News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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FDA advisory panel to investigate duodenoscope safety
Modern Healthcare

The Food and Drug Administration received 142 reports of possible infections of patients undergoing procedures with the type of medical scope responsible for outbreaks at two medical centers over the past six months.

The figure was included in a report issued in advance of a two-day FDA advisory committee meeting scheduled May 14-15 that will examine the efficacy of the cleaning processes for duodenoscopes recommended by their manufacturers.

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Healthcare Employment Surpasses 15 Million
HealthLeaders Media

Healthcare employment hit a new milestone in April when the sector surpassed 15 million jobs, with 390,000 new jobs created in the past 12 months, Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs data show. In April, healthcare grew 45,000 jobs, including 25,000 in ambulatory care, 12,000 in hospitals, and 8,000 in nursing homes and residential care.

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Racial Disparities in Health Care Access Magnified As More Gain Coverage
The Huffington Post

I was recently on a telephone call with Antron McKay-West, the president and founder of Upgrade Mississippi. He was describing the frustration people in his tiny hometown on the Mississippi Delta experienced trying to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Most families in the town still don’t have Internet in their homes; cellphone reception is unreliable, it comes and goes like the clouds blowing across the sky.

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Defined contribution health care pairs with self-insurance
Business Insurance

In the battle against rising health care costs, employers are seeking new ways to seize control over the cost and management of their health benefits. At the same time, health care reform has triggered a major shift from the employer-driven payer model to a model that involves and engages plan members.

Self-insurance is viewed by many as a key strategy for curbing rampant health care costs.

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Why millions still shun the exchanges to buy individual health plans
Modern Healthcare

Kelly Fristoe operates his financial planning company in Wichita Falls, Texas, an oil-producing town about 140 miles northwest of Dallas, near the Oklahoma border.

As part of his job, Fristoe, CEO of Financial Partners, helps people in the area buy health insurance both on and off the exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act.

The oil industry, like other resource-based businesses, is fickle with people’s incomes. That can directly affect how people buy and retain coverage in the individual market under the healthcare law, Fristoe said.

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A real Obamacare concern: Are insurers lying about their doctor networks?
Los Angeles Times

One of the most controversial and least understood aspects of coverage under the Affordable Care Act is the network concept. More precisely, the narrow-network concept, since the whole goal of health insurers that steer patients to networks of preferred doctors and hospitals is to keep the provider roster limited and therefore (so they expect) cheaper.

As the ACA has rolled out, the question of whether these narrow networks serve patients well has devolved into really two questions.

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How One Hospital Stopped a Superbug Outbreak in Its Tracks

Specialized endoscopes that are used to perform a common medical procedure have contributed to at least 13 deaths and 121 injuries in recent years by spreading bacteria among patients. Next week a panel of medical experts will meet at the Food and Drug Administration to consider the safety of the devices. The instruments, known as duodenoscopes, have intricate channels that can harbor pathogens from one patient and spread them to others, even after cleaning. The panel will weigh whether the existing cleaning guidelines are adequate and, if not, how to improve them.

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Local hospital honored with national distinction

French Hospital Medical Center has once again been named as one of the nation’s top 100 hospitals.

Truven Health Analytics, a company which provides information solutions to improve the cost and quality of health care, awarded the hospital with the recognition.

The hospital will be hosting a community barbeque on Wednesday, May 13 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. to celebrate its award.

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ER patient load up 20%
Manteca Bulletin

Business is booming at Doctors Hospital of Manteca’s emergency room.

The number of patients is up 20 percent so far this year after climbing 16 percent last year to hit 32,000.

Almost all of the increase is attributable to the Affordable Care Act that allowed 2.7 million more Californians to access Medi-Cal only to discover very few primary care physicians are accepting new Medi-Cal patients. The result has been a surge in people using emergency rooms throughout California as it is their only viable option.

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Hospitals lead the way in April healthcare job boom
Modern Healthcare

The healthcare industry added 45,200 jobs in April, the largest monthly increase so far this year. Hospitals accounted for more than a quarter of that total.

Employment at hospitals went up by 11,800 last month, a 0.2% uptick from March and a 1.8% increase from April 2014, according to seasonally adjusted figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Instances of mass layoffs at hospitals and health systems have been less common than in previous years even though many services are shifting toward the outpatient setting.

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Kaiser Permanente’s enrollment surges past 10 million for first time
San Francisco Business Times

Kaiser Permanente posted strong first-quarter financial numbers on Friday but the figure that topped the charts was its new enrollment tally — 10 million.

The Oakland-based health care giant added 464,000 new members in the quarter ended March 31, including 70,000 new Medicaid enrollees, officials said May 8. That’s a very healthy 7.5 percent surge in enrollment, following a strong 243,000 jump last year.

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How One Hospital Brought Its C-Sections Down In A Hurry
Kaiser Health News

Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, one of the largest and most respected facilities in Orange County, needed to move quickly.

A big insurer had warned that its maternity costs were too high and it might be cut from the plan’s network. The reason? Too many cesarean sections.

“We were under intense scrutiny,” said Dr. Allyson Brooks, executive medical director of Hoag’s women’s health institute.

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People Have Misconceptions About Miscarriage, And That Can Hurt
National Public Radio

Most people think a miscarriage is rare, and many believe that if a woman loses a pregnancy that she brought it upon herself. Neither of those things is true, but the enduring beliefs cause great pain to women and their partners.

In fact, almost half of people who have experienced a miscarriage or whose partner has had one feel guilty, according to a survey to be published Monday in Obstetrics & Gynecology. More than a quarter of them felt shame. Many felt they’d lost a child.

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Marin General Hospital study shows cesarean rates declined after midwifery program expanded
Marin Independent Journal

An expanded midwifery program for privately insured women at Marin General Hospital has reduced cesarean delivery rates there significantly, researchers say.

The study was a collaboration between Marin General and the University of California at San Francisco. It was presented earlier this year at the annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in San Diego.

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What doctors and patients can learn from accountants and veterinarians
Southern California Public Radio

Here at Impatient, we’ve been exploring why doctors and patients don’t often discuss the costs of health care. I’ve also been offering tips on how both can play a role in making these conversations a part of routine care.

But this concept of discussing costs in the exam room is still foreign to a lot of people. So today, for a radio story that’s airing on KPCC, I provide examples of situations where these types of cost-related discussions occur more frequently.

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Children’s Hospital’s new center to focus on preventive healthcare programs
San Francisco Chronicle

After almost two years of planning, on April 28, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland announced that its Center for Community Health and Engagement had been born. What they call “The Center” will function within Children’s Hospital to coordinate programs focusing on preventive healthcare for children and their families. “The hospital has a huge community benefit portfolio,” said Dr. Barbara Staggers, chief of adolescent medicine at the hospital and executive director at the new center.

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Preventing Hospital-Acquired Delirium
Health Leaders Media

The staff often joke around the halls of 520-licensed-bed UPMC Shadyside Hospital in Pittsburgh, “the redcoats are coming,” says Fred Rubin, MD, chairman of the department of medicine.

But no one is really laughing. These 100 “redcoats”—they all wear a red smock—are welcome volunteers trained to perform a job that prevents countless adverse events among Shadyside’s general medicine patients.

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New blood tests, liquid biopsies, may transform cancer care
San Diego Union-Tribune

A new type of blood test is starting to transform cancer treatment, sparing some patients the surgical and needle biopsies long needed to guide their care.

The tests, called liquid biopsies, capture cancer cells or DNA that tumors shed into the blood, instead of taking tissue from the tumor itself. A lot is still unknown about the value of these tests, but many doctors think they are a big advance that could make personalized medicine possible for far more people.

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PWC: Antiquated Healthcare Billing Practices Alienating Consumers
Health Leaders Media

Growing numbers of consumers, paying more for their care in high-deductible health plans, are peeved at providers who still use billing and payment systems from the era of Marcus Welby, MD.

An industry survey and report from PwC’s Health Research Institute suggests that providers who don’t make their billing and payment systems more consumer-friendly and transparent will lose patients to providers who do.