atlantanorthside-300x155Federal officials will fine two Georgia hospitals, both in the same health system, a total of more than $1 million for failing to post online legally required pricing information. Patient advocates and the former administration hoped this incremental disclosure would help check ever-rising health care costs and give consumers important data to make better choices about which institutions they chose for treatment.

But hospitals nationwide, including the penalized Northside Hospital Atlanta (shown above) and Northside Hospital Cherokee, have flouted the transparency regulation that took force in January 2021. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has wagged a warning finger at institutions, issuing cautions to hundreds of institutions, with hundreds deciding to fall in line. Still, as the Washington Post reported:

“Out of more than 5,200 hospitals, just about 6% had both an accessible file and a shoppable display that adhered to the regulations. That’s according to a research piece published [June 6] in [the Journal of the American Medical Association, which] analyzed compliance six- to nine-months after the rules went into effect. Other reports found a similar pattern. In February, a report by patient advocates determined that a total of 14% of the 1,000 hospitals the group reviewed were in line with the requirements.”

ftclogo-300x95While U.S. patients are seeing their finances blown up by skyrocketing prescription drug prices, the members of Congress continue to wring their hands, ponder responses — and do nothing. The Federal Trade Commission, though, has at least launched an investigation of one part of Big Pharma to see if pharmacy benefit managers, the industry middlemen known as PBMs, jack up prices for patients.

Those footing the bill for drugs have plenty of reason for outrage, a trio of researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston have reported.

Their findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, show just how stark Big Pharma’s recent push for profits has been. As the researchers wrote in a New York Times Op-Ed, calling for congressional action to lower drug prices, based on their study:

gina4-300x169While hope can be a remarkable element in healing the sick and injured, can there be anything crueler than raising false hopes among the vulnerable?

Patients with serious illnesses like cancer — of the pancreas, breast, and rectum — may need to take in with extra care journalistic reports on medical advances that might affect their treatment.

Two N’s will matter a lot to them — nuance and the scientific short-hand in which medical scientists communicate how many subjects participated in their research (the value described as N=).

childvax-300x206The coronavirus pandemic stubbornly persists, infecting 110,000 Americans daily — and likely many, many more — and hospitalizing 29,000 a day on average.

Vaccinations, also, have stayed at the forefront of efforts to deal with the disease, with shots on the brink of being regulator-approved and imminently available for the littlest of kids, and against the Omicron strain that has proven to be highly infectious and continues to mutate rapidly into new variants.

But travelers, who already have seen a relaxation of face covering requirements, have gotten news that also could please many: U.S. officials have decided to end a requirement for those coming into the country from overseas to test negative.

diabetesdrug-300x127As medical scientists increase the understanding of diabetes and the role that hormones can play in treating the disease and clinical obesity, doctors, drug makers, insurers, and others in U.S. health care are running smack into familiar, significant problems.

These include issues with public perceptions about weight, diet, and appropriate prescribing of powerful medications, as well as challenges about who pays for what in the nation’s complex health care system.

The latest, evolving tangles concern semaglutide and liraglutide, two drugs in a group that experts at the drug maker Novo Nordisk pioneered to treat diabetes. Investigators developed the drugs as doctors, patients, and researchers suddenly learned more about extreme weight loss through increasingly popular gastric surgeries, finding that the procedures also altered patients’ hormones like ghrelin, popularly dubbed the “hunger hormone.”

CMSlogo1-300x156Tens of millions of seniors, hit by one of the largest increases in recent memory of their monthly Medicare charges due to a prescription drug regulatory debacle, will not see a penny refunded this year on what amounts to a federal overcharge.

This will occur, even though it was floated as a possibility and the cause of their health care coverage increase didn’t materialize.

The 2021 embarrassment for federal officials, instead, may turn into inflation anticipation, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has said.

cbstulsavictims-300x120In Tulsa, Okla., a 45-year-old patient angry over what he claimed was the pain he suffered after a back operation, bought a handgun and an assault rifle. He stormed into the office of his orthopedic surgeon,  killing him, another doctor, a receptionist, and an office visitor, police say. The man then killed himself.

In Dayton, Ohio, a 30-year-old county jail inmate receiving care at a hospital wrestled with the 78-year-old contract guard accompanying him, fatally wounding him, threatening others, and finally killing himself.

The relentless spate of gun violence and multiple deaths has spread once again into settings designed to heal the sick and treat the injured.

deppheardnbc-300x173When two wealthy celebrities engage in no-holds barred combat in a courtroom over the most personal aspects of their private lives together, the results can be disconcerting — but also riveting — for regular folks watching the legal wrangling.

The Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard defamation case, with its mixed verdict from jurors, not only became an obsession for many pop culture fans, it also has prompted a torrent of commentary about its First Amendment implications, jurisprudence in Britain vs. America, as well as what the brutal dispute may mean for men and women litigants.

The case also should force a serious reconsideration of the tough issue of intimate partner violence and the expertise that medical and mental health specialists can bring to bear to help outsiders understand this largely hidden problem, two forensic psychiatrists, Renée Sorrentino and Susan Hatters Friedman, argue.

Abbottlogo-300x77The giant drug maker Abbott and the federal Food and Drug Administration both should hang their heads in shame as more information becomes public as to how they left millions of vulnerable infants hungry and put kids’ health at risk by wrongs involving the manufacture and distribution of a vital foodstuff — baby formula.

Millions of parents have gone into meltdown because of a nationwide shortage of the needed nutrient. It was sparked by the shutdown of Abbott’s formula-producing plant in Michigan, as well as the company’s product recall after babies got sick and died from  infections involving Cronobacter sakazakii bacteria.

While Abbott has emphasized that experts have not conclusively linked the bacteria to its formula and the firm has played up its cooperation in a product recall, Robert Califf, the FDA’s chief and a doctor, ripped the company. He told a U.S. House subcommittee that agency inspectors found “egregiously unsanitary” conditions at the drug maker’s plant, the New York Times reported, quoting him, thusly:

SBClogoThe University of California has agreed to pay yet more to hundreds of women patients who have credibly accused a UCLA gynecologist of sexual wrongdoing, with the now $700 million in approved settlements setting what is described as a national record for the largest such payouts involving a public university.

bruinslogo-300x214The UC system, one of the nation’s largest and highest ranked in academic achievement, says it must issue medical facility bonds to cover the staggering costs of claims against Dr. James Heaps and his sexual misconduct between 1983 and 2018 because the institution has exhausted its insurance coverage, the Los Angeles Times reported. University officials called the actions of the onetime health service and specialty doctor practicing at its renowned hospital “reprehensible and contrary to our values.”

The latest, increased UCLA payout of $375 million (for 300-plus cases) comes atop previous settlements of $244 million (for 200 cases), $73 million (for 5,000 claims), and $2.5 million (a single sexual assault incident), the newspaper reported.

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