News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Medical students face grueling, expensive road to practice
Sacramento Bee

For months, Brittany Lewis awoke early, padded into her kitchen and started each day the same way. Cereal. Juice. A medical book by her side. While her 5-year-old son slept in the next room, Lewis fixed her gaze on her computer screen and prepared for the biggest test of her life.

Last week, she reviewed her microbiology notes one more time. She then headed to a Fair Oaks testing center and took the $530 exam she hopes will bring her one step closer to her dream.

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Thomson Reuters Names Top 100 Hospitals for 2012
Health Leaders Media

If all Medicare patients received care equal to that provided by hospitals that made Thomson Reuters’ new top 100 list for 2012, 186,000 people who died would be alive, more than $4.3 billion would be saved, and about 56,000 patients would have avoided complications from hospital procedures they otherwise endured. Thomson Reuters made that assessment after evaluating 2,886 short-term acute-care, non federal hospitals for quality characteristics that included Medicare cost reports, Medicare Provider Analysis and Review (MedPAR) data, as well as core measures and patient experience scores tallied by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to come up with this year’s list.

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Curing what ails health care districts
San Mateo Daily Journal

Now what? Less than a week after an Assembly committee convened to discuss the role of health care districts in public health, San Mateo County Assemblyman Rich Gordon and Health System Chief Jean Fraser are both optimistic the hearing was more than lip service. Three districts, including one in San Mateo County, were represented at the hearing along with officials who said they should do more. Legislators heard disparate opinions about health care districts that no longer operate hospitals but maintain taxing authority.

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Van Hollen decries GOP direction on safety net programs
Modern Healthcare

The ranking member of the House Budget Committee said a Tuesday hearing of that panel to examine the nation’s safety net programs will defend a House Republican budget blueprint that “shreds the safety net.”

In a conference call with reporters Monday, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said chances are “very remote” that the budget plan unveiled last month by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will be approved by the Senate or signed by the president.

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60 Accountable Care Organizations to Know
Becker's Hospital Review

Accountable care organizations have proliferated in the past three years. The increase has been spurred by private payors’ interest in coordinated care management and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which introduced the Medicare Shared Savings Program. There has been a significant amount of ACO development within the past year specifically, as CMS revealed the first 32 Pioneer ACOs and, more recently, the first 27 Medicare ACOs.

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Consumers make some gains in out-of-network care, but the price is still high
Washington Post

Financially, it’s always been risky to get health care from a hospital or doctor that’s outside your health plan’s network. Without the protection of guaranteed rates negotiated by your health plan, you may end up owing much more, including any billed amounts not paid by your plan. Out-of-network cost sharing is usually higher, too.

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Mission Hospital’s new stroke device expands treatment options
OC Metro

Hundreds of stroke patients at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo will benefit each year from the hospital’s newest apparatus, a stroke revascularization device that removes blood clots from stroke patients’ brains. Mission Hospital is the first hospital in Orange County to use the life-saving Solitaire FR device; since receiving FDA approval in early March, the device has been used to treat three Mission Hospital patients.

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Back study deals blow to pain drug etanercept
USA Today

Our aching backs still can’t get a break. The genetically engineered drug etanercept, hailed as a breakthrough in safe pain management, is no more effective in the long term than other back pain treatments, research published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine finds. Back pain torments nearly two-thirds of Americans and is the leading cause of disability in people 45 and younger. Physicians have used epidural steroid injections to treat sciatica, pain radiating from the back into the buttocks and legs.

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Palm Drive to decide soon on electronic medical records
North Bay Business Journal

Palm Drive Hospital is expected to make a final decision within the next month on an electronic medical records system that could bring the 37-bed facility in line with its strategic partners while improving care.

The Palm Drive Healthcare District, which operates the hospital, has narrowed down the choice to a system made by McKesson that would cost $3.8 million over a five-year period.

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Hospital or Home?
KEYT3 - Santa Barbara

A noninvasive heart test could help many people with chest pain avoid a stay in the hospital. Most people who go to the emergency room with symptoms of a possible heart attack are admitted to the hospital. Doctors want to make sure they’re not having a serious heart problem Ð and in most cases, they aren’t. A new study finds that a test called coronary CT angiography can help these people get back home more quickly.

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Home births on the rise in California

A growing number of California babies are taking their first breaths not in the florescent glow of hospital rooms, but in their parents’ bedrooms. Although the percentage of women giving birth at home is still small, home births in the state increased by 37 percent between 2004 and 2009, from 0.38 percent of all births to 0.52 percent, according to a January report released by the National Center for Health Statistics and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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United Healthcare agrees to cover autism therapy in settlement
Sacramento Business Journal

The California Department of Insurance has reached an agreement with United Healthcare Insurance Co. to provide immediate coverage of behavioral therapy for autism, Commissioner Dave Jones announced Monday. The settlement follows similar agreements with Blue Shield, Health Net and Cigna. Anthem Blue Cross has been providing coverage under DOI direction since late 2009.

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SVDH zone change proposal topic of public hearing, again
Porterville Recorder

The Porterville City Council on Tuesday will conduct a public hearing to receive input on a proposed zone change by Sierra View District Hospital for the construction of a new laboratory on the corner of Carmelita Street and Putnam Avenue.

The hearing comes nearly a year after the hospital first approached the council for the change during a public hearing held May 3.

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da Vinci Robot Surgical Risks Detailed
Health Leaders Media

When something goes wrong after robotic surgery with the da Vinci surgical system, it’s most likely due to co-morbidities in certain patients that make the procedure riskier, not flaws in the robot’s technology itself, according to a study of 884 surgeries published this week in the Archives of Surgery.

“After reviewing all these cases, we can say for sure that there is no specific morbidity connected with the robot by itself, and that its mechanical failure is very, very rare,” says lead author Pier C.

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Beyond drowsy, too little sleep ups diabetes risk
San Francisco Business Times

More people pull the night shift. Teens text past midnight and stumble to class at dawn. Travelers pack red-eye flights. Nodding off behind the wheel isn’t the only threat from a lack of shut-eye. There’s growing evidence that people who regularly sleep too little and at the wrong time suffer long-lasting consequences that a nap won’t cure: An increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and other health problems.

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Radiosurgery prices spiked in February
Modern Healthcare

The average price of a radiosurgery system jumped 10.4% in February and is up 3% for the 12-month period ended in February, according to the latest edition of the Modern Healthcare/ECRI Institute Technology Price Index. The TPI tracks the monthly and annual price changes of 30 supply and capital items purchased by hospitals and other provider organizations. The price hike for radiosurgery systems was the biggest increase among the 30 items tracked in February.

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Funding Ending for Model Oral Health Plan for L.A. Kids
California Healthline

After providing dental care for more than 7,000 low-income children under age six, the Center for Oral Health’s WIC Dental Collaborative Project is coming to a close. Advocates who underscore the importance of oral health to overall health lament the June 30 end of the successful initiative when funding expires. “I could cry,” said Harold Slavkin, dean emeritus of the University of Southern California’s Ostrow School of Dentistry. “This kind of program isn’t a big-ticket item, yet doing away with it is bad investing for little people born in poverty.”

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Malpractice Defense Costs Are Real
The Health Care Blog

Whenever I post about the malpractice system, I try to make it clear that while I don’t consider it to be the cause, nor the cure, for the problems in our health care system, that doesn’t mean that the system isn’t broken in many ways. Nuisance cases do exist; cases that have real merit never see the light of day. One additional side effect of portraying the malpractice system as the boogeyman of the entire system is that we lose sight of the fact that it really does impact physicians. Take defense costs.