FDA makes additional saline solution available from Norway   03/28/2014
The Food and Drug Administration has agreed to allow a Norwegian maker of normal saline solution to temporarily import product to help address the critical U.S. shortage, the agency announced today. The product is made by Fresenius Kabi USA in its Norway manufacturing facility, which has been inspected by FDA. The product has the same active ingredient in the same concentration as 0.9% sodium chloride injection products approved in the U.S. Health care professionals should contact Fresenius Kabi USA directly to obtain the product. “While these initial shipments will help, they will not resolve the shortage,” the agency said. “However, FDA is working closely with manufacturers to meet the needs for normal saline across the U.S. in the coming weeks.” Hospitals rely on normal saline to treat patients with hydration and other medical needs.
Medicare to hold certain physician claims through April 14   03/28/2014
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has instructed Medicare Administrative Contractors to hold claims containing services paid under the Physician Fee Schedule through April 14, the agency said today. The hold applies to PFS claims with dates of service of April 1 and later as Congress considers legislation to prevent a 24% payment cut scheduled to take effective April 1 under the PFS. Claims for earlier dates will be processed and paid under normal procedures, regardless of any congressional actions, CMS said. The House of Representatives yesterday approved by voice vote a bill that would stave off scheduled cuts to Medicare physician payments through April 1, 2015. Senate action on the bill is expected Monday.
Rankings compare population health by county   03/28/2014
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute this week released their latest annual health rankings for U.S. counties based on 29 factors that influence health, including health behaviors, access to care, social/economic factors and the physical environment. Among other national trends, the rate of preventable hospital stays, defined as the hospital discharge rate for ambulatory care-sensitive conditions and a measure of access to primary care, decreased about 20% between 2003 and 2011, the groups said. Smoking rates also dropped from 21% in 2005 to 18% in 2012. New measures this year include access to mental health providers and exercise opportunities, among others. RWJF president and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., said the county rankings help communities “come together, identify priorities and create solutions that will help all in our diverse society live healthier lives, now and for generations to come.”
Hospitals encouraged to participate in National Donate Life Month   03/28/2014
April is National Donate Life Month, when hospitals and others celebrate the life-saving gift of organ donation and encourage Americans to register as organ, eye and tissue donors. "For many communities, hospitals serve as the source of health information, which is why they are in the unique position to share the benefits of organ donation with their patients and staff," said AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock. AHA is a national partner in the Health Resources and Services Administration's Organ Donor Campaign and in Donate Life America, a national alliance committed to increasing organ, eye and tissue donation. Donate Life America will hold the second annual “National Donate Life Blue and Green Day” on April 11 to promote organ, eye and tissue donation. The initiative encourages the public to wear blue and green that day to promote donation, and post their pictures on the Donate Life America Facebook page for a chance to win the best blue and green “look.” For more on these initiatives and their tools and resources for hospitals, visit www.aha.org/advocacy-issues/initiatives/organ-donor.shtml.