Monthly Archive for April, 2009

Urciuoli sentenced to three years in federal prison

Robert Urciuoli was sentenced to three years in federal prison for conspiracy and mail fraud committed while he was president and CEO of Roger Williams Medical Center in Providence, R.I…

Prosecutors said Urciuoli directed Roger Williams Medical Center to pay then-state Sen. John Celona $260,000 over the course of six years to push the hospital’s interests in the General Assembly and intervene on its behalf in contract negotiations with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island and UnitedHealthcare. Urciuoli disguised the scheme by hiring Celona as a consultant to raise community awareness of an affiliated nursing home, according to the indictment.

Urciuoli initially was found guilty on the charges in 2006 and received the same sentence, but the conviction was overturned after an appeals court found that the jury based its conclusions on flawed instructions from the judge. Celona, who cooperated with prosecutors and testified at Urciuoli’s first trial, was sentenced to 2½ years for his role.  (more here)

CA Senate Seeks More Info on Peer Review

SACRAMENTO 7 April: After hearing testimony from medical experts last month, members of a California Senate panel are now seeking more information on medical peer review.

The witnesses, including SSI member and AFPS founder Gil Mileikowsky MD, testified before a California Senate Hearing that asked, “Is the Physician Peer Review a Broken System?”

To clarify conflicts between the published analysis by Lumetra and the California Medical Board, the committee heard testimony from Dr. Mileikowsky (HTML, PDF, Video, Appendix), Los Angeles attorney Paul Hittelman (PDF), Gerald Rogan, MD, and Ian Grady, MD.

After additional testimony from Dr. Mileikowsky and the other witnesses, the committee requested further information and concluded: “If it is determined that the system is beyond repair then there may be a need to examine and consider new methods of ensuring patient safety.”

SSI Member Gil Mileikowsky Wins Major Court Victory

SACRAMENTO 6 Apr 09 – The California Supreme Court issued a major victory to Dr. Gil Mileikowsky and healthcare professionals throughout the US today, issuing a decision regarding the conduct of his medical peer review hearing in 2003.  The Court wrote:

We conclude the hearing officer lacks authority to prevent a reviewing panel from reviewing the case by dismissing it on his or her own initiative before the hearing has been convened, and also lacks authority to terminate the hearing after it has been convened without first securing the approval of the reviewing panel. We therefore will affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeal

Dr. Mileikowsky (“Dr. Gil”) is a champion and advocate in the nationwide effort to end “sham peer review” (SPR) – a corrupt practice in which hospitals retaliate against physicians and nurses who report dangerous physicians, hospital conditions, or who successfully compete against hospitals by delivering superior service. By rigging a medical peer review board that cherry picks ordinarily insignificant mistakes, hospitals use SPR to intimidate and silence physicians who are sworn to improve healthcare and protect patients. Those targeted face a financially crippling fight to retain their clinical privileges. Sadly, many physicians endure financial ruin and the loss of their medical careers. Some lose hope and end their lives in suicide.

Hospitals accused of SPR have included Kaiser, Tenet, and non-profits like Adventist. Because hospitals have profited from harming patients, the Supreme Court’s decision could have a positive impact on patient safety throughout the US healthcare industry.

Dr. Mileikowsky is the President and founder of the Alliance for Patient Safety and a member of Semmelweis Society International (SSI), which supported Mileikowsky throughout his appeal.  Attorneys Jeffrey White and Georgetown Law Professor Alan Ullberg assisted SSI in the preparation of its amicus brief.

Health Leaders Media recently named Dr. Mileikowsky as one of America’s top healthcare leaders.

For more information, see the California Supreme Court opinion.

House of Numbers

After the release of SSI’s investigation into AIDS co-discoverer Robert Gallo’s scientific misconduct, Brent Leung’s film, House of Numbers, will debut this month in cities throughout the US.

Mr. Leing gained unprecidented access to scientists and Nobel Laureates on both sides of the question, leaving it up to viewers to decide whether AIDS is a legitimate threat, or the scientific community’s greatest hoax. 

Now approaching $1 trillion in taxpayer support since 1981, it’s a fascinating view into the pharmaceutical industry whether one believes in the research or not. After two decades of NIH, CDC, and pharmaceutical retaliation against journalists and the media, the world has a chance to make up our own minds. House of Numbers will help you understand the mechanics of what may be America’s most virulent political virus.