The Department of Justice Is Investigating LifePoint Hospitals

Modern Healthcare (2/13, Schencker, Subscription Publication, 246K) is reporting that in a Feb. 12 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Tennessee-based LifePoint Hospitals “revealed” that it is “the target of federal investigations, more than twelve individual lawsuits and two class action suits alleging the performance of improper interventional heart procedures.” After conducting “an internal review,” LifePoint “identified two cardiologists who ‘independently elected to place cardiac stents that may not have been clinically appropriate,’ according to a LifePoint statement released” yesterday. LifePoint “then self-reported the matter to the Department of Justice.” The two physicians no longer practice at any facilities affiliated with LifePoint, according to a company statement. Currently, the only LifePoint Hospital in Georgia is Rockdale Medical Center.

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People Who Buy Used Cars Are Responsible For Asking About Hidden Safety Recalls

The New York Times (1/30, Tabuchi, Subscription Publication, 9.97M) reported, after several high-profile deaths of used cars involving airbag recalls, Federal laws “do not require used-car dealers to repair vehicles with safety defects before putting the cars back into public use. Nor are dealers required by law to disclose to customers that a vehicle is the subject of a recall.” Legislation to change this loophole has stalled in Congress leaving consumers on their own to check if a used vehicle has been recalled for a safety defect by either running a car’s VIN number through the Federal safety database, checking an automobile manufacturer’s website, or by purchasing a vehicle history report from a vendor such as Carfax. NHTSA will continue to push for Congress to “prohibit used-car dealerships from selling vehicles with an open recall and the rental of vehicles with an open recall.”

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Medtronic Will Pay $2.8 Million To Settle Allegations Of Encouraging Off-Label Use Of Device To Doctors

Law 360 (2/6, Macagnone, 9K) is reporting that Medtronic will settle with the US Justice Department for $2.8 million regarding a False Claims Act Suit contending the company “paid doctors to push an unapproved use” of the company’s neuro-stimulation device, “SubQ stimulation treatment.” The Justice Department has accused Medtronic of paying out “tens of thousands of dollars” to urge physicians to make an off-label use of the device, and to seek Medicare payments for treatments “not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.”

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Lawsuit May Improve Protection For Senior Citizens

The Palm Springs (CA) Desert Sun (2/6, Atagi, 85K) reported that “a Rancho Mirage woman’s civil lawsuit citing fraud and elder abuse could be a ‘huge’ step toward protecting senior citizens from potential financial scams, a consumer advocacy group says.” According to a complaint filed “in Riverside County Superior Court last year, Lois Brown claims a Palm Desert insurance agent convinced her to buy annuities under the guise of a program benefiting low-income war veterans and their spouses, even though she wasn’t qualified.” The Palm Springs Desert Sun adds, “Rarely do victims of elder abuse pursue litigation against suspected scammers, said Prescott Cole, senior staff attorney for the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform in San Francisco.”

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OSHA To Fine Ashley Furniture $1.7 Million For Safety Violations

According to The New York Times (2/3, Abrams, Subscription Publication, 9.97M) Ashley Furniture, a major global furniture maker, is facing $1.7 million in OSHA penalties “to settle charges that unsafe conditions at its manufacturing plant in Arcadia, Wis., led to more than 1,000 injuries.” OSHA “cited the company for dozens of violations, including disregard for safety standards that led to a number of gruesome injuries.”

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The Deadline For Filing Claims Regarding GM Faulty Ignition Switches Passed On March 31, 2015

The AP (2/3, Krisher) is reporting that “the families of 51 people who died in crashes caused by faulty” GM ignition switches will receive money from the GM compensation fund, with another 77 to receive money for injuries, according to compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg. The deadline for filing claims was Saturday, March 31, 2015. As of Sunday there were “455 death claims and 3,447 for injuries.” Many are calling for GM to extend the deadline, “because victims do not know yet whether they can sue General Motors Co., the new company that emerged from bankruptcy protection in July 2009.”
According to The CBS Evening News (2/2, story 5, 2:30, Glor, 5.08M) Sens. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) are asking GM to reconsider the deadline, “as over a third of the vehicles are still not fixed.”
USA Today (2/2, Healey, 10.32M) reported that GM’s count of victims “only included people in the front seats who would have been protected, presumably,” if not for the defective switches, and only those driving or riding in models that were specifically recalled.

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GM Resists Effort To Extend Deadline For Ignition Compensation Claims

The Wall Street Journal (1/29, Bennett, Subscription Publication, 5.67M) is reporting that General Motors has rejected a request from Sens. Edward Markey (D) and Richard Blumenthal (D) to extend the claims deadline for their ignition switch compensation fund. In response GM said, “Our goal is to be just and timely in compensating the families who lost loved ones and those who suffered physical injury. We have conducted extensive outreach about the program. We previously extended the deadline until January 31, and we do not plan another extension.”

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Another Example of VA Neglect

The Los Angeles Times (1/28, Holland, 3.49M) is reporting that the U.S. government “has agreed to settle a lawsuit accusing the Department of Veterans Affairs of misusing its sprawling West Los Angeles health campus while veterans with brain injuries and mental impairment slept in the streets, people familiar with the agreement said Tuesday.” The settlement will require the VA “will develop a master land-use plan for the campus that identifies sites for housing homeless veterans.” The ACLU of Southern California brought the lawsuit contending “that the VA should develop housing for veterans on the 387-acre campus.” The ACLU of Southern California “accused the agency of illegally leasing land to UCLA for its baseball stadium, a television studio for set storage, a hotel laundry and a parking service.” In 2013 a Federal Judge “struck down the leases, saying they were ‘totally divorced from the provision of healthcare.’” More recently, US District Judge S. James Otero “halted construction of an amphitheater on the property.”

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According to GM There Are Nearly 900,000 Defective Ignition Switches Still On The Road

Auto World News (1/26, 1K) is reporting that GM filed documentation with the NHTSA last week that shows “almost 900,000 GM vehicles with potentially defective ignition switches are still being used.” General Motors “says that out of a recall of approximately 2,190,934 vehicles, just 1,229,529 vehicles have been repaired by dealers.” Furthermore Auto World News reports that “The total number of ‘unreachable’ vehicles is up to 80,122, according to the Detroit automaker.”

Source:    Auto World News

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NHTSA Scrutinizes Ford Recall

In an article appearing on the front page of its “Business Day” section, the New York Times (1/21, B1, Jensen, Ivory, Subscription Publication, 9.97M) reports that a week after NHTSA Administrator Mark R. Rosekind said he planned on being “more vigilant on safety,” the NHTSA has “taken the unusual move of revisiting the 2013 recall of Ford’s biggest pickup trucks.” The initial recall, which was issued to repair a stalling problem, was limited to nearly 3,000 trucks that were used as ambulances. However, citing several complaints from drivers, the NHTSA notified Ford that “it is now investigating whether that recall should be” expanded, to include almost “197,000 additional pickups that have similar engines but are not used as ambulances,” according to the report. The Times goes on to note that recall queries, such as the investigation into the Ford recall, are “unusual,” noting that there were only four recall queries in 2014.

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