Want to Fall Down and Break Something? Keep Popping Those Pills

Pill Popping

Common prescriptions now linked to serious falls in elderly patients

Well, don’t you just have to hand it to healthcare.

It seems that half of the most frequently doled-out drugs to older adults by doctors can be counted on to raise their frequency of falls, at least according to a recent study.

Researchers studying the medical records of 64,000 Swedish patients over age 65 learned that antidepressants and narcotics for pain were tied to a greater likelihood of patients being injured in a fall. In fact, out of the 20 medications studied, severe injuries were linked to 11 of them.

A research author, Ms. Jette Moller of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, said, “Medications that affect the central nervous system – such as hypnotics, sedatives, analgesics and antidepressants,” are the most strongly linked to falls.

The data show that elderly males and females prescribed narcotic painkillers, and males taking antidepressants, were twice as vulnerable to have a fall injury as those not taking those drugs. Women taking antidepressants are far more likely to have a fall injury.

Although medications may improve the quality of life of the elderly, Moller believes the risk of being seriously injured in a fall must be a factor in deciding whether to take them.

“Patients should be able to make informed decisions about the medication they take. Fall injuries are a serious threat to the health and well-being of older people in their own right and this needs to be acknowledged,” she told Reuters Health in an email.

The full study can be seen in the most recent issue of the European Journal of Public Health.



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Doctor: ‘Yes, I Killed Paul Beesley, Joyce Curnett, Christina Green, Lorra Hilton, Victoria Pretzer, SaShawn Saatian, Michelle Salazar and Jennifer Zimmerman’

Doctor William M. Valuck

Doctor William M. Valuck: “Yes, I killed them”

In Oklahoma City a physician was convicted this week on 8 charges of Second Degree Murder.

Doctor William M. Valuck, age 71, had changed his “Not Guilty” plea to “Guilty” Wednesday before Judge Susan Johnson in Oklahoma County District Court to the killings. Judge Johnson then sentenced him – coincidentally – to  an eight-year prison term.

 Valuck, a former surgeon, was proven by prosecutors to have directly caused the deaths by over-prescribing narcotics to his patients.

Patients Michelle Salazar, Paul Beesley, Jennifer Zimmerman, Joyce Curnett, Christina Green, Lorra Hilton, Victoria Pretzer and SaShawn Saatian, all died as the result of prescription drug toxicity.

DEA agent Mary Surovec told the court that she witnessed entire carloads of so-called “patients” arrive at the Advanced Care Clinic where Valuck worked. Many reported they were issued Oxycodone hydrocodone and alprazolam.

Valuck showed no emotion throughout the proceedings and made no comment while being led to and from the courtroom.

In exchange for his admission, more than 5 dozen illegal drug distribution charges against the wayward physician were dropped

Prosecutors stated that because of Valuck’s poor health and advanced age, they offered a guilty plea arrangement, and the doctor agreed.

Here’s more:


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Our Observations:

One year in jail for each murder.

Think about that.

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Here’s the Book on Doctors

Tribute Books logo


“America’s Dumbest Doctors” 

Book review by Nicole Langan

Did your neighbor or coworker make our list?

Sometimes you’re just in sync with the universe. As I was reading Patrick McDonald’s America’s Dumbest Doctors, a story appeared in my local newspaper entitled “Alleged Victim Testifies at Surgeon’s Assault Trial.” The story related how a doctor became enraged when his date danced with an elderly man at an Italian restaurant, where the couple had stopped for drinks.

On the way home, the doctor pulled into a car wash parking lot where he proceeded to drag the woman from the car, kicking her several times in the back. Police later found the woman at a nearby gas station where a 911 call had been placed from a pay phone. The woman did not press charges, but the detective assigned to the case charged the doctor with Assault after reviewing pictures the woman had taken of bruises on her body. The doctor has since left town, but he continues to practice medicine in a nearby metropolitan area. His trial is currently underway.

When I first picked up this book, I thought, “Well this collection of stories is horrifying, but these things don’t happen where I live.”

Who doesn't trust us?

Who doesn’t trust us?

As the above newspaper story illustrates, I couldn’t have been more wrong. McDonald, at the onset of his work, wonders why no one has ever written a comprehensive book on the bad behavior of doctors. As San Diego’s first EMS supervisor, he was exposed to the misdeeds of a profession whose members consider themselves beyond reproach. What is truly frightening is that these rogue doctors violate a sacred trust. They are not scheming Wall Street tycoons or common thugs. They are who we turn to when things go wrong. We entrust our very being into their hands. It is an intimate connection that is severed by these doctors who willfully turn their backs on the Hippocratic Oath.

McDonald peppers his text with interesting tidbits. He states, “We have 100,000+ working physicians in this country within the IQ ranges of janitors and farmhands.” The book’s premise is supported through numerous examples of news headlines taken from across the country. Doctors are charged with murder, rape, drug trafficking, insurance fraud, child molestation, medical malpractice, sexual harassment, money laundering – the list goes on and on.

The misbehavior of thousands of doctors has consequences for the entire medical field. Medical mistakes and fraud raise insurance rates. One headline states, “Surgical Mistakes Cost Insurance Companies 1.5 Billion Dollars Annually.” Another relates, “4,600 American Hospitals Scam Insurance Plans.”

While doctors’ mistreatment of nurses leave hospitals understaffed. A supporting headline states, “Abusive Docs are Driving Out Nurses.” Another proclaims, “429,000 Nurses a Year are Victims of Assault. Too Many are by Doctors.”

Lady Liberty Embarrassed

Readers will recognize famous cases such as the Texas MD who deliberately ran down her philandering physician-husband with her Mercedes in a hotel parking lot. Another being the doctor who blew up his New York City apartment building when he tampered with a gas line because he was angry with his estranged wife. Others are more obscure like the doctor dressed as Captain America who assaulted a woman at a bar with a burrito stuffed down his crotch. While an OB-GYN in California used secret cameras hidden in his shirt and in the air vent above the examination table to film teenage patients during breast and pelvic exams.

After reading this book, it is inevitable that you will never look at your own physician the same way.

America’s Dumbest Doctors by K. Patrick McDonald is available at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle, as well as Barnes & Noble.



“Do I really have a right to laugh out loud at these appalling stories?”

That was my question, as I sat stunned at not only the audacity of these people in the book, but the sheer numbers of them.

I’d heard the author speak on the Coping With Caregiving radio show, and I must say I was certain he was exaggerating. I could not have been more offbase. This book should be required reading in every medical ethics course in America. For our own safety, citizens ought to read it, but physicians should be FORCED to. I plan to carry my copy of this book to each medical appointment I ever go to. Wow.

J.W. Nicklaus

I actually like my doctor, but I rarely visit him. After reading this review, perhaps that’s a good thing for more reasons than just my health.

I already have a deep-rooted aversion to salespeople–must I loathe doctors as well?

Your review makes the book reminiscent of a train wreck–you don’t want to look, but you can’t help yourself. It’s simultaneously horrifying and mesmerizing.


I’m a relatively new graduate fortunate enough to have been hired last year by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Here at Mayo, I’d guess very little of these kinds of shenanigans go on. I suspect much of the misbehavior occurs at less-regulated institutions, where the majority of MDs on staff are contract, and not directly employed.

That said, my years in med school offered considerable proof that, yes, wackos in lab coats are hardly a rare commodity, and some “off-campus” behavior borders insanity.

In spite of my love for what we doctors do, I found myself buying the book, reluctantly, and relating stories from it to my friends. Our consensus is, “Well, there but for the grace of Buddha . . . .”

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When You Think of Doctors . . . Is This What Comes to Mind?

Dr Akram Ismail

Dr Akram Ismail, Guilty Murder for Hire scheme

Dr Earl Bradley

Dr Earl Bradley, Guilty, 471 counts of Child Sexual Assault


Dr Conrad Murray

Dr Conrad Murray, Guilty in the death of Michael Jackson


Dr Barton Corbin

Dr Barton Corbin, Guilty, Murder, wife and a former girlfriend


Dr Ashwani Duggal

Dr Ashwani Duggal, Guilty, Sexual Assault of a housekeeper







Dr Chris Thompson

Dr Christopher Thompson, Guilty, Assaulting bicyclists with his car


We didn’t think so.

The sad fact is, there are simply not enough hours in the day to tell the stories of all 200 doctors convicted each month.

But we can promise you this:

We give it our best shot.

So be safe out there.

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Historical Hysterics: The “Brooklyn Bone-snatcher”

Dr Michael Mastromarino

Dr Michael Mastromarino

Take out the bones, put in the pipes. Whose gonna know?

Take out the bones, put in the pipes. Whose gonna know?


July 7, 2013

Doctor Michael Mastromarino died today in a New York hospital. The man was 49 years old and serving a prison sentence at the time. You may or may not recall the former oral surgeon. But he became quite famous several years ago, when he decided the optimal path to wealth-building was not to be found among the living. Why stoop to anything so mundane as patient care, when stealing body parts from cadavers at funeral homes was so much more, shall we say, interesting?

It seems that madman Mastromarino was – in the early 2000s – a chronic drug addict, and when the state of New York found that he was performing surgery on patients while strung out on narcotics, they pulled his medical license in 2002. Of course “health care” being what it is, he had no problem at all becoming relicensed, this time as a  human tissue bank and biological surgical instrument supplier. So being a creative sort of fellow, he cultivated a sneaky clan of mortuary staff and started paying them $1000 for each “suitable” body. Then he hired “assistants” Christopher Aldorasi and Lee Cruceta, and went into business. Biomedical Tissue Services. Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? Sounds legit?

No it wasn’t, my friends. Not even close. Mastromarino was cutting out bones, tissue and organs from New York’s dead residents. And to make it all work, he would fake patient charts, medical records, transfer forms and death certificates, all making the patient age, health status and cause of death appear . . . you know . . . legal.

And do you want to know the really cool part? Mastromarino was raking in $10,000 per body. On good days he and his psycho friends could chop up seven or eight poor folks, and who had to know?

But then, here come those damned Brooklyn New York cops, investigating irregularities at the Daniel George & Son Funeral Home in Bensonhurst, in 2005. Weird news reports started popping up of course, revealing appalling details, like a secret room in the funeral home set up for surgeries; leg bones replaced by plastic PVC pipes, so the bodies would appear, you know, normal, at open casket viewings.

Alistair Cooke

Alistair Cooke

One of the bodies they cut up and distributed to hospitals was world famous. It belonged to Alistair Cooke, the highly respected English newsman and former TV host of “Masterpiece Theater.” They sent this gentleman’s arms and leg bones out, too – to be implanted into living people – even though his body was wracked with cancer cells.

But all good things must come to an end, and the macabre Doctor Mastromarino was finally handcuffed in 2006, along with two of his body cutters and an embalmer. He changed his “Not Guilty” plea to “Guilty” in 2008, to numerous charges of Body Theft, Corruption, Reckless Patient Endangerment. He was sentenced to a minimum of 15 years. He and his wife, Barbara were ordered to pay nearly $5,000,000  to the victims’ relatives.

As for the famous  Alister Cooke, well, his adult daughter Susan Cooke Kittredge, said this, in an article in New York Magazine:

“My father would have been just horrified by the illegal harvesting. But he would have appreciated the Dickensian nature of the crime. “

Rev Susan Cooke Kittredge

Rev Susan Cooke Kittredge

Ah, American medicine. Don’t you just love it?

Have a terrific weekend, readers, and thank you for your continued support.

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Hospital: ‘Got a Cut Finger? Fine. We Just Charged You $9,000′

Who gave WHO the finger?

Who gave WHO the finger?

A teacher in New Jersey was just a bit baffled when he was slapped with a $9,000 hospital bill after the cut on his finger was bandaged in the ER.

Mr. Baer Hanusz-Rajkowski reported that he had cut his finger with the sharp end of a hammer while at home. He decided to go to Bayonne Medical Center, where  it was determined that he had suffered such a minor injury that it required neither an x-ray nor stitches. So Hanusz-Rajkowski left with a bandaged middle finger. NBC New York said he was surprised to get this in the mail:

>  $8,200 for the emergency room visit.

>  $180 for a tetanus shot

>  $242 for sterile dressing

>  $8 for a squirt of antibacterial ointment

The remainder was paid to the nurse practitioner.

That $9,000 bill left Hanusz-Rajkowski speechless. From NBC:

“I got a Band-Aid and a tetanus shot. How could it be $9,000? This is crazy,” Hanusz-Rajkowski said.

America. What a country.

Here’s another peek at the case:


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Do Doctors Recomemend Healthcare as a Career? Nope

Physician Survey Respondents Indicate They Are Actively Discouraging Individuals from Entering the Medical Profession, While Also Contemplating Early Retirement

I Hate My Job

The Doctors Company - the largest insurer of physician and surgeon liability with 71,000 members – has announced results from the largest physician survey ever conducted on the future of health care in America. More than 5,000 doctor-members responded. And the overwhelming indication is that concerns regarding healthcare staff shortages may be compounded by physician opinions about their profession.

Specifically, nine out of 10 doctor respondents said they do not recommend health care as a profession. In addition, 43% report they are considering retiring within the next five years because of the changes in America’s health care system. A copy of the Future of Health Care Survey is available on The Doctors Company Knowledge Center.

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