Welcome to the latest edition of Investigative Roundup, highlighting some of the best investigative reporting on healthcare each week.
Child Abuse Pediatrician Reassigned
Debra Jenssen, MD, has been reassigned after a 6ABC investigation last month alleged that she repeatedly misdiagnosed families with Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSP), a rare form of medical child abuse.
Jenssen previously was the director of Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Child Advocacy Center and now works in other locations within the system, according to 6ABC.
Lehigh Valley Controller Mark Pinsley first noticed an unusual amount of MSP diagnoses coming from Jenssen.
“Could this be a cluster of legitimate cases? It seems unlikely, but that’s why I’m calling for an investigation,” Pinsley told 6ABC. He said the eight cases of MSP in nearby counties amounted to a third of cases in Pennsylvania.
Kim and Steve, who declined to share their last name for privacy reasons, had their kids taken away in 2022 after Jenssen allegedly misdiagnosed them with MSP — without even talking with them once.
Their son, who they said has complex medical needs, was in crisis and told nurses he was being emotionally abused. It took months for Kim and Steve to be evaluated, which confirmed they did not actually have MSP.
“They took all our rights away and traumatized the kids and that’s not something that you can fix,” Kim told 6ABC.
Did Columbia Protect Sexual Abuser?
Columbia University allegedly protected Robert Hadden, MD, the ob/gyn convicted of sexually abusing patients for decades, after repeated accusations, according to a hefty ProPublica investigation co-published with New York Magazine.
Columbia employees interviewed for the article described a culture of protecting the institution. Many of the employees who witnessed Hadden’s abuse were nurses and PAs who held less power than Hadden, the article stated.
One of Hadden’s victims was Laurie Kanyok, who said Hadden licked her vagina while purportedly checking her stitches after she gave birth. Kanyok had a rape kit done that day, and Hadden was arrested, but only detained for a day.
By the next week, he was back at Columbia, the article stated. Columbia also secured legal representation for Hadden. Eight additional patients said Hadden assaulted them in the month after he returned to work, according to the story.
After Hadden reportedly refused to cooperate with an internal investigation weeks later, he took a leave of absence and Columbia didn’t renew his appointment the following year. In 2014, Hadden was charged with five felonies and four misdemeanors. He pled to one of each, surrendered his medical license, and was added to the sex offender registry — but he served no time in jail. Part of the plea was that he couldn’t be prosecuted for similar crimes in the future.
“Columbia also didn’t alert prosecutors to the existence of other survivors who might have strengthened the criminal case. And it neglected to make a report to the Office of Professional Medical Conduct, the state medical board, as required,” ProPublica wrote.
Ten years after filing the police report, Kanyok testified against Hadden in a Southern District of New York courthouse. In July, Hadden was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Columbia didn’t make administrators available for interviews with ProPublica, but instead emailed statements.
Arkansas Hospital Sued Its Own Employees
An Arkansas Hospital system had a dramatic uptick in lawsuits for unpaid medical bills in the pandemic years, even filing hundreds of cases against its own employees, a report in CNN detailed.
Court records revealed that the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has sued more than 8,000 patients since 2019 to collect unpaid medical bills. The kicker? A majority of the lawsuits are for bills less than $1,000.
In 2016, UAMS filed only 35 lawsuits. But three years later, that number skyrocketed to more than 3,000, which CNN pointed out is nearly nine lawsuits every day. Of the thousands of lawsuits, more than 500 were against UAMS employees.
UAMS leadership defended the lawsuits as a necessary part of protecting the institution’s fragile finances. However, CNN tied the jump in lawsuits to the university’s work with the debt collection firm Mid-South Adjustment Company, which began in 2019.
When the university sued employees, sometimes it would allegedly garnish a portion of the employees’ wages. One such lawsuit was against Keri Whimper, a former medical assistant at UAMS, who told CNN that getting sued over $700 felt like a betrayal.
“I worked for them through COVID, and they’re still doing this to me,” Whimper said.
Source link : https://www.medpagetoday.com/special-reports/features/106312
Publish date : 2023-09-13 11:52:13
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