News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Study: Hospital infections cost $9.8 billion a year
CBS News

Americans could save billions of dollars in health care costs each year if hospitals did a better job of curbing preventable infections, according to a new study. Research released today by JAMA Internal Medicine found that infections acquired during the course of medical treatment cost $9.8 billion annually. Researchers reviewed published data from 1998 through April 2013 and adjusted the costs for inflation in 2012 dollars.

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AMA sells its members’ most intimate data
San Francisco Chronicle

As of last month, physicians will have to think twice about attending a pharmaceutical-industry-sponsored lunch. August marks the implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s Sunshine Rule, which requires drug and device manufacturers to disclose contributions of more than $10 to physicians.

The rule, however, sheds light on only half of the transaction. Remaining unaddressed is a perverse practice carried out by the most well-known physician organization in the United States: the American Medical Association.

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States Experimenting to Lower Health Care Costs
NBC Bay Area

Oregon health officials are concentrating on coordinating services and preventing hospital stays. New Jersey medical centers are rewarding doctors who can save money without jeopardizing patient care. And Massachusetts is expanding the role of physician assistants and nurse practitioners.

As states work on implementing the complex federal health care reforms, some have begun tackling an issue that has vexed employers, individuals and governments at all levels for years — the rapidly rising costs of health care.

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Retraining retired doctors to boost workforce
San Diego Union-Tribune

A successful career in medicine is neither regularly scheduled nor part-time, but a local surgeon hopes to deliver both to retired doctors who want to continue seeing patients a few days a week with none of the usual financial frustrations and time commitments attached.

In early August, Dr. Leonard Glass, a retired Rancho Santa Fe reconstructive and plastic surgeon, launched Physician Retraining & Reentry, an online course designed to help specialists make the jump to primary care without requiring a return to medical school.

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Covered California chooses insurance general agents
Sacramento Business Journal

Covered California has selected four insurance general agents for its small-employer marketplace in 2014. They are: Claremont Insurance Services of Walnut Creek, Dickerson Employee Benefits of Los Angeles, LISI Inc. of San Mateo and Warner Pacific Insurance Services of Westlake Village. General agents — sometimes called “the agents’ agent” — provide product and sales training to the brokers and others in the insurance market.

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Four tips for health insurance shopping
The Californian - Salinas

Your employer and President Barack Obama implore you to become a better health care consumer. They say it’s vital to help slow the seemingly perpetual rise of health care expenses.

A growing number of companies offer high-deductible health plans that make their employees pay more for care out of pocket. Some workers also are finding that the cost of their coverage is now tied to the quality of their health or whether they smoke.

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Medicare bidding program to get limited review
Sacramento Business Journal

The Office of the Inspector General will conduct a limited review of Medicare’s competitive bidding program for medical supplies following complaints that federal health officials awarded contracts to unlicensed providers in some states. The announcement came in response to a letter Congressmen Glenn Thompson from Pennsylvania, Bruce Braley from Iowa and a bipartisan group of more than 200 members of Congress expressing concern about the program.

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RAC program more accurate than lobbyists say, but isn’t perfect, OIG report says
Modern Healthcare

Medicare’s much-criticized recovery audit program is far more accurate than hospital lobbyists say it is, though it’s far from perfect and detects too little fraud rather than too much, according to a new report out this morning from HHS‘ Office of the Inspector General.

Of the 1.1 million cases in 2010 and 2011 in which a recovery auditor recommended denying Medicare payments, only 6% of those were ever appealed, according to figures drawn from Medicare’s database of recovery-audit claims. Hospitals won only 44% of those appeals, the OIG’s report said.

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Should insurers be forced to pay for expensive new cancer treatments?
Southern California Public Radio

Blue Shield of California has come under fire for refusing to pay for an expensive and controversial new radiation treatment for prostate cancer. Scripps Hospital in San Diego spent $230 million on a new proton beam therapy center set to open this fall.

Loma Linda University Medical Center was the first hospital-based proton treatment center in the nation. It’s invested millions in the technology and claims that it’s safer and healthier than traditional radiation treatments.

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Bill would make it illegal to bar life-saving help
San Diego Union-Tribune

California lawmakers on Tuesday sent legislation to Gov. Jerry Brown that would bar employers from having policies that prohibit offering life-saving medical help in an emergency after a worker’s attention-grabbing refusal to perform CPR on a resident at an independent-living facility. The bill by Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, was prompted by the February death of Lorraine Bayless, 87, at a Bakersfield retirement home.

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Victims of medical malpractice call for California law to be changed

For 2-year-old Steven Olsen, a hike in the woods and a fall on a stick would change his life forever.

“They (the doctors) thought, ‘Oh, he has meningitis,’” said Steven’s mother, Kathy Olsen.

However, that was not the case. Steven was suffering from an infection from the fall. It spread from his hand to his brain quickly. Doctors ran more tests and determined he had bacterial meningitis. They pumped him full of steroids and other medicines and sent him home.

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Nursing Program Facility Ribbon Cutting Planned
Oakdale Leader

The newly remodeled Redbud provides instructional space for 40 nursing students enrolled in the Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) program at MJC who attend classes via distance education (DE) on the Columbia campus. With the help of bond funds from Measure E, the upstairs of the Redbud Building was remodeled to provide a six-bed skills lab, two Human Patient Simulation Labs (HPSL) equipped with three video cameras each, a lab housing 10 computers for student use, two control rooms for the HPSL, three staff offices, two restrooms, a conference and debriefing room, and two distance education classrooms with LCD screens and headphones for adjusted audio.

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Patient Experience: Old School Approach May Be Best
Health Leaders Media

“Real change begins to happen when physicians, nurses, and staff hear the voice of the customer, the voice of the patient.” “It’s really about cultural change and maintaining that, which is probably twice as hard as getting to cultural change.” “Patient experience is not a campaign. It’s an actual, critical part of culture.” “If anything makes physicians act, it’s not being the best, and wanting to be.”

Those comments were part of a six-sentence paragraph described by a patient during a telephone survey after a three-week hospital stay in October 2012. It’s something no hospital wants to believe is happening, but the reality is that scenes like the one above play out in patients’ hospital rooms across the country.

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Specialist Nurses Save Money, Provide Quality Care for RA Patients

You’ll likely seek out a doctor’s insight if you suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), but a new study suggests that it’s a nurse who can make all the difference in managing your disease. Research from the University of Leeds in the U.K.

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Surgeon drawn to area’s needs

Fresh off a highly specialized medical fellowship in liver and pancreatic surgery, Dr. Ilia Gur chose Stockton to establish himself, quite frankly, because he wanted to practice medicine in a place that needed him.

And boy, are people glad he did.

“He saved my life,” said Lois Zimmerman, 78, a patient from Lodi who had a malignant tumor in her liver that grew from the size of a quarter to the size of a baseball that she says other doctors couldn’t find.

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SoCal Family Sees Peace of Mind in Health Care Reform
NBC News

Jeffray Gardner owns Marsatta Chocolates in Redondo Beach and while it pays the bills, he says he still can’t afford health insurance for his family. Gardner has three children under 9 years old. They’ve been without coverage for years.

“As far as checkups, sometimes I feel like I’m worst father. That’s probably why I work the longer hours. I work 14, 16, sometimes 18 hours because I feel that I’m not providing,” Gardner said.

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Kaiser Permanente loses $4.9 million in brain injury case
San Francisco Business Times

A San Diego man who allegedly suffered permanent brain injury in a Kaiser hospital two years ago has won a $4.9 million arbitration award in a rare instance of an arbitration loss by the Oakland-based health giant being made public. The patient, then-17-year-old Raymond Palmer, was stabbed at a San Diego trolley stop in May 2011, taken to UCSD Medical Center and later transferred to Kaiser Zion hospital, also known as Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center.

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Kaiser awards $150,000 in grants to boost community health in Marin
Marin Independent Journal

A children’s nutrition and exercise program, community gardens in San Rafael’s Canal neighborhood and a local battered women’s shelter are among the projects Kaiser Permanente will help fund this year with a $150,500 donation to 17 Marin nonprofits.

The grant awards, announced Monday, are part of the hospital’s effort to fulfill its obligation under state law to benefit the community in which it operates.

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Kaiser names Harvard’s Karen Emmons to head Research Institute
San Francisco Business Times

Kaiser Permanente has named Karen Emmons, associate dean for research at the Harvard University School of Public Health, to head its Kaiser Foundation Research Institute, effective Sept. 13. The move came after a nationwide search, Kaiser said late last week. All told, Kaiser has 140 researchers in eight regional research centers, including Oakland’s Northern California Division of Research, headed by Dr. Tracy Lieu. As of mid-2012, it had 62 researchers on staff, or roughly 1 in 3 of Kaiser’s national total.

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Long Beach-based MemorialCare Health System creates new health plan
Long Beach Press-Telegram

MemorialCare Health System, which operates hospitals and other medical facilities in Long Beach, Orange County and the South Bay, has launched a new health plan, called Seaside Health Plan.

The hospital group’s creation of Seaside, announced Tuesday, followed its November 2012 purchase of assets from Signal Hill-based Universal Care. The transaction resulted in some 14,000 former Universal Care members becoming members of Seaside as of Sept. 1, Seaside senior vice president Jay Davis said.

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Medical director chosen for Arrowhead Regional Medical Center
The Press-Enterprise

Dr. Richard Pitts, whose career as a physician, health educator and hospital administrator spans nearly 40 years, has been named medical director at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton. “We are thrilled and very fortunate to have Dr. Pitts join us as our new medical director,” said Arrowhead Regional Director Patrick Petre. “His vast experience in all aspects of medicine and knowledge of very complex health care issues will be vital for ARMC as we begin to navigate health reform and other major shifts in our industry.”