testified that over the last month, his wife has since been weaned from the ventilator, only needing assistance “sometimes at night.”

I don’t understand why TRTL repeats that a ventilator tube prevents Mrs. Jones from speaking or eating. Mrs. Jones has a tracheostomy in place (the tube we see in the pictures is a feeding tube). The tracheostomy, even when a ventilator is attached, would not interfere with her ability to speak and swallow, with training.

Breathing assistance, AAHN, and dialysis can all be provided by the 3 facilities – and at least one doctor – that have agreed to accept Mrs. Jones as a patient.
TRTL is using the grief of the Jones family to solicit donations and to lobby for a Bill I’ve also written about, SB 2089, that would require “treatment until transfer.”
In this case, the treatment that is disputed is transfer from in-hospital treatment after 5 months to a lower level facility that is able and willing to provide what Mrs. Jones needs.
Comments are closed here. (I just can’t keep up with all the sites.) Please comment on my Facebook page.

End of life or end of hospital stay?

What a tragic story!

While I only know what I’ve seen online, in my experience, it appears that the dispute about Mrs. Carolyn Jones is over continued hospitalization at this hospital, versus transfer to care at another facility.

(See this television news report.)

I’m the first to say that hospitals are scary places and to sympathize with families struggling to cope with the bureaucracy and protocols. However the current news, press releases, and pro-life blogs are reporting several errors and omissions about Texas’s law and legislation up for consideration in Austin.

The obvious errors in this report include:
1. First. It’s not correct that Mrs Jones will die on Monday, even if the ventilator is turned off at the hospital. She’s not intubated through the mouth or nose. Instead, there’s a tracheostomy and a feeding tube in place. Supplemental oxygen could be provided many different ways, at home or in a nursing home.
2. Mr. Jones has testified at the Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee meeting (EDIT: the video is here, at 52 minutes in) on 4/10/19 and elsewhere that Mrs Jones had been weaned off the ventilator, needing it only occasionally, at night.
2. She should be able to speak and swallow with training.
3. Texas Advance Directives Act doesn’t require that the doctor declare the treatment be “futile.” Instead, the doctor must declare that he refuses to follow a certain treatment decision that the patient or family demands .
4. Kidney dialysis is paid for by the Federal government, so the problem isn’t only funding.

In my admittedly limited knowledge about this particular case – it appears that Mr. Jones disagrees that it’s time to move from the hospital to home or nursing home, even after 5 months (not 10 days).

At least since 2005, legislation has been introduced at the State to increase the timeframe to as long as a month. Texas Right to Life refuses to agree to anything other than indefinite treatment, with the doctor forced to act against his will, violating his conscience and ignoring his medical judgement.

TRTL has even clashed with other pro-life organizations and Texas’s Catholic Bishops and “primaried” several conservative Legislators, although they are the only Texas pro-life group that opposes the law.

It would be good to add more time – I don’t know of anyone who disagrees. But there needs to be a limit to how long a doctor is forced to act against his conscience. One Bill that was rumored this year would change the “10 days” to 21 days and add a week to the notification period before the Ethics committee meets. Unfortunately, it never got past the Powers That Be.

For more on the ethics of the Texas Advance Directives Act, see this WingRight post.

The most urgent need is communication with families, correcting misunderstandings like those outlined here.

(Edited May 10, 2019 at 12:22 AST, to correct the Link to the testimony of Mr. Jones. BBN)

Emergency: Liberty Right Infringement

Texas Right to Life General Counsel Emily Cook is attacking Texas Medical Association on Facebook, even though virtually every other pro-life, medical, nursing, hospital, and disability group in Texas oppose SB 2089 by Hughes, that would change the “Texas Advance Directive Act, “TADA” will harm patients and attack the right of doctors to refuse to act against our conscience.

Here’s a partial list of organizations opposing SB 2089: Texas Medical Association, Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission Ethics, Texas Catholic Bishops, Texas Nurses Association, Texas Society for Anethesiology, Texas Osteopathic Association, Catholic Health Association, Texas Hospital Association, Baylor Scott and White, Texas Teaching Hospitals, Texas Alliance for Life, Coalition of Texans With Disabilities.
The central question isn’t “10 days” or the actions of a “Committee.” Doctors start the process, and under the law, the Committee can only affirm that his decision is medically appropriate or not.
The question is whether a patient can demand that a doctor be forced against her conscience to indefinitely write orders and provide treatment she believes is not in the best interest of the patient because the patient or family wants it?
The patient is near death and in the hospital, so the doctor can’t morally just “fire” him if there’s a disagreement. We all agree that 10 days isn’t enough time for families, and have tried since 2005 to add days to the process – we had a Bill that would expand the time to a month in 2007. (CSSB 439)
But Texas Right to Life would/will accept nothing but indefinite “treatment until transfer.” They keep demanding lawyers, courts and trials for medical decisions.
This is the issue that caused the break between TRTL and the Catholic Bishops.
It would force Drs to violate our conscience, without compromising with a set, limited time frame.

We’ve worked to fix other problems: Artificially administered food and water, even full IV feedings, can‘t be removed. Texas law didn’t even mention DNRs, but last session, we passed an amendment with explicit procedures and informed consent language.

SB 2089 ends the ability for a doctor to “refuse” medically inappropriate treatment, only allows “recommending,” (while being legally required to act against her conscience, harming the patient, prolonging death and increasing side effects, requiring more treatments.)

There’s no leeway, at all, in the new Bill.

SB 2089 specifically says anyone can file a lawsuit in any Court in the County, the Court can’t charge the patient (or surrogates) any fees, and the judge is required to rule in 5 days.

More doctors will limit the number of older or sicker patients to keep from falling under the dispute process and the Court battle.
Even tertiary hospitals – teaching hospitals and big City referral hospitals – will find that their doctors don’t want to accept patients from outlying hospitals.
It will kill tort reform, because it’s designed to get all these cases into Court.
It’s like the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, only bigger, in my opinion, because if doctors lose here, we lose the right to conscience in everything.

If you believe that even doctors have the right of Conscience, and that infringement of the right not to be forced to act against your will is wrong, please contact your Texas Senator and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and respectfully ask that SB2089 not be brought up.

You can let me know if you disagree on my Facebook page.

Another kind of lawyer joke

“[T]he doctor/bioethics committee thinks the patient should die.” Wesley J. Smith, Esq., Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee, 4/10/2019 LifeNews.com

Wesley Smith is a rarity among the many lawyers who chased bioethics to the bedside late in the last century: he actually believes in the sanctity of human life and in the right of conscience. I’ve attended and reported on his debates and encounters with proponents of intentional euthanasia. And even happily defended him.

Unfortunately, Lawyer Smith was not above spinning the truth this month when he came from California to once again misrepresent the Texas Advance Directive Act (“TADA,” “the Act,” or “166.___”), an attempt to balance conflicting rights when doctors disagree with a patient or his surrogates about actual medical procedures and treatments that the doctor believes harms the patient.

On April 10, 2019 Mr. Smith gave invited testimony to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee in favor of SB 2089 (Hughes) and
SB 2129 (Creighton). LifeNews.com published part of his testimony online, under the title, “Texas Rule Allows Hospitals to Essentially Euthananize Patients After a 10-Day Notification.”

Mr. Smith doesn’t just contradict multiple Supreme Court rulings since Cruzan (1990) affirming that withholding or withdrawing treatment is not equivalent to euthanasia. Paradoxically, he echoes arguments that anti-conscience activists use to justify abortion on demand, Physician Assisted Suicide and intentional euthanasia by a third party by claiming that the principle of autonomy supercedes “First, do no harm,” or non-malevelence, and the right to conscience.

(You can watch all of Part I and Part II of the April 10, 2019 Health and Human Services Committee meeting addressing SB 2089 by Senator Bryan Hughes and SB 2129 by Senator Brandon Creighton online. Part I includes Mr. Smith’s testimony beginning at 33:00/1:01:10.)

We’ll skip Mr. Smith’s assertion that there is a right to force others to provide everyone medical care in general, not just in emergencies or at the end of life. I’ve covered these assertions and his attacks on the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops I’m, back in 2007.

Today, let’s just look at his spin on the current version of TADA.

Lawyer Smith uses emotionally weighted terms that aren’t in TADA, such as, “life-extending,” “futile care,” “permitting the institution to force its will on patients and families,” “invidious discrimination,” and “inappropriate care.” He contrasts patient’s “rights” with doctor’s “values,” and is the first that day to raise the specter of doctors willing to kill when patients are “expensive.” And, reflected in the LifeNews.com headline, Mr. Smith flatly says that TADA allows euthanasia – intentional acts to kill patients – equivalent to the administration of injections or medications that he wrote about this week.

As I’ve stated so many times in past WingRight.org and LifeEthics.org posts, TADA doesn’t allow us to remove or withhold care for patients, only treatments that are “medically inappropriate.” There are no futile patients, only futile treatments that cause harm to the patient over and over, without any expectation of reversing organ failure after organ failure.

Mr. Smith also ignores the multiple attempts by the medical and pro-life community and Legislature to improve the law’s timeframe and communication, much as Senator Creighton’s Bill. One example from 2007, SB 439 by Senator Bob Deuell, would have required written notice and an offer of a private ethics consult to take place at least seven days before the hospital committee meeting. That Bill had a schedule for giving the patient or surrogates written information about the dispute process, copies of medical records, and lists of resources. The family would have been given access to the committee meeting, with their own advocates. When the committee agreed that the treatment requested was inappropriate, the family would have receive assistance in searching for7⅞ another doctor or facility for at least another 21 days. I believe that the Bill bogged down in the House because of opposition from Texas Right to Life to any Bill that did not include liability for doctors and the indefinite “treatment until transfer” in this year’s SB 2089.

In the last five minutes of the Part I video, another lawyer, Texas Right to Life General Council Emily Cook, gave us the best clue about the ultimate goal of her organization: “judicial review.

Ms. Cook and Mr. Smith would have every one of these disputes settled by a Court. This is the Texas trial lawyers’ dream: a huge weapon against our State’s tort reform.

Today, the law specifically allows an appeal to a County probate judge when the Committee agrees with the doctor’s decision. SB 2129 allows a request for an injunction in any Court in the County, enabling “judge shopping.” Since it also prohibits the County from charging the patient or his surrogates any fees, the costs would fall solely on the County.

Ultimately, SB 2129 would make it much, much easier to sue the doctor and the hospital, moving Medical decision-making into the courtroom.

Most of the “stakeholders” for patient rights in Texas (including Texas Alliance for Life, Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, Coalition of Texans With Disabilities, Texas Medical Association, Texas Hospital Association, Catholic Hospital Association, Texas Nurses Association, and the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops and many others) oppose both of the Bills that Mr. Smith favored. Since SB 2129 would mandate that the County pick up any Court costs and that the judge make his ruling within five days, don’t be surprised if we hear objections from representatives of these parties, too.

So what’s the “joke?”

It could be the ridiculous notion that Lawyer Smith is a mind reader, able to discern the “invidious” motives for the “discrimination” he feels doctors and hospitals routinely practice:

“To fully comprehend the unjust nature of Texas law in this regard, realize that these “futile care” or “inappropriate care” decisions do not terminate treatment because it won’t work, but because it does. It is keeping the patient alive when the doctor/bioethics committee thinks the patient should die.” (Emphasis from LifeNews.com’s transcript.)

He repeatedly comments that physician’s decisions about medically appropriate treatment are subjective and that they (we) might “project their fears and their desires onto the patient” based on our “values,” rather than medical judgement based on repeated, at least once a day examination of the patient, reports by the nurses and staff and our education and experience.

The joke might be that Lawyer Smith volunteered that the indefinite, repeated evaluation and medical decision-making against the medical judgement of doctors would not be “slavery.” I would like to know what Lawyer Smith calls the legal requirement to use one’s body and brain to carry out actions, including writing orders for nurses and other medical staff, against your will.

It might be tragically funny to watch “judicial review” end up with the two sides hiring expert witnesses – doctors – to give the judge opposing views. There’s dark humor in the realization that ultimately the judge would order the original doctor to use her medical judgement to provide treatment – against her best medical judgement.

But the real joke is that “judicial review” risks the unintended consequence of decisions made by judges like the late t Judge George Greer, who Mr. Smith wrote about in this article.

Comments are closed. Please comment on my Facebook page.

Texas Advance Directive Act 2019 Legislature

The Texas Advance Directive Act is being attacked in the State Legislature, again, as it has just about every Session for the last 10+ years. In my opinion, one group is doing the bidding of the trial lawyers to destroy Texas’s tort reform by attempting to force every end of life treatment disagreement into the Courts.
Here’s my explanation of the Act, written in 2016, as an “effort to balance” patients’ rights and the rights of doctors to practice Medicine according to their consciences, using our best medical judgement. And here is an example of a previous attempt to truly improve the Act.
The opponents of TADA would force doctors to ignore their consciences to continue performing procedures and writing orders – for nurses and staff to carry out – against our best medical judgement, while faced with the moral distress of continuing acts that hurt our patient, as organ system after organ system fails, faster than we can compensate, prolonging and increasing his suffering and death.
For example, yesterday, the House passed a useless Amendment to a useless amendment to HB 1504, the Sunset review and reauthorization of the Texas Medical Board.
(22) in complying with the procedures outlined in Sections 166.045iand 166.046, Health and Safety Code, fails to make a reasonable effort to transfer a patient to a physician who is willing to comply with a directive.
Amendment No. 5
Representative Toth offered the following amendment to Amendment No. 4:
Amend Amendment No.4 by Toth to CSHB 1504 on page 3, line 25, between “Code,” and “fails”, insert “willfully”.””
The amendment is useless because doctors don’t handle or arrange transfers between facilities; the hospital social services staff and nurses do. The only possible exceptions might be ER docs in outlying areas, transferring to a larger medical center or a rare phone discussion between doctors about the patient’s course after the two separate staffs have worked out the logistics. Neither of these would apply in the TADA cases.
Importantly, how would the accusation of “willfully fails to make a reasonable effort” be made? Could there be more vague terms in that sentence than “willfully” or “reasonable?” (Especially in light of TRTL’s claim that 60 attempts weren’t reasonable in the tragic case recently ruled moot and dismissed by Texas 1st Court of Appeals, covered here and here.) Is this an attempt to criminalize the actions of doctors, an excuse to sue in a Court of law?
After the amendment passed, one of the lawyer lobbyists paid by Texas Right to Life tweeted a mean little remark:
The lawyer said that doctors who begin the process in TADA “set the 10 day count and sit on their hands.”
I understand that he never had to ask (to order) a nurse to cause pain to a dying patient, but he should understand that doctors don’t “sit on their hands” during the waiting period. We still perform those life sustaining procedures, write orders, and interact with the patient and family.
In order to push their view point they oppose not only other pro-life organizations, but the Texas Catholic Bishops, the Texas Baptists, and Texas Medical Association. Bills such as SB 2129 or SB 2089 would destroy TADA and undermine Texas’ tort reform.
Of course, once in the Courts, the lawyers would have to hire doctors to testify and the judges would decide between the two sides and order doctors to act against their consciences.
That, or lawyers and judges would be placed in the position of practicing medicine: writing medical orders for nurses and staff to carry out.
In the long run, the risk of civil and even criminal liability of caring for patients at the end of life would drive most doctors away from not only intensive end of life care, but increase the risk for any of us who care for trauma, oncology or geriatric patients.

Edit 19 April 2019 BBN: Comments are disabled here. Please comment at my Facebook page, “Beverly Nuckols.” https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10218835564657861&id=1163711361&refid=52&_ft_=mf_story_key.10218835564657861%3Atop_level_post_id.10218835564657861%3Atl_objid.10218835564657861%3Acontent_owner_id_new.1163711361%3Aoriginal_content_id.2226941544065344%3Aoriginal_content_owner_id.110756395683880%3Athrowback_story_fbid.10218835564657861%3Apage_id.110756395683880%3Astory_location.4%3Astory_attachment_style.share%3Apage_insights.%7B%22110756395683880%22%3A%7B%22role%22%3A1%2C%22page_id%22%3A110756395683880%2C%22post_context%22%3A%7B%22story_fbid%22%3A2226941550732010%2C%22publish_time%22%3A1555527649%2C%22object_fbtype%22%3A32%7D%2C%22actor_id%22%3A1163711361%2C%22psn%22%3A%22EntStatusCreationStory%22%2C%22sl%22%3A4%2C%22dm%22%3A%7B%22isShare%22%3A0%2C%22originalPostOwnerID%22%3A0%7D%2C%22targets%22%3A%5B%7B%22page_id%22%3A110756395683880%2C%22actor_id%22%3A1163711361%2C%22role%22%3A1%2C%22post_id%22%3A2226941550732010%2C%22share_id%22%3A0%7D%5D%7D%7D%3Athid.1163711361&__tn__=-R

Immunologist denies Imunology (Vaccines)

Here’s a review and critique (with live links, by Skeptical Raptor) on one of the anti-vaxx advocates, an “immunologist” who exaggerated her credentials, makes her money through the big-money scam “Vaxxed,” and who wrote this ridiculous lie:

“”Immunology does not attempt to study and therefore cannot provide understanding of natural diseases and immunity that follows them.””

No, doctors don’t kill 200,000 a year

Not even in 20+ years.

The numbers are much lower than you’ve heard: more like 5000 a year die due to “Adverse Events.” And the rate has decreased by about 21% since 1990.

The number of deaths due to “Adverse Effects of Medical Treatment” are higher than 20 years ago, but much lower than previously reported. They are higher, but not because the number or severity of Adverse Events have increased. Instead, it’s because the population has aged and the elderly have more medical interventions and are more susceptible to morbidity and mortality after those Adverse Events.

This essay reviews the data, the statics, and the methods of selecting both. The article, “Association of Adverse Effects of Medical Treatment With Mortality in the United States: A Secondary Analysis of the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study” was published in JAMA and can be read for free.

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