Friday, February 24, 2012

The Morning Drill: February 24, 2012

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Good Morning!

Ready for the weekend?

A 20 Mile Los Angeles Marathon training run for me tomorrow - oh joy!

On to today's dentistry and health headlines:

Hearing on bill to protect dental patients

Three Berks County residents testified here Thursday before the state House of Representatives Insurance Committee to support a bill that would require all 10,000 dentists in the state to carry malpractice insurance.

Margaret Feinberg and her husband, Dr. Kalmen A. Feinberg, of Exeter Township and Elmer Gardner of Wyomissing all said it is essential for the House to pass Senate Bill 388 to protect Pennsylvanians from dentists who lack insurance.

All three said they were victims of Dr. Gregory Pedro, who operated Fine Arts Dental in Wyomissing and charged tens of thousands of dollars for complex procedures he was incapable of performing.

Stories on the Feinbergs and other former patients of Pedro that appeared in the Reading Eagle in December 2010 led to calls for changes in the state law.

The late Sen. Michael A. O'Pake, a Reading Democrat, was the first to call for reform when he learned dentists were not required to carry malpractice insurance. It was one of his last legislative initiatives before he died in December 2010.

State health chief vows changes to Sacramento County dental program

The state's Medi-Cal chief, under pressure to improve dental care for Sacramento's poor children, pledged this week to implement changes so kids won't have to wait months to receive treatment for painful, rotted or broken teeth.

In response to concerns raised by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, Toby Douglas outlined the steps that the state Department of Health Care Services will take to ensure that the more than 110,000 Sacramento County children with Medi-Cal get "high quality and timely" dental care.

He promised quicker resolution to complaints from patients and said the department will get tougher on dental plans that fail children, either by withholding payments or by terminating their contracts.

"We are currently re-evaluating all existing dental plan contracts … and developing stronger language to give DHCS the ability to withhold payments if the plan's performance negatively impacts beneficiary access or quality of care," he wrote in a letter Tuesday to Steinberg.

Douglas' letter came after Steinberg wrote him last week calling for a review of the "geographic managed care" dental program that is unique to Sacramento County and has a dismal record.

Local Dentist Allegedly Caught Doing Drugs Before Treating Patients

Police arrested 52-year-old Dr. Anthony Monteleone on Wednesday in the back parking lot of his office.

They say he was caught snorting lines of suspected cocaine and then going inside Katsur Dental and Orthodontics in Edgewood to treat his patients.

Undercover agents grabbed Monteleone after they witnessed him using what appeared to be cocaine.

“There was a police officer observing what appeared to be drug use,” Edgewood Police Chief Robert Payne said. “It was outside the car.”

Monteleone is charged with possession of a controlled substance and disorderly conduct. KDKA Investigator Marty Griffin reports a check of Monteleone’s criminal history revealed prior drug charges, tax evasion charges and conspiracy charges.

Mom's nicotine gum, patches tied to colic in babies: study

Women who use nicotine gum, patches or inhalers while pregnant are 60 percent more likely to have a child with colic than moms who stayed away from nicotine, according to a new study.

That's in contrast to earlier studies that suggested the widely used nicotine products are harmless during pregnancy.

"There was a general feeling that nicotine replacement therapy was safe," said Alison Holloway, a professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, who was not involved in the new work.

"I think what people are trying to say now is it may still be a better option than smoking during pregnancy, but it may have other consequences that haven't been explored yet," she added.

Smoking, on the other hand, is known to have negative consequences on babies, and previous research has shown that smoking while pregnant is tied to an increased risk of colic.

Colic is excessive crying in babies -- at least three hours a day for more than three days a week and lasting more than three weeks in a row.

While it eventually goes away, it can be hard on parents and there is no known cure.

Enjoy your morning and weekend!

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