Welcome to the latest edition of Investigative Roundup, highlighting some of the best investigative reporting on healthcare each week.
President’s Brother Implicated in Fraudulent Hospital Venture
Jim Biden, President Biden’s younger brother, reportedly invoked his last name — and boasted about his connections to his brother — to get business as a healthcare consultant. His main venture was the company Americore, which went bankrupt 4 years ago, and a recent Politico investigation characterized Americore as “wreaking havoc in rural communities.”
Americore bought up and ran rural hospitals, according to the story. However, investigations into those hospitals revealed major issues. For instance, in 2018, a patient died at an Americore-owned hospital in rural Kentucky after receiving substandard care for cardiac arrest. Politico also cited dwindling services and failure to pay staff — and thus, rampant staff departures — as major issues at Americore hospitals. Last year, the Securities and Exchange Commission accused one of Biden’s Americore business partners of fraud.
Politico delved into how involved Biden was in Americore’s alleged fraudulent activities and eventual downfall, and how he was connected to the other major players involved. The investigation found Biden described as an Americore “partner, “principal, and “advisor” in internal documents. Biden had a larger role in the company than previously reported, per Politico.
Plus, during Biden’s time working with Americore, Joe Biden was finishing out his time as vice president. Joe Biden wasn’t directly involved in his brother’s business but did benefit by some of his younger brother’s success, Politico wrote. For instance, one time when the younger Biden was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by Americore, Joe Biden received a check from his younger brother that same day, also for hundreds of thousands of dollars, which bank records filed in the bankruptcy case indicate was a loan repayment.
Despite the big promises Jim Biden made about securing capital for Americore, the money didn’t ultimately come through and the Americore business model didn’t work. And healthcare professionals, patients, and rural communities suffered for it, the article stated.
Patient Died Waiting in Line for the ED
A patient died last year while waiting in line at the emergency department at a Massachusetts hospital despite telling nurses that she was struggling to breathe and her chest hurt. Her symptoms had been dismissed as anxiety by a busy nurse at Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton, which is about 25 miles south of Boston. An investigation from the Boston Globe republished in sister publication STAT contextualized the tragic death as part of a larger regional pattern.
When Massachusetts health inspectors investigated the death, they found “an emergency department with recurring staffing problems that at times seemed to be in near-meltdown.” The night the patient died, there were supposed to be 19 nurses working, but in actuality, there were only eight, according to an internal staffing report. The Massachusetts Nurses Association had previously warned the state about Good Samaritan’s emergency department in both 2021 and 2022.
Across Boston, patients have died in EDs waiting to be seen, the Globe reported. Hospitals in the greater Boston area were recently deemed “Tier 3” by the state Department of Public Health, which indicates a high risk of capacity problems. Good Samaritan and other surrounding hospitals had already been Tier 3 for at least a year, in part because nearby hospitals had shuttered, contributing to the capacity crisis.
In addition to putting patients in danger, Joseph Tennyson, MD, president of the Massachusetts College of Emergency Physicians, told the Globe that these hospital circumstances are harmful to doctors and nurses, too.
“To see somebody in the waiting room that you absolutely know you need to go see, that you need to get seen right away, and there’s no way to do it — that’s injurious and it’s contributing to burnout,” Tennyson said.
Cancer Researcher’s Work Called Into Question
Sam Yoon, MD, a cancer researcher who is now chief of a cancer surgery division at Columbia University’s medical center, published extensively while climbing the academic ranks. Much of his work has been in collaboration with his junior researcher, Changhwan Yoon, PhD. In 2021, Elsevier withdrew one of Yoon’s studies on stomach cancer and didn’t post an explanation; the study is still cited by other scientists. However, a New York Times investigation detailed that Yoon’s other work has often used flawed data, too.
Sholto David, PhD, is a microbiologist based in Wales who runs a blog where he examines the literature and turns up flaws in studies, such as the research recently retracted by Dana Farber Cancer Institute. David flagged 26 of Yoon’s studies for containing suspect data.
The journal Oncotarget retracted one of those studies after the Times asked further questions about it. The Times also had two independent experts confirm that discrepancies in Yoon’s research “bore signs of manipulation, like flipped, rotated, or seemingly digitally altered images.”
For years, Yoon worked at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, which is now investigating his studies. Springer Nature and the American Association for Cancer Research, which published many of Yoon’s studies, are also looking into the concerns.
Yoon didn’t respond to the Times‘ repeated requests for comment.
Source link : https://www.medpagetoday.com/special-reports/features/108832
Publish date : 2024-02-21 12:06:13
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