Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ten Interesting Medical Stories from 2008

Updated 3/2017-- all links (except to my own posts) removed as many no longer active. and it was easier than checking each one. 

The end of the year seems to be a time for making list.  Best of the year.  Worst of the year.  Predictions for the coming year.  Resolutions for the coming year.  So I thought I would share some (not necessarily the best or worst or even in order of importance) of the medical news of 2008 I found interesting.  Feel free to share your suggestions in the comments section.
1.  The changes in Health Policy that 2009 may bring
Thousands of forums have been taking place throughout the nation since Dec. 15, and reports are being uploaded to According to the Web site, the Health Policy Transition Team will prepare a report for the President-elect using information collected from all across the country.

2.  In February, Dr Hootan Roozrokh was accused of hastening a patient's death to harvest the organs.
It’s the stuff of horror movies: an evil, deranged surgeon purposely kills people to harvest their organs. In the 1978 movie "Coma," patients were kept in comas and shipped off to a mysterious location where their organs were removed.
In December, he was found innocent of the charge.
Dr. Hootan Roozrokh was found not guilty after two months of trial and two days of deliberation jury. If the court verdict had been against the doctor, he would have faced up to four years in prison.

3.  Dr Michael DeBakey, pioneer of heart procedures, died this year at age 99 years.

4.  November 2008, a Colombian woman, Claudia Castillo, received a trachea transplant using her own stem cells.    Doctors in a Barcelona, Spain hospital used her stem cells into a trachea taken from a cadaver.  Because the new windpipe is "almost indistinguishable" from the her normal bronchi, her body should not reject the transplant.
5.  In March, a little girl was born with facial duplication.   The condition usually results in stillbirth, but not always as seen in this recent news report of this little girl born March 11, 2008.
They are not ashamed of the extraordinary looking little girl, the villagers who live near her, the young parents, the overprotective local doctor. That's because while she may only be 2½ weeks old, she is far more famous than any resident of this part of the country has ever been. She is famous because she was born with a condition known as facial duplication. She has one body and two faces.

6.  Healthcare conscience rule and how they may change patient care / access to care.
Women's groups, state governments, and a host of others have reacted harshly to the new conscience rights regulation put forth by the Department of Health and Human Services last week. The National Family and Reproductive Health Association stated that the "new regulations will limit access to contraception to low-income and uninsured women and men and will create new hurdles for family-planning service providers," Deborah Kotz reports. The National Partnership for Women and Families noted, "These regulations leave the term 'abortion' undefined, so individuals and institutions are free to classify birth control as abortion." And the ACLU also expressed its "grave concern."

7.  Dr Alan Bittner’s office was served with a warrant on Friday, November 14, 2008. 
Dr. Bittner currently has three lawsuits filed against him by three women who had plastic surgery work done at his facility……..Besser confirmed to Canyon News that Dr. Bittner fled the country. It is not known exactly when he fled, and it has been alleged that he is collecting his assets in off-shore accounts. Besser also stated that “Dr. Bittner's home and vehicle were served with a search warrant on the same day that the Beverly Hills Liposculpture facility was served with a search warrant.”
And if that wasn’t enough, it seems he was using the fat removed from liposuction patients to fuel his vehicle.

8.  Cleveland Clinic did the first near total face transplant done in the United States. 
In a 22-hour procedure performed within the past two weeks, surgeons transplanted 80 percent of a woman's face who suffered severe facial trauma -- essentially replacing her entire face, except for her upper eyelids, forehead, lower lip and chin. For the privacy and protection of those involved, no information will be released on the patient, the donor or their families. (A written statement from the patient's sibling is available at

9.  A 70-year old woman gave birth to a baby girl.
Rajo Devi delivered her baby by caesarean section Nov. 28, said Dr. Anurag Bishnoi of the National Fertility Centre in northern Haryana state. Dr. Bishnoi told journalists that Devi and her baby, who weighed just over 3lbs, are in good health.
10.  Never Events – so well covered in this post by Buckeye Surgeon
Just when I was starting to calm down about the controversy surrounding "never events", the New York Times unloads a masterpiece of naivete and contempt. Reading this, my eyeballs almost popped out of my skull. One would think that the editorial staff of such a renowned, prestigous newspaper would exhibit a little more intellectual rigor when composing such a denunciatory op-ed piece. I almost thought Diane Suchetka had infiltrated the NY Times hierarchy.
And now, from the other side of the political spectrum, comes a piece from the National Review (arch conservative publication)that uses the concept of never events in such a way to elucidate the danger of government managed health care delivery. (Thanks to Alice at Cut on the Dotted Line)………….


jmb said...

Interesting indeed. I must follow a couple of those links in a moment.

I came to wish you a very happy New Year Ramona to you and your family.

rlbates said...

Thank you, JMB. I hope you and your family have a wonderful 2009!

Cathy said...

This is truly interesting stuff. Number 7 is pretty freaky. Don't know what to think about.."it seems he was using the fat removed from liposuction patients to fuel his vehicle."

HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and your husband!