Friday, March 23, 2012

The Morning Drill: March 23, 2012

Cole and patient web

Happy Friday!

On to today's dentistry and health headlines:

Texas, feds take action on orthodontic fraud

A Dallas dentist has agreed to pay the state and federal government $1.2 million to resolve allegations that he submitted false orthodontic claims under Medicaid.

Dr. Richard Malouf, former majority owner of All Smiles Dental Center, allegedly submitted false Medicaid claims between 2004 and 2007.

News 8 reported on Malouf's lavish homes and two multimillion dollar corporate jets. Malouf did not admit any wrongdoing or liability in his settlement.

He is one of several orthodontists highlighted for multimillion dollar billings under Medicaid.

Eleven dental operations statewide have had their state funds suspended for credible allegations of fraud in billing the Texas Medicaid Orthodontics program. This follows a 10-month News 8 investigation of medicaid orthodontics in Texas, which found the state spends more on braces for poor children than the rest of the nation combined.

"Something's wrong and I want my money back," said Texas Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound). Nelson called a hearing to look into how Texas spent $424 million on orthodontics under Medicaid between 2008 and 2010

Ostrow/USC Dental school aims to raise $115 million

The Ostrow School of Dentistry is launching a fundraising campaign to raise $115 million over the next seven years.

The initiative launch is in conjunction with the school’s 115th anniversary and is one of the largest fundraising endeavors of a dental institution in the U.S. The fundraiser is also part of the comprehensive Campaign for USC, a fundraising drive seeking to raise $6 billion for the university.

The school plans to use the money to fund scholarships, recruit and retain faculty, build facilities and care for patients.

Calen Ouellette, director of development and alumni relations for Ostrow, said the fundraising initiative will focus on articulating these goals to the public.

“There’s a strong communication component to [the campaign] where we’re making sure our alumni and friends know what’s happening within the school and know what our objectives are,” Oullette said.

The funds will mainly be used to provide student scholarships, Ouellette said.

Can Our Genes Be Making Us Fat?

While high-fat foods are thought to be of universal appeal, there is actually a lot of variation in the extent to which people like and consume fat. A new study in the March issue of the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists, reported that two specific genes (TAS2R38-a bitter taste receptor and CD36-a possible fat receptor), may play a role in some people's ability to taste and enjoy dietary fat. By understanding the role of these two genes, food scientists may be able to help people who have trouble controlling how much fat they eat.

Most food scientists acknowledge the texture of fat plays a big role in how fat is perceived in the mouth. For example, ice cream is typically "rich, smooth and creamy." And certain fats, scientists have determined, can be detected by smell. Only recently have food scientists explored that most fats have a taste too. Researchers are now investigating the gene (CD360) that is responsible for detecting the taste of fats (fatty acids) in the mouth.

Voice, throat problems common after anesthesia

A fresh look at past research suggests voice and throat problems are common in patients who've had a breathing tube placed during general anesthesia.

Researchers pooled a dozen studies that looked at complications following the use of an endotracheal tube or laryngeal mask, two popular techniques that allow patients to breathe while being put under for surgery.

While the complication rates varied, one study found as many as seven out of 10 patients suffered a vocal cord injury, such as swelling or internal bleeding.

In general, it's a very safe thing to do -- having general anesthesia with a breathing tube in place," said Dr. Norman Hogikyan, an ear, nose and throat physician at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

But Hogikyan, who was not involved with the new research, added that the devices are put past soft and delicate tissue in a person's throat, so it's not surprising that temporary hoarseness would occur.

Enjoy your morning and weekend!

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