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Health care news from around the state and nation


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Kaiser Permanente Makes Electronic Medical Records Accessible to Patients

Kaiser Permanente, the largest managed care organization in the United States, has unveiled an Android app and mobile-optimized website through which its 9 million patients can access their own medical information anywhere in the world on their mobile devices. The app and mobile website contain the same information and possibilities that were already available through, i.e. lab results, diagnostic information, secure email access to doctors, ordering of prescription refills, scheduling appointments and locating of healthcare facilities.

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Disbanding of nursing board raises questions about public protection
California Watch

The state Board of Registered Nursing ceased to exist this year due to an October veto by Gov. Jerry Brown, and now stark disagreement is emerging over whether the public is adequately protected from nurses who need drug treatment or limits on their practice or to be stopped altogether.

Brown vetoed the bill that would have extended the board’s charter to 2016 after balking over possible pension obligations. In doing so, he dissolved the board after 106 years of operation.

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Medical tests begin to get a second look
San Diego Union-Tribune

Recent headlines offered a fresh example of how the health care system subjects people to too many medical tests — this time research showing millions of older women don’t need their bones checked for osteoporosis nearly so often.

Chances are you’ve heard that many expert groups say cancer screening is overused, too, from mammograms given too early or too often to prostate cancer tests that may not save lives.

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HP Wins Blue Shield Health IT Contract
Information Week

HP Enterprise Services has signed a five-year contract with Blue Shield of California (BSC) to help the health plan better manage its membership and claims processing systems, with the goal of bringing products and services to its clients faster and at a lower operating cost. According to executives, BSC is moving to a client-server architecture that will support outreach initiatives to members via the Web and through mobile connectivity.

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CDC: Diabetes amputations falling dramatically
USA Today

Health officials say far fewer diabetics are losing lower limbs to the disease. A new government study shows the rate of amputations has fallen by more than half since the 1990s. Health officials believe the numbers are down because of better treatments that keep blood sugar under control. Diabetes can cause poor circulation and nerve damage, which sometimes leads to the loss of toes, feet or legs.

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40 doctors at 3 Long Beach hospitals make ‘Super Doctors’ list
Daily Breeze - Los Angeles

Long Beach Memorial, Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach and Community Hospital Long Beach today announced that more than 40 of its physicians have been recognized among the best in their fields by the 2012 Southern California Super Doctors report.

The 2012 Southern California Super Doctors report recognizes approximately the top five percent of active doctors in Los Angeles and Orange counties. The selection process relies on peer review, surveying more than 30,000 physicians in Southern California.

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Physicians Emphasize Importance of Story Telling to Advance Patient Care
UCSF Today

Two doctors who have learned the art of telling stories are convinced that it has become indispensable to top-notch medical care. “A slow cultural shift over the past 20 years led by television — from “St. Elsewhere” to “ER” — has been humanizing society’s view of the practice of medicine,” said John Maa, MD, an assistant professor in the UCSF Department of Surgery. “… As physicians, we must now harness the power of storytelling to enlighten Capitol Hill to enact new laws” to support emergency health care personnel.

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Insurer WellPoint’s 4Q profit drops 39 percent
San Francisco Chronicle

WellPoint Inc.’s fourth-quarter earnings sank 39 percent as medical claims soared because of its Medicare Advantage business, but the health insurer raised its quarterly dividend and it forecast earnings growth in 2012. The performance was a rare miss of Wall Street expectations. WellPoint’s full-year earnings outlook also came in short of analysts’ estimates. The Indianapolis company’s stock sank more than 6 percent, or $4.40, to $65 in premarket trading Wednesday.

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Diabetes patients improve quickly with monthly care, study says
Los Angeles Times

Diabetics who receive regularly scheduled monthly care to learn how to improve their health have a more rapid recovery compared with similar patients who receive only sporadic healthcare visits, according to new research.

The study, published Tuesday in the journal Diabetes Care, shows in stark contrast the difference between engaging patients in their own care and leaving them to their own devices.

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PACE program a new approach to senior health care
San Francisco Chronicle

Juggling Maria Inez Gamez’s medications and care became too difficult for her granddaughter and other family members, but the family didn’t want to place her in a nursing home. They discovered San Francisco’s On Lok Lifeways, where the 83-year-old woman could be supervised by professionals during the day and have her health needs managed at the same time.

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El Camino Hospital gets repairs
Mountain View VOICE

The El Camino Hospital board of directors recently approved about $1.55 million in renovations to the new main building, according to the healthcare organization’s administrative chief. Changes to patient rooms’ doors, the addition of a teleconferencing system and repairs both cosmetic and utilitarian to various areas of the hospital are among the more expensive items on the list of upgrades, according to Ken King, chief administrative services officer at El Camino.


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Addressing the Factors That Cause 70% of Disease
San Francisco Chronicle

While in residency, I took care of a toddler who was hospitalized following an anaphylactic reaction. During a diaper change at home the child suddenly developed lip swelling and severe difficulty breathing for no apparent reason. The child was urgently brought to the hospital by ambulance and initially treated in the emergency room. By the time I met her on the inpatient floor her breathing and swelling had significantly improved.

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DSM-5: You’re Still Autistic. You’re Just Weird. You We’re Not Sure About. Call Us Tomorrow
The Health Care Blog

It’s hard to imagine more chaos in the world of autism than what we see happening right now. Autism is more and more in the public spotlight. The numbers are huge and no one can explain them. Since 2009 we’ve been told that one percent of children have autism. Among boys alone, it’s almost two percent. Mainstream medicine can’t explain the stunning increase in a once rare disorder. For years health officials gave doctors credit for all the autism everywhere.

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Austerity Measures at the Expense of Our Health?
The Huffington Post

America’s system of government was designed by the founding fathers to be frustrating. During that time, the English King ran a tight ship: without internal checks on the monarch’s power, things were efficient, but a bit unfair. Topping the U.S. colonials’ list of grievances? Imposition of “taxes… without Consent,” suspension of “(the) Legislatures,” and “sen(ding) hither swarms of officers to harass” the colonials (see Independence, Declaration of).


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The government agency that’s holding our hospitals hostage

I have been a physician for 43 years. This has instilled in me a sense of duty and compassion for those who are suffering. I am politically liberal and believe that government has a place in our lives. Government’s obligation is to ensure justice. Reciprocally, I have a duty to ensure that government is just. That being said, I want to bring to light a government agency that appears to be unjust and out of control.