AHA advertorial: Hospitals are working smarter to improve quality   11/15/2012
"America's hospitals are working smarter every day," an AHA advertorial in today's Wall Street Journal states. "Faced with the daunting challenge of delivering better, safer care at the same time they tackle costs, hospitals are aggressively amassing knowledge and forging new connections. And they are putting it all to work for patients." The piece, part of an ongoing series, goes on to cite ways hospitals are using process improvement techniques to re-engineer the way clinicians work together to reduce infections and improve outcomes. A new AHA Trendwatch summarizes the progress hospitals have made in this area.
Senate committee examines meningitis outbreak   11/15/2012
The recent fungal meningitis outbreak traced to contaminated products produced by the New England Compounding Center "should have, and could have, been avoided entirely," according to a report released today by staff of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee at a committee hearing on the outbreak. The report outlines the history of documented problems at NECC and its sister company, Ameridose. Contaminated drugs from NECC have been linked to 32 deaths and more than 450 illnesses. "Both federal and state regulators were well aware that NECC and its owners posed a risk to the public health," the report states. "… There were a number of authorities and mechanisms for both federal and state regulators to address this issue, but bureaucratic inertia appears to be what allowed a bad actor to repeatedly risk public health." HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) said that he will press for legislation to more closely regulate compounding pharmacies such as NECC.
Paper examines the growth of the hospitalist field    11/15/2012
A new paper from the AHA's Physician Leadership Forum summarizes the first 15 years of hospital medicine and how it is changing, including the rapidly growing number of specialty hospitalists, and discusses how hospital-focused physician practice can lead to better performance and safer hospital care. "Many medical specialties are adopting a hospital-focused model of practice, and that trend is changing the essence of health care delivery in the inpatient setting," said John Combes, M.D., AHA senior vice president. The nature of hospital-based medicine is evolving to include surgical, neurological, ob-gyn, and orthopedic hospitalists, among others. The paper is an outgrowth of a half-day session held earlier this year by the Physician Leadership Forum and the Society of Hospital Medicine to better understand the impact of hospital-focused medicine on the delivery of care.
OIG: 1 in 4 SNF Medicare claims contain errors   11/15/2012
A quarter of Medicare claims filed by skilled nursing facilities contain errors, according to a recent report from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. OIG conducted a medical record review of a stratified random sample of SNF claims from 2009 and found that one in four claims submitted to Medicare contained errors. The most common error identified was incorrect coding, especially for ultrahigh therapy cases. The report also found a high error rate for Minimum Data Set information submitted by SNFs. In the report, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services agreed with OIG's recommendations to reduce inappropriate SNF payments, including increasing and expanding reviews of SNF claims and monitoring compliance with new therapy assessments.
HPOE, CAPC release guide on palliative care services    11/15/2012
The AHA's Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence initiative, in collaboration with the Center to Advance Palliative Care, has released a new guide that provides hospital and health care system leaders with the knowledge and resources necessary to understand the benefits and opportunities of providing high-quality palliative care services. Palliative Care Services: Solutions for Better Patient Care and Today's Health Care Delivery Challenges examines the role of palliative care in hospitals and looks at steps hospital leaders can take to start or expand palliative care in their organizations. Palliative care specializes in taking care of patients with serious illness and focuses on providing relief from symptoms, pain and stress in order to improve the quality of life for patients and their families. HPOE is the AHA's strategic platform to accelerate performance improvement in hospitals.