News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation


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FDA Retreats From Recall Of Scope-Cleaning Machines Tied to Outbreaks
Kaiser Health News

The Food and Drug Administration has dropped a recall of some 2,800 scope-cleaning machines in use at hospitals and clinics nationwide despite a finding by a top agency scientist last year that the action was “necessary to protect public health.” The FDA had ordered the equipment off the market in November because it said Custom Ultrasonics of Ivyland, Pennsylvania, had repeatedly violated federal safety laws and those lapses could increase the risk of infection for patients. The agency reiterated the recall in January after a Senate report linked Custom’s machines to several superbug outbreaks across the country.

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Medic program improves patient safety, helps train young nurses
Daily Republic

A four-year-old program operated by Medic Ambulance has been cutting back the need for critical care transport between hospitals while preserving the safety of patients and giving graduates from nursing schools important hands-on experience.

The Advanced Life Support Critical Care Program was started in May 2012 to address an overuse of critical care transportation of hospital patients who were not critical care patients.

“Critical care transport is an expensive form of transport for a noncritical case,” said James Pierson, vice president of Vallejo-based Medic Ambulance.

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Growing Support for a National Health Program and Health Care as a Human Right
The Huffington Post

We can thank Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign for putting single-payer national health insurance (NHI) on the front burner of today’s national political discussion. This is long overdue and especially timely as the two parties debate alternatives for future U. S. health care. It appears that political feasibility for NHI may finally be approaching a time of acceptance, if our democracy can prevail over oligarchy and plutocracy.

The 20,000 physician-strong Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) has released today a Physicians’ Proposal for Single-Payer Health Care Reform, updated from its 2003 proposal (1), with an accompanying editorial. (2) It describes how traditional Medicare can be expanded to cover our entire population for necessary health care, provide comprehensive benefits to all Americans, give us free choice of physician and hospital, reduce waste and bureaucracy, and save money at the same time. This proposal by a non-partisan, not-for-profit national organization has been endorsed by more than 2,200 physician colleagues in all specialties. (3) More recently, it has been endorsed by an additional 560 physicians and medical students. (4) In its 2004 report, the Institute of Medicine (now the National Academy of Medicine) called for universal health care by 2010, listing single-payer NHI as one of the alternatives; none of the other alternatives could ever be expected to achieve universal coverage, as they remain part of the problem. (5)

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More than 2,000 doctors join call for single-payer healthcare
The Hill

More than 2,000 doctors on Thursday signed onto a single-payer healthcare plan released by an advocacy group.

The proposal was put forward by the group Physicians for a National Health Program, which advocates for a system in which the government provides coverage for everyone.

The issue has been brought back to the forefront of the political debate by Bernie Sanders, who has advocated for such a system as part of his presidential campaign. The doctors backing the plan, like Sanders, say that ObamaCare has not gone far enough because millions remain uninsured.

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2,000 doctors say Bernie Sanders has the right approach to health care
Washington Post

More than 2,000 physicians announced their support Thursday for a single-payer national health care system, unveiling a proposal drafted by doctors that appears to resonate with Bernie Sanders’ call for “Medicare for All.”

In an editorial and paper published in the American Journal of Public Health on Thursday, the doctors call out the “persistent shortcomings of the current health care system.” They warn about the risks of continuing along the path laid out by the Affordable Care Act: “down this road, millions of Americans remain uninsured, underinsurance grows, costs rise, and inefficiency and the search for profits are abetted.”

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Hospitals resist CMS plans to police affiliations with banned providers
Modern Healthcare

Hospitals are concerned about the administrative burden posed by a proposed CMS rule that would ban them from Medicare and Medicaid if they fail to disclose that they are working with providers or suppliers who have been barred from the programs, or who owe money to the government.

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Raising Medicare’s Eligibility Age Could Trigger Gov’t Savings, But Tally Higher Total Health Spending
Kaiser Health News

Healthcare spending for some services dropped by nearly a third when people turned 65 and switched from private insurance to Medicare, according to a recent study. The decline was driven by lower prices paid by the Medicare program to doctors and other providers rather than a drop-off in the volume of services seniors receive.

The study offers a preview of the potential impact of raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67 from the current 65, said Jacob Wallace, a doctoral candidate in health policy at Harvard University who coauthored the study, which was published in the May issue of Health Affairs.

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What Medicare pays doctors for services and drugs
Modern Healthcare

In the third round of what’s now an annual event, the CMS posted a huge data set that breaks down the $91 billion Medicare paid individual physicians, diagnostic labs, ambulance services and other companies. And for the first time, the agency included a set of numbers that exclude adjustments for regional factors like wages. The addition of standardized figures is intended to make the variation in payments reflect “physicians’ practice patterns and beneficiaries’ ability and willingness to obtain care,” the CMS said in a news release.

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State Makes Changes To Managed Care Program For Elderly, Disabled
California Healthline

California, in a departure from previous policy, will not automatically enroll low-income elderly and disabled residents in managed care health plans during the next round of a three-year pilot project, state officials announced Thursday.

The state made the change in response to widespread concern that people were being enrolled in plans without their knowledge and without a clear understanding of what managed care meant for them. Future enrollment will be voluntary, officials said.

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Will hospitals reject California’s assisted suicide law?
Los Angeles Times

Medical leaders at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena voted behind closed doors this week for the facility’s hundreds of doctors and affiliated personnel to opt out of California’s assisted suicide law, which goes into effect June 9.

If the proposed amendment to the hospital’s medical rules is approved by the board of directors this month, Huntington will become one of the largest non-religious medical institutions statewide to turn its back on a law that Gov. Jerry Brown called “a comfort” to anyone “dying in prolonged and excruciating pain.”

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Shouldn’t you know if your doctor is on probation?
San Diego Union-Tribune

If your doctor was put on probation by the state medical licensing board, wouldn’t you like to know about it? Of course you would, but most patients have no idea when their doctor has been disciplined by the Medical Board and put on probation.

Most physicians, in fact, when they are disciplined do not have their licenses revoked, but are put on probation under conditions that promote their rehabilitation. That anonymity could change if the state Senate approves SB 1033 this month.

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Ventura County Hospital Using Breakthrough Stent Technology
KEYT3 - Santa Barbara

A cardiac stent is used in patients that need blood flow restored to diseased blood vessels. Most stents used today leave behind not only necessary drugs to prevent infection but also a polymer layer in the body. Community Memorial Health system stated in a press release that this polymer layer has been found to cause long-term inflammation and impaired healing, that has been linked to complications including stent thrombosis.

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County Pulse: Doctors Medical Center gets another A on safety report card
Modesto Bee

Doctors Medical Center of Modesto received a fourth consecutive A from The Leapfrog Group, a watchdog service that regularly tracks the medical errors, accidents, injuries and infections that harm patients in more than 2,500 hospitals in the country.

Leapfrog, a nonprofit founded by employers and other health insurance purchasers, estimates that more than 200,000 patient deaths in hospitals each year are attributed to medical mistakes, injuries or the health care intended to heal the patients.

Hospitals earning an A grade should be safer for consumers than other facilities, says th

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Hoag receives $7 million nursing gift
Orange County Register

Newport Beach philanthropists George and Julia Argyros on Thursday announced a $7 million gift to Hoag Hospital to pay for continuing education for nurses.

The donation, which will be given over five years, will provide scholarships for nurses to improve their skills and take on expanded clinical roles, hospital officials said.

“George and I are privileged to support Hoag’s incredible team of nurses and give them the opportunity to achieve their educational goals and further their commitment to delivering outstanding care to their patients,” Julia Argyros said in a statement.

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Critical care pavilion starts to take form next to Washington Hospital
The Mercury News

A critical care facility being built next to Washington Hospital in Fremont has been designed to continue operating during and after a big earthquake, a project official said this week.

More than a year into construction, the largest public works project in the Washington Township Health Care District’s history is about 25 percent complete, Will Bartley, project manager for Rudolph and Sletten construction company, said Monday.

The steel skeleton of the four-story Morris Hyman Critical Care Pavilion is now up and the $220 million bond project is on schedule and on budget, he said.

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SIH faces long road to full recovery
Sierra Wave

The prognosis for Southern Inyo Hospital is hopeful. But, like any patient who’s been resuscitated, the recuperation period is still ahead.

Just two months since the doors were re-opened, community members got an update on the recovering finances and services at last Thursday’s Board of Directors meeting.

“This is an amazing accomplishment,” said Dr. Benny Benzeevi of Healthcare Conglomerate Associates, the management company responsible for performing CPR on SIH. “We were in a hole. We’ve stopped digging but now we have to climb out.”

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Sebastopol’s Sonoma West Medical Center: Financially viable or ‘shell game?’
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Executives at Sonoma West Medical Center in Sebastopol say the hospital is on track toward greater financial stability, even as hospital critics warn of ongoing economic trouble.

Ray Hino, the medical center’s CEO, said this week that operating losses at the hospital were brought down to $47,000 in March from $400,000 in February. Hino said that financial statements show the hospital has about $130,000 in cash on hand and that the operating losses for April are about the same as in March.

“It’s still going to take us several months to become profitable,” Hino said.

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Valley Children’s ranks high in national cancer care program
Fresno Bee

Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera County has ranked among the top hospitals in the country for enrolling pediatric cancer patients into a therapeutic program through the Children’s Oncology Group.

Hospital officials said the hospital is in the top 4 percent in enrolling children in the program. The Children’s Oncology Group is the world’s largest organization devoted to childhood and adolescent cancer research. The hospital ranking was reported in the organization’s most recent review of more than 200 institutions in its membership.

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Hospital Closure Looms: County Report on San Clemente Hospital Sent to CDPH
San Clemente Times

After hearing testimony from dozens of San Clemente residents, the Orange County Emergency Medical Care Committee members said there are more issues to examine regarding the closure of the city’s only hospital, Saddleback Memorial Medical Center.

On Friday, April 29, people spoke about why the hospital is so important them, San Clemente and South Orange County—the next closest facilities are in Laguna Niguel and Mission Viejo—and shared their own experiences with the hospital.