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500 hospitals to get help fulfilling data reporting requirement
At least 500 hospitals will receive help meeting at least one meaningful use objective thanks to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant awarded to the American Hospital Assn., the College of American Pathologists and the health information network Surescripts. The two-year, $4.9 million grant, announced Feb. 21, will help the hospitals satisfy electronic public health data reporting requirements under meaningful use by connecting them electronically to a shared network. Criteria to qualify for meaningful use incentives for the implementation of electronic medical records include the ability of hospitals to transmit data electronically on reportable lab tests to public health agencies. Hospitals that meet meaningful use requirements under the Medicare or Medicaid incentive programs could receive at least $2 million in bonuses. Physicians can receive as much as $44,000 over five years in Medicare bonuses or up to $63,750 over six years in Medicaid bonuses by meeting mea [Read more]
Patients trust physicians most to protect personal data
Patients trust their doctors over other parties, such as insurers, the government and employers, to protect their health information. But some believe electronic medical records may make their data less secure, according to a survey. In late January, CDW Healthcare surveyed 1,000 American adults who had visited a physician or hospital in the past 18 months. Sixty-eight percent said their physician office was responsible for protecting their personal health information, and 67% trusted their doctor's office the most to maintain that information. Employers were least trusted, at 7%. In addition to health information, the majority of survey respondents (79%) said they believed their doctors' offices were responsible for protecting their financial information, personal identifying information (91%) and family information (94%).When asked what impact EMRs would have on privacy protections, 40% said they would have a somewhat negative effect and 9% said they would have a significantly [Read more]
Physician talks increase likelihood of patients slimming down
Physicians can play a crucial role in encouraging overweight and obese patients to adopt healthier habits, but too few doctors broach the subject, says a study in the Feb. 28 Archives of Internal Medicine. More than two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight and about a third are obese, putting them at increased risk for chronic illnesses such as hypertension and cardiovascular disease, according to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With a larger proportion of the population overweight or obese, fewer people acknowledge their weight troubles, said Robert Post, MD, a family physician and study co-lead author (archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/171/4/316/). "People don't think that they're overweight because overweight is the new normal," said Dr. Post, research director at Virtua Family Medicine Residency in Voorhees, N.J. "If you're going to have change, the first step is recognizing that there is a problem." Researchers analyz [Read more]
Residency Match sees continued growth in primary care
The number of U.S. medical school seniors who will begin residency training in family medicine in July 2011 climbed 11.3% over 2010, marking the second consecutive year of growth in the field. Growth also was seen in the number of U.S. seniors pursuing first-year residency training in other primary care fields, according to preliminary data from the National Resident Matching Program. U.S. seniors filled 1,301 family medicine positions, up from 1,169 in 2010. In 2011, 48% of available family medicine slots were filled by U.S. seniors, up from 44.8% in 2010. Meanwhile, internal medicine matches for U.S. seniors increased 8%, to 2,940 from 2,722, and also grew for a second straight year. In 2011, 57.4% of available internal medicine residency slots were filled by U.S. seniors, up from 54.5% in 2010. In both internal and family medicine, a greater percentage of slots were filled even as the overall number of available positions increased. Overall, 2011 was the first year that the nu [Read more]
Obstetrics safety initiatives cut medical liability costs by 90%
Obstetrics patient safety initiatives at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center significantly reduced staff errors and cut medical liability expenses by more than 90%, according to a study. The study, published in the February issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, found that patient safety measures lowered medical liability compensation for the hospital overall from an average of $27.6 million a year from 2003 to 2006 to an average of $2.6 million from 2007 to 2009 (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21284964/). The figure for 2009 was only $250,000. The compensation payments were defined as all legal settlements, jury awards and defense expenses. Sentinel events at the medical center, including maternal deaths and serious newborn injuries, went from five in 2000 to zero in 2008 and 2009, the study showed. The patient safety efforts started after consultants accessed the hospital's obstetrics department. From 2003 to 2009, the department be [Read more]
2010 the second-worst year for hospital mass layoffs in 15 years
The total of hospital mass layoffs for 2010 was the second highest for the past 15 years. The number of employees affected was the third highest, according to a government report issued Jan. 27. Mass layoffs are defined as at least 50 people losing their jobs from a single company. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not collect data on the type of eliminated jobs, although analysts have said administrative and support staff are usually most affected. The elimination of physician and other clinical staff jobs is far less common. The monthly numbers were fairly high for most of 2010, although they dipped in the final months. Three such incidents occurred at hospitals in December 2010, bringing the total for the year up to 137. At least 173 people lost their jobs in these actions in December 2010, with a total of 10,490 for the year. The highest number of mass layoffs in a single month in 2010 occurred in April, with 18. That month also had the most people -- 1,967 -- filing f [Read more]
Arizona seeks to remove 280,000 adults from Medicaid coverage
Washington -- Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has formally asked the Dept. of Health and Human Services for permission to end Medicaid coverage for 280,000 adults beginning on Oct. 1. Brewer said the cuts are needed to help close the state's $1.2 billion fiscal 2012 budget deficit. "We are in a crisis unlike any we have seen," Brewer wrote in a Jan. 25 letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Nearly $1 billion of the deficit is due to growth in Medicaid spending, Brewer wrote. The Arizona Legislature adopted the cuts on Jan. 20, which gave Brewer the authorization to request a Medicaid waiver. If approved, the state would eliminate coverage for about 250,000 childless adults and reduce eligibility for certain parents from the federal poverty level to 50% of poverty, which would affect an additional 30,000 parents. Arizona is the first state to request such an exemption, but many states face deficits due to the expiration of Medicaid stimulus funding on July 1, the beginning of fiscal 2 [Read more]
Immunizations revised to reflect latest research
New guidelines to direct physicians in vaccinating children and adolescents include several revisions spurred by the latest research to ensure proper protection during the first years of life. The latest immunization schedules include changes or new guidance for seven of 11 vaccines offered to guard children against 15 diseases. "We could describe this as a busy year. There have been a number of changes," said H. Cody Meissner, MD, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist from Boston and a member of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The schedules are published in the February issue of Pediatrics. The American Academy of Pediatrics release them annually in cooperation with ACIP and the American Academy of Family Physicians (pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/extract/127/2/387/). Recent pertussis outbreaks in several states, including California and Michigan, led the AAP to recommend one dose of the tetanu [Read more]
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