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Helpful information on the world of beauty and aesthetics supplies.
Many paid caregivers lack health literacy skills
More than a third of the people paid to care for seniors are not health literate, and 60% wrongly interpret the instructions on prescription labels, a study says. Caregivers often are hired by families to help care for seniors with cognitive loss, dementia or Alzheimer's disease and who have trouble performing daily activities such as toileting, bathing, cooking and shopping. This makes it especially important that caregivers have the ability to understand health-related instructions, said Lee A. Lindquist, MD, MPH, lead author of the study published in May's Journal of General Internal Medicine (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21161420/). Caregivers' poor health literacy skills can affect patient care, said Dr. Lindquist, a geriatrician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. "Many times, I see patients cared for by caregivers. They come with the senior to the doctor's visit," she said. "You can't really tell the senior information because they have cognitive issues that do [Read more]
Medicare criticized for $4 million drug overpayment
Washington -- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services overpaid for dozens of drugs in 2009 by an estimated $4.4 million, the Dept. of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General said in an April report. The OIG examined payment levels for drug codes in 2009 and found that 34 of the 493 drugs in the Part B payment system exceeded the average manufacturing price by 5% or more during at least one quarter of that year. For instance, Medicare paid $346.57 in October 2009 for the injection drug Dexrazoxane, exceeding the 105% mark. Payments had surpassed this threshold throughout the year, according to the report. Medicare expenditures for Part B drugs would have been reduced by $4.4 million if CMS had paid 103% of the manufacturer's price, which the Medicare agency has the authority to do when prices exceed the 105% mark. CMS concurred with just one out of four OIG recommendations in the report on drug prices, according to a memo from CMS Administrator Donald M. B [Read more]
Ban menthol cigarettes, FDA panel urges
Menthol cigarettes have a higher risk of causing tobacco-related diseases than other cigarettes and should be pulled from shelves, according to a report by the Food and Drug Administration's Tobacco Product Scientific Advisory Committee. Research shows that menthol cigarette smokers inhale more smoke and tar particles than other cigarette smokers and that the products are more addictive, the March 18 report said. The findings were based on the committee's analysis of studies, tests and surveys conducted during the last several decades. The committee was formed under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act to provide recommendations to the FDA about tobacco-related issues. The agency is reviewing the report and plans to provide an update on its review in three months, said Lawrence R. Deyton, MD, director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products. R.J. Reynolds, one of the major U.S. tobacco companies, pledged to work with the FDA as it begins its analysis of the r [Read more]
Communicating health risks can be tricky
How medical risks are perceived can vary by the way in which the statistical reality is portrayed. A new systematic review finds that patients and physicians struggle to interpret health probabilities. The review, published March 16 by The Cochrane Collaboration, which analyzes the evidence for the efficacy of health care interventions, examined 35 studies of how well patients, physicians and medical students understand various methods of communicating risks (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21412897/). For example, most people have an easier time understanding the three-year risk of a hip fracture due to not taking an osteoporotic drug if it is expressed as a frequency, 100 patients in 1,000 will have a fracture. This is in contrast with expressing this as a percentage -- a 10% probability. If the drug benefits the patient by cutting the 10% risk in half, the so-called relative risk has been cut by 50%. In this case, the risk is 50% lower, relative to the 10% of patients who would [Read more]
4% drop in U.S. birth rate is largest in 3 decades
Birth rates nationwide declined by 4% on average between 2007 and 2009, reaching 66.7 births per 1,000 women age 15 to 44, according to a federal report. This is the biggest decrease in more than 30 years. Rates dropped most sharply in the West and Southeast, and among Hispanic women and younger women, according to the report. Birth rates decreased by 9% for Hispanic women and 9% for women age 20 to 24. The study was released March 29 by the National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although the CDC report does not link the decline to the most recent economic recession, other studies have. For example, the Pew Research Center concluded in an April 2010 analysis that there was a strong correlation between the decline in birth rates between 2007 and 2008 and the economic downturn in states. Older women bucked the national trend. Birth rates for women 40 to 44 increased 6% between 2007 and 2009 to reach 10.1 per 1,000 wom [Read more]
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 (www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr037.pdf). "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 [Read more]
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 (annals.org/content/154/7/457.abstract/). "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 [Read more]
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 [Read more]
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