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tv   [untitled]    December 21, 2012 4:00pm-4:30pm EST

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don't look now but it appears the u.s. is headed off the fiscal cliff after talks broke down last night congress is headed home for christmas vacation so tonight will shine a light on the one hundred twelfth congress one that's been called the worst ever. you usually are tight and nervous any time you check into the hospital for surgery but a new study looks at how common medical mistakes are here in the u.s. some of the details of this new report might surprise you. as twenty twelve comes to a close the rolling jew believe is on is ending on a high note the occupy movements latest project is to buy
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a debt and discharge it will have an update on their progress. it's friday december twenty first or of him in washington d.c. meghan lopez and you're watching r.t. well it's official we survive the so-called end of the world that is the end of the mayan calendar but while we might have avoided the fireballs and earthquakes the u.s. is still barreling toward economic calamity with relentless fiscal cliff talks and things didn't improve much last night in fact talks moved back to square one when republican speaker john boehner pulled his plan b. bill from the house floor after failing to garner enough votes from his own party now three months ago to the day i sat at this desk and talked about the numerous bills that congress still needed to pass before the year ended so let's check up on our politicians progress. first up
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a bill to avoid the so-called proverbial fiscal cliff stopping seaquest ration and preventing what is essentially a congress mandated recession as we know from last night the negotiations that have sucked up so much time and effort remain up in the air and what about that the national defense authorization act to fund our troops for next year not yet the house of representatives approved a final version of the bill yesterday but it still must pass through the senate floor before ending up on the president's desk as for the farm bill which we which supports things like cross some of these not even close many say this bill is tied up with the fiscal cliff talks and its budget is on the chopping block the reform bill to overhaul the kastrup u.s. postal service a big fat no they actually posted a fifteen point nine billion dollars loss for the two thousand and twelve fiscal year and the violence against women act nope the foreign intelligence surveillance
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act. nope but could it could be pushed through capitol hill without any discussion about its potential privacy concerns in the future so information like this has one person after another calling this the do nothing congress and as article political correspondent christine for us out is covered this problem is actually getting much worse. inside the chambers of this powerful dome some of the most important laws of the land have been drawn up debated and eventually etched into the framework of american history. as the measure. by president john but these days the chambers often look like this. that's because in the two years the one hundred twelfth congress has been in session they've been to work in washington less than a third of the time here's a breakdown according to the library of congress is thomas dot gov the u.s.
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house of representatives spent just one hundred seventy five days in session last year just one hundred thirty days this year the senate this year also did legislative work just over one hundred days the entire year according to many members that's because they're busy working back in their districts when i go home . go home to work. go home people who say you're not working you're campaigning work because i don't think i'm campaigning when i'm in my office meeting with the elected officials from throughout not just but many point fingers at the other side saying it's their fault nothing gets done if people say this is a do nothing congress i think the house republican leadership has to look themselves in the eye and ask why do they keep asking that the president's idea of a negotiation is roll over and do what i asked or got seven weeks between election day and the end of the year. and three of those wait weeks have been wasted with
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with this nonsense according to roll call during the first session of the one hundred twelfth congress the house and senate each passed the fewest number of bills in any congress since at least one nine hundred forty seven when lawmaking activity first started being recorded congress can't even pass bills that are generally passed annually the farm bill which expired september thirtieth has yet to be renewed or extended and there's been some action though in the u.s. house more than sixty bills to rename post offices were introduced members also voted more than thirty times to repeal the affordable care act all the while knowing it would neither be passed by the senate nor signed by the president in the senate seventeen bills that likely would have passed didn't due to the use of. filibustering according to the washington post recession is scheduled to close on january third two thousand and thirteen and yet again another important vote is being left until the last minute how the so-called fiscal cliff might not be the
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history making decision people talk about for decades but the process may well be the legacy of the one hundred twelfth congress of putting politics above people and having both sides come up short in the end in washington christine for our team. so is the one hundred twelfth congress the true do nothing congress and what do americans really think about their lawmakers well according to a new gallup poll a mere eighteen percent of americans approve of the job congress is doing at the moment and those are the good numbers for the lorry harshness of the resident dot net went to the streets of the big apple to find out what average americans think about congress. as many hard working americans look forward to taking a break from the grind so does congress did they deserve a holiday this week let's talk about that we're talking today about congress because there's that take their break right now you're already rolling your eyes
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i've only just said the word it's awful what you can do they don't do anything and they're taking a break while yet because that's what they do they don't do anything and they're going to do you think that they have been working hard enough to deserve a holiday never and i won't say anymore because it'll be a bad word of those going to go and kick the can down the road a little bit for the next year yeah and nothing's going to change something may change but there's going to deal with it again next year so you work more than one hundred forty days a year so everyone deserves some time off the extent of it that's another story so yeah i do think they should get a break but with the fiscal cliff being what it is they should probably work through the holidays which do you think that they know what the answer is and they're just kind of posturing because you know republicans have to say that they're not going to raise taxes democrats have to say they're not going to make cuts but at the end of the day they're going to compromise absolutely they have to so what's with this posturing bad enough of that why don't they just get real. i
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think part of politics is being reelected and so the politicians need to seem to their constituents. loyal and sometimes beyond reasonable bounds are we that stupid some people are what's the answer. i think the answer is is is more more public scrutiny of their performance or public involvement in the in the process and does that involve more intelligence public to get involved to a better informed public and a public that is is paying closer attention to what these people are doing so maybe a media that's less bought by corporate interests that keep feeding into the political machine that would be helping the bottom line is no the congress did not deserve a holiday but they probably are going to enjoy more vacation then we commoners could ever imagine so just remember that if you take your measly vacation this year and we had a. all
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right i'd like to set up a scenario for you imagine you are in need of serious serious medical procedure one that requires you to put your life and your health in the hands of doctors and go under the needle for an unspecified amount of time you wake up hours later only to realize that they did the wrong procedure on the wrong body part. it's a fear that almost every patient that enters an operating room has and believe it or not this is not some urban legend medical accidents things that are like operating on the wrong person or the wrong body part or even leaving tools inside of a person's body are called never events never because they are preventable errors that should not happen under any circumstances and yet they do take a look at this according to a new report by the sort of surgery journal objects are left in patients bodies at least thirty nine times a week doctors perform the wrong procedure on the wrong patient about twenty times
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a week and they operate on the wrong body part about twenty times a week as well so to talk about this disturbing numbers coming out of this report peter provost senior present vice president of the patient safety at john hopkins school of medicine joins me now who is one of the researchers who contributed to the study while computers so how is it that technology and innovation the have led doctors to be able to perform miracles like taking a tumor out of a person's brain but the surgeon can't remember to take all of their utensils with them when they leave well maybe in your apt. and for the public it almost seems incredulous to say how could we do these brilliant operations that save lives and in most operations go well many times in a week in the u.s. now comply with some pretty basic stuff and it's important to realize megan that nobody wants this to happen the doctors and nurses the administrators work very hard but they happen i think in part because of the still often. toxic
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see. because we're not using technologies to help prevent this and the report that you contributed to estimated that eighty thousand of these so-called never events have happened over the past two decades and that's a low estimate on on what the report says is actually going on so explain how you came upon this data and why you think the real number could actually be a lot higher but you're right maybe the gate of b.s. that we used to find these is called the national practitioner database and it's a database of liability claims now practice claims in the united states but what's important to recognize is not all of these never events actually lead to a claim indeed the minority probably do some estimates that only one in seven or one in ten claims are events go to. it and not every claim is actually
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submitted to this database so these numbers are likely a significant underestimate of how often they're happening so like what we know is despite a lot of effort it's been developed to sleep try to reduce these and we really have to refocus our efforts i do have to ask you clear given the number of surgeries that are performed each year is this really this problem really as big as it sounds or is it a little bit more than it sounds i mean are we overestimating this syrian that you're actually right the vast vast majority of operations go without any of these new never events happening that most most patients indeed fewer than one percent go on without having a sponge left in or operating on the wrong side of the body and so an absolute percent and it is it's small but for you or the public or your mother it's small it isn't good enough hugh have the operated on the wrong side of the body or have the
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wrong procedure it's. get a magic and we have to really make sure we work that never happens again and there's many things that patients can get engaged in to try to help prevent this and it's not necessarily scaffolds that are being left in a person's body as you mentioned it's sponges and things like this this is obviously not exactly a medical sponge but the number one thing that are being that is being left in a patient's body as a sponge the number two and three thing as multiple sponges so talk about the impacts of leaving something in a person's body and what it actually does well many of these things that will find them when the patient comes back either complaining of some persistent pm or has some signs of infections and afan and further foul up we find out that indeed there was this sponge left and the care team would go back in and try in remove the sponge it's generally not difficult to take it out
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but as you can imagine they're here in the exact often long period of having penal infections and then the reoperation are quite concerning to patients so let me ask appear when a patient enters the operating room you know they're forced to trust the doctor that is performing the surgery on them i mean is there really any way that a patient can protect themselves from becoming a very a victim of this like medical malpractise. yes there's a number of things they can do. one is when they come into the hospital for surgery before they're asleep when they're waiting to go into the operating room they could do a number of things one they should be really clear that they know what operation they're having and what part of the body they're being operated on to as they should make sure that the consent form that they sign a stating in what they are giving permission to do to them exactly matches what
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they believe in their mind or they have written elsewhere is the operation and three they should make sure that the doctor actually mark marks the site of where this operation is supposed to happen so if it's my right knee or my left shoulder that there's actually a marking so that they go in to do that and those are some strategies to prevent having the wrong operation or the wrong part of your body operated on and peter let's go ahead and talk about what the hospitals can do to protect these patients what what are the solutions the hospitals can take something like checklists are increasing communication things like that your apps are xo hospitals are using checklist and they're required by the joint commission but as you can see by these data they have not been particularly effective yet in these in part that might mean that they're done but there are what we call ritualized compliance that the checklist is just being checked but the people aren't really focused or paying
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attention and. so we need to do a couple things one is work on improving a safety culture and what i mean by that is a culture where people are focused on keeping patients safe their confortable speaking up and questioning each other into life in doctors in yours. just to each other in some other research we did we found that in ninety percent of bad events that patients happen these significant errors somebody knew something was wrong but either didn't speak up to be crew presumably because they get yelled or they spoke up and they were ignored and that's just too high of a price to pay for poor teamwork in culture compare the study also found that sixty two percent of the surgeons that have performed one of these never events were cited for more than one so were cited more than once on separate malpractise reports i mean what is being done about those doctors and how can a patient ensure that they won't have the wrong person working on
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a well rachel you're absolutely right what we see is the vast majority of physicians perform excellent care but there are some physicians who seem to cluster with these events that they might seem to have a pattern of having more complaints than others having more practice claims than others and that might be a sign of poor power. or a sign of random error but what consumers should do is a number of things one make sure that their doctor is board certified it's not a perfect check but it's relatively easy to check most states in the united states . me hundreds have websites that you can look up to see if your doctor is board certified you can always ask them to as you can look up if they have significant complaints about their doctor that's affan through state licensing boards in the united states or similar things it inch internationally and they can look up if
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there is a database of malpractise claims such as this one and sound like i had a worse type of modeling. maybe perhaps most importantly is are so they should make sure that the doctor does that what they are going to do frequently that for most procedures there is a volume outcome relationship and what in other words what we mean is that the doctors who do more of these tend to do better in just last week meghan i was caring for a pee in the intensive care unit that had in a softer geale operation that we're terribly wrong and. that. was all that she had it done and it was an edge on talkin she was transferred into johns hopkins had done one of those the last year and jan hopkins did over one hundred and i asked her as she spoke to a leading to did the hospital or the doctor tell her that she only they only had performed one and she was taking a greenlee and here's to risk by not going to
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a hospital that does more of these and she said no she never knew she was at increased risk and so being finding out is this something that the hospital does are often is a really really important thing that's ever interesting star in a very interesting court peter obviously you can only trust the people that and whose life hands you put your life in and we appreciate you coming on and talking about the study of the resource and you did that was peter pronovost senior vice president of patient safety at johns hopkins school of medicine. and speaking of hospitals and more specifically medical bills occupy wall street's brainchild the rolling jubilee has now raised enough money to retire over nine million dollars in medical debt the movement has now raised over four hundred fifty thousand dollars and counting it's buying up people's debt for pennies on the dollar and then simply for giving it the rolling jubilee launched a little over
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a month ago with the goal of restarting of the conversation about debt in this country here to talk about the progress of this movement and what it's done in the last five weeks and larson from the strife that campaign. hi diane thanks for joining us so you just had a mailing party where are you are sending out these letters and informing these people that you were just paying off their debt and that is taken care of they don't need to worry about it anymore how does that go. well first of all hi megan and jubilation happy holidays from the strike campaign yes we've raised almost a half a million dollars to abolish almost ten million dollars in medical debt and our first buy has been completed we started small we use five thousand dollars from the fund and we purchased just over one hundred thousand dollars in medical debt so as you can see on the secondary market debt is bought and sold very cheaply and we just abolish that debt it's it cannot be collected on and also last week we had
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a party and we created packages for the debtors whose debt has been abolished and we're in the process of letting them know what's happened sending them a letter sending them a copy of the debt resisters operations manual which is one of the other initiatives a strike debt and letting another off the hook and how many people are you actually able to send letters to at this point are our last at the at the letter writing party we wrote to forty four debtors and told them that the medical debt that they owed debt that they got into because they did nothing but get sick and couldn't pay the bill that that's been abolished have you gotten responses from those people we have not heard from them yet we just sent the letters out earlier this week and now we're waiting to see how we give them information how to contact us our phone number e-mail and we're waiting to see if we hear from them and when we do we'll let you know sounds good i know interesting point to make is that medical debt is actually the leading cause for bankruptcy in the us sixty two percent of people have filed for bankruptcy have loads of outstanding medical debt we've got by your
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group chose to focus on medical debt first. exactly you know like as you said two thirds of bankruptcies are caused by medical debt and another interesting fact is that most of those people had private health insurance at the time that they declared bankruptcy as a result of medical debt so this is not even really a question of people who don't have insurance this is a question of the private health insurance industry cannot provide people with the kind of health care that they really need so we decided to focus on medical debt because it really is one of the most odious forms of debt that we have a simply no reason for people to go into debt and for other people banks and hospitals to profit just because somebody gets sick and talk to me a little bit about the process what was it like to go into the marketplace and to buy up this debt what was the process first of all and was the or movement accepted that you guys face any backlash we've been working on the wrong you believe the project of strike debt which is an offshoot of occupy wall street and this idea to
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buy a defaulted debt on the secondary debt market has been around an activist circles for quite some time i first heard about it over a year ago and several of us have been working on this campaign for many months we consulted with lawyers and people in the debt industry this took many many months to pull off and we had to develop relationships within the debt industry because you know it is it is we're not going to collect on the debt like debt buyers and debt collectors usually do so we had to sort of prove to the debt buyers and collectors that we're working with that we really were that we really were serious about purchasing the debt but we were also just a serious about not collecting on it so it did take several months of work to make this happen and what was that like working with the people that you were arguably protesting against. right right yeah i mean it's definitely kind of using capitalism against itself i mean the secondary market is is very sleazy and there is a huge amount of profit to be made the debt collectors for example in new york city in a true year period they made almost a billion dollars trying to collect these debts from people and most of the time
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they're trying to collect from the most the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society people who who don't have health insurance who don't have a job and who live in poor low income neighborhoods so so these really are these this is the scum of the earth that we're talking about definitely but i also want to point out that we shouldn't let wall street and the big banks off the hook because here's how it works wall street. gives the credit line to the consumer in the first place right and then the consumer can't pay the bill so the big bank then writes off of the debt and they get a tax break so it's like a mini bailout for the bank and then they sell the debt to the secondary debt market where these debt buyers and debt collectors operate but what also what's also true is that wall street banks many of them also own debt collection firms so really the big banks are very much at the center of this and they're winning every way they can stuff only a tangled web the leave let's talk about this i mean the rolling jubilee movement
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always said everybody that we've talked to says this isn't about solving the name of the nation's debt problems it's about moving the dialogue about this country forward do you think it's helped. absolutely i mean we're not going to purchased all the debt that was never the intention we wanted to start a conversation you know a lot of people feel a lot of shame about their debt whether it's medical debt or student debt or credit card debt that they made a mistake they should have gotten themselves into that situation and we believe that that's not true that actually debt is a system and debt is a trap and there are all the different kinds of debt are connected so we're trying to change the shame we're trying to flip the script a little bit that the shame around debt is really on the side of the creditor and on people who give credit lines to consumers who don't have jobs and who can't pay and who make money on things like sickness so we're trying to change the script a little bit about to get people to rethink this shame and that's actually working really well there are a lot of conversations happening online we get hundreds of e-mails hundreds of e-mails from people who want to share their story and who are so so grateful to
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have people to share their story with and they've felt ashamed and isolated for a very long time and those people are starting to starting to emerge and starting to find each other and so we feel like there's a great potential there just for community a community of debtor's that can join together to fight the debt system well and we're interested to see what you guys do with the rest of the money and we know that this was a national buy up so we'll see how you guys use the rest the money in the future and who's debt you choose to absolve that was and larsen from the strike debt campaign we appreciate your time thanks megan. all right capital account is up next with lauren lister let's check in with her to see what's on today's agenda hey there lauren we're getting close to a fiscal cliff deadline and when we are we were all those supposed to be getting close to the end of the world according to some we're going off of the mayan calendar and believing that that was to be today i think it's fair to say by this point that it didn't happen but what this can teach us about the nature prediction is rich with anecdotes and food for thought when you're talking about something
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like finance especially when we make so many financial forecasts at a time like this going into two thousand and thirteen rounding out the year we will do that today with dave call and he's actually a professor at cornell in chemistry but he has made a name for himself writing a year review he does it every december with economic financial investment kind of analysis for the year and also trends looking forward and it has become a huge hit it's out today for two thousand and twelve he's here to talk about it and we're going to talk about all of the things that maybe people need to have on their radar that are not the fiscal cliff mega that is just the tip of the iceberg do not get distracted by it. things warrant you know one of the best christmas gifts you can give yourselves probably of a safe financial future for yourself and your family but that's going to do it now in the news for more on the stories we covered go to youtube dot com slash r.t. america or check us out on the web site r t dot com slash usa you can also follow
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me on twitter meghan underscore lopez and don't forget to tweet me any stories that you have or that you want us to know about again at meghan underscore lopez see you back here at five. mission free accreditation three times four judges three arrangements three risk free studio types of free. download free broadcast quality video for your media projects and free media oh god
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r t dot com. you know how sometimes you see a story and it seems so for lengthly you think you understand it and then you glimpse something else you hear or see some other part of it and realize everything you thought you knew you don't know i'm tom harvey welcome to the big picture. elite.


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