A Weekly Compilation of Clinical Laboratory and Related Information
from The Division of Laboratory Science and Standards
March 21, 2013
View Previous Issues - Healthcare News Archive
CDC Develops Faster Test for Fungal Infection
Instead of waiting a week or longer to see if mold will grow in a test tube, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now has a much faster method for diagnosing a rare form of meningitis and other fungal infections.
The agency’s scientists have developed a DNA-sequencing test that produces results within 48 hours. The new test also has a higher detection rate, according to an article published this month in the American Society of Microbiology. CDC microbiologists devised the test during the early days of the fungal meningitis outbreak and quietly began studying its effectiveness.
New CMS Pilot Intends to Test Viability of a Universal Bundled-Payment Model for Inpatient Care
Medicare’s largest bundled reimbursement project to date is now launching. Clinical laboratory executives and pathologists are watching for clues as to how these bundled payment arrangements will compensate the clinical laboratory testing done on behalf of patients whose care is covered by this latest Medicare initiative. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will commence implementation of Phase 1 of the Bundled Payments for Care Improvement Initiative. This will be a three-year project that will test the viability of a universal bundled payment system to improve coordination and quality of care and lower costs. It is also the largest bundled-payment pilot to date, with nearly 500 participants, according to a story published by Healthcare Finance News.
McDonnell Signs Lyme Disease Prevention Bill
Beginning July 1, physicians in Virginia will be required to provide patients with information about the limitations of tests for Lyme disease, one of the fastest-growing infectious diseases in the United States. Existing tests by commercial laboratories already bear disclaimer warnings that the results may yield false negatives, requiring additional testing. But many doctors fail to disclose this to their patients — which the new law is supposed to change.
- Certification in Clinical Informatics is a joint and equal function of the ABP and the American Board of Preventive Medicine (ABPM). Such function relates to qualification of applicants, standards of examinations, and the form of the certificate.
- All candidates for certification in Clinical Informatics must possess current certification by one of the ABMS member boards and meet the qualifications indicated in one of the following pathways to certification.
- ACGME-accredited Fellowship Pathway. A physician must have successfully completed two years in an ACGME-accredited Clinical Informatics fellowship program. Until a sufficient number of training programs are accredited, the following additional pathways to certification will be available.
- Practice Pathway.
- Non-Accredited Fellowship Pathway.
Warning Sounded on Demoralized Health Care Work Force
The experience of working in American health care is being drained of joy and meaning amid a rising rate of occupational injuries, episodes of verbal abuse and physical assaults from colleagues, and a seemingly relentless drive to provide more care in less time. This toxic blend is setting back the effort to improve the quality of care and prevent patient harm, according to a recently published report produced by some of the most distinguished names in the field of patient safety. “Production and cost pressures have reduced complex, intimate, caregiving relationships into a series of demanding tasks performed under severe time constraints,” said the report, released by the National Patient Safety Foundation's Lucian Leape Institute.
One-Third of Doctors Miss Electronic Test Results
Electronic medical test results have turned out to be much like email: doctors receive a large volume of them; therefore some get lost by the wayside. The new finding came from a study conducted by a group of researchers at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston and was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Study author Dr. Hardeep Singh of the DeBakey VA Medical Center said: "If you're getting 100 emails a day, you are bound to miss a few. I study this area and I still sometimes miss emails. We have good intentions, but sometimes getting too many can be a problem."
As Core Labs Eye the Clinic, Familiarity With CLIA Is Needed
As translational medicine and genetic- and genomic-based diagnostic tests proliferate, some core laboratories that usually support basic research are looking to move into clinical testing. While such a move may make sense for some labs, there are a number of issues that should be considered and addressed, and understanding how such clinical labs are regulated is chief among them. In the US, such clinical labs are regulated under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988, or CLIA. Certification and accreditation under CLIA aims to ensure that clinical labs meet certain quality standards, and many of the requirements are not necessarily something a research-focused lab would be doing as stringently.
MRSA Testing: Newer, Faster, Better
In Fight to Detect MRSA, New Tests and Techniques Challenge Labs
- 95,000 cases of invasive MRSA infections occur annually in the U.S.
- MRSA causes 19,000 deaths each year
- 86 percent of MRSA infections are healthcare associated
- 14 percent of MRSA infections are due to community-acquired MRSA
- In 2012 it cost $3.2 billion to $4.2 billion to treat hospitalized MRSA patients
(Sources: CDC, Pew Trust Health Initiatives)
As varied as how and who is tested, is how they are treated. Some hospitals practice universal decolonization. Others screen and isolate all suspected cases; while still others practice a combination of all of these, depending on the circumstances.
"There are different approaches," said Duane W. Newton, PhD, D(ABMM), clinical associate professor, department of pathology, and director, clinical microbiology and virology laboratories, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, Mich. "You can universally screen everyone being admitted or you can screen higher-risk patients coming from other healthcare settings.
GenomeWeb Feature: Prenatal Testing, Carrier Screening Emerge as Early Markets for Widespread Sequencing
While much ado has been made about the plummeting costs of next-generation sequencing and how the $1,000 genome will revolutionize healthcare, the days of ubiquitous whole-genome sequencing are still years away. The technology, though, is already changing reproductive medicine, particularly how physicians perform prenatal and carrier screening. The carrier screening market is not quite as noisy, though there are a handful of US companies and academic institutions that either offer or are currently developing sequencing-based tests to screen for diseases such as cystic fibrosis and Tay Sachs disease.
Free-floating DNA From Tumor Could Provide Early Warning
A small study on advanced breast cancer may show the future of cancer treatment.
A study in New England Journal of Medicine provides "a window into the future" of breast cancer therapy, experts say. Researchers looked at a new way to track a cancer's growth: measuring the amount of DNA that shakes loose from a cancer cell and floats freely in the blood, called circulating tumor DNA. Doctors hope to use these measurements to assess how a patient's tumor responds to treatment, according to the study, which included 30 women with advanced breast cancer and was led by the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.
More Rapid Test for Group B Strep in Pregnancy
A more rapid laboratory test for pregnant women to detect potentially deadly Group B strep (GBS) has been successful at identifying GBS colonization in six and a half hours, according to the results of a study from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). "This new test could change the management of patients who present to labor and delivery with threatened preterm labor and aren't expected to deliver right away," said Jonathan Faro, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, part of UTHealth.
New Assay Holds Promise as Screening Tool for Kidney Cancer
A new immunoassay shows promise as a screening tool for detecting early renal cell carcinoma (RCC). The test measures the levels of 3 biomarkers: nicotinamide N-methyltransferase (NNMT), L-plastin (LCP1), and nonmetastatic cells 1 protein (NM23A). Plasma levels of all 3 were found to be highly elevated in patients with kidney cancer.
AAN: CSF Markers Predict Alzheimer's
Biomarkers in the cerebrospinal fluid were useful in predicting which patients with mild cognitive impairment would progress to Alzheimer's disease, researchers reported. Patients whose mild cognitive impairment converted to Alzheimer's disease within 3 years had significantly lower baseline amyloid B-42 and significantly higher T-tau and P-tau concentrations at baseline than patients whose cognitive impairment remained stable or was associated with other forms of dementia, according to Elisa Rubino, MD, of the University of Torino in Italy, and colleagues.
To Improve Patient Care, Better Estrogen Testing Methods Needed
In a Position Statement, The Endocrine Society advocates that all methods for measuring estrogens, which play a crucial role in human biology, be made traceable to a common standard. In addition to the well-known role of estrogens in sexual development, these hormones, particularly estradiol, have a significant impact on the health of the skin, blood vessels, bones, muscle, kidney, liver, digestive system, brain, lung and pancreas. Studies have linked changes in estradiol levels to coronary artery disease, stroke and breast cancer. "Estradiol levels need to be accurately, precisely and consistently measured to provide the proper care for patients from the cradle to the grave," said the statement's lead author, William Rosner, MD, of Columbia University. "
'Under the Skin' Blood-Testing Device Developed
Scientists say they have developed a tiny blood-testing device that sits under the skin and gives instant results via a mobile phone. The Swiss team say the wireless prototype - half an inch (14mm) long - can simultaneously check for up to five different substances in the blood. The data is sent to the doctor using radiowaves and Bluetooth technology. The device's developers hope it will be available to patients within four years. It is designed to be inserted, using a needle, into the interstitial tissue just beneath the skin of the abdomen, legs or arms. And it could remain there for months before needing to be replaced or removed.
FDA Approves Two Dako Assays as Companion Diagnostics for Genentech's New Breast Cancer Medicine Kadcyla
The two assays are Dako's HercepTest and HER2 IQFISH pharmDx. This is the result of a collaboration between Dako and Genentech, a member of the Roche Group. The collaboration was initiated in early 2012, and later the same year Dako submitted applications to the FDA requesting approval of the two Dako assays as companion diagnostics for Genentech's drug candidate for patients with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer. Genentech's Kadcyla, an antibody-drug conjugate, and Dako's HercepTest and HER2 IQFISH pharmDx have received simultaneous approvals from the FDA.
Quest 5-in-1 Demential Test May Help Rule Out Alzheimer’s
Quest Diagnostics Inc. (DGX), in the midst of a company reorganization that seeks to cut costs and boost revenue with improved service, will introduce a panel of tests at the American Academy of Neurology meeting that combines five screens into one to pinpoint potentially treatable conditions. The concept is that, by simplifying the process and making it more accessible, an increasing number of family doctors will use the test and, in some rare cases, ease the mind of patients by ruling out Alzheimer’s.
Athena Diagnostics Announces New Genetic Testing Services for Rare Neurological Disorders
Athena Diagnostics, announced the clinical availability of new genetic tests to aid the detection of several rare neurological disorders, including hereditary neuropathy, neuromuscular disease, epilepsy and certain movement disorders. The lab-developed tests are available through Athena Diagnostics, a business of Quest Diagnostics.
Pathwork Dx Inks Deal With Kindstar to Offer Tissue of Origin Test in China
Pathwork Diagnostics announced a deal to offer its Pathwork Tissue of Origin Test for cancer diagnosis in China. The deal with Kindstar Global, which claims to be the largest esoteric diagnostic testing business in China, expands the Redwood City, Calif.-based company's international network of test and service providers, Pathwork said. Kindstar will offer the IVD kit version of the Tissue of Origin Test, which is cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration and covered by Medicare.
Sequenom Expects to Have RTP Facility Operational This Year
A San Diego, Calif.,-based company expects a Research Triangle Park laboratory to be operational later this year that would primarily be for processing a blood test for Down syndrome. Sequenom released the MaterniT21 test more than a year ago for pregnant women who are at risk for carrying a fetus with Down syndrome, or trisomy 21. The test detects increased representation of chromosome 21 material, which is associated with trisomy 21.
Down Syndrome is caused by an error in cell division that results in a person having a third, or part of a third, copy of chromosome 21, according to the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development.
Mayo Clinic, SV Bio Unite for Genome Diagnostics
Silicon Valley Biosystems (SV Bio) and Mayo Clinic have begun a strategic collaboration for whole-genome diagnostics and interpretation at the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine and at Mayo Medical Laboratories. SV Bio will contribute clinical genome interpretation services and clinical decision support interfaces to Mayo Clinic, and the Center for Individualized Medicine will provide clinical and laboratory support
PathCentral Launches Comprehensive Global Online Pathology Information Exchange
PathCentral, a technology-enabled company dedicated to the pathology community, recently unveiled the PathCentral Pathology Network at www.pathcentralpro.net -- a comprehensive online information exchange and digital consultation forum. The PathCentral Pathology Network enables physicians to upload case files using digital images for pathologists to review and render critical consulting diagnoses on both a global and a domestic real-time basis. In terms of scanning technology and imaging software, the network is agnostic and designed to be non-exclusive - that is, open to all users regardless of location or consulting institution. The PathCentral Pathology Network seeks to connect the world's pathologists, incorporating tools from social media, making it an ideal forum for pathologists to send and perform consults, create connections, post information, share cases, ask questions, and expand professional relationships.
CLSI Releases New Version of Quality Management System: Development and Management of Laboratory Documents
This guideline (which replaces GP02-A5) provides direction for document development, control, and management in paper and electronic environments using a process-based approach that supports the laboratory’s entire quality management system. There are four new features in QMS02-A6 that were not offered in the previous version. First, is a process for managing the lifespan of documents from development through retirement. The second feature includes detailed descriptions and more examples of laboratory policies, processes, procedures/job aids, and form documents. The third is the provision of concise instructions for how to prepare process flow charts with several useful, generic examples. Finally, the guideline presents more condensed and effective means for manufacturers and laboratories to prepare documents for examinations performed on automated analyzers.
Low Albumin Ups Surgical Risk in Gyn Cancers
Postoperative mortality increased significantly in women who had low albumin levels prior to surgery for gynecologic malignancies, analysis of a large surgical database showed. Preoperative hypoalbuminemia was associated with a 30-day mortality of 4.3%, or 10 times higher as compared with patients who had normal albumin levels at surgery, reported Shitanshu Uppal, MD, and colleagues at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO) meeting.
Hypoalbuminemia also was associated with significantly longer hospitalization after surgery and with other high-risk clinical characteristics, said Uppal of University of Wisconsin in Madison.
From Measurement to Management: The Communication Breakdown in Diabetes Technology
There exists a gap today between the technology we use and the practices we deploy to manage diabetes. This is because in addition to regular glucose tracking, diabetes management requires effective communication between patients and their healthcare professionals.
Simply put, diabetes measurement technology has outpaced the communication platforms that are used to facilitate patient/physician feedback. Diabetes management solutions of the future need to collapse these technologies into a unified solution. Data around blood glucose levels, exercise, diet and medication usage needs to be gathered and communicated in a constructive way to physicians, coaches, family members and others, who can then work toward the promise of a healthy, active diabetes management plan.
How do we get there?
White Blood Cells Plays Key Role in Controlling Red Blood Cell Levels
Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have found that macrophages - white blood cells that play a key role in the immune response - also help to both produce and eliminate the body's red blood cells (RBCs). It is hoped that the findings could lead to novel therapies for diseases or conditions in which the red blood cell production is thrown out of balance. "We've shown that macrophages in the bone marrow and the spleen nurture the production of new red blood cells at the same time that they clear aging red blood cells from the circulation.
Missing Genetic Link in Hemophilia B Leyden Identified
Researchers have identified the transcriptional activator involved in the genetic mutation linked to the majority of hemophilia B Leyden cases. To date, 21 distinct point mutations have been detected in the coagulation factor IX (F9) promoter, with two of the three identified nucleotide clusters affecting around half of all known Leyden mutations, a subtype of hemophilia B in which symptoms improve after puberty.
Study Links 180,000 Global Deaths to Sugary Drinks
Americans account for about 25,000 obesity-related deaths blamed on over-consumption of sweetened beverages. Overall, 1 in 100 deaths of obese people globally can be blamed on too many sweetened beverages, according to a study presented at an American Heart Association scientific conference in New Orleans. Mexico leads the 35 largest nations in deaths attributable to over-consumption of sugary drinks, with the United States third. Japan, which has one of the lowest per-capita consumptions of sugary drinks, had the fewest sugar-related deaths. Using data collected as part of the World Health Organization's 2010 Global Burden of Diseases Study, the researchers determined that 78% of these deaths were in low- and middle-income countries.
Bringing a Virtual Brain to Life
In 2009, Dr. Markram conceived of the Human Brain Project, a sprawling and controversial initiative of more than 150 institutions around the world that he hopes will bring scientists together to realize his dream. In January, the European Union raised the stakes by awarding the project a 10-year grant of up to $1.3 billion — an unheard-of sum in neuroscience. “A meticulous virtual copy of the human brain,” Dr. Markram wrote in Scientific American, “would enable basic research on brain cells and circuits or computer-based drug trials.”
An equally ambitious “big brain” idea is in the works in the United States: The Obama administration is expected to propose its own project, with up to $3 billion allocated over a decade to develop technologies to track the electrical activity of every neuron in the brain. But just as many obstacles stand in the way of the American project, a number of scientists have expressed serious reservations about Dr. Markram’s project.
Breakthrough in Anti-Ageing Research
Drugs that combat ageing may be available within five years, following landmark work led by an Australian researcher. The work, published in the March 8 issue of Science, finally proves that a single anti-ageing enzyme in the body can be targeted, with the potential to prevent age-related diseases and extend lifespans. The target enzyme, SIRT1, is switched on naturally by calorie restriction and exercise, but it can also be enhanced through activators. The most common naturally-occurring activator is resveratrol, which is found in small quantities in red wine, but synthetic activators with much stronger activity are already being developed.
Alzheimer's 'Epidemic' Now a Deadlier Threat to Elderly
Alzheimer's disease doesn't just steal memories. It takes lives. The disease is now the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., and figures released by the Alzheimer's Association show that deaths from the disease increased by 68 percent between 2000 and 2010. "It's an epidemic, it's on the rise, and currently [there is] no way to delay it, prevent it or cure it," says Maria Carrillo, a neuroscientist with the Alzheimer's Association. More than 5 million people in the U.S. have the disease, she says, and that number could reach nearly 14 million by 2050.
ACC: Secondhand Smoke Increases Coronary Calcium
More exposure to secondhand smoke poses a greater risk of calcification of the arteries, but even low exposure is linked with coronary artery calcium, researchers reported. Patients who had the highest exposure of secondhand smoke had about a 90% increased risk of coronary artery calcification, while those with the lowest exposure still had about a 50% increased risk, Harvey Hecht, MD, of Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, and colleagues reported online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Cardiovascular Imaging and at the American College of Cardiology meeting here.
Scientists Report Clues to Flu Shot's Effectiveness
When people fail to make enough white blood cells the vaccine is less protective, study finds
Flu vaccines protect people by activating white blood cells that, in turn, boost the development of antibodies to the flu, a new study suggests. The finding may lead to more effective vaccines -- especially for people whose immune system isn't robust enough to fully protect them from the flu, such as the elderly, the study authors said. "It is well known that CD4 T cells are important for the generation of antibody responses," said lead researcher Dr. Hideki Ueno, an investigator at the Baylor Institute for Immunology Research in Dallas.
Why Don't Teens Get Shots for HPV and Other Diseases?
The percentage of parents who say they won't have their teen daughters vaccinated against the human papillomavirus increases, even though physicians increasingly recommend the vaccinations.
Concerns about safety and side effects for the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine — one of the newest shots recommended for adolescents — has increased among parents: 16% cited these fears as the main reason they did not have their daughters vaccinated in 2010, up from 5% in 2008, a new study finds. And the percentage of parents who said they did not intend to vaccinate their daughters against HPV in the next 12 months also grew from 40% in 2008 to 41% in 2009 to 44% in 2010, even as parents reported increasing physician recommendations to get the shot, says the study in April's Pediatrics, released online.
Mummy CT Scans Show Atherosclerosis to be Prevalent in Ancient Populations
Atherosclerosis is often considered a problem closely tied to our modern society and lifestyle. However, a study in The Lancet now shows that it was present in many people from various ancient civilizations. The researchers put mummies inside a CT scanner to look for vascular calcifications, and early sign of atheroma formation. This study shows that atherosclerosis is a burden that has affected humans for at least several thousand years and probably much longer.
South Africa: 'Over 25% of Schoolgirls HIV Positive'
At least 28% of South African schoolgirls are HIV positive compared with 4% of boys because "sugar daddies" are exploiting them, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has said. He said 94,000 schoolgirls also fell pregnant in 2011, and 77,000 had abortions at state facilities, The Sowetan newspaper reports. About 10% of South Africans are living with HIV, official statistics show.
IBM’s Watson Supercomputer Finally Ready for Health Care Debut
It’s been two years since IBM announced that its supercomputer. Insurance giant WellPoint, through partnerships with IBM and the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, is rolling out three commercial Watson-based products. The products are the result of two pilot programs WellPoint announced in 2011 aimed at oncology and care management. The first two products to hit the market are designed to streamline the approval and pre-authorization processes. A third product will focus on matching cancer patients with the best treatments.
Health IT Lags as Facilitator in Shared Decision-Making
One of the many things encouraged by the Affordable Care Act is shared decision-making, in which a doctor and patient collaborate to use the best medical evidence to choose a path of treatment. The theory is that moving away from a “one size fits all” course of treatment will be better for all concerned. Backers of the idea hoped that health information technology would make it easier for physicians to identify patients who would benefit from shared decision-making, and get them the information they need to make informed choices.
However, a RAND Corp. study in the February issue of Health Affairs found that health information technology still wasn't adequate to help patients at eight locations participating in a shared decision-making demonstration project.
Promised Health Records Exchange Faces Rough Road to Reality
The third time may not be the charm. For years now, we've been hearing about federal ambitions to have health care providers share patient records, and we're currently on the third federal effort to create a network of health records exchange system. In truth, a fax is still the only reliable way organizations can share records. There are a lot of reasons -- some not technical -- for this inability, but the two most prominent are lack of a common data format and lack of common transports to get the data in and out.
What stands in the way of health data exchange.
- There are standards for medical billing.
- There's no standard API for the file transfer.
- There is no universal medical ID.
- Providers have to verify that the patient has given consent for the use of that medical data (the HIPAA rules).
- State laws and requirements differ on medical records.
- The organizations that have been set up to facilitate EHR data exchange across providers are a motley lot.
- That trust issue extends to providers.
- There's no consensus on how to handle patient-generated data.
- There's no strong business case for health data interchange.
Familiarity Breeds Doctor Contempt With EHRs
The meaningful use incentive program has resulted in more physicians implementing electronic health record systems and using them in advanced ways. Yet doctors' dissatisfaction with the systems has increased.
Theories for what is driving the dissatisfaction include rushed implementations, too little training and physicians doing too much too soon as they struggle to meet meaningful use requirements, other federal mandates and changes to the health care landscape. EHR vendors also are thought to be taking on too much in too little time. As they rush to deliver products certified for meaningful use, usability may have suffered. A survey by AmericanEHR Partners of 4,279 clinicians, including primary care physicians, specialists and diagnostic professionals, found that user satisfaction declined from 39% in 2010 to 27% in 2012. The rate of those “very dissatisfied” increased from 11% to 21% during the same period. The findings were presented in March at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society annual conference in New Orleans.
Most Docs Don’t Want You to See Your Full Electronic Medical Record
Most doctors in the United States think patients should be actively involved in updating their electronic health records, but they don’t want to give them full access to those records, according to a new study by technology consulting firm Accenture. Only 31 percent of U.S. doctors said they were willing to give their patients full access to their electronic records; 65 percent said patients should have limited access. Approximately 4 percent said they did not want their patients to have any access to their EHRs.
EHR Incentive Payments Top $12 Billion
With some healthcare providers now into their second year of meaningful use reporting, Medicare and Medicaid electronic health record payments were estimated at $12.3 billion paid to a total of 219,000 physicians and hospitals through February since the program’s inception. Since the program’s inception through February, CMS has paid 140,000 Medicare physicians, 75,500 Medicaid clinicians and 3,757 hospitals, according to latest estimates.
Leica, Dell Give Chinese Clinicians Real-Time Access to Pathology Reviews
Leica Biosystems, which through its acquisition of Aperio has increased its footprint as a provider of digital pathology systems, has announced that Chinese physicians have access to U.S. healthcare organizations for real-time, expert review of pathology cases through a medical cloud network made possible by Leica’s strategic collaboration with Dell Healthcare and Life Sciences. The cloud-based solution, powered by Dell’s Unified Clinical Archive, is a global, secure and scalable IT platform. The U.S. institutions providing pathology services include The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Cleveland Clinic, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Dianon/Lab Corp., and ProPath.
Docs Need to Learn More About Billing, Coding
Bigger steps should be taken to make physicians more aware of the inefficiencies that cause billions in lost healthcare dollars every year, according to Medicare officials. Physicians receive little education in how to manage and limit program inefficiencies, inappropriate payments, and exploitation, they wrote in a Viewpoint published in Journal of the American Medical Association. Past research has shown that waste accounts for 30% of overall healthcare costs. "Few physicians intentionally abuse or defraud the healthcare system, but nearly all contribute to waste," they said. For example, CMS found insufficient documentation, lack of medical necessity, and coding errors contributed to nearly $30 billion in fee-for-service overpayments in 2011.
AHRQ Toolkit Can Help Hospitals Lower Preventable Readmissions
Every year millions of patients are readmitted to hospitals, and many of those stays could have been prevented. The Re-Engineered Discharge (RED) Toolkit, funded by AHRQ, can help hospitals reduce readmissions rates by replicating the discharge process that resulted in 30 percent fewer hospital readmissions and emergency room visits. Developed at Boston University Medical Center, the newly expanded toolkit provides guidance to implement the RED process for all patients, including those with limited English proficiency and from diverse cultural backgrounds.
Antibiotic-Resistant ‘Superbugs’ Alarm Health Care Industry
Health officials are warning of the rise of the “superbugs” — bacteria and other pathogens that cannot be killed by modern medicine. But many pharmaceutical companies are resisting the call to develop effective antibiotics and instead are shifting their resources to other products.
AstraZeneca, one of the major companies still working on developing antibiotics, its new chief executive, Pascal Soriot, said the drug giant was restructuring its workforce and will focus on three therapy areas: cancer, cardiovascular and metabolism disorders, and respiratory and inflammatory diseases. This means “reduced spending on anti-infectives,” according to Reuters.
Pfizer, Roche, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Eli Lilly have all reduced or eliminated their antibiotic research efforts, while Merck & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline are still actively pursuing such medicines, Reuters added.
The reason businesses resist making new antibiotics is rational: The drugs are expensive to develop but are used briefly by most patients and are aimed at pathogens that eventually learn how to build up a resistance to them.
Maryland Rabies Case Came From Kidney Transplant, CDC Confirms
A Maryland man who two weeks ago became the state’s first fatal case of rabies in nearly 40 years contracted the infection from a kidney transplant, according to two people familiar with the case. Three other people--in Georgia, North Carolina and Illinois--received organs from the same donor. They have been located and have started rabies-prevention treatment.
Hospitals Face Dual Threat if States Don't Expand Medicaid: Moody's
Hospitals located in states that elect not to expand their Medicaid programs could find their bottom lines squeezed in the coming years as they're hit with higher charity-care costs and fewer insured patients.
A report from Moody's Investors Service estimated that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is expected to eliminate more than $17 billion in annual aid by 2019 when the government reduces its disproportionate-share hospital payments, which compensate facilities that treat large numbers of low-income patients.
Harvard Online: A Worldwide Hit
When the Harvard School of Public Health opened its virtual doors last fall to a worldwide student body online, the first course they offered was neither broad nor lofty. But 55,000 students signed up for "Health in Numbers: Quantitative Methods in Clinical and Public Health Research. “The public health course was just one of many free offerings from edX, a not-for-profit enterprise between Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). EdX was designed to create a new online learning experience "with courses that reflect their disciplinary breadth," according to the organization's website.
NZ Firm Gets US Approval to Sell Cancer Test
The Dunedin company says the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA) registration for its Pennsylvania laboratory is a major milestone, and been achieved ahead of time and below budget. Registration allows the laboratory to operate and provide commercial services to clinicians. It will process urine samples for bladder cancer, which is non-invasive and cheaper than current tests.
Disclaimer- The information provided in this news digest is intended only to be general summary information. It does not represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is not intended to take the place of applicable laws or regulations.
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