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One-third of patients don't follow up in month after hospital discharge

A new study underscores the increasingly collaborative role physicians can play in helping to reduce hospital re-admissions. The December analysis by the Center for Studying Health System Change found that one-third of adult patients discharged from a hospital do not see a physician within 30 days of release, putting them at risk of readmission. About 8% of discharged adults were re-hospitalized during that time, while 33% were readmitted within a year. Those figures included patients covered by public and private insurance, with private payers shouldering a greater share of readmission costs than Medicare. Although health system reform efforts largely target hospitals and Medicare payments to curb unnecessary re-hospitalizations, "this really suggests a systemic breakdown once patients leave the hospital," said lead study author and HSC senior researcher Anna Sommers, PhD. "No single payer or plan or hospital can resolve this problem. It's going to take a system of providers ...

More health care workers vaccinated against the flu

Although influenza activity remained low in the United States through November, vaccination rates were up from 2010 among health care workers. Sixty-three percent of workers received the influenza vaccine by mid-November. Fifty-six percent were immunized by the same time last year, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on more than 4,900 health care workers. "Health care personnel vaccination ... is a critical issue, because [it] protects not only themselves, but also their families and their patients," said Howard K. Koh, MD, MPH, assistant secretary for health at the Dept. of Health and Human Services. Dr. Koh said public health officials are pleased with the improved vaccination rate. Despite the progress, however, the CDC said overall coverage for health care workers is expected to fall substantially below the Healthy People 2020 target of 90% immunization against influenza. Infectious diseases experts say local and national efforts need ...

Nearly 90% of physicians feel stressed every day, report says

Most physicians routinely cope with high levels of stress that can lead to problems such as decreased productivity, conflicts in the workplace or at home, and feelings of irritability and anger, a report says. Eighty-seven percent of 2,069 physicians surveyed said they feel moderately or severely stressed or burned out daily. "These are really striking statistics," said Alan Rosenstein, MD, medical director of Minneapolis-based Physician Wellness Services, which consults health employers on wellness services. The company conducted the survey with Cejka Search, a St. Louis, Mo.-based physician, allied health and health care executive search firm. Physicians participating in the survey had a median age of 45 and an average 13 years in practice. Respondents cited the top causes of stress as the struggling economy (51.6%), health system reform (46.4%) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services policies (41.2%). When asked about stressors in the workplace, 39.8% named paperwor ...