Category Archives: Hospital News

Seattle Brain Cancer Walk — this Saturday, Sept. 20th

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Brain Cancer WalkThe 7th annual Seattle Brain Cancer Walk will take place on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014 at Seattle Center’s Fisher Pavilion.

Founded in 2008 by a group of committed volunteers and families, the Seattle Brain Cancer Walk has raised over $2.5 million for research, clinical trials and comprehensive care for brain cancer patients in the Pacific Northwest.

100% of the walk proceeds go directly to patient care and research. Continue reading

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WSU: Community health services key to economic development – Puget Sound Business Journal

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WashingtonStateCougarsDoctor shortages and economic development: Those were the two major issues Washington State University officials emphasized Monday after last week’s release of a feasibility study that examined the prospects for a new medical school in Spokane.

via WSU: Community health services key to economic development – Puget Sound Business Journal.

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Ebola cases could top 10,000 by month’s end, Fred Hutch researchers say

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The number of cases with Ebola, shown here, could double by the end of the month. There is a one in five chance it will reach the U.S. in that same time, researchers predict. Photo:  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The number of cases with Ebola, shown here, could double by the end of the month. There is a one in five chance it will reach the U.S. in that same time, researchers predict. Photo: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Disease modeling shows virus is spreading ‘without any end in sight’

By JoNel Aleccia / Fred Hutch News Service

The deadly Ebola epidemic raging across West Africa will likely get far worse before it gets better, more than doubling the number of known cases by the end of this month.

That’s the word from disease modelers at Northeastern University and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, who predict as many as 10,000 cases of Ebola virus disease could be detected by Sept. 24 – and thousands more after that.

“The epidemic just continues to spread without any end in sight,” said Dr. Ira Longini, a biostatistician at the the University of Florida and an affiliated member of Fred Hutch’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease and Public Health Sciences divisions. “The cat’s already out of the box – way, way out.”

It’s only a matter of time, they add, before the virus could start spreading to other places, including previously unaffected countries in Africa and developed nations like the United Kingdom — and the U.S., according to a paper published Sept. 2 in the journal PLOS Currents Outbreaks. Continue reading

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UW pushes back against WSU’s proposed medical school – Puget Sound Business Journal

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UW “We’re disappointed by WSU’s announcement today to pursue a separate, independent medical school aside from the existing Spokane medical school we’ve worked hard to build together in partnership with the Spokane community,” said UW Regent and spokesman Orin Smith in a statement Thursday.

via UW pushes back against WSU’s proposed medical school – Puget Sound Business Journal.

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After a hospital stay, you may you weren’t ‘admitted’

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This KHN story also ran in wapo.

An increasing number of seniors who spend time in the hospital are surprised to learn that they were not “admitted” patients — even though they may have stayed overnight in a hospital bed and received treatment, diagnostic tests and drugs.

Because they were not considered sick enough to require admission but also were not healthy enough to go home, they were kept for observation care, a type of outpatient service.

The distinction between inpatient status and outpatient status matters: Seniors must have three consecutive days as admitted patients to qualify for Medicare coverage for follow-up nursing home care, and no amount of observation time counts for that three-day tally.

That leaves some observation patients with a tough choice: Pay the nursing home bill themselves — often tens of thousands of dollars – or go home without the care their doctor prescribed and recover as best they can.

Angry seniors have sued Medicare and appealed to Congress to change the rules they say make no sense. Although Medicare officials recently began experimenting with limited exemptions, they have been unable to resolve the problem.

But most observation patients with private health insurance don’t face such tough choices. Private insurance policies generally pay for nursing home coverage whether a patient had been admitted or not.

Here’s a primer comparing how Medicare and private insurers handle observation care. Continue reading

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That new hip will come with a guarantee: Virginia Mason to offer warranties on joint replacement surgeries – Puget Sound Business Journal

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Hip replacement  - thumbSeattle’s Virginia Mason is offering surgical warranties for hip and knee replacements that would cover the additional costs of any avoidable, surgery-related complications.

via That new knee will come with a guarantee: Virginia Mason to offer warranties on joint replacement surgeries – Puget Sound Business Journal.

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Overlake physician who oversaw digital medical records transition takes over chief medical officer role – Puget Sound Business Journal

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H for hospitalDr. David Knoepfler is the new chief medical officer at Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue.

Before his appointment, Dr. Knoepfler served as the hospital’s chief medical information officer.

In that job, he helped Overlake’s physicians develop and implement the hospital’s Epic electronic medical record system, helping ensure that the new system properly supported the clinical care of Overlake’s patients.

via Overlake physician who oversaw digital medical records transition takes over chief medical officer role – Puget Sound Business Journal.

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Group Health ends 15-year relationship with Virginia Mason, switches to Swedish – Puget Sound Business Journal

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Group Health IconGroup Health has signed an agreement with Swedish Health Services to provide Group Health’s Seattle-based hospital services, a decision that will end a 15-year-long acute-care relationship with Virginia Mason.

via Group Health ends 15-year relationship with Virginia Mason, switches to Swedish – Puget Sound Business Journal.

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Premera to include Children’s in its networks – PSBJ

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Seattle Children's Whale LogoSeattle Children’s Hospital will be included in the Premera Blue Cross health insurance networks through 2017 as a result of an agreement that ends a lengthy legal dispute.

via Legal wrangling pays off: Seattle Children’s, Premera make nice – Puget Sound Business Journal.

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Are patient privacy laws being misused to protect medical centers?

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A 1996 law known as HIPAA has been cited to scold a mom taking a picture of her son in a hospital, to keep information away from police investigating a possible rape at a nursing home, and to threaten VA whistleblowers.

By Charles Ornstein
ProPublica

This story was co-published with NPR’s “Shots” blog.

In the name of patient privacy, a security guard at a hospital in Springfield, Missouri, threatened a mother with jail for trying to take a photograph of her own son.

In the name of patient privacy , a Daytona Beach, Florida, nursing home said it couldn’t cooperate with police investigating allegations of a possible rape against one of its residents.

In the name of patient privacy, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs allegedly threatened or retaliated against employees who were trying to blow the whistle on agency wrongdoing. Continue reading

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Women’s Health – Week 46: Stroke

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tacuin womenFrom the Office of Research on Women’s Health

A stroke, also called a brain attack, occurs when blood flow to the brain suddenly stops. Blocked or damaged vessels are the two major causes of stroke.

During a stroke, brain cells begin to die because oxygen and nutrients cannot reach them. The longer blood flow is cut off to the brain, the greater the damage.

Every minute counts when someone is having a stroke. Immediate treatment can save a person’s life and enhance the chance for a successful recovery.

stroke

Diagram showing what happens in the brain during a hemorrhagic stroke and a ischemic stroke.

There are two kinds of stroke: Continue reading

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Veterans’ needs ‘should drive where they get their care,’

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On Capitol Hill, lawmakers resume work this week to resolve differences over legislationaimed at alleviating long wait times for medical care at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics after reports that some veterans may have died awaiting appointments and that some VA staff falsified records to cover up excessive wait times.

Five senior VA leaders – including former department secretary Eric Shinseki –have resigned in the past six weeks.

Both the House and Senate have passed bills that would allow veterans to seek medical care outside of the VA system if they meet certain conditions, including living more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility.

Kizer 176

Dr. Kenneth Kizer

Dr. Kenneth Kizer, a former VA undersecretary for health, spoke recently with KHN’s Mary Agnes Carey about the issue of the VA contracting with outsideproviders for medical care.

Kizer, the founding chief executive officer and president of the National Quality Forum, is now director of the Institute for Population Health Improvement at the University of California, Davis.

An edited transcript of that interview follows. Continue reading

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Deaths involving heroin and prescription painkillers continue to rise in King County

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drug thumbDeaths involving heroin and prescription painkillers continued to rise in King County in 2013, according to a new annual report prepared by the King County Drug Trends Workgroup.

The lead author of the report is Caleb Banta-Green, a scientist and epidemiologist at the University of Washington’s  Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute.

The report found that deaths involving heroin in King County continue to steadily increase reaching 99 in 2013 up from 49 in 2009 though below the peak of 144 in 1998. Continue reading

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Poll: Americans bristle at penalties in ‘wellness’ programs

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By Jordan Rau
KHN

Workers believe employer wellness programs should be all gain but no pain, according to a poll released Tuesday.

The poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found employees approve of corporate wellness programs when they offer perks, but recoil if the plans have punitive incentives such as higher premiums for those who do not take part. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

Wellness programs, which are encouraged under the federal health law, are structured in various ways. In some plans, the worker has to join a particular program, such as an exercise class, while others focus on outcomes, such as the employees’ blood sugar or cholesterol.

Evidence is mixed about whether any substantially improve workers’ health or lower costs to employers and insurers.

The poll found 76 percent of workers thought it was appropriate for employers to offer wellness programs that promote healthy behavior.

But a majority opposed wellness plans that had financial repercussions for workers:

  • 62 percent did not think employers should charge higher health insurance premiums to workers who did not participate, and
  • 74 percent said management should not charge more to those who did not reach health goals.

after-hearing-arguments-most-say-its-not-appropriate-for-employers-to-charge-workers-higher-premiums-for-not-meeting-health-goals-polling

The Obama administration is allowing employers to link up to 30 percent of health premiums to wellness programs. Penalties and rewards for participating in a tobacco cessation program can be as high as 50 percent of the insurance plan cost. Continue reading

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