News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Governor signs bill to let doctors graduate faster
Sacramento Business Journal

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Friday that allows students at accredited medical school programs in California to complete their education and become doctors in three years instead of four.

The goal of Assembly Bill 1838 by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla from Concord is to churn quality doctors out faster with less student debt. The bill comes at a time when demand for doctors is high due to federal health reform.

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How a team of doctors at one hospital boosted hand washing, cut infections and created a culture of safety
Yahoo! News

Dr. Gerald Hickson had two primary concerns after his wife’s double-knee replacement operation at Vanderbilt University Hospital in July 2008: making sure she received appropriate pain control and getting her moving as quickly as possible to avoid blood clots. But as he sat with her during her recovery, Hickson made a disturbing discovery. Most of the nurses, doctors and other hospital workers filing in and out of the room to care for his wife, who was at risk of contracting an infection after surgery, were not washing their hands.

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Senate committee offers ways to address Medicare payment recovery
Sacramento Business Journal

The U.S. Special Committee on Aging has weighed in on the issue of federal audits of improper Medicare payments with recommendations to boost provider education and change the way auditors are paid.

A report released last week does not address a by product of the beleaguered audit system: A practice by hospitals that puts patients on lengthy “observation status” while they figure out whether to admit them to the hospital or not.

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The Answer To the Doctor Shortage Isn’t More Doctors
The Health Care Blog

The answer to the doctor shortage isn’t more doctors. Yesterday, the New York Times Editorial Board published a piece on the shortage of physicians in the United States and what’s needed for healthcare workforce redesign.

It’s a good, concise piece about the common thinking around the gap between the needs of our growing patient population and the number of doctors available to deliver the care they need. As as an example, the article refers to a recent statement by the Association of American Medical Colleges whose models predict a shortage of 90,000 doctors in the U.S. by 2020. In Canada, the story is sometimes different, where physician unemployment is growing due to inadequate infrastructure and poor workforce planning.

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What will Obama do on employer mandate?
The Hill

The White House needs to make a decision soon on whether ObamaCare’s controversial employer mandate will take effect in 2015.

With the mandate set to take effect in January, businesses are awaiting final world from the administration on whether they will be required to track and report how many of their employees are receiving coverage.

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To Prevent Surprise Bills, New Health Law Rules Could Widen Insurer Networks
New York Times

The Obama administration and state insurance regulators are developing stricter standards to address the concerns of consumers who say that many health plans under the Affordable Care Act have unduly limited their choices of doctors and hospitals, leaving them with unexpected medical bills.

Federal officials said the new standards would be similar to those used by the government to determine whether Medicare Advantage plans had enough doctors and hospitals in their networks.

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Behind The List: Medical groups employ nearly 5,000 doctors
Sacramento Business Journal

This week’s list of medical groups stretches out to include 27 local medical groups employing two or more physicians. Groups surveyed have operations in Sacramento, El Dorado, Placer or Yolo counties. Groups are ranked by the number of physicians at local facilities. Combined, they employ 4,934 physicians in the four-county area. Of those, 1,528 are primary-care physicians. Topping the list again is The Permanente Medical Group inc., which has 1,541 physicians at facilities in the area. UC Davis Medical Group ranks second with 960 physicians.

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Health Safety Experts Call For Public Reporting Of Medical Harms
National Public Radio

The health care community is not doing enough to track and prevent widespread harm to patients, and preventable deaths and injuries in hospitals and other settings will continue unless Congress takes action, medical experts said Thursday on Capitol Hill.

“Our collective action in patient safety pales in comparison to the magnitude of the problem,” said Dr. Peter Pronovost, senior vice president for patient safety and quality at Johns Hopkins Medicine. “We need to say that harm is preventable and not tolerable.”

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Big Data Peeps At Your Medical Records To Find Drug Problems
National Public Radio

No one likes it when a new drug in people’s medicine cabinets turns out to have problems — just remember the Vioxx debacle a decade ago, when this painkiller was removed from the market over concerns that it increased the risk of heart attack and stroke.

To do a better job of spotting unforeseen risks and side effects, the Food and Drug Administration is trying something new — and there’s a decent chance that it involves your medical records.

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For heart attacks and more, big ERs thump small ones
Redding Record Searchlight

Heart attack patients admitted to hospitals after first being treated in giant emergency rooms are 25 percent less likely to die in the hospital than those treated in smaller ERs.

“It’s not like you can go and shop around for a hospital in the midst of a health crisis,” Keith Kocher, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, said. “The bottom line for everyone is that it really does matter where you get your emergency care.”

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Study to find if cancer cluster exists
Modern Healthcare

Health officials in Missouri’s St. Louis County plan to examine a potential cancer cluster in the area around Coldwater Creek, a waterway contaminated decades ago with nuclear waste.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that a survey organized by residents and released in early 2014 shows 1,242 cancers among 3,300 people who lived near the creek, which runs from St. Ann to the Missouri River.

The survey was begun after residents noticed a spike in diseases among people from the area who graduated from McCluer North High School in Florissant in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

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The Next Health Economy
The Health Care Blog

There’s a growing view in U.S. healthcare circles that the industry is on the cusp of remarkable – perhaps even revolutionary – transformation. At a recent summit sponsored by the Altarum Institute’s Center for Sustainable Health Spending, speaker after speaker returned to the theme that we are slowly but surely moving from a volume-based system (paying for stuff) to a value-based model (paying for results).

The health sector is moving toward the traditional economic principles of other industries. Revenues flow to businesses that are high quality, efficient and knowledgeable about customer desires. In other words, high performers reap the financial rewards, not those that are simply doing more. We at PwC describe this future state as the New Health Economy.

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Most consumers unclear about physician quality, poll finds
Modern Healthcare

Americans consider insurance and a good bedside manner in choosing a doctor, but will that doctor provide high-quality care? A new poll shows that people don’t know how to determine that.

Being licensed and likable doesn’t necessarily mean a doctor is up to date on best practices. But consumers aren’t sure how to uncover much more. Just 22% of those questioned are confident they can find information to compare the quality of local doctors, according to the poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

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After jolt of a medical crisis, support is key as patients choose paths
Los Angeles Times

Every health crisis is different, but most have one thing in common: You are blindsided by the bad news. “It’s a time of upheaval, you feel out of control, anxious, you just don’t know what to do next,” says Amy Madnick, a licensed clinical social worker with UCLA Health System.

Whether it’s an urgent message from a doctor or an accident that lands you in the hospital, normal life is suddenly over. “You remember the moment you find out,” says novelist Sarah Addison Allen, who learned she had advanced breast cancer at age 39. “It came out of the blue. … It rocked my world.”

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