Tag Archives: Connecticut

Connecticut cracks down on dentist for overtreating toddler

Photo: hinterlens via Flickr

Following a two-year investigation by state health officials, the Connecticut State Dental Commission has voted to discipline a dentist for performing unnecessary work on a toddler.

In the 2016 complaint that spurred an inquiry by the state Department of Public Health (DPH), the child’s mother said she had agreed to allow dentist Ammar Idlibi to place a crown on one of her 3-year-old daughter’s teeth. Continue reading

Reporter tracks top prescribers’ ties to drugs they prescribe

A while back, Sen. Charles Grassley wrote to state health officials, asking for lists of top Medicaid prescribers of certain drugs. When her state released its, Lisa Chedekel of the Connecticut Health Investigative Team took it and ran with it, using all manner of public data to assemble a portrait of Connecticut’s prolific prescribers and the conflicts of interest that may drive them.

Speaking of conflicts of interest, Chedekel found that 43 of the 108 high prescribers (some broke into the top 10 for multiple drugs) earned money, meals or other benefits from the very companies whose drugs they were subscribing in such large quantities. She profiles a number of these physicians, but my personal favorite is one whose records show a curious correlation:

Dr. Kathleen Degen of Norwich was not among the top prescribers of Eli Lilly’s Zyprexa in 2008, but was the seventh-highest prescriber in 2009 (with 255 prescriptions), when Eli Lilly paid her $24,950 in speaking fees. Her prescribing fell off slightly in 2010, and she received $5,291 from Eli Lilly for speaking and travel. She disappeared from the high prescriber list in 2011 and received just $16 in meals from Eli Lilly, records show.

To better understand the problems that could arise from situations like these, Chedekel talked with academics, as well as a number of physicians named in the story. She also took a look at the drugs themselves, many of which Grassley had selected due to their controversial nature. The piece is a blueprint for reporting state-by-state on similar lists. The story also aired on Fox Connecticut.

New health-related state laws for 2011

Many thanks to Melissa Preddy for pointing out, in a post on the Reynolds Center’s businessjournalism.org, the National Conference of State Legislatures’ roundup of new laws that have already go into effect in 2011, or will soon. It’s a national list loaded with localization-ready ideas and issues that should be surfacing throughout the year. Hot-button topics include expanding medical coverage and several nutrition-related laws.

Here are a few highlights, taken directly from the NCSL’s list.

Connecticut will soon be requiring health insurance policies that cover anticancer medications to cover the oral drugs at least as favorably as it does the IV ones. The law prohibits insurers from reclassifying anticancer medications or increasing the patient’s out-of-pocket costs as a way to comply.

A new Missouri law requires all group health benefit plans to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders. Coverage is limited to medically necessary treatment ordered by the insured’s treating physician. The law also requires the Department of Insurance and other institutions to submit a report to the legislature regarding the implementation of this coverage, including specified costs.

California became the first, on Jan. 1, 2010, to prohibit oil, shortening or margarine containing artificial trans fats in restaurants and other food facilities. Beginning Jan 1, 2011, the original law will extend to other foods containing artificial trans fats, primarily baked goods.

Retailers in Minnesota will now be banned from selling cups and bottles intended for children age 3 or younger that contain bisphenol A (BPA). These same restrictions went into effect for in-state manufacturers and wholesalers on Jan. 1, 2010.

California lawmakers have also enacted a new law requiring free drinking water for students in school cafeterias or food service areas. Schools must comply by July 1, 2011.

California will soon require all children under the age of 18, including patrollers and resort employees, to wear helmets while skiing or snowboarding. Resorts will be required to post notice about the law, including on trail maps and resort websites.

Conn. site joins online health journalism world

The Connecticut Health Investigative Team, which has nicknamed itself C-HIT, debuted this week with reports on disciplined doctors who are practicing in the state and how often students in the state’s schools are restrained or secluded, information it got through the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

The site, which will concentrate on coverage of health care, safety and veterans, was founded by Lynne DeLucia, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former editor of The Hartford Courant, and Lisa Chedekel, who was an award-winning reporter at the Courant. Covering Health readers likely remember Chedekel as co-author of the 2006 series “Mentally Unfit to Fight,” about mental health in the military.

The “Data Mine” section of C-HIT’s site will host searchable databases. The first two databases on the site have information about the state’s nursing homes and statewide ambulance response times.

Like other online startups we’ve seen recently, the site will distribute its content through partnerships with media outlets in Connecticut and the region.

C-HIT is part of the Online Journalism Project, founded in 2005 “to encourage the development of professional-quality hyperlocal and issue-oriented online news websites.”

The site is working with students in the journalism program at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn.

C-HIT has received grants from the Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Foundation and the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut.

Other similar ventures include Georgia Health News, Health News Florida, the California HealthCare Foundation Center for Health Reporting, Kaiser Health News, ProPublica, California Watch and others that were collectively referred to as a thriving “new journalism ecosystem” in a recent study.