KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Number Of Patients Experiencing Drug Side Effects Skyrockets

Experts say the surge in reports could indicate a growing number of harmed patients or more vigilant reporting of adverse events. In other public health news: childbirth, chronic diseases, telehealth and a rare version of strep throat.

Stateline: Childbirth For Women In Their 30s At 50-Year High
Women in their 30s are having babies at the highest rate since the 1960s, providing a rare bright spot in what’s an otherwise stagnating U.S. population. For women in their early 30s, the birthrate in 2015 was the highest it’s been since 1964, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report this year. And the rate for women age 35 to 39 was the highest since 1962, when families were larger and births hit near all-time highs in the baby-boom years. (Henderson, 3/20)

NPR: Common Blood Tests Can Help Predict Disease Risk
A score based on common blood tests may someday help people gauge their risk of developing a chronic disease like diabetes or dementia within three years of taking the test. The Intermountain Chronic Disease Risk Score was 77 to 78 percent accurate in predicting whether someone would be diagnosed with diabetes, kidney failure, coronary artery disease and dementia, among other illnesses. It's based on the results of a comprehensive metabolic panel, which includes tests for blood glucose and liver function, and complete blood count, which measures the quantity of different types of blood cells. (Hobson, 3/17)

Modern Healthcare: Tapping Telehealth For Complex Cases 
Intermountain, whose telehealth system is among the most advanced in the country, is using the technology to extend its specialists' skills into the smaller community hospitals and rural locations in its network. These medical outposts rarely have the clinical expertise necessary to handle the more-complex cases that come through their front doors. The system has installed videoconferencing setups in 1,000 rooms across its 22 hospitals. Intermountain's 35 telemedicine programs include specialists providing consultations on stroke, newborn critical care, behavioral health, wound care and cancer care. Intermountain is also using remote monitoring for chronic disease patients with conditions such as hypertension and heart failure. (Livingston, 3/18)

The Washington Post: A Father Went To The Hospital With Stomach Pain. He Left Without His Hands And Feet.
When Kevin Breen first complained about feeling achy and tired, his wife couldn't help but wonder whether he was trying to wiggle out of a busy day of family responsibilities. It was Christmas Day, and Breen — an active 44-year-old whose idea of relaxing is going water skiing on Lake Michigan or playing pickup basketball — is rarely short on energy. But the Grand Rapids, Mich., resident insisted he really was feeling ill. And two days after his vague, flulike symptoms had begun, they'd taken on a strange new form: a razor-sharp stomach pain so powerful that Breen could no longer walk. (Holley, 3/18)

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