Global health – October 23rd

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Kreidler calls for insurers to review mental health denials back to 2006

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MKreidlerPhotoFrom the Office of the Insurance Commissioner

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is directing all health insurers in Washington state to identify any policyholders who had mental health services denied because of a blanket or categorical exclusion since Jan. 1, 2006 and notify them of their right to have their claim re-evaluated.

The Washington State Supreme Court recently ruled that Washington’s Mental Health Parity Act prevents insurers from using blanket exclusions for mental health services that may be medically necessary.

Kreidler sent a letter to the insurers today (PDF, 371KB), outlining his expectations for how to implement the court’s decision and what steps he expects them to take on behalf of consumers.

“The court ruled decisively on behalf of Washington consumers, and I intend to see that insurers doing business in our state follow through on this decision,” Kreidler said.  “I expect the insurers to do a thorough review of all policyholders who may have current and past claims that may be impacted by this decision and to start the process immediately.” Continue reading

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Even before Ebola, hospitals struggled to beat far more common infections

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Clostridium difficile

Clostridium difficile

This KHN story also ran on NPR.

While Ebola stokes public anxiety, more than one in six hospitals — including some top medical centers — are having trouble stamping out less exotic but sometimes deadly infections, federal records show.

Nationally, about one in every 25 hospitalized patients gets an infection, and 75,000 people die each year from them—more than from car crashes and gun shots combined.

Nationally, about one in every 25 hospitalized patients gets an infection, and 75,000 people die from them each year.

 from themA Kaiser Health News analysis found 695 hospitals with higher than expected rates for at least one of the six types of infections tracked by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 13 states and the District of Columbia, a quarter or more of hospitals that the government evaluated were rated worse than national benchmarks the CDC set in at least one infection category, the KHN analysis found.

The missteps Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital made this month in handling an Ebola patient echo mistakes hospitals across the nation have made in dealing with homegrown infections. Continue reading

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Health news headlines – October 22nd

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Scale

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Global health news – October 22nd

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Washington state emerges as a leader as interest in palliative care rises – Puget Sound Business Journal

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Dr. Randy Curtis

Two years ago this month, the University of Washington founded its Palliative Care Center of Excellence to provide greater support to people with serious illnesses. The start of that center coincided with an increase in the use of palliative care around the country.

via Washington state emerges as a leader as interest in palliative care rises – Puget Sound Business Journal.

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What is the CDC’s role in the fight against Ebola?

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The Ebola epidemic in Africa and fears of it spreading in the U.S. have turned the nation’s attention to the federal government’s front-line public health agency: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

But as with Ebola itself, there is much confusion about the role of the CDC and what it can and cannot do to prevent and contain the spread of disease.

The agency has broad authority under federal law, but defers to or partners with state and local health agencies in most cases.

Julie Rovner answers some common questions. 

Q: What is the CDC?

Formally renamed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1992 to reflect its broader scope (previously it was just the Centers for Disease Control), the Atlanta-based CDC is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Its mission is to promote health and prevent disease, injury and premature death. CDC’s most recent budget is just under $7 billion.

Q: What is CDC’S role in combating Ebola?          

CDC personnel have been working on the ground in West Africa to try to stop the spread of Ebola since the spring, when cases began to mount. CDC Director Thomas Frieden told a congressional hearing Thursday that the agency currently has 139 staffers in West Africa, and that more than 1,000 workers have “provided logistics, staffing, communication, analytics, management and other support functions.”

Continue reading

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Global health news – October 20th

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Top five stories of the week

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Credit: Dan Shirly

Credit: Dan Shirly

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Poll: Many unaware how Ebola is spread

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By Phil Galewitz
KHN / OCTOBER 16TH, 2014

A new survey finds the public has a lot to learn about how the Ebola virus is transmitted, which could help explain the growing fears of the disease.

The survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that while nearly all adults (97 percent) know a person can become infected through direct contact with the blood or other body fluids of someone who is sick with Ebola, there are still misconceptions. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

One third of respondents are unaware they cannot become infected through the air. About 45 percent are unaware they cannot contract Ebola by shaking hands with someone who has been exposed to the virus but who does not have symptoms.

Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 8.13.55 AM

And only slightly more than a third (36 percent) of respondents know that a person must be showing Ebola symptoms to transmit the infection, the poll found.

The survey, which was fielded after a Liberian man was diagnosed with Ebola in Dallas, and remained in the field after a nurse who helped care for him contracted the disease, finds most Americans say they trust local, state, and federal health authorities to contain the disease in the U.S.

The public was near evenly split on the federal government’s response to the crisis. About 45 percent said the government was doing enough to fight the disease in Africa and 48 percent said it was doing enough to protect Americans.

The telephone poll of 1,503 adults was conducted from October 8-14 and has a margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Please contact Kaiser Health News to send comments or ideas for future topics for the Insuring Your Health column.

khn_logo_lightKaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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Health news headlines – October 18th

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By PHenry via Wikipedia CC

By PHenry via Wikipedia CC

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Global health news – October 18th

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Inside a high-level biocontainment unit

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The United States Centers for Disease Control commissioned The Nebraska Medical Center biocontainment unit in 2005.

It was designed to provide the first line of treatment for people affected by bio terrorism or extremely infectious naturally occurring diseases. It’s the only non-governmental facility of its kind in the U.S.

The staff, all receive specialized training and participate in drills throughout the year. In a recent drill, the staff practiced dressing in spacesuit-like personal protection suits.

The suits provide each staff member the ability to care for an infected patient without exposing themselves. They also practice transporting an infected patient in a “bio pod” into a specially designed room inside the biocontainment unit.

The entire unit is specially isolated from the rest of the hospital, using its own ventilation system and security access.

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