A Weekly Compilation of Clinical Laboratory and Related Information
from The Division of Laboratory Science and Standards
April 11, 2013
View Previous Issues - Healthcare News Archive
CLIAC Focuses on Quality, Examines Key Areas in Infection Prevention
The Clinical Laboratory Improvement Advisory Committee (CLIAC) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) held its first meeting of the year to discuss issues pertaining to improvement in clinical laboratory quality and laboratory practice. The agenda included updates from the CDC, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Presentations included activities related to the upcoming FDA infection prevention guidance for the use of fingerstick and point-of-care blood testing devices, in particular, glucose meters. Quality assurance of new DNA sequencing technologies in the clinical laboratory and harmonization of clinical laboratory test results were also discussed.
ASCP Opposes Tennessee Proposal to Expand Exemption From State Licensing Laws
ASCP has joined with several other organizations representing pathology and laboratory medicine to raise concern about legislation currently making its way through the Tennessee General Assembly. The bills, HB1164 and SB1269, would expand the state’s current exemption of laboratories that provide forensic and compliance drug testing from the need to use licensed laboratory professionals to perform or supervise testing.
The measure would expand the exemption to include toxicological and biochemical testing as well. Moreover, it appears that the exemption would allow exempt laboratories to provide testing services that may be used for diagnostic, prevention, or treatment of a disease or impairment. The bill also relieves testing personnel at these facilities from the need to be supervised by a licensed medical laboratory director, medical laboratory supervisor, or medical laboratory scientist.
Lawmaker: Exempt Pathologists From MU Financial Penalties
U.S. House Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) has introduced legislation that would exempt pathologists and their laboratories from electronic health records meaningful use requirements. Pathologists do not interact with patients to a degree to meet meaningful use measures, nor do they use a core EHR, and should not be penalized for noncompliance through reduced Medicare payments, according to the legislation, H.R. 1309. The bill was referred to the Commerce & Energy and Ways & Means Committees. Text of the bill is available at http://thomas.loc.gov.
Congress Reconsiders Workforce Legislation
Congress is once again considering legislation to address workforce training and employment as a means of putting Americans back to work. Workforce legislation has typically been addressed through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). Originally enacted in 1998, WIA serves as the preeminent federal employment service and job training law. Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to support the SKILLS Act (Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills) (H.R. 803), which moved through the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. The SKILLS Act has been forwarded to the U.S. Senate and is being considered by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP).
FDA Issues New Guidance on Medical Device User Fee Refunds and Exceptions
The federal watchdog agency described user fee protocols for both 510k and premarket approval applications, laying out the general guidelines the FDA will follow in determining whether the applicant may be able to request a user fee refund. The new guidance fits with the FDA's new Medical Device User Fee & Modernization Act, which Congress authorized in June 2012 to bump up the user fees that medical device makers pay for agency review. The agency has since issued new guidances on 510(k) time-frames, PMA approval time lines, 510(k) pre-review sessions and more in efforts to streamline and clarify the medical device review pathway.
Food and Drug Agency Triples Down on Data Mining
The Food and Drug Administration is launching full bore into new data mining techniques as evidenced by three solicitation documents posted recently. The agency posted a sources sought document seeking a vendor that could crawl through more than 20 million biomedical journal abstracts and citations housed on a National Library of Medicine database to uncover drugs that are disproportionately associated with “adverse events.”
CMS Offers Tip Sheet on MU, Quality Measures
As the Oct. 1 start date nears for meeting Stage 2 of the meaningful-use criteria for hospitals in the federal electronic health-record incentive program, the CMS has posted a one-page tip sheet for providers on the reporting of clinical quality measures. The guide reminds providers that in the 2014 payment year, they will be required to electronically report clinical quality measures using the new 2014 criteria “regardless of whether they are participating in Stage 1 or Stage 2” of both the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive payment programs.
House Committee Rejects Fees for HIV Tests
Shrinking federal funding and the Affordable Care Act are forcing West Virginia to reconsider how it pays for HIV testing, but local health departments will not be able to charge people or their insurers for those services. A bill that would have allowed health departments to begin charging for tests for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases was overwhelmingly voted down by the House Health Committee. The Senate unanimously passed the bill few days ago.
CDC Probes Mystery of Rabies Transplant Survivors
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is trying to understand why three of the four people who got organs from a rabies-infected donor in 2011 didn't develop the disease, the agency's top rabies expert said. Investigators have been puzzled because four recipients in a similar 2004 case all died of rabies within weeks. The answer could lie in the strain of rabies involved, the amount of virus in the transplanted organs, the medical history of the recipients or their genetic makeup, CDC veterinarian Richard Franka said in a telephone interview. "It's surprising. In all previous transplant cases of solid organs, all the recipients developed rabies in a very short time," Franka said. "We are looking into it, trying to understand what mechanism was behind it."
ACMG Cautious of Non-invasive Prenatal Diagnostic Testing in Policy Statement
While non-invasive prenatal diagnostic testing methodologies may offer advantages over traditional invasive methods, they also have limitations, and tests such as amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling "should remain an option for patients seeking a definitive diagnosis," the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics said in a policy statement issued last week. In the statement, which was published in Genetics in Medicine, ACMG said that the use of NIPDs "has arrived," but outlined a set of wide-ranging concerns about the technology. ACMG also emphasizes that NIPD is not a diagnostic test but rather a screening method, and the association seeks to rename such products "screenings" rather than tests to indicate that they predict risk rather than provide definitive results, as The Wall Street Journal reported. Lastly, ACMG wants the test makers to "make serious efforts" to provide positive and negative predictive values, which it says are "the more clinically relevant metrics."
Guidance Statement From ACP Nixes Routine PSA Testing
For most men, the benefits of screening with the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test are outweighed by the harms, according to new recommendations from the American College of Physicians (ACP). The guidelines note that physicians need to inform patients about the benefits and harms of prostate cancer screening, and screening decisions should be based on the individual's preferences, prostate cancer risk, general health, and life expectancy. The recommendations also state that men between the ages of 50 and 69 should discuss the limited benefits and substantial harms of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test with their clinician before undergoing screening. In addition, physicians should not screen patients unless the individual expresses a clear preference for screening following a discussion of benefits and harms. Men at an average risk for disease should not be screened if they are younger than 50 years or older than 69 years, nor should men with a life expectancy less than 10 to 15 years.
The new guidelines appear in the April 9 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.
Annual Pap Tests a Hard Habit for Docs to Break
Most physicians wanted female patients to undergo cervical cancer screening more frequently than recommended under published guidelines, government survey results indicated. Presented with a series of hypothetical patient vignettes and asked when they would tell the patient to undergo Pap and/or human papilloma virus (HPV) testing, only about 20% of physician respondents gave answers consistent with American Cancer Society (ACS) guidelines, according to Zahava Berkowitz, MSPH, MSc, of the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues. For example, from 70% to 84% of physicians recommended rescreening in less than 3 years when asked about a patient whose two most recent Pap tests were normal and who had a negative result with HPV testing, the researchers reported online in JAMA Internal Medicine. Current ACS guidelines recommend a 5-year interval for the next screening for such a patient.
Prostate Cancer Risk Markers Show Promise for Test to ID Elevated Risk in Men With Benign Hyperplasia
A team of Finnish researchers has identified a signature of SNPs associated with genetic predisposition to prostate cancer that could be used to determine which men with benign prostate hyperplasia are at risk of later developing malignant disease. In a recent study, which the group presented in a poster at the annual European Association of Urology congress in Milan last month, the team identified 10 markers with a statistically significant association to risk of developing prostate cancer for men who currently have BPH.
Urine Biomarker Helps Identify and Monitor Proliferative Lupus Nephritis
Lupus nephritis (LN) is usually diagnosed in patients with high disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) using a kidney biopsy and urinary abnormalities, especially elevated CD4 T cells. A study from Germany suggests that high levels of these inflammatory T cells in urine may be more sensitive and specific for active LN than an invasive biopsy or other urinary markers – and can also gauge response to treatment.
Diagnosis of Bleeding Disorders—Strategies for Moving Beyond the Basics
When screening for a blood disorder there are five basic tests:
- Complete Blood Count (CBC) -- measures the amount of hemoglobin, red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets
- Bleeding Time (surrogate PFA-100) -- measures basic platelet adhesion and aggregation
- Prothrombin Time (PT) -- measures the clotting ability of extrinsic factors (I, II, V, VII and X)
- Partial Thrombin Time (PTT) -- measures the clotting ability of intrinsic factors (VIII, IX, XI and XII)
- Fibrinogen or Thrombin Time (TT) -- measures the level of fibrinogen activity and TT measures whether fibrinogen is inhibited
These tests suggest whether coagulation factor deficiency or thrombocytopenia might be the potential cause of clinical bleeding.
Beyond the Basic Screens
But what do you do when the screening tests give you a normal profile and the patient is still bleeding?
Breath Test Reveals Gut Bacteria Linked to Obesity
In The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 26 March online issue, researchers from the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles report how people with high levels of both hydrogen and methane in their breath are more likely to have a higher body mass index (BMI) and a higher proportion of body fat. They suggest the presence of certain bacteria in the gut causes it to extract more calories from food, adding to weight gain.
Early Genetic Markers of Alzheimer's Risk Identified
Genetic markers that could help highlight who is at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease have been identified by US scientists. The research in Neuron identifies mutations that affect the build-up of certain proteins in the brain. High levels of these tau proteins increase the chance of having the disease. UK experts said the study could help understand the changes that occur in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. Tangles of a kind of tau called phosphorylated tau (ptau) are a hallmark of the disease.
Better Blood Use, Better Outcomes
What simple shift in acute care practice can reduce patients' adverse events, cut lengths of stay, drop hospital costs by millions of dollars a year, and even prevent mortality? Not to mention save a precious human resource that may become more scarce within the next decade? By reducing the point at which doctors initiate transfusion, called the hemoglobin trigger, from 8 g/dl to 7 in stable medical or surgical patients, and by not transfusing patients who don't really require it or not transfusing more than needed, healthcare leaders are finding significant savings without any negative effect on patient outcomes.
Better Understanding of DNA’s ‘Dark Matter’ May Lead to Useful New Clinical Pathology Laboratory Tests
DNA ‘dark matter’ will provide clinical laboratories and pathologists with a new specimen source and new methodology for developing useful diagnostic tests Growing knowledge about DNA “dark matter” may soon make it possible for clinical laboratories to develop new assays that reveal clinical information useful in diagnosing and guiding therapeutic decisions. In genetics, “dark matter” describes the non-coding areas of DNA. Recent discoveries indicate that dark matter plays more important roles than previously thought.
Sandia NL Developing Biothreat Detector for Clinical Use
Scientists at Sandia National Labs are heading an effort to develop a rapid point-of-care device that can detect a person’s exposure to possible biological weapons like ricin, anthrax, botulinum, shiga and SEB toxins. From Sandia: The University of Texas Medical Branch, with whom Sandia enjoys a years-long partnership, together with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Western Regional Research Center in Albany, Calif., are providing Sandia with expert insight into toxins and diseases at animal lab facilities. Bio-Rad, a manufacturer and distributor of a variety of devices and laboratory technologies, is serving as a consultant on the project to evaluate plans for product development, assist with manufacturers’ criteria on the device that is developed, and provide important feedback when a prototype is built.
Wall Street Closely Tracking Validation Data on Genomic Health's Oncotype DX Prostate Cancer Test
Genomic Health's Oncotype DX prostate cancer test is slated for launch later this year and represents a major commercial opportunity for the company. The test is being developed by Genomic Health as a tool that doctors can use in conjunction with the Gleason grading system, the prostate specific antigen test, and patients' other clinical data to personalize prostate cancer treatment. The molecular diagnostic, according to Genomic Health, can differentiate which patients have aggressive or indolent disease.
Walgreens Becomes 1st Retail Chain to Diagnose, Treat Chronic Conditions
The move is the retail industry’s boldest push yet into an area long controlled by physicians, and comes amid continuing concerns about health care costs and a potential shortage of primary care doctors. “Those two words, diagnosis and treatment, are big words. They show [Walgreens] is coming out of the closet and saying we really are going to do primary care now,” said Tom Charland, chief executive officer of Merchant Medicine, a health care consulting firm.
Other retail store clinics, such as those at Walmart, CVS and Target stores, help customers manage chronic illnesses but generally do so only after they have been diagnosed elsewhere. Retail clinics generally appeal to consumers looking for convenience and cost savings. Costs are roughly 30 percent to 40 percent less than similar care at doctor’s offices and 80 percent cheaper than at an emergency room, according to a 2011 study published in the American Journal of Managed Care.
NIH to Fund Studies of Gene Function in Rare Diseases
The National Institutes of Health will fund research projects next year that seek to find out how the function of genes and genetic variants are involved in certain rare diseases that have only recently been diagnosed. To fuel these studies, NIH plans to provide $650,000 in Fiscal Year 2014 to fund three to five projects under its Undiagnosed Diseases Program (UDP), a trans-NIH effort launched in 2008 that aims to solve some of the most mysterious cases in patients who come to the NIH Clinical Center and to advance knowledge about these diseases.
New Method Developed to Expand Blood Stem Cells for Bone Marrow Transplant
Research Shows Fewer Donor Cells May Be Needed for Transplantation and Bone Marrow Banking May Be Possible
More than 50,000 stem cell transplants are performed each year worldwide. A research team led by Weill Cornell Medical College investigators may have solved a major issue of expanding adult hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) outside the human body for clinical use in bone marrow transplantation -- a critical step towards producing a large supply of blood stem cells needed to restore a healthy blood system. In the journal Blood, Weill Cornell researchers and collaborators from Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center describe how they engineered a protein to amplify adult HSCs once they were extracted from the bone marrow of a donor. The engineered protein maintains the expanded HSCs in a stem-like state -- meaning, they will not differentiate into specialized blood cell types before they are transplanted in the recipient's bone marrow.
Scientists Discover DNA Damage Occurs as Part of Normal Brain Activity
Findings at Gladstone Institutes support strategies to fight Alzheimer’s disease.
Scientists at the Gladstone Institutes have discovered that a certain type of DNA damage long thought to be particularly detrimental to brain cells can actually be part of a regular, non-harmful process. The team further found that disruptions to this process occur in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease – and identified two therapeutic strategies that reduce these disruptions. Scientists have long known that DNA damage occurs in every cell, accumulating as we age. But a particular type of DNA damage, known as a double-strand break, or DSB, has long been considered a major force behind age-related illnesses such as Alzheimer’s.
Lead Poisoning Toll Revised to 1 in 38 Young Kids
More than half a million U.S. children are now believed to have lead poisoning, roughly twice the previous high estimate, health officials reported. The increase is the result of the government last year lowering the threshold for lead poisoning, so now more children are considered at risk. Too much lead can harm developing brains and can mean a lower IQ. Lead poisoning used to be a much larger concern in the United States, but has declined significantly as lead was removed from paint and gasoline and other sources.
Increase Potassium and Cut Salt to Reduce Stroke Risk
Increasing potassium in our diets as well as cutting down on salt will reduce blood pressure levels and the risk of stroke, research in the British Medical Journal suggests. One study review found that eating an extra two to three servings of fruit or vegetables per day - which are high in potassium - was beneficial. A lower salt intake would increase the benefits further, researchers said.
Estrogen Level in Pregnancy May Affect Breast Cancer Risk in Daughters
Too much of the hormone can disable tumor suppressor gene, researchers report
Daughters born to women who had excess levels of estrogen during pregnancy may be at increased risk for breast cancer, a new study suggests. That's because high estrogen levels in the womb can disable the powerful breast cancer tumor suppressor gene BRCA1 in daughters, the researchers at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center said in a Georgetown news release.
Their study of 1-year-old girls whose mothers had high estrogen levels during pregnancy also found that the daughters had other gene abnormalities that can contribute to the risk of breast cancer and breast cancer recurrence. This includes a gene defect in the so-called unfolded protein response pathway, which has been linked to breast cancer risk and resistance to the breast cancer drug tamoxifen.
Protein Linked to Development Problems
The French geneticist Jérôme Lejeune discovered more than 50 years ago that Down syndrome is caused by the presence of an extra copy of chromosome 21. But to this day it has remained a mystery why that results in impaired physical and cognitive development. Now researchers at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute think they have found a clue. The scientists, who were investigating Alzheimer’s disease, found that mice that lacked a protein known as SNX27 had many of the same learning and memory defects as mice with Down syndrome. Looking at the brains of people with the syndrome, the researchers discovered that they, too, lacked SNX27.
Boy Gets Rare Tick Infection From Blood Transfusion
A 9-year-old Georgia boy who developed a rare tick-borne disease got the infection from a blood transfusion, according to a report of his case. The case is the first time this infection, called ehrlichiosis, was spread by a transfusion, said Dr. Joanna Regan of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The bacterial infection, though rare, is serious and can be fatal, Regan said.
UGA Working on Universal Flu Vaccine
Influenza viruses change their surface proteins for various reasons and by various means, requiring annual vaccination to match the circulating strains, noted Biao He, a professor of infectious diseases in the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine. He’s research showed for the first time that a single dose of immunization protected a mouse model against both H1N1 and H5N1, two different subtypes of influenza A virus. PIV5 is a virus that causes respiratory infection in dogs. Using PIV5 as a delivery mechanism to expose humans and other animals to antigens of important pathogens—influenza in this case—allows them to create vaccines that will protect against future infections in humans and animals. “This finding suggests flu vaccines can protect against multiple strains, thus fewer flu vaccinations will be necessary,” He said.
Roadmap to an HIV Vaccine
Researchers track the evolution of HIV in a single patient to understand what drives the production of broadly neutralizing antibodies. By investigating an African patient’s HIV infection, researchers have traced the development of an antibody that is effective at neutralizing many strains of HIV, according to a study published (April 3) in Nature. The researchers—who identified the original HIV variant as well as the broadly neutralizing antibody, and pieced together their evolution over the course of infection—hope that a vaccine mimicking this process could encourage the development of such effective HIV-fighting antibodies. The new research provides “really in-depth information on how a particular type of broadly neutralizing antibody emerges over the course of a natural HIV infection,” said Leonidas Stamatatos, an immunologist at Seattle Biomedical Research Institute who did not participate in the study.
Anti-HIV Antibodies May Spur AIDS Vaccine Development
Researchers report a breakthrough in generating powerful antibodies that can neutralize HIV.
An HIV infection is really an intensive molecular arms race launched from the minute the virus infects a new host. AIDS progresses not because the body isn’t capable of fighting off HIV – it is. But the immune defenses eventually succumb to the virus in the final standoff. Now researchers, led by Barton Haynes, director of the Duke University Human Vaccine Institute at Duke University School of Medicine, believe they have found a way to tip the odds in the immune system’s favor.
Scientists Track Leukaemia's Origins 'Back to the Womb'
Scientists say they have traced the root genetic cause of leukaemia back to early life in the womb. The Institute of Cancer Research experts analysed the entire three billion letter sequence of DNA-coding in identical twins to reveal what sets off the disease. They hope the findings, published in PNAS journal, could lead to new drugs to fight the condition at source.
Leukaemia is the most common cancer diagnosed in children.
Chicken Virus Attacks Cancer Cells
Researchers have genetically engineered a virus that is deadly to chickens and found that it can kill prostate cancer in vitro.
Now, virologist Elankumaran Subbiah at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and colleagues have used genetic engineering to fine-tune those properties. “We modified the virus so that it replicates only in the presence of an active prostate-specific antigen and, therefore, is highly specific to prostate cancer,” Subbiah told Virginia Tech News. “The recombinant virus efficiently and specifically killed prostate cancer cells, while sparing normal human cells in the laboratory, but it would take time for this to move from the discovery phase to a treatment for prostate cancer patients.” Subbiah and his collaborators published their results in the April issue of the Journal of Virology.
Gene Linked to Higher Alzheimer's Risk in Blacks
A new gene has been identified that doubles an African American's risks for getting Alzheimer's disease, suggesting a new target to treat in the most common form of dementia, according to a report.
A new gene mutation has been identified that nearly doubles African Americans' risk for getting Alzheimer's disease, according to a large, government-funded report out. The mutation in the gene ABCA7 is not the first linked to the disease but it is a major breakthrough in research, suggesting there could be multiple causes of Alzheimer's and therefore ways to treat the most common form of dementia, says the report, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Hunger Pangs Protect Brain Against Alzheimer’s
The feeling of hunger itself may protect against Alzheimer’s disease, according to study published in the journal PLOS ONE. Interestingly, the results of this study in mice suggest that mild hunger pangs, and related hormonal pathways, may be as important to the much-discussed value of “caloric restriction” as actually eating less. The brain called the hypothalamus, which then sends out signaling neuropeptides that help the body sense and respond to energy needs. Studies already underway in Kadish’s lab seek to determine the potential role of these pathways and related genes in countering disease. “Our group in the School of Public Health was studying whether or not a ghrelin agonist could make mice hungry as we sought to unravel mechanisms contributing to the life-prolonging effects of caloric restriction,” says David Allison, associate dean for Science in the UAB School of Public Health and the project’s initiator. “Because of the interdisciplinary nature of UAB,
Cardiac Treatment Improves After Taking Page From Toyota Playbook
The management principles used to improve quality and efficiency at Toyota Motor Corp. and other manufacturers also are linked to better delivery of cardiac care and lower death rates from heart attacks, according to research that demonstrates for the first time how well the so-called lean production system functions across a wide swath of U.S. hospitals.
Red Meat’s Fat and Cholesterol Aren’t Its Only Heart Dangers
The fat and cholesterol found in a steak may not be the only components bad for the heart, according to researchers who have found another substance in red meat that can clog the arteries. The substance is called carnitine, and as bacteria in the gut breaks it down, it turns into compound known to harden arteries, according to a study published in Nature Medicine. What’s more, people who eat a lot of meat allow more of the bacteria that convert carnitine to the harmful compound to grow, increasing its effect.
Methane-Producing Gut Organism May Promote Weight Gain
In a study of almost 800 people with gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, those with high levels of both hydrogen and methane gases in their breath had a higher average body mass index (BMI) and percentage of body fat than their peers. According to the researchers, having both methane and hydrogen in the breath indicates the presence of Methanobrevibacter smithii in the gut. M smithii, the predominant methane-producing organism in the human gut, also scavenges hydrogen from other microbes, and these 2 actions appear to increase nutrient absorption and promote weight gain. However, "these are very early studies, [and] this is just one piece of the obesity puzzle," Ruchi Mathur, MD, from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in Los Angeles, California, told Medscape Medical News. "We don't think that obesity is 'one size fits all.' We think that there are many...contributing factors."
Air Pollution Tied to Birth Defects
Exposure in the first two months of pregnancy to air pollution from traffic sharply increases the risk for birth defects, a new study has found. Researchers used data from two large studies carried out in eight counties in the San Joaquin Valley in California. They found that a mother living in areas with the highest levels of carbon monoxide or nitrogen oxide concentrations (the top 25 percent) was almost twice as likely to give birth to a child with neural tube defects — severe and often fatal defects of the brain and spinal cord— as one living in areas with the lowest concentrations.
Smokers’ Surcharge May Be Having an Effect
Does adding an insurance surcharge for smokers prompt some to kick the habit? State officials say the number of Georgians in the state employee health plan paying $80 more a month in insurance premiums due to smoking has dropped by 44 percent over the past six years. The goals of the surcharge in Georgia are to encourage people to quit smoking and to help cover their additional health costs, said Pam Keene, a spokeswoman for the Department of Community, which oversees the State Health Benefit Plan.
Many Georgians Projected to Get Exchange Subsidy
More than 800,000 Georgians will be eligible for new government subsidies next year to buy coverage in a health insurance exchange, according to a recent report. The subsidies or tax credits will help defray the cost of insurance for individuals and families on the new exchanges, set to launch in January under the Affordable Care Act.
The report, from consumer advocacy group Families USA, a longtime supporter of the 2010 health care law, also found that most Georgians eligible for credits are in working families and have incomes between two and four times the federal poverty level, or about $47,100 to $94,200 for a family of four. The lower a person’s income, the higher the subsidies will be. The money generally won’t go directly to taxpayers but to insurers, with the consumer getting the benefit in reduced premiums.
Rare, Potentially Dangerous E. coli Outbreak Includes Georgia-made Snacks
The Farm Rich brand food maker is recalling about 3 million pounds of frozen pizza, mozzarella bites, Philly cheese steaks and other products linked to a rare and potentially dangerous outbreak of E. coli poisoning. The company is based out of Buffalo, N.Y., but the foods likely affected were manufactured in a plant in Waycross, Ga. Snacks are being pulled, and have best buy dates from January 1, 2013 through September 29, 2014.
10 Things That Can Kill You in the Hospital
Hospitals can be dangerous places. According to the Institute of Medicine, 100,000 people die every year due to medical error -- more deaths than from car accidents, diabetes, and pneumonia.
A look at the 10 common medical errors that can occur in the hospital
#2. Unnecessary treatment.
#3. Unnecessary tests and deadly procedures.
#4. Medication mistakes.
#5. "Never events."
#6. Uncoordinated care.
#7. Infections, from the hospital to you.
#8. Not-so-accidental "accidents."
#9. Missed warning signs.
#10. Going home -- not so fast.
Shopping for an EHR (the Second Time Around)
When it comes time to replace a system, learning from mistakes is critical to making sure new technology doesn't bring the same heartbreak. After three months of trying to work through programming issues with the vendor, Dr. West and his practice, which includes another physician, a nurse practitioner and a dietitian, decided to start over again with a new EHR system. “The new system isn't perfect, but it's 99% better than what we had,” Dr. West said. “Overall, we're pretty satisfied with it.”
HIE 2.0 Approaches as HIE Connectivity Delivers More Value for Patients and Providers
Advances in HIE technology and performance could prove beneficial to clinical laboratories and anatomic pathology groups. Even before most clinical laboratories have substantial experience with a full-function health information exchange (HIE) serving their region, one HIE expert is predicting that the next generation of HIEs is soon to arrive and will deliver more functionality. Such a development would be significant for the clinical laboratory industry and anatomic pathology profession. That’s because medical laboratory test data makes up the largest proportion of an individual patient’s permanent health record.
Pediatricians Offer Model for Kids' EHRs
Electronic health records frequently lack functions specific to children's healthcare needs, but this could change as an effort led by the American Academy of Pediatrics has developed standards and functional requirements that the AAP would like EHR vendors to incorporate into their products. The project team reviewed more than 700 requirements and organized them into 21 categories, including child-abuse reporting, newborn screening and school-based linkages. Of these, 100 were identified as the most critical to pediatricians' needs.
$3 Million Prize Awaits in Health IT Competition
A California independent practice association has announced the close to new entrants in its two-year, $3 million Big Data analytic software competition. Heritage Provider Network, Marina del Rey, Calif., sponsor of the Heritage Health Prize, is seeking to develop “a breakthrough algorithm that uses available patient data to predict and prevent unnecessary hospitalizations” that add $30 billion to the nation's healthcare costs each year. According to the contest website, 1,600 teams with 1,979 participants have submitted 35, 771 entries to the contest. The winner of the competition will be announced at the fourth annual Health Datapalooza, June 3-4 in Washington, an event launched by the federal government in 2010 to promote the use of innovative health information technology and health data to improve quality of care
Study: Evidence-based Pathways Save Money Without Cutting Hospital Revenue
Evidence-based care helped rural Chinese public hospitals cut the length of average hospital stays, unnecessary services and prescription-drug spending without cutting overall hospital revenue, reports a study in the journal Health Affairs. Results of the pilot project prompted Chinese officials to expand the use of evidence-based clinical pathways to attack what the study called "widespread overtreatment" in public hospitals.
Rajasthan Introduces Free Medical Tests Scheme
Rajasthan government, on the occasion of World Health Day, introduced a free essential diagnostic tests scheme in government hospitals in the state. 14 tests of clinical pathology, 3 of urine analysis, 1 stool analysis, 11 microbiology, 25 bio chemistry, 1 in cardiology and 2 in radiology have been made free in medical college and attached hospitals. These medical investigations include ECG, X-ray, blood sugar, blood urea, Hb, urine complete test among others. In district, sub district and satellite hospitals, 44 types of tests have been made available.
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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