News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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California hospitals unite to enhance quality of patient care
Nurse.com

Nearly 400 California hospitals have partnered in support of a public-private partnership aimed at enhancing the quality of care provided to patients. The Allied for Patient Safety partners include the California Hospital Association, the Hospital Council of Northern and Central California, the Hospital Association of Southern California, the Hospital Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties and the California Hospital Patient Safety Organization.

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Calif. attorney general seeks drug database funds
San Francisco Chronicle

Legislation that would provide funding for California’s substance-abuse tracking system passed its first committee on Monday at the urging of state Attorney General Kamala Harris. The state’s prescription drug database allows doctors and pharmacists to quickly review patients’ substance history as a way to deter drug abuse and to make sure patients aren’t taking harmful combinations of drugs. Harris wants money to maintain and upgrade the database and to pay for teams of agents that would track doctors who improperly prescribe large quantities of controlled substances.

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Will reform of care for aging help or hurt?
HealthyCal.org

Amid all the recent worry about people lacking health insurance, one vulnerable group of Californians appears to be suffering from too much, not too little coverage. Low-income older adults qualify for both Medicare and Medi-Cal. That might sound like a good thing. But the lack of coordination between the federal program for seniors and the state-federal program for the poor may be hurting their health. It is also costing the taxpayers a ton of money.

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Fee data puts brakes on docs’ test orders: study
Modern Healthcare

It’s long been an article of faith among certain healthcare reformers that soaring national healthcare costs can be constrained by making patients more aware of the cost of their own episodes of care.

Price awareness by physicians could have similar effects, according to a team of researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, reporting in a six-page article in the online edition of JAMA Internal Medicine.

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Funds to run out for database that monitors prescription drug usage
Southern California Public Radio

California is about to cut off funding for a database that tracks prescription drug use and abuse — unless people such as Robert Pack can convince state lawmakers that the program is critical.

“I lost my my 10-year-old son Troy and my 7-year-old daughter Alana to a doctor shopper,” Pack said Monday prior to a hearing on a bill that would increase funding for the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System, or CURES.

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When Physicians See Costs, They Act Like Consumers
Health Leaders Media

Healthcare consumers who are unaware of the varying costs of routine medical tests may take solace in knowing that many physicians don’t either.

“Doctors have been shielded from costs for generations,” says Leonard S. Feldman, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

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Long-term breast-feeding can increase risk of iron deficiency in babies, study says
Washington Post

THE QUESTION Though breast-feeding promises a host of benefits for babies, might it also harbor risks, such as an increased chance of being iron-deficient?

THIS STUDY analyzed data on 1,647 healthy children who were about 3 years old. Nearly all had been breast-fed at some point, either exclusively or along with other fluids and foods — most for about 10 months and 27 percent for more than a year.

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Breast Cancer Drugs Urged for Healthy High-Risk Women
New York Times

Should healthy women take drugs to lower their risk of breast cancer? On Monday, an influential panel of experts said that the answer is yes, but only for certain women who are at increased risk because of breast cancer in the family or a personal history of breast lumps or other problems. Two drugs, tamoxifen and raloxifene, can lower the risk, and may be worth taking even though both can have serious adverse effects like blood clots and strokes, the experts said.

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Doctors starts 6-month remodeling of ER room
Manteca Bulletin

Doctors Hospital of Manteca staffers were working together Monday to create a smooth transition in moving the emergency room waiting area from the rear of the hospital to the front lobby as part of a nearly $1 million remodeling effort to upgrade the facility.

At 7 a.m. the long recognized front door of the Emergency Department was fenced off and marked with signage directing patients and their families to the front of the hospital where the sick and injured will be triaged as to the seriousness of their conditions before being escorted into one of the 11 ER treatment bays.

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High court declines to hear Glaxo appeal
Modern Healthcare

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday decided it will not hear an appeal brought by GlaxoSmithKline over whether insurance companies can sue the drugmaker for Medicare Advantage enrollees’ medical expenses tied to the troubled diabetes drug Avandia.

Humana Health Plans, a division of Humana won a federal appeals court ruling last year that Medicare Advantage insurers, like the federal government’s standard Medicare program, can sue companies if their products harmed enrollees and lead to additional health costs under the Medicare Secondary Payer Act.

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Free health care can’t make up for a low income when it comes to living healthy: study
Southern California Public Radio

There may be no substitute for a healthy income when it comes to managing chronic health conditions in children, says a new study – even when they have access to free health care. That’s according to research appearing in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, which looked at Canadian children with type 1 diabetes. Canada has a system of free universal access to health care, meaning the cost of care wasn’t a barrier for these children.

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Bill would save narcotics-monitoring program
Sacramento Business Journal

A bill pending at the state Capitol seeks to rescue California’s fledgling program to monitor drug prescriptions for overuse — and overprescribing — of narcotic painkillers. Senate Bill 809 is sponsored by Attorney General Kamala Harris and authored by Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, a Democrat from Concord. Wracked by state budget cuts, the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System, better known as CURES, doesn’t have enough money to operate after July 1.

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Nurses have agreement at Novato hospital
Sacramento Business Journal

Registered nurses have reached a tentative settlement with management at Novato Community Hospital, a member of the Sutter Health network, the California Nurses Association announced Monday. The proposed three-year agreement covers about 85 nurses. A ratification vote is expected as early as next week. The settlement could end a lengthy round of contract negotiations that began almost two years ago. The last contract expired July 1, 2011.

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Letting the Data Speak: A Fresh Look at Health Care Cost Growth
The Health Care Blog

In this post I recast the visual display of international health care expenditures. For select OECD countries, this clearly shows the growth of average costs has been moderating while U.S. cost-growth has been accelerating. The graph methodology is discussed along with a caution about marginal thinking. A conjecture is presented as to why the OECD cost-growth is moderating followed by a couple thoughts for action.

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User Fees for Electronic Health Records?
The Health Care Blog

President Obama has released his 2014 budget proposal, which includes $80.1 billion in spending for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), an increase of $3.9 billion. The proposed budget for The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) would increase its $61 million budget to $78 million, a 28% increase. The plan also includes a $1 million fee for electronic health record vendors that would almost certainly be passed along to users of the systems.

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