News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Modified measles virus destroys cancer in early clinical trial
The Verge

Promising early results from a clinical trial at the Mayo Clinic out this week suggest that a modified version of the measles virus can be used to target cancer cells and put the condition into remission. Researchers intravenously delivered 10,000 times the typical dosage of measles vaccine to two women, 49- and 65-years-old, who had multiple myeloma, a rare cancer affecting white blood cells in bone marrow. The virus, which was modified to specifically target cancer cells, reduced or eliminated tumors in the two patients.

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‘Stunning’ Number of Sepsis Cases Among Patients Who Die in Hospitals
Health Leaders Media

As many as one in two or one in three patients who die while hospitalized have sepsis, according to a report by researchers at Kaiser Permanente Northern California and others.

Most of those who died were septic at admission but not severely ill, so treatment may have been delayed.

The report looked at records from seven million non-obstetric patients hospitalized between 2010 and 2012, most of which were obtained from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) of 1,051 hospitals, and the rest from 21 Kaiser Permanente hospitals in Northern California.

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Health Care Reform Causes Some Turbulence In California
Live Insurance News

Consumers in California are learning that they are no longer able to see their old health care providers because changes to their health insurance coverage. With the launch of the state’s insurance exchange, called Covered California, many people throughout the state purchased new insurance policies. While many of these policies came from the companies they had been patrons of for several years, these policies did not include the same coverage networks. In other cases, health care organizations have refused to work with certain insurance providers, thus limiting their accessibility to those with insurance coverage.

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Federal health-care subsidies may be too high or too low for more than 1 million Americans
Washington Post

The government may be paying incorrect subsidies to more than 1 million Americans for their health plans in the new federal insurance marketplace and has been unable so far to fix the errors, according to internal documents and three people familiar with the situation.

The problem means that potentially hundreds of thousands of people are receiving bigger subsidies than they deserve.

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Early ACA Data Shows No Wave of Sick Patients
The Health Care Blog

Since launching ACAView, our joint initiative between theRobert Wood Johnson Foundation(RWJF) and athenahealth, in early April, open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has closed for 2014 and The White House has issued final numbers: eight million people enrolled through the marketplace and five million outside the marketplace. Add another three million enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the total number of people enrolled under the ACA’s individual mandate is close to 16 million.

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Finding Medi-Cal doctors could become daunting challenge
The Mercury News

Not long ago, Dr. Del Morris, the new president of the California Academy of Family Physicians, thinks he caught a glimpse of the future of Medi-Cal, the state’s health care program for the poor. And he shuddered.

For a few days in mid-January, as the flu season peaked, so many new Medi-Cal patients “saturated” the emergency rooms of four Stanislaus County hospitals that ambulances often couldn’t unload their patients, the Modesto doctor said.

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Bill about doctors’ substance abuse would compromise patient safety
Los Angeles Times

IIf anyone should know how to steer clear of cures that are worse than the disease, it’s doctors.

That’s why it seems so odd — on the surface — that the California Medical Assn. would sponsor a bill to re-create a drug- and alcohol-treatment program for physicians that has failed miserably in the past. It’s when you look under the surface that you recognize the CMA’s real motive is to stave off a November ballot initiative that would be even tougher on doctors than the measure it’s sponsoring.

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EHR Use Surges at Health Centers
Health Leaders Media

The adoption and use of electronic health records in federally qualified health centers has grown by 133% in the past five years, thanks in large part to targeted federal funding and incentives, a survey from The Commonwealth Fund shows.

The survey of 679 senior executives and clinicians at FQHCs found that 85% reported advanced HIT capabilities in 2013, which meant that they could perform at least nine of 13 functions, such as ordering pharmacy prescriptions electronically.

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Poll: 71% support medical malpractice measure
Sacramento Business Journal

A recent poll of California voters found seven out of 10 back an initiative on the November ballot to raise the medical malpractice cap. A Tulchin Research survey of 3,500 voters likely to vote in November shows that, after reading the title and summary, 71 percent said they would vote “Yes.” Another 21 percent said “No” and 8 percent remain undecided.

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Health of our hospitals
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

The recent death of Palm Drive Hospital in Sebastopol has some wondering which of Sonoma County’s three other district hospitals is next. Will it be Healdsburg to the north, Petaluma Valley to the south or Sonoma Valley to the southeast?

While the forces that caused Palm Drive’s closure are affecting all hospitals, smaller district hospitals are particularly vulnerable and have fewer resources to offset today’s financial pressures.

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How patients with an inconclusive diagnosis should proceed
Los Angeles Times

A few years ago, Ken Berger noticed a small mass in one of his testicles, and scheduled a next-day appointment to get it examined. An ultrasound revealed a lump, but other tests came back negative for testicular cancer — except for one.

To his frustration, a commonly used cancer blood screening test came back with a reading outside normal range — though not enough to confirm a diagnosis.

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Top U.S. veterans’ healthcare official resigns amid scandal

The top health official at the Department of Veterans Affairs resigned on Friday amid a scandal over allegations of deadly healthcare delays, but critics dismissed the gesture as “damage control” because he planned to retire this year anyway.

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said in a statement he accepted the resignation of Dr. Robert Petzel, VA undersecretary for health, and acknowledged the need to ensure more timely treatment of America’s military veterans.

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Contract negotiations continue between Kaiser Permanente, pharmacists
San Bernardino Sun

With a possible strike looming, Kaiser Permanente officials and union representatives said Sunday night no deal had been reached over a new contract for pharmacists.

Some 1,430 pharmacists working for Kaiser Permanente facilities across Southern California will strike at 7 a.m. today if a deal isn’t reached, said Robin Borden, president of the Guild for Professional Pharmacists.

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Kaiser patients jam pharmacies in light of possible strike
San Bernardino Sun

A woman in her mid-30s shifted from right foot to left foot on Friday as she waited in line to pick up her prescription from the Kaiser Permanente pharmacy, letting out a sigh as she crossed her arms.

In the back of the room, an elderly man slumped in a chair, eyes occasionally flitting to the electronic message board where various last names were displayed.

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Kaiser pharmacists could strike Monday
San Diego Union-Tribune

A labor rift could lead to the closure of Kaiser Permanente pharmacies across Southern California, including 18 in San Diego County, starting Monday.

The Guild for Professional Pharmacists said it will strike at 7 a.m. Monday if its contract demands aren’t met. The union represents about 1,400 Kaiser pharmacists in Southern California, including 120 in this region.

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Kaiser Permanente Pharmacists Will Not Strike Monday
NBC Los Angeles

Many Kaiser Permanente patients were scrambling to fill their prescriptions over the weekend as more than 1,400 Kaiser pharmacists threatened to go on strike because of a labor dispute.

But negotiations continued Monday morning and officials said a strike will likely not happen Monday. It was not immediately clear whether pharmacists still plan to strike if an agreement is reached later this week.

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7,000 Santa Cruz County residents caught in Medi-Cal backlog
Santa Cruz Sentinel

About 7,000 Santa Cruz County residents who applied for Medi-Cal, the state’s health care program for the poor, are waiting to be enrolled, caught in a backlog that is affecting about 900,000 Californians.

Jessica Scheiner, senior analyst with the county Human Services Department, attributed the delay to “ongoing glitches and unresolved technical defects” in the state computer system known as CalHEERS.

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Filling in the Coachella Valley’s doctor gap, Part II
The Desert Sun

Donning a white lab coat, Dr. Sandra Bender chatted with members of the Coachella Valley medical community and showed them around her new clinic offices in the La Quinta Medical Center. Formerly the site of an orthopedic group, one room was set up for casting — perfect for Bender’s focus on sports medicine and “those individuals who wish to be athletic, but perhaps are no longer athletes.” The doctor is board-certified in internal medicine, pediatrics and sports medicine.

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With opening of youth unit, Aurora mental health facility fully online
North Bay Business Journal

At long last, Santa Rosa and the surrounding region has a full-scale acute care psychiatric hospital that health officials said is meeting a significant need for a wide array of patients.

Aurora Santa Rosa Hospital, the long-anticipated 95-bed facility on Fulton Road, last week said its adolescent unit was officially opened, thereby putting the final touches on the hospital that was purchased in 2009 and remodeled over the last four years.

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UCI health-center computers hacked; up to 1,800 possibly affected
Orange County Register

Computers at UC Irvine’s student health center were infected with key-logging software malware for six weeks collecting ID numbers, contact information and, in some cases, bank numbers if a person paid by check. About 1,800 students and a handful of non-students who used the student health center were affected, said UC Irvine spokeswoman Ria Carlson. She noted the computers were not related, at all, to UCI Medical Center.

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Children’s Hospital Los Angeles names chief for infectious disease division
Los Angeles Business Journal

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has named Dr. Grace Aldrovandi, known for her research on breastfeeding and HIV transmission, as chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, effective July 1.

Aldrovandi has more than 20 years of experience caring for children with infectious diseases and has been an investigator at The Saban Research Institute of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles since 2003, where she leads a research program studying transmission of HIV in breast milk.

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Butte below state average on hospital admissions with diabetes
Oroville Mercury-Register

One out of three patients admitted to California hospitals has diabetes, which adds $1.6 billion to health care costs a year, a study released last week found.

Researchers looked through patient discharge records of those 35 and older as well as hospital financial data from 2011 and found that an average 31 percent — or about 730,000 people — who were hospitalized had diabetes. That translates to $225 million in costs paid out by Medi-Cal, researchers said.