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Patients don't hear of abnormal results 7% of time

Primary care doctors fail to inform patients of about one in 14 abnormal test results, according to a study of 5,434 medical records at 23 physician practices in the Midwest and on the West Coast. Few practices have rules on how to manage test results and often leave the process to individual physicians, according to the study published in the June 22 Archives of Internal Medicine ( Having electronic medical records was no guarantee of better test-results tracking. Lawrence P. Casalino, MD, PhD, the study's lead author, said physician practices should be able to improve their performance on this basic measure of doctor-patient communication. "For things that are susceptible to being dealt with in an organized systems approach, I think the failure rate can be very low," said Dr. Casalino, chief of the division of outcomes and effectiveness research in the Weill Cornell Medical College Dept. of Public Health in New York. " ...

Mass. bill would offer tax breaks for e-prescribing

A bill pending in Massachusetts has a goal of pushing more electronic prescribing in a state already tops in such activity. The bill, introduced by Rep. Peter J. Koutoujian, would provide tax incentives to any corporation with licensed physicians that invests in e-prescribing technology. That would include physician practices. Under the provisions of the bill, deductions would be allowed for the cost of the technology itself, any needed infrastructure and associated labor costs of installing the systems. The state has been urging physicians to switch to electronic prescribing as a way of curbing rising health care costs associated with paper-based medical systems. Sonya Khan, research analyst for Koutoujian's office, said a hearing on the bill was held on July 8 before the revenue committee, which will send its recommendations back to the house later this year. According to SureScripts, the e-prescribing health information exchange, Massachusetts ranked first for the per ...

Can protecting patients be made recession-proof? (Patient Safety Congress annual meeting)

Protecting patients from harm is medicine's bedrock goal, but the resources required to do so have never come cheaply. With the recession taking its toll on the health sector, doctors and other medical professionals who have tackled problems ranging from hospital-acquired infections to patient falls find their efforts increasingly scrutinized on dollars-and-cents grounds. Ninety percent of hospital CEOs have cut administrative expenses, staff and services amid the recession, according to a survey of more than 1,000 chief executives released in April by the American Hospital Assn. More than three-quarters said they cut capital spending and nearly half scaled back ongoing projects. The moves come at a time when hospitals already are facing a changing payment landscape. For example, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and many private payers have cut or stopped paying for "never events," such as wrong-site surgeries. President Obama has proposed bundling payments for hos ...