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Congress wants Medicare auditors to face their own review

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is questioning the role auditing contractors should play in the Medicare program, saying the audits place burdensome requirements on physicians and hospitals. Five senators and six House lawmakers called on the Government Accountability Office to review contracted Medicare auditors, which include Medicare administrative contractors, recovery audit contractors and program safeguard contractors. The GAO should study the coordination of audits and contractor interactions with physicians and hospitals, the lawmakers wrote in a June 26 letter. “Health care providers are responsible for interacting with, and responding to, these contractors,” the letter stated. “In order for this contractor oversight to at once be effective at detecting improper payments and not unnecessarily burdensome to providers, it must be undertaken subject to a coherent strategic plan, consistent standards and active coordination.” The number of auditing initiatives in ...

Physical punishment in childhood associated with later mental disorders, study says

The saying “spare the rod, spoil the child” may be well-ingrained in North American society, but new research shows that physically punishing children can affect their mental health. Corporal punishments such as spanking, hitting, pushing and grabbing are associated with the development of mood and anxiety disorders, substance abuse and personality disorders, says a study published online July 2 in Pediatrics. Pediatricians and family physicians should talk with parents about healthy ways of disciplining their children and recommend they avoid physical punishment, said Tracie O. Afifi, PhD, lead study author and assistant professor in the Dept. of Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba. “There are still a lot of people that believe that it is safe to hit your child,” she said. “We’re suggesting that physical punishment should not be used on children of any age. We need to focus more on positive reinforcement.” Researchers ...

Unique medical device identifier proposed

The Food and Drug Administration on July 3 issued a proposed rule long anticipated by physician and hospital groups to establish a unique identification system for medical devices. While stakeholders said they were pleased with the development, some are hoping that the FDA will put the new system in place well before 2019. “A UDI system has the potential to improve the quality of information in medical device adverse events reports, which will help the FDA identify product problems more quickly, better target recalls and improve patient safety,” the agency said in a July 3 statement. With certain exceptions, such a system would include a device identifier consisting of a numeric or alphanumeric code specific to a device model, and a production identifier, which would include the current production information for a device. “Those who have been advocating for patient safety have reasons to cheer,” Blair Childs, senior vice president of public affairs with the Premier healt ...