News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Cancer Patients And Doctors Struggle To Predict Survival
National Public Radio

When a doctor tells a patient that she has cancer and has just a year left to live, that patient often hears very little afterward. It’s as though the physician said “cancer” and then “blah, blah, blah.”

Anxiety makes it difficult to remember details – and the worse the prognosis, the less the patient tends to remember. Recent studies have found that cancer patients retain less than half of what their doctors tell them.

So it’s not surprising, perhaps, that a patient with advanced cancer can leave her oncology appointment thinking she has a set amount of time left to live. “The doctor gave me a year,” she’ll say, as though she were a half-gallon of milk with a “sell-by” date printed on her head.

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Most donated hearts rejected as transplantation wait list grows
U.S. News and World Report

Even as the need for heart transplants increases, more donor hearts are being discarded, with a new study showing that only one in three donated hearts finds a recipient.

In addition, rejection of donor hearts varies across the United States, particularly for so-called “marginal” donor hearts — those that are judged too small or too old. Hearts that would be used in one medical center would be rejected by another, said lead researcher Dr. Kiran Khush, an assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, in Palo Alto, Calif.

“We have a lot of patients awaiting heart transplantation and the waiting lists are growing and the waiting times are increasing, but despite this, we are not using a lot of available hearts,” she said.

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Is Now The Time To Fix Rather Than Scrap Obamacare?
National Public Radio

Since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010, “repeal and replace” has been the rallying cry for Republicans who opposed it. But now that most of the law’s provisions have taken effect, some health experts are pitching ways to tweak it, rather than eliminate it.

An ideologically diverse panel at the National Health Policy Conference Monday presented different ideas to make the law work better. But they all agreed on one thing: The Affordable Care Act is too complicated.

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Vaccine exemptions should be harder to get, but don’t eliminate them
Los Angeles Times

The fear of the spread of measles is now swamping the fear of vaccines. Sadly, but predictably, the fear of disease is provoking an overreaction to risk, precisely what the anti-vaccine community is accused of. There are calls in California to completely eliminate personal-belief and religious exemptions for mandatory childhood vaccination. That call, though understandable, is a step too far.

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Doctors turning away unvaccinated children
Los Angeles Times

When the mother of an 18-month-old visited Dr. Charles Goodman’s practice last week, he explained that under his new policy, the toddler would have to be immunized to remain a patient.

The mother walked out of his office.

Amid the current measles outbreak, Goodman and a growing number of other pediatricians nationwide are turning away parents who refuse to vaccinate their children.

Of the more than 100 people who have contracted the virus so far, the majority were unvaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Your health care records are easy picking for hackers
San Luis Obispo Tribune

Those seemingly harmless medical forms everyone fills out before seeing a doctor can lead to identity theft if they get into the wrong hands.

Names, birthdates and – more importantly – Social Security numbers can help hackers open fake credit lines, file false tax returns and create false medical records. And health care businesses can lag far behind banks, credit card companies and retailers in protecting such sensitive information.

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Only the Sickest Hepatitis C Patients Get High Cost Drugs in Medi-Cal
National Public Radio

Tammy Lovelace injected heroin for the first time right after her mom died. She was 18.

“Life just became too difficult. I had no education, no nothing. And when you do heroin, it’s like being on a cloud,” says Lovelace, while outside a fast food restaurant in midtown Sacramento.

Lovelace was addicted to heroin for seventeen years. The habit landed her in prison more than once.

Now, at 47 years old, she says heroin is two and a half years in her past. She wears a narcotics anonymous tattoo above her ankle as a daily reminder.

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HPV vaccinations don’t lead to riskier sexual behavior among girls, study suggests
Washington Post

Controversy has swirled around the human papillomavirus vaccine for years, with some parents, pediatricians and politicians worried that requiring the inoculation would encourage teenagers to have sex.

But a new study from Harvard University and University of Southern California researchers found that girls who received the vaccine didn’t have higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases when compared with non-vaccinated girls. The findings, published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggest that the HPV vaccine doesn’t result in riskier sexual behavior.

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False Positives and Real Dollars: Why $88 won’t effectively screen for lung cancer
The Health Care Blog

Let me be clear. I think lung cancer screening is a good thing. The National Lung Cancer Screening Trial (NLST) had air-tight design and was impeccably performed. Those who have paid attention know that the NLST demonstrated a 20% relative reduction in mortality from low-dose CT screening (as opposed to chest x-ray). Plus, the all-cause rate of death in the low-dose CT group was 6.7% lower than the radiography cohort. But the details reveal concerns – those with financial and geographic-specific implications that have, until now, mostly escaped public debate.

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Patients Get Heart Smart With Multifit Program
ABC News

This month is National Heart Month — an effort to bring awareness to heart health. Millions of Americans live with heart disease, stroke or a heart condition.

Virginia Bailey is passionate about educating others about their heart health. The cardiac rehab nurse is helping those dealing with heart events at Kaiser Permanente’s MULTIFIT program.

“I get anywhere from six to 12 new patients a week and it’s at any age; my youngest is 28 in the program and my oldest is 91. So it’s just not an old people disease; it is now hitting our young people,” said Bailey.

The MULTIFIT program goes over risk factors and teaches patients ways they can improve their health through diet and exercise. Patients like Dave Hoffman. The retiree had a burning sensation in his chest that turned into much more.

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ECRI’s Watch List for Hospital Execs Highlights Technology
HealthLeaders Media

From 3-D printing of body parts to special clinics for teens with cancer, the fifth annual ECRI Institute Hospital C-Suite Watch List report lists 10 healthcare strategies it says executives should consider implementing.

The list draws on information ECRI’s experts glean from clients’ experiences, federal reports, and its own team of researchers and investigators. The Philadelphia-based non-profit boasts that its reports are not influenced by vendors.

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Molina Healthcare’s Q4 beats estimates, closes year with record growth
Modern Healthcare

Revenue and profit at Molina Healthcare grew rapidly in 2014 as the managed-care insurer continues to show the business potential of Medicaid with the boost from the 2010 healthcare law.

Molina turned a $33.8 million profit in the fourth quarter compared with a $9.1 million loss in the same quarter of 2013. Profit per share was 69 cents in the quarter, beating Wall Street’s consensus estimate by eight cents.

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Kaiser Permanente names new CIO
San Francisco Business Times

Kaiser Permanente has named acting CIO Richard Daniels as executive vice president and chief information officer, succeeding Philip Fasano who left last fall to take on a similar role at insurance giant AIG. Daniels has held the interim title since September, Kaiser officials said, adding that he was deemed “the right choice” to lead the giant health care system’s information technology operations after a nationwide search. Oakland-based Kaiser has 9.6 million enrollees nationwide, roughly three-quarters of them here in California.

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Former Simi hospital CEO named to lead VCMC
Ventura County Star

The former president of Simi Valley Hospital has been hired as CEO of Ventura County Medical Center, leading 1,432 employees at county-run hospitals in Ventura and Santa Paula.

Kim Milstien resigned as president and CEO of Simi Valley Hospital in November after two years in the position and 18 years with the hospital’s parent company, Adventist Health. Her new responsibilities begin March 1.

In announcing the hire Monday, county officials cited work done by Milstien in Simi Valley, ranging from the accreditation of a stroke center to the launch of a cardiac catheterization lab.

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Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Orthopaedic Center receives $1 million gift
Los Angeles Business Journal

Entrepreneur Ming Hsieh and his wife Eva have made a $1 million donation to support the Children’s Orthopaedic Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “Ming and Eva have been longtime friends and supporters of the hospital and we are appreciative of their generous donation to support the Children’s Orthopaedic Center,” CHLA President and Chief Executive Richard D. Cordova said in a statement. “Our Orthopaedic Center is ranked second in the nation and this gift will enhance the ability of the center to provide the best orthopaedic care to children.”

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Community Hospital kicks off fundraising campaign for emergency department
Long Beach Press-Telegram

The Community Hospital Long Beach Foundation announced Monday the kickoff of a $1.25 million fundraising campaign to support upgrades to the hospital Emergency Department.

The Bixby Endowment Fund provided a $500,000 grant to stimulate a minimum of $500,000 in matching gifts for a campaign to upgrade patient treatment, technology and service capacity of the only Emergency Department within an acute care hospital setting on the eastside of Long Beach.

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Planning Commission approves first phase of Marin General Hospital building plans
Marin Independent Journal

The first phase of Marin General Hospital’s plan to rebuild its Greenbrae facilities received the green light from the Marin County Planning Commission on Monday.

The commission voted 5-1 to approve the plan, with new Commissioner David Paoli casting the dissenting vote.

The project’s first phase will feature construction of a five-story parking structure that will accommodate 415 vehicles on a hillside in the northwest corner of the hospital property and a surface parking lot for 76 vehicles that will be located directly adjacent to that structure.

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