News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Is the Patient Safety Movement in Critical Condition?
The Health Care Blog

These should be the best of times for the patient safety movement. After all, it was concerns over medical mistakes that launched the transformation of our delivery and payment models, from one focused on volume to one that rewards performance. The new system (currently a work-in-progress) promises to put skin in the patient safety game as never before. Yet I’ve never been more worried about the safety movement than I am today. My fear is that we will look back on the years between 2000 and 2012 as the Golden Era of Patient Safety, which would be okay if we’d fixed all the problems.

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NCQA Issues First ACO Accreditations
Health Leaders Media

Saying “we don’t want to have organizations mess up the concept,” the National Committee of Quality Assurance president last week announced that six physician-hospital networks are the first to receive accreditation that they qualify as true accountable care organizations. “If we really want to maximize the chance of success of the ACO concept, we have to make sure everyone who is a player is capable of being one,” said Margaret O’Kane.

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Program guides underrepresented students to health professions
HealthyCal.org

Jeff Oxendine thought he wanted to go into public health when he was a student at Cal State Chico in 1982. But he had no idea how to pursue his interest – until he connected with an internship program for underrepresented students. That set him up with a summer internship at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Martinez. “Prior to being in that program, I didn’t believe it was possible,” Oxendine said. “It opened up tremendous doors for me.”

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Doctors Medical Center leaders seek to keep doors open at financially struggling San Pablo hospital
The Mercury News

Leaders of Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo plan to eliminate 16 positions and take other steps to cope with a nearly $1.5 million monthly loss, but have no immediate plan to close the hospital, which is considered an important part of the health care safety net in the region. Rumors have swirled that because of its financial difficulties, Doctors would shut down by June, but its leaders say those rumors are false.

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Hospitals are hard-pressed to estimate hip-replacement costs, study finds
Washington Post

Many hospitals are hard-pressed to tell people needing a hip replacement how much their procedure is likely to cost, according to a new study. Even when they can cite prices, going rates for the procedure may vary from hospital to hospital by a factor of 10, researchers found. “It was very frustrating,” said Jaime Rosenthal, a student at Washington University in St. Louis who led the new research, which was reported in JAMA Internal Medicine. “You got transferred to all these different people. You had to leave messages, call back.”

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High amounts of calcium may increase the likelihood of heart-related death
Washington Post

The question: Although calcium has proven benefits, might too much of it cause problems, particularly for the heart?

This study: analyzed data on 61,433 women, most in their mid-50s at the start of the study. Over roughly the next two decades, calcium consumption from both dietary sources and supplements was calculated periodically. In that time, 11,944 of the women died, including 3,862 from cardiovascular disease, 1,932 from ischemic heart disease (also called coronary artery disease) and 1,100 from a stroke.

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Why cholesterol could be good for your health
ABC News

Dr. Mehmet Oz and cardiologist Dr. Steven Sinatra want you to completely rethink what you thought you knew about cholesterol. “The big myth is that high cholesterol is not the villain we think it is,” Sinatra said. Sinatra, who wrote “The Great Cholestrol Myth” with nutrition expert Jonny Bowden, says it’s not that we don’t have heart problems; it’s just that cholesterol may not be to blame.

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Intensive care MDs: More white coats, fewer piercings preferred
Los Angeles Times

It’s not just your mom who’s suspicious of body art: Families of patients in intensive care units said that physicians who don’t display piercings or tattoos make a better first impression, according to survey results released Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine. In intensive care units, the researchers wrote (subscription required), the stakes are high but patients are unlikely to have a preexisting relationship with their doctors.

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St. Joseph Health hires new COO for Sonoma County
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

David Ziolkowski has been hired as chief operating officer of St. Joseph Health Sonoma County, where he will oversee Santa Rosa Memorial and Petaluma Valley hospitals.

Ziolkowski was recruited from Duke University Health System, where he served as senior director of network services and helped to create Duke LifePoint, a joint venture between Duke and LifePoint Hospitals.

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Both Salinas hospitals want trauma center designation
Monterey Herald

Both Salinas area hospitals will compete for permission to set up a trauma center capable of treating the most seriously injured patients at any hour of the day or night.

Officials from Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital and Natividad Medical Center submitted a letter of intent and a $15,000 proposal fee by Feb. 8, the deadline set by the county Emergency Medical Services department for responding to a request for qualifications as part of the Level II trauma center designation process.

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Doctors who cook say they give better nutrition advice
Los Angeles Times

Perhaps the next time you see your doctor, he might finish the visit with a reminder to take a medication and a conversation about cooking salmon.

In a “teach the teachers” experiment, healthcare professionals have been learning to cook as well as learning nutritional science at a conference that has been presented eight times in the last few years by Harvard University and the Culinary Institute of America. The idea behind “Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives – Caring for Our Patients and Ourselves” is that doctors and other healthcare professionals who know how to cook healthfully might be more likely to get patients to do the same.

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Attacking Asthma: Program to keep kids out of hospital saves tax dollars, but it still must hustle for grants
The Mercury News

As schoolchildren played on the blacktop, calling out to each other over the hum of the nearby freeway, Tyree Harris and his mother climbed aboard a big, white Winnebago. His doctor’s office had arrived. Like every other young patient treated on the Breathmobile, an asthma clinic on wheels, Tyree, 13, receives respiratory exams, medication, equipment and periodic checkups that help control his asthma, all for free.

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Treating Chronic Pain
San Francisco Chronicle

Six years ago, pain grabbed hold of Nancy Miller and her life began spinning out of control. While working as a licensed practical nurse, a patient pulled violently on her arm. “I had a real burning sensation in the upper neck, down my arm and right side of my back,” she recalls. “I didn’t think much of it.

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Young adults facing higher health insurance costs
Contra Costa Times

Many young, healthy Americans could soon see a jump in their health-insurance costs, and insurance companies are saying: It’s not our fault. The nation’s insurers are engaged in an all-out, last-ditch effort to shield themselves from blame for what they predict will be rate increases on new policies they must unveil this spring to comply with President Barack Obama’s health-care law. Insurers point to several reasons that premiums will rise. They will soon be required to offer more-comprehensive coverage than many currently provide.

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About Medicare: A New Way To Buy Insurance
Times-Standard

When key parts of the health care law take effect in 2014, you’ll have a new way to buy health insurance for yourself, your family or your small business: the Health Insurance Marketplace. The Marketplace is designed to help you find health insurance that fits your budget, with less hassle. Every health insurance plan in the new Marketplace will offer comprehensive coverage, from doctors to medications to hospital visits. You can compare all your insurance options based on price, benefits, quality and other features that may be important to you, in plain language that makes sense.

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Progress on health costs
Mount Shasta Herald

The most memorable magazine article I read this summer may have been Atul Gawande’s take on the health care industry in the New Yorker, and I think of it whenever the topic of health costs comes up.

Gawande, a Boston surgeon, compared U.S. hospitals to the Cheesecake Factory – and showed how the hospitals could learn something from the restaurant chain.

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