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Medicare begins Round 2 of DME bidding
The agency overseeing the Medicare program is moving forward with the expansion of a competitive bidding system to purchase durable medical equipment. The extension of the bidding process for medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies across the country is expected to lower costs and save Medicare and patients more than $28 billion over 10 years. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services began registering equipment suppliers for the bidding process on Dec. 5, but it does not expect the new prices chosen during this second round of bidding to take effect until July 1, 2013. CMS introduced the first phase of competitive bidding in nine cities on Jan. 1, 2011. But some lawmakers and health care industry associations have worked to prevent the program from expanding to 91 metropolitan areas. Products open for bidding include oxygen supplies, wheelchairs and power scooters, enteral nutrients, continuous positive airway pressure devices, hospital beds, walkers, and negat [Read more]
More parents requesting alternative vaccine schedules
Research on the safety of delaying childhood immunizations is needed as pediatricians increasingly are faced with requests by parents to follow alternative vaccine schedules, says the author of a new study. Three in four pediatricians in Washington state said parents sometimes or frequently request an alternative immunization schedule for their child, according to the study published online Nov. 28 in Pediatrics. Of those doctors, 64% are comfortable using such a plan. Researchers did not ask pediatricians why they were comfortable following an alternative schedule. But study co-author Douglas J. Opel, MD, MPH, said it's likely that physicians want to maintain a relationship with the family so they can address their vaccine concerns and, in time, fully immunize the young patient. "Pediatricians are in a difficult spot ... because they have to balance two competing interests -- the parent's right to make health care decisions for the child and the pediatrician's obligation to p [Read more]
Military veterans to benefit from federal health training grants
New White House initiatives are prodding medical schools to train military veterans for health care jobs and encouraging health centers to hire veterans. Universities and colleges that train veterans to be physician assistants will be given higher scores when applying for federal physician assistant training grants, according to an Oct. 25 announcement by the Health Resources and Services Administration, a division of the Dept. of Health and Human Services. The move is part of White House efforts to connect veterans to jobs. "No veteran should have to fight for a job at home after they fight for our nation overseas," President Obama said on Nov. 7. "Our war fighters have been hit disproportionately hard by the economic downturn with unemployment rates that eclipse their non-military cohorts," said Bob Wallace, executive director of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. The Obama administration also encouraged employers to list their job openings on a new database for vet [Read more]
Suicidal thoughts, behaviors higher among young adults and unemployed
Considering patients' age, gender and where they live could help physicians identify people who have an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A study in the Oct. 21 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found that suicidal thoughts are more common among females than males. Such thoughts also are more frequently reported by adults in the Midwest and West than by people in other regions of the country. The study is the first to present state-level data concerning suicidal thoughts and behaviors among U.S. adults, the CDC said. "Doctors might be able to think about the demographic composition of the population they see and determine if there are some higher-risk groups in their practice," said lead study author Alex E. Crosby, MD, MPH. "If doctors have more females and young adults, they might want to think about what kind of questions they can ask to probe a little more deeply into is [Read more]
Indiana doctors face challenge to medical liability cap
Indiana physicians continue to battle a legal challenge over the state's medical liability damages cap. Indiana Court of Appeals judges on Oct. 25 allowed a lawsuit against the cap to move forward, denying a request by Community Hospitals of Indiana to throw out the case based on procedural grounds. The case stems from the death of patient Debra Plank, 47. In 2001, she sought treatment at Community Hospital in Indianapolis after experiencing abdominal pain. She was prescribed pain medication and sent home, said John Muller, the family's attorney. Doctors eventually diagnosed her with a small bowel obstruction, according to court documents. As a result of the missed diagnosis, Plank contracted sepsis and died, court documents show. Timothy Plank, her husband, sued the hospital and his wife's doctors. All but one physician were dismissed from the case. Jurors found the doctor was not negligent, but ruled the hospital was responsible. Timothy Plank was awarded $8.5 million [Read more]
Military veterans to benefit from federal health training grants
Washington -- New White House initiatives are prodding medical schools to train military veterans for health care jobs and encouraging health centers to hire veterans. Universities and colleges that train veterans to be physician assistants will be given higher scores when applying for federal physician assistant training grants, according to an Oct. 25 announcement by the Health Resources and Services Administration, a division of the Dept. of Health and Human Services. The move is part of White House efforts to connect veterans to jobs. "No veteran should have to fight for a job at home after they fight for our nation overseas," President Obama said on Nov. 7. "Our war fighters have been hit disproportionately hard by the economic downturn with unemployment rates that eclipse their non-military cohorts," said Bob Wallace, executive director of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. The Obama administration also encouraged employers to list their job openings on a new da [Read more]
Only 1 in 10 physicians asks patients what they expect from care
Eighty-five percent of physicians say it is important to know what patients expect from a hospital stay to ensure high-quality care, yet only one in 10 doctors asks about patient expectations. Nurses are likelier to quiz patients about their expectations, with 20% doing so, according to a survey of more than 1,000 physicians and nurses in the U.S. and three other countries published in November's BMJ Quality and Safety. Forty-seven percent of respondents were physicians and 53% were nurses. The gap between physicians' recognition that patient expectations are important and their failure to ask about them constitutes a "blind spot," the study says. "Expectations are definitely an important component of patient satisfaction, which is the congruence between the patient's expectations and his perceptions at the end of treatment," said Ronen Rozenblum, PhD, MPH, director of the unit for innovative health care practice and technology in the Brigham and Women's Hospital Center for Pa [Read more]
AMA announces App Challenge winners
The idea to replace the index cards that many physicians carry in their lab coats to keep track of hospitalized patients with a smartphone application was a winning one, the American Medical Association decided. The AMA selected the idea for the "Rounder" app as one of two winners to its 2011 AMA App Challenge, which invited physicians, residents and medical students to submit medical app ideas for a smartphone or tablet application. The other winning app, "JAMA Clinical Challenge," is a learning tool that tests physicians' diagnostic skills and offers educational information on specific diagnoses. The app contest was launched last summer and had hundreds of entries. There were two categories: one for ideas submitted by physicians and the other for ideas submitted by residents or medical students. In September, five finalists from each category were announced. Michael Ray Bykhovsky, a third-year medical student at Georgia Health Science University in Augusta, was the winner in [Read more]
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