Healthcare

The Most Read Healthcare Stories From 2015, All In One Place

Looking at analytics, 2015 may be the year that the true impact of the Affordable Care Act became visible. Locally, there were more large-scale alliances and partnerships and fewer outright acquisitions. Readers remain curious about the future of the physician shortage in Texas and the potential for technology to improve access to care.

And while there were no global stories of interest to come out of North Texas, one dominated the website’s readers: The collapse of Forest Park Medical Center. The luxury physician-owned hospital chain is now beset by multiple bankruptcy filings, closures, and the indictment of one of its founding physicians. The men who helmed the associated real estate development arm of the company were ousted. And its future remains uncertain—however, the Frisco and Fort Worth hospitals are improving in terms of volume.

But without further ado, here were the most popular stories of 2015 on D Healthcare Daily.

1. The Collapse of Forest Park Medical Center

After growing rapidly, Dallas’ go-go luxury hospital chain Forest Park Medical Center now is beset by management conflicts, lagging revenue, missed rent payments, bankruptcy filings, and a pair of closures. How did the physician-owned hospital company spiral so quickly into chaos? 

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2. Christopher Duntsch, Former Plano Neurosurgeon, Is Indicted For Aggravated Assault

Christopher Duntsch, the Plano neurosurgeon who lost his license amid allegations of causing serious injury and death by operating on patients while under the influence of drugs and alcohol, was indicted on Tuesday by a Dallas County Grand Jury on multiple counts of aggravated assault.

3. Tenet Healthcare Corp. Inks Deals With USPI, Baylor Scott & White Health

Tenet made waves this year by creating the nation’s largest chain of outpatient surgical centers, and also tweaked its offerings in its hometown by linking its hospitals with Baylor Scott & White Health. 

4. THR CEO Barclay Berdan Responds to Nurse Nina Pham’s Suit

Texas Health Resources CEO Barclay Berdan sent a message to employees responding to the lawsuit brought against the system by an attorney representing nurse Nina Pham.

She alleges that the hospital did not adequately train its nurses to treat an Ebola patient nor did it mandate its caregivers wear sufficient protective equipment. Pham argues that this is why she was infected with the virus, and that she continues to suffer side effects because of Ebola or the drugs that she took to fight it. Pham also alleges that the hospital shared video of her being treated without her consent and used her as a PR ploy.

More: Nina Pham is Suing Texas Health Resources. Here Is Barclay Berdan Explaining Training Leading Up To Ebola

5. CMS Pulls Its Funding From Timberlawn For Violations

The Timberlawn Mental Health System has been eliminated from the Medicare and Medicaid programs due to deficiencies in care, resulting in the loss of millions of dollars in revenue.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services sent a letter to CEO Shelah Adams on July 23 notifying her of the decision. The determination came after a July 1 visit from federal surveyors who found that the southeast Dallas behavioral health facility had not corrected the violations that put its funding at risk in the first place.

More: Timberlawn To Stay Open Despite Losing Funding | Timberlawn Asks For An Injunction | Poor Patient Safety, Infection Control Could Cost Timberlawn Millions

6. As New Medical Schools Come Online, A Concern About Availability of Texas Residency Slots

It’s no secret Texas is facing a physician shortage, particularly in rural communities and the economically disadvantaged pockets of its urban cities. According to a recent study led by Irving-based physician recruitment firm Merritt-Hawkins, Texas needs to add another 12,819 physicians for it to meet the national average of 226 per 100,000 residents. The recent wave of new MD programs is meant to help address this.

But a challenge remains: MD students need residencies. And there’s a concern that Texas isn’t adding enough to keep up with demand. According to TMA figures, there were just 24 more residency positions than graduates in 2013. To achieve the coveted 1.1:1 ratio of residency positions to graduates (as recommended by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the accreditation firm for MD programs), Texas would need to add an estimated 589 residency slots by 2022—and that was an estimate before UNT and TCU announced their partnership.

More: TCU, UNT Health Science Center Team To Create New MD Track

7. UTSW Employee Resigns After Houston Press Questions Her Nonprofit’s Expenditures

A UT Southwestern Medical Center employee has resigned following a Houston Press feature that raised questions about the expenditures of a cancer-focused nonprofit she started prior to being hired.

8. Texas Medical Board Adopts New Limits For Telemedicine

The Texas Medical Board on Friday adopted new rules governing the practice of telemedicine, mandating that a patient have a face-to-face meeting with a physician before the practitioner can diagnose an ailment or prescribe drugs over the phone or via video stream.

More: Federal Court Stays TMB’s Telemedicine Rule | North Texas-based Teladoc Sues TMB Over Rule | What Teladoc’s IPO Means For the Company’s Future

9. UTSW Researchers Triple Survival Rates For Subset of Stage 4 Lung Cancer Patients

UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers have discovered a way to drastically increase the life expectancy of a subset of stage 4 lung cancer patients who previously did not respond to traditional chemotherapy alone.

Published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Drs. Robert Timmerman and Puneeth Iyengar identified two dozen patients among the roughly 30 percent of individuals with stage 4 lung cancer whose tumors did not respond to standard chemotherapy.

10. Here Are The Most Profitable Hospitals In DFW—And Why

While earnings among hospitals in the Dallas-Fort Worth region declined slightly in 2013 compared to the year prior, the thriving industry still pulled in $1.998 billion, according to a market report released earlier this month.

Minneapolis-based researcher Allan Baumgarten began publishing the Texas Health Market Review in 1998, a summary of hospital revenue, inpatient use, and the prevalence of HMOs and other insurance plans.

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