News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

News Headlines Article

Another Ebola challenge: Disposing of medical waste
Los Angeles Times

A single Ebola patient treated in a U.S. hospital will generate eight 55-gallon barrels of medical waste each day.

Protective gloves, gowns, masks and booties are donned and doffed by all who approach the patient’s bedside and then discarded. Disposable medical instruments, packaging, bed linens, cups, plates, tissues, towels, pillowcases and anything that is used to clean up after the patient must be thrown away.

Even curtains, privacy screens and mattresses eventually must be treated as contaminated medical waste and disposed of.

Dealing with this collection of pathogen-filled debris without triggering new infections is a legal and logistical challenge for every U.S. hospital now preparing for a potential visit by the virus.

In California and other states, it is an even worse waste-management nightmare.

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West Nile cases surging in state, Bay Area
Contra Costa Times

In the midst of a historic drought, public health officials are searching for clues as to why cases of West Nile virus have exploded statewide since last year, making this season the worst for human infections in California since 2005.

The surge in mosquitoes found carrying the virus in 2014 has not only reached unprecedented levels, it’s also creating headaches for local vector and mosquito control districts, which are pushing hard to kill the disease-carrying pests and their larvae.

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Leaders Dedicated to Paving a Way Forward for Health Care Policy
The Huffington Post

One year ago, millions of families around the country faced a tough new reality. Notices began arriving in the mail with the grim news: Due to the implementation of Obamacare, their health care plan had been cancelled. Millions were left without healthcare or were forced into higher-priced plans with services they didn’t want or need. Others saw their premiums shoot up — by an average of $3,000 for a family of four.

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Diabetes and My Personal Experience With Obtaining Health Care Coverage Through Obamacare
The Huffington Post

Well… here I go. My job is ending, and I need health insurance coverage with a pre-existing condition (Type 1 diabetes). My heart starts to race just thinking about this nightmare.

Let me preface this post by saying that I’ve never, as a health care consumer with a pre-existing condition, tried to obtain health care insurance coverage through Obamacare. And, in full transparency, let me state that I also have access to COBRA, which I plan to activate until I see how this whole experience goes.

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California surgeons group issues Ebola advisory to members
San Francisco Business Times

As questions continue to swirl in the United States about the best ways to prepare for and prevent future Ebola cases here, a Sacramento-based association of more than 800 California oral and facial surgeons has issued an advisory to members on key precautions to take. Many comparable hospital and physician organizations have been publicly mum on the issue so far.

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Throwing the EHR Under the Bus …
The Health Care Blog

Given what is now known about how the case of Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health was handled, the attempt to blame the hospital’s electronic health record for the missed diagnosis sounds pretty lame. But people are still doing it: Critics of electronic medical records have found a case they will be talking about for years. Consider this argument from Ross Koppel and Suzanne Gordon:

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How Top-Ranked MA Plans Earn Their Stars
HealthLeaders Media

Garnering high marks in the Medicare Advantage five-star ratings program involves a complex set of factors that can change from one year to the next.

Health plan executives say the key drivers for achieving star ratings success are commitment to quality across their organizations and provider networks, sharing healthcare data in real time, and the ability to annually adapt to changes in how the plans are evaluated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

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New report cards grade health plans, doctor groups
Sacramento Business Journal

New online quality report cards released this week could help millions of Californians make decisions about the health plan and medical group they want next year.

Available in English, Spanish and Chinese, the report cards are provided by the California Office of the Patient Advocate. They allow consumers to compare the quality offered by the 10 largest health maintenance organizations, six largest preferred provider organizations and more than 200 medical groups.

Summary sheets show overall ratings, but users can drill down to see specific plan or medical group performance on measures that range from asthma care to checking for cancer.

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Getting Medical Advice Is Often Just A Tap Away
National Public Radio

If you have health concerns and want guidance right away without going to the ER or making a doctor’s appointment, there’s an app for that. Several actually. New apps like HealthTap connect people with board-certified doctors via teleconferences and online question forums. Users can pay a monthly fee for unlimited video calls to doctors on the site. Their medical history is carried with them electronically and they can check in anytime, anywhere.

HealthTap can’t do everything a real doctor’s visit can accomplish, but it does offer people who may live far from a health provider, or who can’t afford a typical office visit, the option to consult with a professional. Dr. Jonathan Leander Po, an infectious disease physician at the University of Arizona and a doctor for HealthTap, says that questions about Ebola are coming up more frequently.

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How can Laura’s Law help Orange County’s mental health community?
Orange County Register

They tell heart-wrenching stories. Stories of a daughter who dreamed of being an artist, but who cycled in and out of the hospital so many times the family lost count; of a son who wouldn’t take his medication for paranoid schizophrenia; of a young man who tried to light himself on fire, thinking he was Jesus.

But now help for these families is just a phone call away. At the beginning of this month, Orange County rolled out a new program, commonly known as Laura’s Law, for the most hard-to-reach mentally ill.