Quality Issues Persist At Hospitals, Plastic Surgery Centers; Use Of CT Scans In ER IncreasesAsheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times: "Despite intensive efforts to improve patient safety, a six-year study at 10 North Carolina hospitals showed no decline in so-called patient 'harms,' which included medical errors and unavoidable mistakes. Sorting through patients' medical records from more than 2,300 randomly selected hospital admissions, teams of reviewers found 588 instances of patient harm, which included events such as hospital-acquired infections, surgical errors and medication dosage mistakes." Most of the tracked "harms" were "minor and temporary," but 50 were life-threatening (Salamon, 11/30).
Triangle Business Journal: The study, "reported last week in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that nearly one in five patients suffered from some problem, such as acquiring a urinary tract infection from prolonged catheter use or an infection following an operation. Most of the complications, 63 percent, were preventable" (Gallagher, 11/30).
Kaiser Health News: Emergency department use of CT scans "has increased nearly six-fold since 1995 and shows no sign of tapering off." The rising use of the scans has sparked concerns about overuse, radiation risk and cost among some experts. On the other hand, "'It could be viewed as an emerging standard of care rather than something we should be 'concerned' about,' [Dr. Jeff Goldsmith] says. He even suggests that increased CT scanning might eventually lower health care costs by preventing unnecessary, even higher-cost, exploratory surgery" (Parashar, 11/29).
Los Angeles Times: Plastic surgery centers in California operate under a "patchwork of rules that loosely govern the state's billion-dollar cosmetic surgery industry. In 2007, California stopped licensing surgery centers owned at least partly by a licensed doctor. The move came after a doctor successfully challenged the state's regulatory authority in court. According to the state Department of Public Health, only 45 surgical centers are now state-licensed, compared with about 480 before the law changed. An additional 715 are certified to bill Medicare for treatments such as orthopedic care, eye surgeries and weight-loss related procedures. Hundreds more operate as cash-only businesses that specialize in elective cosmetic procedures, many without accreditation, experts say" (Hennessy-Fiske, 11/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.