Could this printer-toner car­tridge be the key to mil­lions?

Modern Healthcare - - Front Page -

Printer-toner car­tridges are ex­pen­sive, can be a pain to re­place and of­fer a po­ten­tial source of riches if you’re will­ing to break the law.

New York’s Me­mo­rial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Cen­ter learned that les­son thanks to Mar­que Gumbs, a for­mer re­ceiv­ing clerk who pleaded guilty July 26 to grand lar­ceny for em­bez­zling $1.2 mil­lion from the hos­pi­tal through ex­ces­sive toner or­ders, as re­ported by the Associated Press.

Gumbs got the money by or­der­ing printer toner, steal­ing it and then re­selling it, pre­sum­ably to rep­re­sen­ta­tives of what ap­par­ently is a thriv­ing black mar­ket in toner. Haven’t seen that in a Martin Scors­ese movie. Authorities say Gumbs had de­liv­ery driv­ers meet him and give him the sup­plies on the street, then resold them and pock­eted the cash.

Gumbs was fired af­ter his Novem­ber ar­rest, and the 33-year-old ex­pects to be sen­tenced Aug. 8 to 2 ½ to 7 ½ years in prison. He’ll also have to give up pro­ceeds from sell­ing a BMW SUV, a di­a­mond Rolex watch, Vuit­ton bags and other pricey items.

The hos­pi­tal de­clined to com­ment.

Get­ting stiffed on the bill

Tampa (Fla.) Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal has filed a $9.2 mil­lion claim against the es­tate of a woman who died af­ter spend­ing five years in the hos­pi­tal, ac­cord­ing to Hills­bor­ough County court doc­u­ments cited in an Associated Press ar­ti­cle.

In court doc­u­ments, that’s how much the hos­pi­tal says it is owed for the care of Tameka Jaqway Camp­bell. She died at age 29 two years ago of pro­gres­sive de­myeli­nat­ing neu­ropa­thy, which oc­curs when the im­mune cells at­tack the body’s nerves.

Camp­bell’s mother be­lieves the steep bill is in­tended to pre­vent her from fil­ing a wrong­ful-death law­suit against the hos­pi­tal. The hos­pi­tal de­clined to com­ment to the AP.

It’s un­clear whether the $9.2 mil­lion in hos­pi­tal charges is a record. The Amer­i­can Hos­pi­tal As­so­ci­a­tion, the Health Care Fi­nan­cial Man­age­ment As­so­ci­a­tion and nu­mer­ous oth­ers did not know of any­one who keeps track of such things.

“That would have to be the big­gest bill I’ve heard of,” said Alan Levine, a divi­sion pres­i­dent at the Naples, Fla.-based hos­pi­tal chain Health Man­age­ment As­so­ciates. “I’ve seen more than $1 mil­lion,” he said. “But not $9 mil­lion.”

Wait a sec­ond, isn’t that your job?

The Pa­tient-Cen­tered Out­comes Re­search In­sti­tute, cre­ated by Congress as part of health­care re­form, re­cently an­nounced it was ask­ing the pub­lic for help in defin­ing “pa­tient-cen­tered out­comes re­search.”

One could as­sume that such an in­sti­tute could at least de­fine the type of re­search they do, but of­fi­cials there say the call for help is a sign they’re go­ing above and be­yond the call of duty, as op­posed to the slack­ing off that it might ap­pear to be at first glance. The or­ga­ni­za­tion was cre­ated to help pa­tients and those who care for them make in­formed health de­ci­sions.

“Defin­ing pa­tient-cen­tered out­comes re­search is foun­da­tional work for PCORI,” said Dr. Eu­gene Wash­ing­ton, chair­man of the PCORI board and vice chan­cel­lor of health sci­ences and dean of the David Gef­fen School of Medicine at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Los An­ge­les, in a state­ment. “So­lic­it­ing in­put on the def­i­ni­tion goes be­yond PCORI’s statu­tory re­quire­ments and demon­strates our com­mit­ment to pa­tient and stake­holder in­volve­ment through­out our work.”

OK, but if the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health starts ask­ing for help defin­ing health, it’s time to get wor­ried.

Be pre­pared … to op­er­ate

A sur­geon might shy away from de­scrib­ing ro­botic surgery as “awe­some,” but it didn’t stop a 13-year-old Boy Scout from say­ing it af­ter he learned last week about ro­bot-as­sisted surgery at a Texas hos­pi­tal.

“This was the most awe­some thing I’ve ever done for a merit badge,” Alex Aiken said, ac­cord­ing to a Texas Health Pres­by­te­rian Hos­pi­tal Boy Scouts in Texas get to ex­pe­ri­ence first­hand how “awe­some” it is to work with in­stru­ments for ro­botic surgery. Plano news re­lease.

The Boy Scouts troop vis­ited the hos­pi­tal, in­clud­ing an op­er­at­ing room, to earn one com­po­nent of their ro­bot­ics merit badges, which re­quire each scout to un­der­stand how ro­bots move, sense the en­vi­ron­ment and un­der­stand what to do. The hos­pi­tal said the eight boys, who are all 11 to 15 years old, each got to try hold­ing the in­stru­ments for the sur­gi­cal ro­bot and han­dling the re­mote com­mand cen­ter.

Thank­fully, there was no ro­botic revolt along the lines of those seen in “2001: A Space Odyssey” or “The Ma­trix.”

“It was re­ally, re­ally, re­ally, re­ally cool,” Aiken said.

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