In order for a hospital to participate in the Medicare program, it must develop and maintain a Quality Assessment and Performance Improvement (QAPI) program to “track medical errors and adverse patient events, analyze their causes, and implement preventive actions and mechanisms that include feedback and learning throughout the hospital.” However, a new study by the Dept. of Health & Human Services found that only a small portion of patient errors are being reported — and that hospitals don’t seem to give a damn about fixing things. [More]
Last January, a woman in California says she was billed by a hospital for a treatment she never received. She took her complaint to the folks at California Watch, who published a story about her predicament. But when a local newspaper went to verify the information, the hospital’s CEO had absolutely no problem showing up at the reporter’s door to rifle through that patient’s file without her permission. [More]
In order to curb medical costs, Washington state lawmakers have capped the amount of annual “non-emergency” visits Medicaid patients can make to emergency rooms at three. Furious about the seemingly arbitrary restriction on patients’ rights, a group of doctors has sued the state over the measure. [More]
It’s important to ask your doctor questions to make sure you’re getting the best care and aren’t overpaying or getting an unnecessary treatment. In fact, your doctor wants you to ask questions. It can be hard to think of the right ones in the heat — or rather, cold — of the moment — those backless hospital gowns and all — so the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has got 10 you can print out and bring with you. [More]
The nation is facing a shortage of critical pharmaceuticals. Enter the price gouger. He stockpiles hard to find medications, then turns around and offers to help hospitals solve their prescription drug shortage problems, at 4,533% markup. [More]
A new Federal study finds that 1 out of every 7 Medicare patients are harmed during their hospital stays by treatment errors. These gaffes include bed sores, excessive bleeding, urinary tract infections, and mistaken medication. [More]
Emergency room bills bring a special sort of sticker shock, because they don’t usually show up until weeks later, and then come packed with all sorts of over-inflated fees and add-ons. The New York Times calls them “notoriously high and perplexing,” and although it’s unlikely you’ll ever end up paying the full amount listed on the bill, there are strategies you can use to bring that initial figure down. [More]
Naughty nurses, sanctioned for things like stealing prescription painkillers or missing critical tests for their patients, are able to jump to new jobs from state to state thanks to gaps in the regulatory framework and lack of information sharing, a new ProPublica report finds. [More]
St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Arizona mixed up the identities of two women involved in a car crash last week, says CNN, leading to some intensely unpleasant fake-outs for both families involved. [More]
Where can nurses go after they’ve been sanctioned elsewhere for misconduct? To California, it seems. The state’s Board of Registered Nursing launched a review, spurred on by a Los Angeles Times/Pro-Publica investigation last year, and discovered 3,500 nurses who have licenses in California even though they’ve lost their licenses in other states; 1,700 of these nurses currently have active licenses. In more than half of all cases, the sanctions were for serious violations such as “sexual abuse, neglect, rampant drug use and criminality.” [More]
President Obama issued a memo last night instructing HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to write rules that will allow patients to designate visitors at facilities that accept Medicare and Medicaid. This move would benefit same-sex couples, unmarried heterosexual couples, widowed adults, members of religious orders and others who want to have someone other than an immediate family member as a visitor or decision maker for medical care, notes the WSJ Health Blog. [More]
Imagine the scene: Your beloved grandmother has been hospitalized for a respiratory illness. And then comes the bad news — A nurse at the hospital calls to say your grandmother has passed away. You go to her room to gather her personal items, and that’s when your dead grandmother wakes up. [More]
In case you missed it, Senate Democrats managed to succeed at their goal of pushing through some sort of health care reform bill before Christmas Day–the chamber voted this morning 60-39 along party lines and passed the bill. Up next: the Senate and House have to get together and negotiate some final version. If you want to compare what’s in the House and Senate versions, the New York Times has put together an excellent side-by-side comparison tool.
The announcement that Best Buy plans to open a Geek Squad outlet inside the Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis seems, at first, incongruous. “Geek Squad?” we said. “Haven’t these families already suffered enough?” Except this Geek Squad isn’t there to profit off sick kids—they’re there to help. No, really.
Have you always dreamed of having your name on a building to honor your philanthropy and general awesomeness, but just didn’t have the cash on hand? You may be in luck: the threshold for building or wing names at colleges, hospitals, and other nonprofits is falling as charitable giving slumps. If you have money, now may be the best time for immortality.
You may have thought you could only get MRSA at hospitals and the beach, but apparently researchers have discovered that it can be transmitted via pets and lead to repeat infections, reports the New York Times. One recent case involved a baby elephant and 20 human caretakers at the San Diego Zoo last year, but at the domestic level it looks like cats (and dogs, but not to the same degree) somehow contribute to cycle of infection at home.