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Monday, February 1, 2010

Daily news & Analysis

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Surgeons Still Forgetting To Remove Objects from Patients

By: Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, February 1, 2010

Why do hospital teams unintentionally leave more than 30 types of surgical tools or other items inside their patients, a category of hospital error that California officials say is the second most common preventable adverse event in acute care? And why does the number of these forgotten items continue to increase? State health officials want to find out and propose using $800,000 in administrative penalties collected from hospitals since 2007 for a collaborative project to study the problem.

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Insurer Survey Projects Double-Digit Health Plan Cost Increases in 2010

By: Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, February 1, 2010

A survey of insurers projects the cost of employer-provided health plans will increase at a "double-digit" rate in 2010. In its 21st National Health Care Trend survey, Buck Consultants found that costs for the most popular medical plans are projected to increase by more than 10% and are in line with previous trends. In the survey, Buck Consultants measured the projected average annual increase in employer-provided healthcare benefits by analyzing responses from more than 100 health insurers.

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Massachusetts AG Finds System-wide Insurer Payment Discrepancies

By: Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, January 29, 2010

A Massachusetts attorney general's investigation into contracting between healthcare insurers and providers reveals "serious system-wide failings" that "threatens access to affordable, quality healthcare," according to a preliminary state report released today. The report showed that insurance companies pay some doctors and hospitals twice as much as others for similar care.

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Physicians Work Less When Medical Liability Risk Increases, Study Says

By: Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, February 1, 2010

A new study says doctors work less when their risk of malpractice litigation is higher. On average, doctors end up working 1.7 hours less per week when their expected medical liability risk increases by just 10%, according to a new study. "The effect of malpractice risk on hours worked might seem like a small item compared to physicians moving across state borders or avoiding high-risk specialties like obstetrics," said economist Mark Showalter of Brigham Young University, one of the researchers. "However, when you aggregate that across all physicians the total effect is quite large."

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Doctors Speak Out About Red Flags Rule

By: Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, January 29, 2010

Health professionals should not be bound under the new "Red Flags" rule, which "imposes an unjustified, unfunded mandate on health professionals for detecting and responding to identity theft," a group representing doctors, dentists, and veterinarians has told the Federal Trade Commission.

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Should Hospitals Drug Test Physicians?

By: Emily Berry, January 29, 2010

Mandatory drug screenings may not be a novelty in the workplace, even in the hospital setting, but they are for medical staff members. Physicians are often excluded from those tests, but should hospitals begin testing their physicians for controlled substances and make those tests an appointment requirement?

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HHS' Mental Health Interim Rules Create Benefit Parity

By: Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media, February 1, 2010

Employer-provided group health plans now must offer the same level of coverage for treatments related to mental health or substance abuse disorders as for other medical or surgical procedures, according to a federal regulation issued Friday by the Department of Health and Human Services. The new interim final rule implementing the Wellstone-Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 was developed following HHS' review of more than 400 public comments on how these mental health parity measures should be written.

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Hospital Creates Electronic Medication List to Achieve Consistency, Help Patients

By: Sarah Kearns, for HealthLeaders Media, January 29, 2010

In 2007, The Joint Commission made an addition to Goal #8 regarding medication reconciliation: Along with compiling a list of medications upon admission, each patient must receive a list of his or her medications upon discharge. Washington Hospital Healthcare System in Fremont, CA, embarked on a mission to comply with this goal by implementing a new admission and discharge process concerning medication reconciliation.

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Feds Concerned About Conditions in GA Psychiatric Hospitals

By: John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, January 29, 2010

The U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division has filed a motion for immediate relief to "protect the health and safety of hundreds of patients from dangerous conditions" in seven state-run psychiatric hospitals in Georgia, federal officials announced. The motion seeks appointment of a monitor who will set targets and timetables for reducing the number of residents at the hospitals, and expand community-based services.

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Group Offers 11 Ways to Improve Maternity Care Quality, Value

By: Janice Simmons, for HealthLeaders Media, January 29, 2010

Aiming to improve maternity care quality and value, nonprofit group Childhood Connection released a vision statement and an action plan in Washington this week. The documents were developed through the group's "Transforming Maternity Care" collaborative, which received input from more than 100 healthcare providers, hospitals, health plans, payers, educators, quality experts, and others during the past several years.

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Is Steele the Man for CMS?

By: Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, January 29, 2010

The rumor mill has President Obama naming Geisinger Health System CEO Glenn Steele as the new chief of CMS, a position that has been vacant since before the Bush administration left office.

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