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32% of hospitals ill-equipped for mass-casualty disasters

Nearly a third of hospitals are unprepared for the six types of mass-casualty disasters that public health officials fear most, according to a report published in March by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All of the nearly 400 hospitals that responded to questions about emergency preparedness as part of the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey had plans for at least one of the six types of disasters -- chemical, natural, epidemic, biological, nuclear-radiological and explosive-incendiary. The last two hazards were the ones for which hospitals were least likely to be prepared, with 20% lacking plans for either nuclear or explosive scenarios ( "There are things that hospitals do well -- planning for chemical releases, natural disasters, biological incidents," said Richard W. Niska, MD, MPH, co-author of the report and medical epidemiologist at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. "One of my concerns is t ...

Long work hours linked to cardiovascular risk

Someday, asking patients about how many hours a day they work may be a way to help predict whether they will develop heart disease. A study in the April 5 Annals of Internal Medicine found that over time, patients who worked an 11-hour day had a 67% greater chance of developing heart disease than those who worked seven to eight hours ( "We were really surprised to learn that a simple measure, such as information on working hours, can improve a 10-year prediction of heart disease," said Mika Kivimaki, PhD, a study author and professor of social epidemiology in the Dept. of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London. Researchers looked at self-reported working hours from 7,095 men and women ages 39 to 62 in Great Britain who did not have prevalent heart disease. They also created a Framingham Risk Score that incorporates conventional risk factors such as lipid levels, blood pressure and smoking habits. A baseline medical e ...

Second round of Medicare equipment bidding plan delayed

Washington -- The agency overseeing the Medicare program has delayed the second round of a durable medical equipment bidding program that was set to expand the initiative to 91 areas in the U.S. At its Program Advisory and Oversight Committee meeting on April 5, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that the bidding process would be delayed by six months. According to an updated timeline, bidding will open soon after the start of 2012 and close in the spring of that year. CMS subsequently will announce the suppliers that have secured contracts for 2013. The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 required the agency to set up the bidding program. The first round, which required a re-bidding in 2009, identified a select set of suppliers that would be allowed to provide medical equipment for beneficiaries in Charlotte, N.C.; Cincinnati; Cleveland; Dallas-Fort Worth; Kansas City, Mo.; Miami; Orlando, Fla.; Pittsburgh; and Riverside, Calif., starting Jan. 1, 2011. Round t ...