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Top 10 Blog Posts of 2014: Part One

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At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, we take time at the end of each December to reflect on the previous year and prepare ourselves for the challenges and opportunities that the new year will bring.

In the spirit of this review process, we have compiled a list of the Top 10 most popular posts that appeared on our blog in 2014. The top five entries on that list are shown below.

Pharmacuetical Marketing Practices Draw Increased Scrutiny

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When a doctor prescribes medication, we trust that he or she is doing so because it is in a patient's best interests. This is especially true if a narcotic or other potentially habit-forming medication is needed in the course of medical care. But what if the prescription was motivated by financial incentives for the doctor instead of the patient's well-being? Or, what if you knew that the pharmaceutical company had targeted doctors with a history of discipline or inappropriately prescribing medication to promote its products?

A recent New York Times article explores the relationship between Insys Therapeutics, the maker of the addictive and substantially powerful painkiller Subsys, and the physicians it pays to promote its product as a case study of the state of the pharmaceutical industry and its marketing practices.

CPSC Attempts To Combat Dangerous Holiday Lights And Decorations

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The holiday season is approaching, and with it an increasing number of holiday lights and decorations are in view. But did you know that behind these colorful displays hides the possibility of serious injury and death? Although injuries are down from their peak in the 1980s and 1990s - when approximately 48 people were injured and 13 people were killed in holiday lighting accidents each year - these products still pose a continued danger.

Proposed Legislation Intended to Help Generic Drug Makers Compete

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, says that deaths from drug overdoses - prescription painkillers - have "more than tripled since 1990," according to this policy impact report. In this context, prescription painkillers are a serious problem. But painkillers aren't the only dangerous drugs on the market. Birth control drugs, diabetes drugs, and cholesterol-lowering drugs are three types of potentially dangerous medications that also come to mind.

These drugs are also expensive. Brand name drug makers prefer it that way, for obvious reasons, but the inability for generic drug makers to effectively compete in the marketplace harms U.S. consumers.

'Unprecedented' Improvement in Number of Medical Errors in U.S. Hospitals

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Probably the biggest news in the last week on the healthcare front is the report out of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. CMS officials say that medical errors in U.S. hospitals went down 17 percent from 2010 to 2013.

That's 50,000 fewer deaths, according to Reuters reporters published in the Chicago Tribune, who quote CMS's Dr. Patrick Conway: "This is welcome news for patients and their families." Conway referred to the drop in medical errors as "unprecedented."

We Need RED: Fixing California's Broken 911 Emergency Response System

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As Kelsey Brugger reports for the Santa Barbara Independent, a wrongful-death suit may prompt California to fix its 911 emergency-response system, which does not work as it should with 911 calls made on mobile phones. For those who have medical emergencies requiring prompt attention, time is obviously of the essence, and a misrouted dispatch could mean death.

Whistleblowers Handsomely Rewarded in 2014

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Judy Greenwald for Business Insurance reports that SEC whistleblower tips are up 10 percent this year, along with a record number of awards. One of those awards includes the famous (or infamous, from the defense perspective) award of $30 million to one whistleblower in a case where the SEC successfully went after the violator.

State of Arizona Sues the New General Motors Over Vehicle Defects

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Our neighbor to the east, Arizona, has decided to file its own lawsuit against the "New G.M." for having manufactured and marketed thousands of defective vehicles. As we wrote about earlier this month, should General Motors lose its bankruptcy shield, the automaker's liability is likely to increase dramatically.

Arizona's lawsuit is the latest proof.

Voters Reject Prop. 46, Current Limit on Compensation for Pain and Suffering Remains

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In an earlier post, we referenced the distinct possibility that making it harder for injured patients to bring medical malpractice claims against negligent doctors or other health care providers may not do much in terms of lowering healthcare costs (tort reform, schmort reform).

The traditional way of thinking - from the perspective of one who supports tort reform - is that medical malpractice claims drive up the cost of healthcare because doctors resort to the practice of defensive medicine, i.e. ordering more tests and treatment than necessary in order to prevent a lawsuit.

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