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Will Your Hospital’s Maternity Ward Close?

When our country starts closing obstetrical units in hospitals because they “cost too much” money to operate, pregnant women need to pay attention because their babies are in serious trouble. Such was the case of the most recent casualty, South Seminole Hospital, a 200-bed hospital, that’s located within 30 minutes of my neighborhood.

More than 20,000 babies were born in South Seminole Hospital during the past 18 years, and many of the babies were delivered by a local obstetrician who died approximately three years ago. I recall sitting in the emergency room of the hospital with a fractured ankle and listening to a chime that used to ring every time a baby was born. It was a soothing and humbling sound knowing that a new life was making its grand entrance each time that chime rang. Now, it will be replaced with silence.

Unfortunately, this phenomenon is not unique to Florida. In 1997 the closing of a North Philadelphia hospital (Northeastern) affected six additional hospitals in the community and their 23,570 annual births. In my hometown of Brooklyn, New York, Long Island Hospital had an annual delivery rate of 2,800 babies, but still closed its doors to the community and sold the hospital as prime real estate to the highest bidder, citing low reimbursement rates and high premiums for malpractice insurance as the culprit behind the decision. The Bedford Stuyvesant community of Brooklyn lost St. Mary’s Hospital, a delivery center of thousands of babies in 2005. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway*

Medical Insurance Pre-Authorization Services For Free?

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released an advisory opinion at the end of last month okaying a hospital’s proposal to provide insurance pre-authorization services free of charge to patients and physicians. This is an issue that has long vexed folks in the imaging world.

Clearly, this is a free service provided to referral sources (to the extent they are obligated by contract with third-party payors to obtain the pre-authorization before referring a patient for an MRI, for example), so why is the OIG okay with it? In their opinion, the OIG blesses the arrangement for four reasons. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at HealthBlawg :: David Harlow's Health Care Law Blog*

Cleveland Clinic Targets The “Heart” Of Chicago

All I can say is, best of luck. From the Chicago Tribune:

In a move likely to shake up the market for heart care in the Chicago area, the well-known Cleveland Clinic’s cardiac surgery program said Thursday that it has signed an affiliation agreement with Central DuPage Hospital in the western Chicago suburbs.

The internationally known Cleveland Clinic draws patients from more than 85 countries around the world for everything from open-heart surgery and valve replacement to heart transplants. Its deal with Central DuPage, in Winfield, is designed to enhance the heart care provided at the 313-bed community hospital and potentially bring Cleveland Clinic patient referrals at a time heart surgeries are less needed than they were a decade ago.

This won’t shake up the market in Chicago. After all, when you have a bunch of Cadillacs in the garage, why go after a Ford? Unless, of course, it costs a whole lot less to buy a Ford.

-WesMusings of a cardiologist and cardiac electrophysiologist.

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

A Transparent Healthcare System: What’s More Clear?

Congressional democrats want more transparency in healthcare, believing it would further drive down the cost of care, reports Politico.

Hoping to drive competition, some lawmakers are grumbling to force doctors to reveal business negotiations between them and drug and device makers. Opponents worry that manipulating economics would backfire. If everyone knows their competitor’s business, why bother negotiating lower prices?

But transparency worked for Wisconsin’s hospitals, not in business dealings but in reporting outcomes, reports The Fiscal Times. By voluntarily revealing clinical outcomes on the Web, the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality was able to spur low-performing hospitals to improve, high-performing facilities to eliminate tests that didn’t improve outcomes, and create an informed healthcare consumer with choices where to receive care.

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Hospitalist*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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