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Is Sex Addiction Real?; Deaths of Young Heart Patients Under Scrutiny; Healthy Alternatives to Energy Drinks

Aired August 4, 2013 - 07:30   ET


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, HOST: And welcome to SGMD.

There are new hospital ratings out there. And I'll tell you, I get this question all the time -- what's the best hospital for me? For you? I'm going to explain how to find the best care.

Also, some renewed concerns over energy drinks. You know, if you need that kick, I'm going to show you a healthy alternative.

But, first, there was this mesmerizing scene really in Cleveland this week where Ariel Castro was sentenced to life in prison plus a thousand years for holding three women captive in his basement for a decade.

Now, before that sentence was read, Castro apologized, but he also offered this explanation.


ARIEL CASTRO, SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISON + 1,000 YEARS: I'm not a monster. I'm a normal person. I'm just sick. I have an addiction. Just like an alcoholic has an addiction.


GUPTA: That got some heads shaking as you might imagine, eyes rolling. We've heard this before, this idea of sex addiction. It made us wonder, is it real? And does it do anything to explain or even excuse terrible behavior?

Joining me to talk about this from New York is Jane Velez-Mitchell. She's hosted "Jane Velez-Mitchell" on HLN. She's also the author of "Addict Nation: An Intervention for America."

Jane, thanks for joining us. You've been talking about this for quite some time, and answering a lot of questions. You've also been very open about your own struggles as a recovering alcoholic. You wrote the book about sex addiction.

When Castro said, I have an illness just like an alcoholic -- what did you think of that?

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST: Well, as a recovering alcoholic with 18 years of sobriety, I can tell you that alcoholics and other addicts can get help, and there is a choice when you choose not to get help. This man has a lot of serious problems. He's likely a sociopath or a psychopath, but he may very well be a porn addict. That does not excuse his behavior. He's a monster. I'm glad they locked him up for life plus 1,000 years and are throwing away the key.

However, Sanjay, if it's an opportunity for us to look at the epidemic problem of porn addiction, it's a good thing. While only a tiny percentage of porn users become violent criminals, it's a good bet that the vast majority of men who are committing violent crimes against women, sadistic crimes against women, have a great familiarity with porn, if not addiction to porn.

GUPTA: Let me get into this idea, though, a little bit in terms of how we should feel about him. I asked this question in part as a doctor. Let me give you some of the facts, first of all. The "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual," "DSM", you're familiar with this, Jane. It's the official psych bible, if you will.


GUPTA: It does not list sex addiction as a disorder. You know, you think about these addictions. You think about the hallmarks of substance abuse. One of them is physical withdrawal.

And again, you write about this very candidly in your book.

I mean, it's tough to be a recovering alcoholic. You have physical withdrawal symptoms. And that's one of the things that people look at in terms of saying, this was an addiction. That doesn't happen with sex, though.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, look, there are substance addictions and then there are behavioral addictions. If you want to broadly define the term "addiction," we can have a semantical debate about it. But it's a compulsive behavior that you continue despite the fact that it's destroying your life and destroying the lives of people around you.

And so, ultimately, however you want to define it, it's a huge problem in America.

GUPTA: Look, if you have a "gambling addiction", quote-unquote, you can still close your home to foreclosure. Alcoholics can still get convicted of DUI. So, I mean, the excuse part, I think, you and I both agree, that's not what we're talking about here.

But before I let you go, I want your take on one more thing. Ariel Castro offering what he said was an explanation for his behavior, not an excuse. Just let's listen to this and then we'll react.


CASTRO: I believe I am addicted to porn to the point that it really makes me impulsive, and I just don't realize what I'm doing is wrong. I know it's not an excuse. I'm not trying to make excuses here.

(END VIDEO CLIP) GUPTA: Jane, in the end, you listened to this, the judge didn't buy this, the excuse part of this. He told Castro he's a narcissist who couldn't see beyond his own needs, and that's what truly made him dangerous.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Look, addiction is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. Even if he is a porn addict, I'm glad he's going away for life and they're throwing away the key. But the fact is that a lot of crimes that I've covered over many decades involve people who have drug problems, alcohol problems, porn problems. If you look at a lot of violent crime, a lot of people are high when they commit it or they're in withdrawal looking for their drug.

It doesn't excuse it, any more than if somebody drinks to the point of blackout and drives the wrong way down the freeway and kills somebody, that that's an excuse.

But if it's part of the dynamic that we can look at to insurance the deeper why and then as a society do something about it, then perhaps these women will not have suffered in vain.

GUPTA: I always learn something when I talk to you, Jane Velez. Thanks so much. And your book, everyone should read it, "Addict Nation."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thanks so much.

GUPTA: Thanks for joining us.


GUPTA: And coming up, 30 percent of patients who get an operation in the hospital will suffer a complication. I'll explain what they are and most importantly, what you can do to keep it from happening to you.

Stay with us.


GUPTA: You know, you've probably seen magazines and newspapers that rank the top hospitals in the country. People pay attention to these rankings, but I've learned sometimes the most important information is just simply not available, at least not to the public.

I'm going to get to that point in just a minute. But first, my friend and colleague Elizabeth Cohen found a disturbing example of what we're talking about in Lexington, Kentucky.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the surface, Kentucky Children's Hospital is all kittens, murals and smiling faces, but inside, there's a secret. Last August, 6-month-old Connor Wilson died after having heart surgery.

NIKKI CREW, CONNOR WILSON'S MOTHER: His lips were blue, his eyelids were blue, his fingers were blue.

COHEN: And another baby, RaShawn Lewis Smith (ph) died after heart surgeries.

Newborn Waylon Rainey went into heart failure. He barely survived.

Jackson Russell had heart surgery and his parents say it was botched and a surgeon at a different hospital had to fix it.

SHANNON RUSSELL, JASON RUSSELL'S FATHER: He said there was a lot of scar tissue and infection that was left behind.

COHEN: All of this happened within eight weeks.

It was a crisis to say the least so in October, Kentucky Children's Hospital, a part of the University of Kentucky, stopped doing heart surgeries and put its chief heart surgeon, Dr. Mark Plunkett, on temporary leave.

Now the question is, were these four babies the only ones who suffered? How many other babies died or had complications at Kentucky Children's? No one knows. Why? Because the hospital refuses to say.

Heart programs at many other children's hospitals report their mortality rates right on their Web sites.

But Kentucky Children's refuses to release their mortality rate. They won't give it to us. They won't give it to parents. They won't even give it to the Kentucky attorney general.

The parents are angry and demanding answers.

(on camera): Do you feel like there are things they're just not telling you?

CREW: I think they're hiding something.

COHEN (voice-over): The attorney general ruled that by withholding the data, the university was in violation of the state's Open Records Act. The university has appealed that ruling.

We asked a hospital executive about the heart surgery mortality rates. He said they were average.

DR. MICHAEL KARPF, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, HEALTH AFFAIRS, UK HEALTHCARE: They were OK -- and OK isn't good enough for me. It's got to be better. It's got to be good.

COHEN: And still, he won't release the mortality rates.

(on camera): Why won't you give it to parents whose babies are in your hospital?

KARPF: As I've said, I have not been asked by a parent about data personally.

COHEN: We talked to plenty of parents who said, we want this data. So I'm surprised you don't know parents want this data.

KARPF: It's not gotten to me.

COHEN: But don't you think parents want data? I mean, they're having their baby's heart operated on. Don't you think they want to know the success rates?

KARPF: You may be sophisticated enough to ask about data. Most of our patients want to come in and they want to be assured that we're committed to doing the very best we can for them. Most of them would have a hard time understanding data. Data is a complex issue.

COHEN (voice-over): These parents say they understand numbers just fine.

LUCAS RAINEY, WAYLON RAINEY'S FATHER: My first question was, I wanted to know statistics, I want to know hard facts, I want to know chances, possibilities. I want to know everything you could tell me.

COHEN: Dr. Karpf says there's another reason they won't provide the mortality rate. He says it would violate patient privacy even though the data is just numbers, there are no patients identified.

And what of Dr. Plunkett? He has resigned and has a new job at the University of Florida doing the same surgeries. Kentucky Children's Hospital says after an internal review they will start doing heart surgeries again. And Karpf says this time he will make sure the program is top-notch.

But these parents say as long as the death rate remains a secret, it's not safe for any child to have heart surgery at Kentucky Children's.

TABITHA RAINEY, WAYLON RAINEY'S MOTHER: I'm standing up for the ones who have lost their kids, the moms that I've had to stand in the hallway with and try to console because they've lost their children and they don't know what's happened. And there's still no answers given to them.

CREW: It's scary to think that maybe, you know, the reason they have been shut down could have been prevented and our child could have still been here today.


GUPTA: So I guess, Elizabeth, first question is, I mean, do they know what went wrong here?

COHEN: You know, Sanjay, we don't really know that. We asked, when you do your investigation, are you going to make it public? And they said, we're not sure.

So, we may never find out exactly what happened at this hospital.

GUPTA: You know, you bring up this point and I get this question all the time, you probably do as well, which doctor should I go see for X, which hospital? It's a tough question for answer, even for people within the medical community.

"Consumer Reports" has this sort of ranking that's come out. And a couple of things caught my eye.

First of all, about 30 percent of patients who have surgery have some sort of post-operative problem, infection, could be more serious like heart problems, things like that. But also, you know, the hospitals that have the big names, they didn't always fare so well in these rankings either. One of the Mayo Clinic satellite campuses, for example, ranked low.

What were some of the things you took from this?

COHEN: You know, one of the things that I took away from this is that you need to consult lots of different things. So you want to look at "Consumer Reports," you want to look at "U.S. News & World Report" at their hospital rankings.

And there's a third thing that I think can be very helpful, especially if you're looking at a very specific procedure, and that is social media. Patients will often go on social media and talk about their experiences. It's not a scientific thing, but I think hearing from other patients and, you know, what's happened with them can be very, very useful. You may start hearing the same things over and over again, and you may decide that's important.

GUPTA: I think that's right. And also the doctor obviously how many operations they've done but the hospital as well because, as you've pointed out in the past, post-operative care relies on entire teams of people -- the nurses, everyone who's caring for the person after the operation.

What did you find were some of the biggest concerns post-operatively?

COHEN: You know, I think there are many concerns out there, infection one of the big ones. And I think there are three things -- well, there are many things -- there are big things that patients can do to try to get the best outcome they can get, to be as healthy as they can be. And the first one is, after your surgery or anytime, you're in the hospital, make sure all the staff wash their hands. This doesn't happen nearly as frequently as it should.

Another thing is that, if you have a catheter in you or if your loved one has a catheter, you know, ask every day, when can this come out? Because catheters are great places for infections. You want them out of there, you know, as soon as you possibly can.

And the third thing that you want to do is you want to have a list of all of your medications. So, Sanjay, you want to ask your nurse, what am I getting today? You know, you're getting this pill, which is blue at 9:00 a.m., and this pill which is orange at noon. So, if you get an orange pill at 9:00 a.m., you know something's gone wrong.

GUPTA: All right. Elizabeth, great story. Thanks for sharing it with us.

COHEN: Thanks.

GUPTA: You know, after that rolling stone cover came out, you know, the one with the accused Boston bomber on the cover, people kept coming up to me and saying, please don't forget about the victims. I want to tell you that I never did.

Next, I'm going to tell you about this guy. His name is Marc Fucarile. He's had a remarkable journey, tough one, over the last few months. We'll meet him next.


GUPTA: The Boston marathon bombing has fallen out of the headlines.

I tell you -- sometimes, our attention spans are short, too short, including us in the media. But it is still fresh for many victims who are still trying to figure out how to cope with a difficult sort of new reality. I want to introduce you to one man today struggling to keep his remaining leg but also his sense of hope.


MARC FUCARILE, BOSTON BOMBING VICTIM: Horrible. My pain is so bad in this foot.

GUPTA (voice-over): More than 100 days after the Boston marathon bombing, patients are still left with gut-wrenching decisions. In the case of Marc Fucarile, it's whether or not to keep his leg.

FUCARILE: Get it out of here altogether, not use it anymore.

GUPTA (on camera): You're looking at your leg now, how are you feeling about it?

FUCARILE: Not too good.

GUPTA: It's not giving you function right now, and it's painful.


GUPTA: But you're sticking with it.

FUCARILE: I'm trying to fight to keep it. I want to keep it, but if it's like this, I want nothing to do with it.


GUPTA (voice-over): Fucarile was near the finish line at the Boston marathon on April 15th when those two bombs exploded.

After the first blast, his right leg was sheared off while parts of his left foot hung on by just a thread.

FUCARILE: My foot was not attached to itself. All the tendons had broken from the explosion.

GUPTA: Since that day, Fucarile has been through a revolving door of surgeries, skin grafts, all sorts of procedures.

DR. JEFF SCHNEIDER: Marc's been to the operating room 16 times. He's had 49 different procedures.

GUPTA: His body is still riddled with BBs and shrapnel from the explosions. One piece of shrapnel is nestled next to his heart.

FUCARILE: The pain is absolutely unbearable right now, Jenny.

GUPTA: And while he has made considerable progress --

FUCARILE: Look, see that twist?

GUPTA: -- there are still days when Fucarile seriously considers just giving up on his left leg.

FUCARILE: It sounds selfish, cut it off to go home. I would have been fitted probably for two prostheses by now. It would have saved me a lot of surgeries and sometimes I feel like I just know -- I just know it's going to be hard forever with this leg.

GUPTA: Part of the frustration is the pain. Part of it is that his left leg, like other parts of his body, is just healing so slowly. And while he waits and works on it, there is no guarantee his remaining leg will be functional again.

But more than anything, his left leg is what's kept him from his fiancee Jen and his 5-year-old son Gavin.

FUCARILE: I promise I'd never leave them. I told them, you know, daddy is going to get better.

GUPTA (on camera): To talk about your leg -- how do you tell your 5- year-old about your leg?

FUCARILE: Just tell him I'm going to get a metal leg. He thinks it's kind of cool. It's kind of unfortunate that this is what he's going to know from now on, you know? It's going to be his normal.

GUPTA (voice-over): There is one glimmer of hope. Fucarile was told that in a few weeks he will finally go home.

FUCARILE: To go home to Jen and Gavin is just going to be everything. I just can't wait.

Guess who's coming home today?




FUCARILE: Me. You happy?

JEN REGAN, MARC FUCARILE'S FIANCE: I'm excited to have them be able to play together and just sort of have like, you know -- to not have a family dinner for a hundred days is huge. I think those are the most important things to me, like sitting down at the table and talking about your day.

FUCARILE: I've been doing it sitting in a hospital bed.

REGAN: Yes. We have them. We were lucky enough that he made it so that's going to be the most important thing, I think, to me.

FUCARILE: All right, on my way. We're heading down, huh? I can't believe it.

GUPTA: It is a triumphant day for Marc, for his family, and in a way it's a triumph for his city, because Fucarile is the last of the Boston marathon bombing victims to leave the hospital. And now, he is back to the place where he so desperately has wanted to be.

As for his left leg --

FUCARILE: As of right now, I'm going to keep it. I'm going to keep working on it. But there is a point where it could be better to actually have a prosthesis. And I'm still weighing it out.

Don't leave me! Don't leave me!


GUPTA: If you want to help Marc whose struggle with medical bills is almost as difficult as his rehab bill there. You can log on to

Good luck, Marc.

Checking your top stories just minutes away. But still ahead, I've got my "Chasing Life" for you, the healthy way.

Stay with us.


GUPTA: The Senate held a hearing this week on energy drinks. It's a $9 billion industry now. The question they were trying to answer, is it appropriate to market them to children?

You've seen these energy drinks. They have amazing names like Monster Energy, for example, Rock Star, Red Bull. A lot of people drinking them. They want a quick pick-me-up.

But the mix of caffeine and stimulants could be dangerous for heart people with heart problems. That was one of the conclusions. We don't know much about the long-term effects.

For example, this one can has about as much caffeine as seven cans of soda. It kind of looks like motor oil as well. That can be a particular concern for children and teens. That was part of the discussion. Simply because we don't know what the long-term effects of these drinks can be. So the American Medical Association wants to ban energy drink ads aimed at anyone under 18. So, that's what they're discussing.

If you or your kids want to keep going longer, get that quick burst of energy without getting the crash afterwards, there's some probably better alternatives.

First of all, just drinking lots of water. People are chronically dehydrated. And also focusing on snacks high in protein. Greek yogurt, for example, chicken, eggs, or even things like -- just almonds and cheese. These things can give you that kick without giving you the crash, and they can also help you chase life the healthy way.

Now, before we go, a quick programming note: next weekend here on SGMD, we're going to get some real answers about something I've been investigating for quite some time, marijuana. All of it is leading up to my new documentary which is called "Weed" -- how bad is it for you and could it actually do you some good? Tune in next week 8:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

Time now to get you back into "THE CNN NEWSROOM" with Anna Coren.