News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Measles outbreak raises fury over California’s vaccine exemptions
Contra Costa Times

California’s permissive vaccine law is under fire as the state struggles to contain an expanding outbreak of measles, a once-controlled infectious disease that has sickened more than 90 people across the state and threatens many more.

While state law requires parents to immunize their children, easy-to-obtain exemptions are leaving tens of thousands of schoolchildren unvaccinated — and that puts others at risk, experts say.

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Drive to repeal medical device tax no slam dunk in Congress
Modern Healthcare

It flew through the Republican-run House in 2012, and a year later 79 of the Democratic-led Senate’s 100 members embraced it. With Republicans now controlling both chambers of Congress, the chances for repealing the 2.3% tax on medical devices are better than ever.

Yet abolishing the tax won’t be easy, even though Republicans rank it a top priority and are backed by Democrats from states that rely on the industry for jobs.

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Experiments With Coordinating Medical Care Deliver Mixed Results
National Public Radio

Medical homes are a simple, compelling idea: Give primary-care doctors resources to reduce preventable medical crises for diabetics, asthmatics and others with chronic illness, and it will reduce hospital visits, improve lives and save money.

But it’s not so easy in practice.

Two big experiments run by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation have delivered mixed early results in enhancing primary care, two studies find.  The programs reduced expensive hospital visits in some cases, but struggled to show net savings after accounting for their cost.

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Slideshow: Healthcare Executives on All-cause Readmissions
HealthLeaders Media

One of the most vexing problems that healthcare executives currently face is how to limit readmissions in their organizations. When it comes to outcome-of-care measures, all-cause, hospital-wide readmissions are one of the biggest challenges that healthcare leaders face.

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Barack Obama urges vaccinations

American parents “should get their kids vaccinated” and the science behind vaccinations is “indisputable,” President Barack Obama said in an NBC News interview that was to air on Monday morning. “The science is, you know, pretty indisputable,” Obama told Savannah Guthrie in the interview on the “Today” show. “We’ve looked at this again and again. There is every reason to get vaccinated, but there aren’t reasons to not.”

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Kaiser Notifying Parents Of Children With Insufficient Shot Records
capital public radio

Robocalls started going out last week to parents of children in northern California whose records show an insufficient number of mumps, measles and rubella vaccinations.

To be fully protected, every adult and every child over the age of five should have had two shots.

Kaiser Doctor Ken Hempstead says it’s important for everyone to be vaccinated not only for themselves, but for others around them.

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Bill would fine CA hospitals for releasing drunks before treatment

A new bill introduced in the California Senate would fine hospitals for having severely intoxicated patients arrested instead of treating them in emergency rooms.

SB 145, sponsored by Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, claims a subgroup of hospitals are calling law enforcement to have drunk patients taken into custody before making sure they are medically stabilized. “(It will) insure that the hospitals are held accountable that patients are truly stable before they leave the emergency room,” Pan said.

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Culturally sensitive palliative care represents new approach
San Francisco Chronicle

When doctors diagnosed Pilar Alcantara with advanced breast cancer, she felt lost and intimidated.

Growing up in Mexico, she learned to deal with illnesses using home remedies and prayer. She was taught that doctors weren’t to be questioned, and she preferred not to know the details of her illnesses or treatment plans. She felt hopeless, but that was before she connected with a Portland, Oregon-based nonprofit that takes cultural habits and beliefs into account while focusing on comfort and quality of life for patients with serious or terminal illnesses.

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Fight Back Against Parkinson’s: Exercise May Be The Best Therapy
National Public Radio

Mike Quaglia was 42 when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which gradually robs its victims of their ability to move normally. For the next seven years, his condition deteriorated despite medication.

“I was at a point where I was either going to give up and let the Parkinson’s take over, or I was going to decide to fight back,” Quaglia says.

Fight back he did – literally. Last February he stumbled onto a program called Rock Steady Boxing. That’s right: it teaches Parkinson’s patients how to box.

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Why Are Americans Getting Bigger?
National Public Radio

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first electronic implant to fight obesity. It’s called the Maestro Rechargeable System and uses electrodes to interfere with signals between the brain and the gut. Now, the results aren’t dramatic – around a nine percent weight loss. The people who received a placebo device that did nothing had a six percent weight loss. But you can bet there’ll be more devices that improve upon the Maestro because obesity is a serious problem that’s not going anywhere.

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Researchers find reason pancreatic cancer resists chemotherapy drug
Washington Post

Researchers have identified one reason pancreatic cancer is so resistant to chemotherapy treatment: vitamin D.

Only about 5 percent of pancreatic-cancer patients survive beyond five years even with the most aggressive treatment, according to the National Cancer Institute. One big reason is that chemotherapy — including the standard drug, gemcitabine — isn’t very effective at preventing pancreatic cancer cells from replicating.

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Diabetes Technology Inches Closer To An Artificial Pancreas
National Public Radio

Every person who uses insulin to manage diabetes wants what they don’t have — a replacement for their malfunctioning pancreas. And though the technology isn’t yet to the point of creating an artificial pancreas, it’s getting a lot closer.

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Sutter Health reaches fair and reasonable agreement with Blue Shield of California

The not-for-profit Sutter Health network announced today that it reached agreement on a new two-year contract with Blue Shield of California, preserving patient access to the doctors and care centers that Blue Shield sold to patients during fall open enrollment. The contract applies to all Blue Shield products in which Sutter Health providers historically participated, including HMO, PPO and those offered through Covered California.

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Transfer of patients to new Mission Bay medical center goes smoothly for UCSF
San Francisco Examiner

UC San Francisco completed its move of 131 patients from the Parnassus and Mount Zion facilities to its new $1.5 billion medical center in Mission Bay without incident Sunday, hospital officials said.

It was an emotional day for patients and staff alike, as many doctors and nurses said goodbye to a facility where they had spent most of their careers. Patients, transported one by one in 40 ambulances beginning at 7 a.m., received applause from longtime physicians upon being transferred.

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New medical residency program to launch valley services
The Desert Sun

A new family medicine residency program in the Coachella Valley plans to begin a series of wellness community service efforts in the next year reaching out to local students and also some of the valley’s most underserved.

The UC Riverside School of Medicine residency, created in partnership with Desert Regional Medical Center and the Desert Healthcare District, will operate out of a new, two-story facility in the Las Palmas medical plaza where seven full-time faculty already offer care and more than 80 volunteer professors will descend.