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Updated: 17 hours 12 min ago

Federal investigators fault Medicare's reliance on doctors for pay standards

Mon, 06/01/2015 - 08:54

The government relies too heavily on advice from the American Medical Association in deciding how much to pay doctors under Medicare, and the decisions may be biased because the doctors have potential conflicts of interest, federal investigators say in a new report. This reliance on the association, combined with flaws in data collected by the influential doctors' group, "could result in inaccurate Medicare payment rates," the investigators said. The report, by the Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan arm of Congress, reveals new details of an obscure process that distributes more than $70 billion a year to doctors treating Medicare patients.

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Dedicated Trauma ICU Cuts Infection Rates

Mon, 06/01/2015 - 07:26

Two changes affecting trauma care at a Florida hospital cost nothing to make, but saved the hospital more than $100,000 in costs over nine months.

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Halamka: 'Probably Time to Retire the Meaningful Use Construct'

Mon, 06/01/2015 - 07:15

John Halamka, MD, the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CIO who is co-chair of the federal HIT Standards Committee, shares his views on interoperability, information blocking, and the lifespan of Meaningful Use.

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TX public hospitals help nursing home operators get federal funds

Mon, 06/01/2015 - 07:05

From their headquarters in Brooklyn, N.Y., Teddy Lichtschein and Eliezer Scheiner operate some of the most poorly rated nursing homes in Texas. Their small empire has amassed more than $800,000 in federal fines over the past three years. Regulators reported numerous problems. One patient who fractured his leg waited four days to have his broken bone treated. Another resident, given food he could not chew, choked to death in his wheelchair. An 80-year-old woman with rectal cancer screamed in agony for two weeks before attendants phoned her doctor. Despite this record, Lichtschein and Scheiner have new partners in the nursing home trade: seven public agencies, which could position the Brooklyn duo for a taxpayer-funded windfall.

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Man turned away from two TX hospitals before crashing stolen ambulance

Mon, 06/01/2015 - 07:04

Terrance King said it was a cry for help. He said that's why he impersonated a doctor and crashed an ambulance earlier this week near the Dallas Medical District. "There was no other way to do it," he said during a jailhouse interview with News 8 Friday. "That's what's going to get people's attention." King, 23, says he's homeless and mentally ill, having diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. On the day of his arrest, he tried twice to get admitted. He was turned away because he did not have insurance.

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Large cities oppose Scott's plan for FL hospitals

Mon, 06/01/2015 - 07:02

Gov. Rick Scott is having a hard time getting officials in the state's largest counties to back his proposal that would require cuts for many public hospitals and instead funnel money to for-profit ones. The governor's plan could mean a possible hit of more than $80 million for Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital and $22 million for Broward General Hospital. Leaders in both counties have said they won't support that. Federal officials also worried Friday that the plan was not viable for local communities. Miami Dade County Commissioner Xavier Suarez said the cuts would come on top of 15 percent that the hospital doesn't get reimbursed for caring for undocumented or uninsured patients.

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NY hospitals expand cardiac care as competition grows

Mon, 06/01/2015 - 07:01

Two Lower Hudson Valley hospitals spent $14.5 million to open new cardiac departments this year despite declines in patients requiring treatment, state data show. Lawrence Hospital Center in Bronxville opened an $8.6 million cardiac catheterization laboratory last month; 10 miles away, White Plains Hospital spent $5.9 million to construct its second cardiac catheterization lab. The projects underscore the increasing competition for cardiac patients in Westchester County at a time when state and federal regulators are focused on reducing overuse of some cardiac surgeries and exams. A critical factor is the push north by New York City health systems, said Dr. Robert Amler, vice president for government affairs at New York Medical College in Valhalla.

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Drugs heists shows area hospitals' security not 'bulletproof'

Mon, 06/01/2015 - 06:59

As the demand for black market narcotics grows, so has the level of hospital security around drugs. Safeguards at Chattanooga hospitals include restricted rooms, heavy surveillance, pill counts performed each shift and dispensing machines that track every drug withdrawal. In spite of all this, 26-year-old Ryan Epperson was still able to repeatedly foil security for weeks at all three of Chattanooga's major downtown hospitals to steal painkillers like Demerol, fentanyl and morphine, according to an affidavit. "The hospitals may have had every security measure in place, but they may not have anticipated someone so brazen," said Tennessee Board of Pharmacy President Reggie Dillard.

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MN doctors' unease puts medical marijuana patients in a bind

Mon, 06/01/2015 - 06:41

Sarah Wellington thought she had everything squared away to register for Minnesota's medical marijuana program. Her multiple sclerosis fit the narrow list of conditions that qualify. Her neurologist was on board with trying medical marijuana. Just check back in a month and we'll get your paperwork started with the state, she was told. But the follow-up was a shock: Her clinic decided it doesn't want a part in the state's new program yet. Her primary care clinic doesn't, either. As Minnesota officials start signing up patients on Monday, Wellington's predicament underscores a logistical hurdle for the state and the patients hoping to get the medicine come July.

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Jury in the Bronx awards $45 million for a death after surgery

Mon, 06/01/2015 - 06:39

A Bronx jury has awarded $45.6 million to the parents of a man who was paralyzed at 14 and later died as a result of a spinal operation at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, according to court papers released Friday. The man, Edward Beloyianis, who lived in Dix Hills, Long Island, had gone to the Manhattan hospital in November 2002 for surgery to correct his scoliosis, a condition that made his spine curve in an S-shape, his lawyer, Evan Torgan, said on Friday. Mr. Beloyianis was paralyzed from the waist down by four screws that had been misplaced during the surgery and were pressing on his spinal cord, Mr. Torgan argued during a six-month trial in State Supreme Court in the Bronx.

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Interstate Licensure Agreement Adds Two More States

Fri, 05/29/2015 - 06:59

A campaign to remove barriers preventing physicians from practicing across state lines and promising to pave the way for further expansion of telemedicine continues to gain participants.

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Slideshow: Healthcare Leaders on Outpatient Care Spending

Fri, 05/29/2015 - 06:55

Four senior healthcare executives discuss how they're investing in ambulatory and outpatient services.

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Cancer is getting more expensive, forcing doctors to take notice

Fri, 05/29/2015 - 06:43

Cancer care has long been costly. There are signs it's getting even more expensive for consumers, who are now required to shoulder a greater portion of medical bills in the form of insurance copays. ASCO has pointed to a National Institutes of Health study that estimates total treatment costs in the U.S. will rise 40 percent to $175 billion between 2010 and 2020. Drug prices are part of the concern. Global spending on oncology medication is projected to rise 6 percent to 8 percent a year through 2018 to as much as $147 billion, the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics said in a report this month.

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Bill would require CA doctors to check drug database

Fri, 05/29/2015 - 06:42

California doctors would be required to check a statewide database before prescribing narcotics under a bill moving through the state Legislature. Currently it is voluntary to check the state's Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System, known as CURES. The database lets doctors make sure patients are not getting narcotics from multiple physicians and aren't taking harmful combinations of drugs. Democratic Sen. Ricardo Lara of Bell Gardens says his SB482 would help reduce addictions to prescription drugs and prevent thousands of overdose deaths. Backers say prescription drugs kill more people than do illegal drugs like cocaine or heroin.

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Doctors: FBI investigating medical device suspected of spreading cancer

Fri, 05/29/2015 - 06:40

It's a story Eyewitness News health reporter Stephanie Stahl first told you about: a surgical tool suspected of spreading cancer in women. Now, the FBI is reportedly investigating who knew what and when about this potentially deadly device. The question being asked: whether medical device makers, doctors and hospitals broke the law by failing to report problems linked to the device. The device, used in gynecological procedures, has been linked to several deaths and a number of injuries. The FDA has allowed it to stay on the market, but says it shouldn't be used on most women. The FBI was contacted by a couple Eyewitness News has been reporting on: Dr. Amy Reed, a cancer patient, and her husband, Dr. Hooman Noorchashm.

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Opinion: Why doctors are frustrated with digital healthcare

Fri, 05/29/2015 - 06:37

A large-scale survey of U.S. doctors conducted by Decision Resources Group tells us that doctors are using digital tools and willing to receive data feeds from their customers, but they are quite frustrated by poor usability of digital healthcare tools and difficulty getting measurable results. The "meaningful use" incentives created by the ACA have caused most doctors to use electronic health records (EHRs). And, doctors are aware of the large amount of clinically relevant data that digital wearable devices can produce, and they are increasingly willing to engage with it, notwithstanding concerns about liability and accuracy. Doctors are using many other digital health resources too; they are not captive to EHRs.

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Healthcare ripe target for labor unions

Fri, 05/29/2015 - 06:34

The health care industry will be a ripe target for union organizing efforts, especially now that the National Labor Relations Board has streamlined procedures for representation elections. That's the takeaway from a new report by the American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration and IRI Consultants. Hospitals are a particularly attractive target for unions because of the pressures for cost reduction due to health care reform and the uncertainty facing employees created by mergers and acquisitions, said ITI Consultants President James Trivisonno, co-author of the report. In these situations, workers may be feel a union could provide them with more job protection.

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JAMA: Teladoc doctors prescribe antibiotics at the same rate as in-person docs

Fri, 05/29/2015 - 06:33

Physicians who meet with patients via direct to consumer telemedicine services are just as likely to prescribe antibiotics as those who conduct in-person visits, according to a study conducted by Rand Corporation. The study was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine. The study examined health plan claims from 1,725 patients who used telemedicine service Teladoc and 64,099 who went in for an office visit. Visits were covered by the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS). Researchers analyzed health claims from users who were continuously enrolled in CalPERS from April 2012 to October 2013 and visited with a physician one or more times for an acute respiratory infection (ARI).

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Opinion: We need more nurses

Fri, 05/29/2015 - 06:31

Dozens of studies have found that the more patients assigned to a nurse, the higher the patients' risk of death, infections, complications, falls, failure-to-rescue rates and readmission to the hospital — and the longer their hospital stay. According to one study, for every 100 surgical patients who die in hospitals where nurses are assigned four patients, 131 would die if they were assigned eight. In pediatrics, adding even one extra surgical patient to a nurse's ratio increases a child's likelihood of readmission to the hospital by nearly 50 percent. The Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research found that if every hospital improved its nurses' working conditions to the levels of the top quarter of hospitals, more than 40,000 lives would be saved nationwide every year.

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What Happens When Physicians Know the Total Cost of Care

Thu, 05/28/2015 - 11:20

A physicians practice learns important lessons about its referral and patient care patterns from a project that measures cost and resource data—and lets physician leaders see the reports.

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