CMS seeks topics, instruments for ED patient experience survey   12/03/2012
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today published a request for information as it develops a consumer and patient experience survey for emergency department care. "We are soliciting the submission of suggested topic areas (such as "communication with providers," "pain control" or "waiting time") as well as publicly available instruments for capturing patient experiences with emergency department care," the notice states. "…Existing instruments that have been tested, have a high degree of reliability and validity, and evidence of wide use is preferred." Responses to the request for information may be submitted through Feb. 1. Once it develops the survey, CMS plans to submit it to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality for recognition as a Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey.
Study: More specialists can mean fewer stroke deaths   12/03/2012
Having more neurologists and neurosurgeons in a county is associated with fewer deaths from stroke, according to a study published last week in the Journal of Neurosurgery. The study by researchers at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH, examined stroke deaths between 2004 through 2006 and density of neurologists and neurosurgeons per million people in 3,141 U.S. counties. After accounting for county urbanicity, socioeconomic conditions and the density of general practitioners, an increase of one neurologist or neurosurgeon was associated with 0.38 fewer deaths from stroke per million people. The mean number of neurologists and neurosurgeons in a county was 21, with most counties having none. "The study highlights the key role that specialist providers can play in improving public health outcomes," said Atman Desai, M.D., a neurosurgery resident who led the study.
CDC: 83% of hospital workers vaccinated against flu so far this season   12/03/2012
More than 83% of hospital workers had been vaccinated against seasonal flu by early November, the highest rate in any health care setting, according to a survey released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 63% of all health care personnel had been vaccinated by early November, about the same rate as in the prior flu season. Workers in long-term care facilities had the lowest mid-season vaccination rate (48.7%). The most common reason health care workers reported for not getting vaccinated was that they did not want to, and the second was a belief that vaccination was ineffective. Fewer than half of U.S. children and adults were vaccinated by early to mid-November, also about the same as last flu season, CDC said. This is National Flu Vaccination Week. According to CDC, the proportion of outpatient visits for flu-like illness were at the national baseline of 2.2% in the week ending Nov. 24, the earliest the nation has hit that benchmark in the regular flu season since 2003-04. Five states reported a high-level of outpatient visits for flu-like illness: Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas.
CMS issues ICD-10 reference tool for FY 2013   12/03/2012
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' ICD-10 MS-DRG Conversion Project has released a definitions manual and code editor reference tool using the fiscal year 2013 Medicare Severity-Diagnosis Related Groups. Health care providers can use the manual and editor, available under "downloads" on the project website, to better understand the impact of the ICD-10 diagnosis and procedure codes on the MS-DRG system. Hospitals and other entities covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act must convert to the ICD-10 coding system by Oct. 1, 2014.