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Hospital violence increasing, Joint Commission warns

Physicians and other health care professionals and staff need to be extra vigilant in efforts to prevent violent crimes in hospitals and other health care facilities, according to a new Joint Commission alert. Patients, visitors and staff in recent years increasingly have been victims of assault, rape and homicide, said the commission's Sentinel Event Alert, issued in June ( Since 1995, there have been 256 reports of violent crimes to the commission's Sentinel Event Database, one of the nation's most comprehensive voluntary reporting systems for serious adverse events in health care. The greatest number have occurred in the past three years: 33 in 2009, 41 in 2008 and 36 in 2007, the database analysis showed. And these figures are likely "significantly below" the actual number of these violent crimes, the alert notes. "While not an accurate measure of incidence, it is noteworthy that the assault, rape and ...

Small companies see highest hikes in health insurance costs

Health insurance premiums have long been experiencing growth that outpaces inflation, but a survey released June 2 suggests that companies with fewer than 50 employees are the hardest hit. The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers surveyed 108 members. Approximately 86% noted a growth in rates among small businesses since November 2009, with 18% of that group recording increases of 20% or more. Another 24% had rate increases between 16% and 20%. Mid-size companies also were hard hit. Nine percent reported rate hikes of more than 20%. An additional 24% had premiums grow between 16% and 20%. "Several members commented that they are seeing large increases," said Ken A. Crerar, the council's president. "Brokers have some uncertainty about business going forward, but most believe there will be new demand for their services." Small- and medium-sized businesses have long complained that they are taking the biggest hit from health insurance premium increases. Several small business ...

Evidence-based care poorly understood by patients

Patients increasingly are being asked to make evidence-based health care decisions in managing chronic conditions, choosing treatments and selecting health care professionals. But a report released online June 3 in Health Affairs found deep-rooted misconceptions, lack of understanding of terms such as "medical evidence," "quality guidelines" and "quality standards," and a reluctance to ask questions of physicians. Researchers with the American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C., surveyed more than 1,700 people through focus groups, in-depth interviews and an online survey conducted from August 2006 to December 2007. Among their findings: * 41% of respondents said they had not asked questions or told their doctors about problems because they were unsure how to talk to doctors or because physicians seemed rushed. * Only 34% recalled their physicians ever discussing what medical research had shown about the best way to manage their care. * A substantial ...