Signature MD Main St. / Signature MD Hospitals Acquire Medical Practices and Hike Prices Study Shows July 3, 2014

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — When Doug Pitman, M.D., sold his private practice to a hospital group 16 years ago, he had to see more patients, which meant less time with them. Eventually, he moved on and became a concierge doctor.

“There is no substitute for time spent with patients,” Pitman says. But this time squeeze is all part of a larger trend.

“Hospitals continue to acquire primary care practices at an increasing rate,” says Chip Harvey, a sales and service consultantat Corporate Benefits Service, a third-party administrator of employer sponsored health benefit plans.

The number of hospital-owned physician practices in the U.S. more than doubled from 2002 to 2008. While in theory hospital-owned physician practices may enhance communication, reduce repetitive tests, ease coordination of care and contain costs, a recent study shows prices for patients in these practices, and their private insurers, have actually increased.

Acquiring practices increases the clout of hospital-owned physician practices “and their negotiating power withinsurance companies,” Harvey says. However, as a consequence, these primary care doctors “lose their independence because they are required to refer patients who need specialist treatment or diagnostic services … only to specialists and diagnostic centers that are also owned by the hospital,” he says.

That close tie appears to affect how much patients are billed.

Researchers at Stanford University examined about 2.1 million claims from non-elderly privately insured individuals from 2001 through 2007. They found that hospitals that owned physician practices had higher prices. The study was published in the journal Health Affairs.

The researchers note that “hospitals may still be sharing profits with physicians who opt to treat patients at more costly facilities or with more costly procedures than is medically appropriate.”

The study didn’t look at the effect of hospital-owned physician practices on patient health outcomes.

The researchers noted that Affordable Care Act creates incentives that will likely increase the number of medical practices legally tied to hospitals, whether by ownership or contract. The ACA “rewards doctors and hospitals that join together in an accountable care organization (ACO) by making them eligible for cash bonuses from Medicare,” the researchers wrote.

–Written by S.Z. Berg for MainStreet

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Dr. Mohammad, Inspire Malibu Monsters & Critics / Dr. Akikur Mohammad, Inspire Malibu Robert Downey Jr’s Son’s Arrest Underscores The Genetics Of Addiction VIDEO July 1, 2014


Actor Robert Downey Jr. has enjoyed a four-decades-plus career with two Academy Award nominations, three Golden Globe wins, numerous other award nominations and wins, notably starring as Tony Stark in Iron Man, Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes, and he is currently married to Susan Downey and has two sons (one from a previous marriage).

Downey Jr. has had a troubled history of his own with addiction issues. Early on in 1982, he dropped out of Santa Monica High School to pursue acting full time. His father, Robert Downey Sr., himself a drug addict, exposed his son to drugs at a very early age, and Downey Jr. would go on to struggle with drug abuse for decades.  The actor’s drug-related problems escalated from 1996 to 2001, leading to numerous arrests, rehab visits and incarcerations, and he was eventually fired from the TV series “Ally McBeal.”

From the 2013 Daily Mail article:

” To a large extent, his [Robert Downey Jr.] myriad problems were the legacy of a recklessly liberal upbringing by his parents, underground film-maker Robert Downey[Sr.]  and Elsie, his actress mother, in bohemian Greenwich Village, New York…His father cast his son in his first film, the avant-garde comedy Pound, at the age of five…But Downey Sr was a notorious drug addict and one day, as he watched the eight-year-old Robert drinking the white wine he had given him, he offered to let him try a cannabis joint.”

Emerging clean and sober in 2003, Downey Jr. climbed out of that big hole and built up his career with Gothika, Good Night, and Good Luck. A Scanner Darkly, Tropic Thunder and the films of the Iron Man, Avengers and Sherlock Holmes franchises.

In 2005, Downey Jr. married Susan Downey, who gave birth to their son, Exton Elias Downey, on February 7, 2012. Downey also has another son, Indio Falconer Downey, born September 7, 1993, from his first marriage to Deborah Falconer, from whom he was officially divorced in 2004.

Sadly, TMZ reports that the oldest child of Robert Downey Jr., Indio, has been arrested. Downey Jr. released the following statement to TMZ:

“Unfortunately there’s a genetic component to addiction and Indio has likely inherited it. Also, there is a lot of family support and understanding, and we’re all determined to rally behind him and help him become the man he’s capable of being.  We’re grateful to the Sheriff’s department for their intervention, and believe Indio can be another recovery success story instead of a cautionary tale.”

Robert Downey Jr.’s son was arrested for cocaine possession in West Hollywood Sunday afternoon, law enforcement sources tell TMZ.  Indio was observed smoking something out of a pipe according to the website.

An L.A. County Sheriff’s deputy pulled the car over, did a search and allegedly found cocaine in Indio’s possession. He was arrested and taken to jail for possession of cocaine.

Indio, 20, posted the $10K bail and was released just after midnight Sunday.

Frequent contributor to Monsters and Critics in the area of addiction is expert Akikur Mohammad, M.D., the CEO and founder of Inspire Malibu Treatment Center.  Dr. Mohammad is a board-certified psychiatrist with a second board certification in addiction medicine. In addition to his role as Inspire Malibu’s CEO, Dr. Mohammad is Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor at Keck School of Medicine at USC where he is active in teaching medical students and residents the subject of addiction medicine and psychiatry.

Dr. Mohammad tells Monsters and Critics: “Robert Downey’s Jr.’s son drug possession arrest underscores that drug addiction is a chronic disease. Numerous scientific research studies support the fact that drug, and alcohol, addiction is a chronic disease with a strong genetic component, just like every other chronic disease including asthma, diabetes and heart disease.

“It’s disheartening that the young man’s disease is being sensationally publicized. After all, would we be throwing him into the limelight if it were discovered he had diabetes?

“The bottom line is that alcohol and drug addiction are chronic diseases. The debate on whether they or not is over. All the leading health and medical organization in the U.S. and worldwide support this contention, including the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization. But like every chronic disease, substance abuse addiction can be successfully managed with evidence-based treatment that includes medication, counseling and lifestyle modification. Robert Downey, Jr., is the greatest testament that a sufferer of alcohol-drug addiction can lead a successful, productive life.”

Original Article

Dr. A R Mohammad

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Mesoblast Los Angeles Business Journal / Mesoblast New Method Fights Back Against Pain June 30, 2014

Bae Whole Doc

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Mesoblast Monsters and Critics / Mesoblast The Stem Cell Era: Science Fiction Becomes Medical Fact June 25, 2014


Imagine a world with a medical landscape unlike anything we recognize now – where today’s medicines could be obsolete and surgical intervention a rarity. Where breakthroughs mean people will be living into their 100′s in good health and in sound mind.

If that sounds like fantasy, it’s safe to say that science fiction is rapidly evolving into medical fact, and the shift is going to be dramatic. A key component in this evolving future are viable, regenerative adult cell replacement therapies  — applied to treating a span of diseases and ailments, including heart disease, cancer, Crohn’s disease, spine degeneration, diabetes, Parkinson’s, macular degeneration, multiple sclerosis, damaged bones and many other issues.

Silviu Portrait 1

Dr. Silviu Itescu, the CEO and founder of Mesoblast, Ltd., now

Leading this charge is modern day medical pioneer Dr. Silviu Itescu, the CEO and founder of Mesoblast, Ltd., now the largest regenerative medicine company worldwide.  Think American pioneer Dr. Jonas Salk in the early days of his research in fighting the dread polio.  Dr. Salk became a revered medical figure upon the announcement in 1955 that his polio vaccine was safe and effective. It was a turning point in the fight against a disease that condemned some victims to live the rest of their lives in tank-like breathing machines called iron lungs and made playing outside off-limits to children as parents feared contagion. The Salk Polio vaccine changed medical history and saved countless lives, ending the yearly toll of epidemics,  paralysis and death.

The extraordinary story of  Dr. Itescu is not far off from Dr. Jonas Salk.  In the 21st century, Dr. Itescu’s work through Mesoblast is on the brink of revolutionizing medicine as we know it.  His pioneering efforts showing that certain adult stem cells, extracted from healthy adults’ bone marrow, could be used to repair damaged hearts has formed the basis of many clinical trials in patients with ischemic heart disease.

Dr. Itescu has focused Mesoblast’s stem cell therapies in four major and distinct areas – systemic diseases with an underlying inflammatory and immunologic etiology; cardiac and vascular diseases; orthopedic diseases of the spine; and improving outcomes of bone marrow transplantation associated with oncology or genetic conditions.  Mesoblast currently has multiple products in various stages of clinical trials in anticipation of making them available to the public.

Mesoblast’s researchers take healthy donor adult stem cells and refine the targeted cells needed, multiplying the specific MPCs (rare cells found around blood vessels in various tissues), and multiplies them, and injects them directly in the diseased areas.

With a successful career highlighted by medicine and academia, Dr. Itescu is both a medical doctor and a professor of immunology, as well as a former Columbia University faculty member. He has advised both the United States President’s Council on Bioethics and the United States Food & Drug Administration’s Biological Response Modifiers Advisory Committee on cell therapy. Professor Itescu was named BioSpectrum Asia Person of the Year in 2011.

Silviu with Vatican Official

Dr. Silviu Itescu with Vatican Official

The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture honored Dr. Itescu in 2013 with the inaugural Key Innovator Award for his leadership and ingenuity in translational science and clinical medicine in relation to adult stem cell therapy. His continued work is part of a group of forward thinking scientists and researchers who have bet on adult stem cell therapy and refined this science to create real efficacy in repairing damaged tissue.

Dr. Itescu tells Monsters and Critics that his company Mesoblast “…is significantly ahead of everyone else in the space,”  and that the Company’s pioneering strategies have many top American doctors working with them in clinical trials “extremely excited about the early results as we move through these phases.”

According to Dr. Itescu, “Highly purified, immunoselected MPCs and the cultured MSCs they give rise to share very important technical characteristics – both populations can be expanded in large numbers in culture, are well tolerated when used allogeneically in unrelated recipients, and can differentiate to greater or lesser degrees into bone, fat and cartilage.”

What this means is these little packages of healthy targeted cells go immediately to the diseased spots of the back, heart, pancreas or wherever and repair the bad cells, regenerating and rebuilding you from the inside out!

Original Article


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Dr. Constantino Mendieta Monsters and Critics / Dr. Constantino Mendieta When Bad Plastic Surgery Happens To Good People, E! ‘Botched’ Goes There VIDEOS June 24, 2014

botched key

In the course of the 11 years writing for Monsters and Critics, I’ve interviewed top board certified plastic surgeons such as Dr. Constantino Mendieta, considered the finest butt man around and the author of the Art of Gluteal Sculpting.  Dr. Nicholas Nikolov of Beverly Hills, whose deft hands gave many Hollywood stars beautiful noses and breasts.

They both told me the same thing, a great deal of their work was revisional surgery from botched procedures by other doctors, often times cosmetic surgeons who were unqualified. They saw heartbreaking things and did their best to restore bodies to a normalcy for their patients. It was their most satisfying work next to fixing a child’s face from congenital deformity or someone battered or scarred in an accident.

Enter a reality TV series that stars two of LA’s top board certified plastic surgeons, Dr. Paul Nassif and Dr. Terry Dubrow, who we came to know in “The Swan” and “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”   These two talented physicians have joined forces for E!’s new series “Botched” which premieres Tuesday, June 24 at 9:00pm.


You will see some retreads from TLC’s Strange Addictions, the Plastic Surgery freakshow Barbie Boy who has money coming from somewhere (he lives in his underwear so you do the math), a poor woman with her frustrated husband tired of her uniboob, and other unfortunates who bet the farm and pulled up weeds.


World renowned doctors Paul Nassif and Terry Dubrow

World renowned doctors Paul Nassif and Terry Dubrow — the best of the best and leaders in their field — will be tasked with some of the most difficult operations of their careers when they try to reverse the effects of horrendous plastic surgeries.

For the first time on television, plastic surgery nightmares become dreams come true when “Botched” premieres Tuesday, June 24 at 9:00pm ET/PT only on E! and moves to its new day/time Sundays beginning June 29 at 10:00pm following plastic surgery fans “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”

In the premiere episode airing Tuesday, June 24 at 9pm, both doctors team up to fix some of California’s worst surgical results when they set their sights, and their scalpels, on Alicia, a woman suffering from what’s known as a “uni-boob,” and Michelle, an actress who’s had six surgeries in search of the perfect nose. Plus, the doctors make a house call to one of the Internet’s most talked about plastic surgery addicts, the human doll, Justin Jedlica.

Episode Description: Human Dolls (6/24/14)
Plastic surgeons Terry Dubrow & Paul Nassif treat a woman with a uni-boob, an actress who’s had 6 surgeries in search of the perfect nose, and make a house call for Justin, a self-proclaimed human doll.

Clip 2: Meet the doctors

Clip 3: Alicia “uniboob” meets the doctors for her consultation.

Clip 4: The doctors’ visit Justin “human ken” at his home to go over his possible surgery.


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