Articles Posted in Hospitals

blkmom-300x222The bad news for expectant black moms isn’t confined to those living in the nation’s capital: A new investigation has found higher risks of harm for women in New York, Florida, and Illinois when they deliver at hospitals that disproportionately serve black mothers.

ProPublica, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative site, analyzed two years of hospital inpatient discharge data from the three states to “look in-depth at how well different facilities treat women who experience one particular problem — hemorrhages — while giving birth.” Reporters found negative patterns that underscored big woes identified by other research before:

[B]lack women … fare worse in pregnancy and childbirth, dying at a rate more than triple that of white mothers. And while part of the disparity can be attributed to factors like poverty and inadequate access to health care, there is growing evidence that points to the quality of care at hospitals where a disproportionate number of black women deliver, which are often in neighborhoods disadvantaged by segregation. Researchers have found that women who deliver at these so-called ‘black-serving’ hospitals are more likely to have serious complications — from infections to birth-related embolisms to emergency hysterectomies — than mothers who deliver at institutions that serve fewer black women.

bullets-300x245When illness, accidents, and natural- or man-made calamities strike, victims discover in their long slog to recovery that our health insurance system only aggravates their pain and anxiety.  That’s a painful lesson that hundreds of Americans will keep struggling with in 2018, months after a madman rained gunfire from high-powered rifles down into a Las Vegas music festival crowd.

Modern Healthcare deserves credit for its follow-up of the October mayhem Nevada. It was part of what the industry publication calls an “epidemic of mass shootings,” tragedies stretching from San Bernardino, Calif., to Newton, Mass. They’re taxing hospitals’ capacities not only to provide large-scale emergency medicine but also to provide follow-up care — especially assisting survivors and their families and friends in dealing with their staggering medical expenses.

Victims in mass shootings, Modern Healthcare reported, confront a “proliferation of health plans with high deductibles and coinsurance requirements, leaving [them] exposed to many thousands of dollars in cost-sharing. Severely injured patients needing repeat surgeries may hit their out-of-pocket spending limits multiple years in a row, forcing them into bankruptcy. On top of that, even insured patients may face big balance bills if they are treated by out-of-network providers.”

overdosedeaths1-300x1812017 ends with yet more grim news about the nation’s opioid drug epidemic — not only that its toll keeps rising, it now is afflicting African Americans as never before. They had been less harmed by this crisis but the scourge is spreading to them, notably in spots like the District of Columbia and Baltimore.

Reporters for the New York Times’ “Upshot” feature dove into new data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on opioid drug-related deaths. They found the official numbers not only reaffirmed a sharp increase in drug fatalities in 2016 but also showed that “the drug death rate is rising most steeply among blacks, with those between the ages of 45 and 64 among the hardest hit.” As the newspaper reported:

Drug deaths among blacks in urban counties rose by 41 percent in 2016, far outpacing any other racial or ethnic group. In those same counties, the drug death rate among whites rose by 19 percent. The [new CDC] data … suggests that the common perception of the epidemic as an almost entirely white problem rooted in over-prescription of painkillers is no longer accurate, as fentanyl, often stealthily, invades broader swaths of the country and its population.

obamacare1-300x154Millions of ordinary Americans closed out 2017 with a powerful message to the Trump Administration and GOP lawmakers about the nation’s health care. Despite efforts to make it harder to re-enlist for insurance plans, consumers signed up in strong fashion for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Their actions spoke loudly against the claim that Obamacare is dead. Nope, it’s popular and in high demand.

That 8.8. million Americans had sought Obamacare by the Dec. 15 general program sign-up deadline came as a pleasant surprise to ACA supporters. They were glum because the administration had halved the application time and slashed the money for advertising and other outreach — programs that proponents had considered necessary so those covered on ACA exchanges wouldn’t only be the sickest and oldest Americans but also the healthy and young. Administration officials also said little or nothing to support or promote Obamacare sign-ups, while the President and GOP lawmakers spent the first year of a new Congress and administration assailing the ACA, including a failed effort to repeal and replace it.

Partisans in Congress, as part of a more than $1.5 trillion bill to change the nation’s tax system, killed the ACA’s individual mandate — the requirement that all Americans show, as part of the annual tax returns, that they had health insurance or face penalties. That move, independent and nonpartisan analysts have said, will mean 13 million Americans will lack health coverage by 2027, and average health insurance premiums will go up by 10 percent each year for the next decade. With the prospect that the tax bill and the GOP budget plan will force billions of dollars in cuts, too, to Medicare and Medicaid, and with the unpopular individual mandate gone, President Trump has claimed that he and the Republican Congress have killed Obamacare.

yoga2-300x200For seniors who may be rushing to squeeze in a few more pretzel-twisting sessions to ease their stress from a hectic holiday season, this is a gentle reminder: Take it easy with the yoga. It can be good for you, but don’t overdo it or you may hurt yourself.

The Washington Post reported that the number of yoga devotees has climbed to an estimated 36.7 million Americans, many of whom find that stretching and posing in various styles makes them breathe and feel better, as well being more limber, focused, and relaxed. Yoga also has special appeal to older practitioners, 17 percent of them in their 50s and 21 percent 60 and older, according to a study conducted by a yoga publication.

But public health researchers from the University of Alabama Birmingham, after examining electronic data on almost 30,000 yoga-related injuries that led patients to emergency room treatment between 2001 and 2014, reported that:

usfs-thomas-fire-300x200The clock may be counting down to 2017’s end but Mother Nature isn’t giving up on whipping up calamities that wreak havoc on parts of the nation’s health care system and millions of Americans’ well-being. After swaths of the country were inundated by hurricanes and flooding, the West Coast is now battling yet more huge blazes.

Raging wildfires in Southern California not only have added big time to the billions of dollars that such blazes have caused this year in damage and suffering to people, property, and animals, they also have provided the entire coast with a harsh reminder of the importance of air quality to health.

With luck, public cooperation, and outstanding work by fire fighters, police, and other first-responders, the loss of life has been low in a series of blazes on the Westside of Los Angeles, in the city’s northern reaches, in San Diego, and most especially in Ventura and Santa Barbara. The “Thomas Fire,” burning over hundreds of acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara, has become the third largest wildfire in California record books. The Southern California blazes follow hard on the heels of disastrous infernos in Northern California’s wine country.

fitzgeraldWhat’s going on at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?

It’s a federal agency with a $7 billion budget and more than 12,000 employees working across the nation and around the globe on everything from food and water safety, to heart disease and cancer, to infectious disease outbreak prevention. Its work and guidance on health matters long has been heeded and well respected.

But the Washington Post — in a story that sounds like it might have leaped from the satirical pages of The Onion or from a monologue by the late comedian George Carlin — has reported that CDC experts have been banned from using seven words in any upcoming communications with Congress about the 2019 budget.

Boston_University_Medical_Center-300x184Racial and economic disparities not only persist in American health care, they do so to the measurable detriment of millions. Have they become so common and accepted that too many ignore them and their harms?

The Boston Globe, as part of its series on race relations, has reported that “segregation patterns are deeply imbedded in Boston health care. Simply put: If you are black in Boston, you are less likely to get care at several of the city’s elite hospitals than if you are white.” The newspaper explained:

The reasons are complex. More whites live near [renowned academic medical centers like Massachusetts General Hospital — aka MGH]. Certain lower-cost health insurance plans generally don’t pay for care at Harvard Medical School’s high-priced academic medical centers, including Dana-Farber and MGH. And some blacks are uncomfortable at mostly white institutions — or those institutions may not make them feel welcome — a divide compounded by a dearth of black physicians. All of this creates likely disadvantages for blacks, who suffer far worse health overall than whites because of poverty and environmental reasons — a gap city planners recently said is persistent and growing. Some black leaders worry that blacks are handicapped because they don’t have, or don’t believe they have, the same array of health care choices.

massgen-300x140Canadian researchers have come up with at least 2,500  reasons why elite surgeons should reconsider their own wishes and practices to protect patients undergoing hip surgeries from significant post-operative complications. They could do so by curbing even more their dual surgeries, in which they dash between two operating rooms.

A new study has found a 90 percent increase in the risk for surgical complications at one year when doctors repair hip fractures or replace hips in so-called overlapping surgeries.

The Boston Globe, starting in 2015, has raised major issues regarding the safety and effectiveness of simultaneous operations, conducted most often at major academic medical centers (such as Massachusetts General, shown above) and by leading practitioners.

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