Olympus never had FDA test endoscope linked to superbug exposure

Three years ago, Japanese electronics giant Olympus Corp. was in crisis amid a massive accounting scandal and plunging sales of its signature cameras…Executives vowed to save the 93-year-old firm, whose American headquarters is in Center Valley, by turning aggressively to health care and selling more medical scopes to doctors and hospitals in the U.S. and worldwide.

The bet paid off: Medical sales soared 25 percent last year, and Olympus boasts a commanding 70 percent share of the global market for gastrointestinal endoscopes.

But now the industry leader finds itself at the center of superbug outbreaks at U.S. hospitals, including UCLA, where two patients have died and nearly 180 more people may have been exposed to deadly bacteria on contaminated Olympus scopes.

Medical experts, health officials, lawmakers and patients’ families are pinning much of the blame for the recent UCLA outbreak and others across the country on the company and one of its TJF-Q180V duodenoscope.

On Wednesday, Olympus found itself facing a fresh allegation. CNN reported that, according to an official at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the company never obtained permission to sell the device.

Olympus started selling its TJF-Q180V duodenoscope in 2010, but the FDA didn’t notice until late 2013 or early 2014 that the company had never asked for clearance to put it on the market…

“Why didn’t we notice it? I don’t know,” said Karen Riley, a deputy director…for the FDA’s Office of External Affairs..

When you stand back up after collapsing over this carnival of death – RTFA for chronology, early reports [apparently ignored] and anecdotal tales from patients exposed to this crap design.

American bankers/retailers cheap out on improving security


Adding a PIN is so difficult, eh?

New technology about to be deployed by credit card companies will require U.S. consumers to carry a new kind of card and retailers across the nation to upgrade payment terminals. But despite a price tag of $8.65 billion, the shift will address only a narrow range of security issues.

Credit card companies have set an October deadline for the switch to chip-enabled cards, which come with embedded computer chips that make them far more difficult to clone. Counterfeit cards, however, account for only about 37 percent of credit card fraud, and the new technology will be nearly as vulnerable to other kinds of hacking and cyber attacks as current swipe-card systems, security experts say.

Moreover, U.S. banks and card companies will not issue personal identification numbers (PINs) with the new credit cards, an additional security measure that would render stolen or lost cards virtually useless when making in-person purchases at a retail outlet. Instead, they will stick with the present system of requiring signatures…

Chip technology has been widely used in Europe for nearly two decades, but banks there typically require PINs. Even so, the technology leaves data unprotected at three key points, security experts say: When it enters a payment terminal, when it is transmitted through a processor, and when it is stored in a retailer’s information systems. It also does not protect online transactions.

American corporations inside the retail purchasing loop are perfectly willing to expand that to four key points.

Retailers and security experts say it would make more sense for the United States to jump instead to a more secure system, such as point-to-point encryption. This technology is superior to chip-and-PIN, which first was deployed about 20 years ago, because it scrambles data to make it unreadable from the moment a transaction starts.

But the newer technology would cost as much as twice what the chip card transition will cost…

Moreover, some security experts say that mobile payment services such as Apple Pay, a service from Apple that stores data on the cloud, have the potential in coming years to secure payments without the need to swipe or tap a card at all…

Rick Dakin, who is advising a group of banks on payment security, said no industry standard exists for the newer point-to-point encryption systems, and banks and card companies are hesitant to make large-scale investments before the standards are set.

Apparently, 20 years isn’t sufficient time to adopt standards in the United States.

Banks and card companies said a chip card alone can make stolen data less useful for hackers and the technology has worked in reducing counterfeit card fraud in Europe and elsewhere.

Security experts said the shift cannot prevent massive consumer data breaches of the sort that recently hit Target and Home Depot. But the technology will make it more difficult to use stolen data.

The installation of 15 million payment terminals that can read chip cards in the U.S. will cost approximately $6.75 billion. Banks are expected to spend some $1.4 billion to issue new cards and another $.5 billion to upgrade their Automated Teller Machines according to Javelin Strategy & Research.

Beancounters live and die on hindsight – and this is another case of crap decisions being worthless.

What would this conversion have cost in 1995 dollar$? How many billion$ have been lost to fraud, counterfeit credit cards and identity theft? All it took in the first place was a willingness to make security a priority.

Medicare drug costs continue to shrink under ObamaCare

ObamaCare has led to substantial savings in prescription drug costs and a strong increase in the use of preventive services…

“Our parents and grandparents on Medicare saved more than $15 billion on prescription drugs since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act in 2010,” Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said.

Those savings amount to nearly $1,600 per person enrolled in Medicare — an increase from about $1,400 in average savings last year…

Under ObamaCare, recipients in the “doughnut hole” receive a rebate or discount from the government to help them save on prescription drug costs until the gap can ultimately be closed.

Burwell also highlighted the growing use of preventive healthcare coverage under ObamaCare — another top issue for the administration. Many provider groups only signed onto healthcare reform with the promise that preventive care would be a central tenet.

Nearly 40 million people have used at least one of Medicare’s free preventive services in the last year alone, the secretary said. Nearly 5 million enrollees received the annual wellness exam…

Doctors groups, such as the American Medical Association, have been key administration partners in the implementation of ObamaCare. But the two sides have not entirely agreed on the creation and rollout of ObamaCare, Burwell acknowledged Tuesday.

She specifically pointed to the unpopular rules on electronic health records, which doctors have lamented as costly and bureaucratic. She also pointed to the president’s support of for a permanent Sustainable Growth Rate formula, which decides the reimbursement rate for Medicare doctors.

As a geek and a fiscal conservative, I’m happy to see the electronic health records have proved to be a boon in catching fraud. Individual doctors, group practices, hospitals and clinics are beginning to learn that appropriate data mining brings sleazy practices to light easier than anything before Obamacare.

There’s more to criticize and more to come. I’d still like to have a classic single payer mode and access to national-negotiated prices for meds – just like that provided for our military. At the passage of the ACA, there were enough Republican conservatives and Blue Dog Democrats around to block that savings. Big Pharma got their money’s worth out of Congress that time.

Shot on iPhone 6 – Around the world

People take incredible photos and videos on iPhone 6 every day. And here are some of our favorites. Explore the gallery, learn a few tips, and see what’s possible with the world’s most popular camera.

Star Valley Ranch, Cole R
Click to enlarge

I’ve been a photographer since single-digit years. Apple put this collection up to illustrate what folks have been doing with the camera in their iPhones in recent days and months.

I’m suitably impressed. I don’t own a smartphone; but, even the few snaps I’ve taken with my iPad came out of the ether as viewable and editable into something useful. The point is, however, you can get to being a decent photographer as long as the hardware is designed around a good lens – and helpful software comes with it.

Click here to get to the beginning of the gallery.