News Headlines for April 1, 2015

News Headlines Article

Patients Bounce Back Faster From Surgery With Hospitals’ New Protocol
The Wall Street Journal

Hospitals are starting to abandon the time-honored drill for surgery patients — including fasting, heavy IV fluids, powerful post-op narcotics and bed rest — amid growing evidence that the lack of nutrients, fluid overload and drug side effects can do more harm than good.

Instead, they are turning to “enhanced recovery” protocols that are easier on patients, help them get better faster with fewer infections and other complications and reduce health-care costs.

The changes, pioneered in Europe over the past 15 years, now are being adopted more widely in the U.S. Though the evidence is strongest in colorectal surgery, the approach is being used with an increasing range of procedures including hip fracture and joint replacements and surgeries for bladder, pancreas, liver and breast cancer. 

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How IV Bag Label Redesign Can Save Lives
HealthLeaders Media

Labels on bags of IV fluids that are designed to be easy to read in a medical emergency can prevent medical errors and save lives, suggests a recent study recently published in the Journal of Patient Safety.

The study looked at a group of 96 anesthesia trainees, who, in a simulated medical emergency, were asked to administer hetastarch, a blood plasma volume-increasing fluid, to a patient who was losing blood. 

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Hackers Teach Computers To Tell Healthy And Sick Brain Cells Apart
National Public Radio

Brain researchers are joining forces with computer hackers to tackle a big challenge in neuroscience: teaching computers how to tell a healthy neuron from a sick one.

“Sick neurons have a withered appearance, much like a sick plant has a withered appearance,” says Jane Roskams, an executive director at the Allen Institute for Brain Science. But at the moment, she says, highly trained scientists are still better than computers at assessing a neuron just by looking at its shape, which resembles a tree that can have thousands of branches.

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Facebook Ratings Correlate with Hospital Quality Data
HealthLeaders Media

In the era of the engaged patient, consumers shop around for healthcare services. When it comes to hospitals, they could consult several ratings programs for information on readmissions and hospital-acquired infection rates.

But data shows they don’t do so in big numbers.

One reason may be that quality measures familiar to providers may mean little to patients. Now, a study suggests that healthcare consumers may be able to find reliable data on hospitals’ quality in a familiar place – Facebook.

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Why Universal Health Care Is Essential for a More Equitable Society
The Huffington Post

The prospects for universal health care in the United States appear unusually bleak these days. Just as the first U.S. state — Vermont — was getting ready to implement a universal, publicly financed health care system, its governor pulled the plug on his support. Years of studies, preparations and proposals, a mountain of supportive data and a clear legal mandate fell by the wayside as soon as Governor Shumlin felt that the political stars were no longer aligned. Meanwhile, in Washington DC, even the Affordable Care Act’s approach of making private health insurance more affordable by subsidizing over-priced insurance products is under attack in the Supreme Court.

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Are State Innovation Waivers the Future of Health Care Reform?
California Healthline

Beginning in 2017, states will be able to apply for waivers for flexibility in implementing many of the Affordable Care Act’s key requirements — an opportunity that some see as a catalyst for health reform. The promise of broad flexibility under such waivers could be particularly appealing to states that have been reluctant to back the ACA and its requirements. In fact, some stakeholders argue that such waivers should be made available as early as this year so states can begin making progress.

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U.S. Supreme Court decision could curtail Medi-Cal lawsuits
Los Angeles Times

During California’s budget crisis, attempts to cut costs by reducing public services often became tied up in litigation. But on Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court significantly curtailed that legal avenue for advocates protesting spending cuts.

The justices, in a 5-4 decision, said healthcare providers could not sue when they think Medicaid rates in their state are too low.

Writing in the majority opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia said doctors, pharmacists and others would have to register their objections with federal authorities who oversee the Medicaid program rather than file lawsuits.

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Hospitals Can’t Sue Over Medicaid Reimbursement, Court Says
Bloomberg.com

Hospitals and other health-care providers can’t sue to challenge reimbursement rates set by states under the Medicaid insurance program for the poor, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled. The 5-4 decision Tuesday is a blow to hospitals, which say that Medicaid rates aren’t covering their costs. Providers now will have to take any objections to rates to the U.S. agency that oversees the joint federal-state program.

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U.S. top court says medical providers can’t sue states over Medicaid funding
Reuters

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled in a case from Idaho that private medical providers that deliver residential care services cannot sue a state in try to raise Medicaid reimbursement rates to deal with rising medical costs.

The justices, on a 5-4 vote, ruled in favor of the state of Idaho, which asserted that medical providers have no legal recourse to sue.

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How Hard Is It to See a Doctor If You’re on Medicaid?
Pacific Standard

Medicaid in the United States is supposed to provide low-income Americans with low-cost health care. But those who get Medicaid may still often find themselves out of luck, especially in certain states. In 2013, almost one in three doctors’ offices in the U.S. refused to take new Medicaid patients, according to a new survey from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics. Acceptance rates varied wildly between states, with New Jersey, California, Florida, Louisiana, and New York faring much worse than average.

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You can’t always get what you want; just ask physician-owned hospitals
Modern Healthcare

The legislative package approved recently by the House repealing Medicare’s sustainable growth-rate formula for paying doctors contains a grab bag of other provisions. It’s the typical congressional something-for-everyone approach to gaining agreement on a measure.

But one group that didn’t get what it wanted is physician-owned hospitals. The Affordable Care Act includes a prohibition on new physician-owned hospitals and expansion of existing facilities, unless they get explicit backing from the CMS.

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Cancer drug found to restore memory in mice holds promise as Alzheimer’s treatment
Washington Post

A drug originally designed to target cancer has been found to restore memory and reverse cognitive problems in mice with Alzheimer’s disease-like symptoms and could offer a path forward to a treatment for humans someday, a new study found.

Yale University researchers found that the previously approved drug, saracatinib, targeted beta amyloid deposits and reduced their toxic effect on surrounding brain cells. The buildup of beta amyloid in the brain can be a precursor of Alzheimer’s disease in the aging brain.

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Kaiser to look for autism’s causes in large-scale study
San Francisco Chronicle

Kaiser Permanente is about to begin what is believed to be the largest genetic research project ever conducted by a health organization into the causes of autism, gathering biological and other health information from 5,000 Northern California families who have a child with the developmental disorder.

Scientists have long suspected that autism results from a combination of genetics and environmental factors, but no one knows for sure. They hope a study of this size will reveal the root causes that could eventually lead to improved diagnoses and new treatments.

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Manteca’s heart needs to be healthy
Manteca Bulletin

Nico Tejeda is worried about Manteca’s long-term health.

It is why the chief executive officer of Manteca’s biggest private employer — Doctors Hospital of Manteca with its 500 workers and a combined annual payroll and benefit expenditure of $40.8 million — wants to see a more vibrant downtown.

The reason is simple. Recruiting doctors and other key medical professionals is going to become an even bigger challenge in the coming years.

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Tulare hospital administrators address Chicago healthcare conference
Visialia Times-Delta

A financial conference in Chicago highlighted strong growth at Tulare Regional Medical Center.

Hospital executives spoke at the Healthcare Financial Management Association Capital Conference held last week in Chicago, praising the hospital’s financial turnaround.

HealthCare Conglomerate Associates Chairman Dr. Benny Benzeevi, Chief Restructuring Officer Paul Walker, and Chief Financial Officer Alan Germany spoke at the conference.

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