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Joint Commission opens center to develop patient safety solutions

The Joint Commission has been accrediting hospitals since 1953, and in the last two decades stepped up efforts to identify issues that can harm patients, ranging from poorly deployed technology to disruptive behavior. The commission announced in September it will take a more hands-on approach, launching a center that will seek innovative patient-safety interventions. The new Center for Transforming Healthcare, opened with $10 million in commission reserves, is working with eight hospitals and health systems on its premier project to identify and overcome barriers to 100% hand-hygiene compliance. The commission is teaming up with organizations such as Cedars-Sinai Health System in Los Angeles that already use industrial process-improvement techniques borrowed from Motorola and Toyota Motor Corp. "Our aim is to transform health care into a high-reliability industry with rates of adverse events equal to or better than the other high-reliability industries in the world," said Joint C ...

Lowering sodium intake could lower health costs

Reducing the nation's collective consumption of sodium could lower medical treatment costs by about $18 billion a year and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans, says a new RAND Corp. study. The study estimated that meeting national sodium guidelines could eliminate 11 million cases of hypertension and extend the lives of thousands each year. The findings are in the September/October American Journal of Health Promotion ( Excessive consumption of sodium is a persistent health problem in the United States, causing increased rates of hypertension and cardiovascular disease. The Institute of Medicine recommends that healthy adults consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium each day and that high-risk groups -- including older adults, blacks and those with high blood pressure -- consume less. However, using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, RAND researchers estimate that U.S. adults consume a ...

Uninsured people may have a higher risk of death than once thought, study finds

The uninsured might be about 40% more likely to die than the privately insured, according to a study published online Sept. 17 in the American Journal of Public Health. In contrast, a 1993 Institute of Medicine study concluded that those without health coverage were 25% more likely to die. Nearly 45,000 people in 2005 might have died, in part, because they had no health insurance. That was the conclusion of "Health Insurance and Mortality in U.S. Adults," authored by Cambridge Health Alliance researchers ( "The uninsured have a higher risk of death when compared to the privately insured, even after taking into account socioeconomics, health behaviors and baseline health," said lead author Andrew Wilper, MD, MPH, an internist who teaches at the University of Washington School of Medicine. The authors used medical records from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Sur ...