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False positives show need to adjust expectations for cancer screening tests
Washington Post

Several years ago, during an annual mammogram, my wife, who is in her 40s, was told a mass had been found in one of her breasts. Anxious and uncertain, she had a biopsy, and we braced for the worst.

My father-in-law, when in his 50s, went through a similarly harrowing experience when a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test given during a routine physical exam came out positive, and he underwent a prostate biopsy.

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Medi-Cal cuts may affect 70,000 north state patients
Redding Record Searchlight

Health care officials say a recent 10 percent cut in Medi-Cal reimbursements for doctors treating low-income patients portends a bleak future for about 70,000 north state residents already struggling to find someone to treat them. “The safety net just keeps being chipped away,” said Lynn Dorroh, the chief executive officer of Hill Country Health and Wellness Center in Round Mountain. “Pretty soon there’s not going to be much left.”

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Healthcare Online Job Postings Plummet in October
Health Leaders Media

Online advertised vacancies for healthcare practitioners and technical occupations fell by 25,000 listings in October, snapping what had been two consecutive months of impressive gains for the sector, the Conference Board reports.

Healthcare practitioners and technicians—with 506,000 online job listings—posted the largest declines in online advertised vacancies among the top 10 occupation groups in the overall economy.

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Citrus Valley looks to retrofits to remedy high collapse risk
San Gabriel Valley Tribune

The main building at the Queen of the Valley campus of Citrus Valley Medical Center has a 30.36 percent chance of collapsing in a major earthquake, state regulators have found. That is the second worst rating among hospital buildings statewide that have undergone special testing, according to a California Watch investigation last year.

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Home health Medicare payments expected to fall
Modern Healthcare

Medicare payments to home health agencies next year are expected to fall by about 2.3%, or roughly $430 million, the CMS announced after issuing a final rule (PDF) Monday to update the home health prospective payment system rates for 2012.

The changes in the regulation include a 1.4% payment update, as well as a wage index update and case-mix coding adjustment.

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Region’s small and medium-sized hospitals scramble to make retrofits
Whittier Daily News

More than a dozen buildings at some of the region’s small and medium-sized hospitals pose a “significant” risk of collapsing and becoming a danger to the public in the event of an earthquake, according to the state. These buildings have received a “1″ in the structural performance category by the state’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development – the lowest rating on the scale of 1 to 5.

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Obama to order FDA to help reduce drug shortages
USA Today

President Obama is directing the Food and Drug Administration to take steps to reduce drug shortages, an escalating problem that has endangered patients and raised the possibility of price gouging. Patient deaths have been blamed on the shortages, which tend to affect cancer drugs, anesthetics, drugs used in emergency medicine, and electrolytes needed for intravenous feeding. Hospitals have been forced to buy from secondary suppliers at huge markups. Surgeries and cancer treatments have been delayed.

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Long Beach Nurses May Walk
NBC Los Angeles

Negotiations are set to resume on Tuesday between union nurses and hospital officials at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center.

Members of the California Nurses Assn. have vowed to strike if the hospital doesn’t pull back on a demand that they pay more for health care. Tension has also grown between the two sides over complaints by the nurses that the hospital does not keep enough nurses working at any given time to meet state requirements for patient care.

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States Stymied in $4.3B Medicaid Collection Efforts
Health Leaders Media

It’s back to square one for states’ efforts to recoup an estimated $4.3 billion they erroneously paid for Medicaid services for almost 280,000 beneficiaries who should instead have been enrolled in the Medicare program.

At issue is a Social Security Administration error that classified some disabled enrollees as eligible for Supplemental Security Income when actually they were eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance.

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Long Beach nurses threatening to strike
Southern California Public Radio

Registered nurses in Long Beach say they’re ready to walk off the job if they don’t get a new contract soon.

A strike would involve nearly 2,000 registered nurses from Long Beach Memorial Medical Center and Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach. Nurses voted late last week to authorize a strike in advance of this week’s talks between representatives of the California Nurses Association and hospital administrators. The previous contract expired in late September. The two sides have been negotiating since July.

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CDC seeks tweaks to healthcare-use surveys
Modern Healthcare

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering integrating its National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS) into the National Hospital Care Survey in an effort “to increase the wealth of data on healthcare utilization in hospitals across episodes of care and to allow for linkages to other data sources such as the National Death Index” and data from the CMS, according to a notice scheduled to be published in Tuesday’s Federal Register (PDF).

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Local hospitals among the nation’s top 100
Siskiyou Daily News

Both Siskiyou County hospitals have been named on a recent list of the “Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals in America.” The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) partnered with iVantage Health Analytics – a health care business intelligence and technology company – to compile the first-ever comprehensive rating list of the 100 critical access care hospitals that scored best on the Hospital Strength Index, according to a NRHA press release.

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Kaiser Permanente’s Marilyn Chow Recognized for Nursing Excellence by
Sacramento Bee

Marilyn Chow, RN, DNSc, FAAN, of Kaiser Permanente has been named the national winner of the 2011 Nursing Excellence Awards in the category of “Advancing and Leading the Profession.” Sponsored by The Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future, the awards program recognizes extraordinary contributions nurses make in the health care industry to patients, peers and the overall profession of nursing.

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Grants by Kaiser’s new hospital already making impact on the betterment of community health
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Kaiser’s Ontario Medical Center hasn’t officially opened yet, but it has already become a good neighbor in the community.

Last week the Kaiser Permanente Vineyard Avenue facility hosted a special VIP grand opening reception and although many local prominent individuals, politicians and business people attended, the emphasis on the event was to give back.

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Tahoe Forest Hospital named a top 100 critical care access hospital nationwide
Sierra Sun

Tahoe Forest Hospital (TFH) was recently named one of the top 100 critical access hospitals in the United States from the National Rural Health Association (NRHA). The formal announcement was made September 2011 at NRHA’s 10th Annual Critical Access Hospital Conference, which attracted 650 rural hospital leaders to Kansas City, Mo. Only four California hospitals made the Top 100. The others included Fairchild Medical Center, Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital and Mercy Medical Center Mt. Shasta.

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Doctors estimate $6.8 billion in unnecessary medical tests
Washington Post

For many adults, a routine visit to a primary care physician might involve blood tests, a urinalysis, an electrocardiogram, maybe a bone density scan. Too often, however, these tests are inappropriate and they cost a bundle, according to a recent study, not only for the health care system but also for individuals, who are increasingly footing more of the bill for their care.


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HPV bill passed by Gov. Brown admirable but ineffective
Daily Sundial

A new bill passed by Gov. Jerry Brown permits girls ages 12 to 18 to receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine without parental consent. The vaccine is administered in three shots over the course of six months and wards against certain strains of HPV and cervical cancer.

While the idea at the heart of the law is admirable, its execution is lacking.