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What Patients Are The Lowest Quality Hospitals Serving?

Hospitals that provide the lowest quality care at the highest cost care for more than twice the proportion of elderly minority and poor patients as the nation’s best performers, researchers found. And patients at the “worst” institutions are more likely than patients elsewhere to die of certain conditions, such as heart attacks and pneumonia.

These hospitals and their patients may be the ones most at risk under new Medicare payment arrangements that could cut payments to hospitals that fail to meet quality metrics, reported researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health.

The researchers examined how quality, costs and patients served correlated among 3,200 hospitals nationwide. They then identified 122 “best” hospitals, those that were in the highest quartile of quality and lowest quartile of risk-adjusted costs, and 178 “worst” hospitals, those in the lowest quartile of quality and the highest quartile of costs.

Hospital quality and performance data were Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Hospitalist*

Diverticulitis Expected To Become More Prevalent In An Aging Population

Diverticula are small outpouchings that develop at weak points along the wall of the colon (large bowel), probably because of high pressures associated with muscle contractions during the passage of stool. When these sacs become obstructed and/or inflamed (most frequently in middle-aged or elderly individuals), they enlarge and create pain and fever. Usually, the left lower quadrant is involved, because diverticula tend to form in the left-side portion of the colon (descending colon) more frequently than in the right-side portion (ascending colon) or horizontal connecting section (transverse colon). A ruptured diverticulum can cause a clinical picture much like that of a ruptured appendix, with pain in the left side of the abdomen instead of the right side. The victim should seek medical attention, and his diet be limited to clear fluids. Antibiotics (metronidazole, metronidazole combined with doxycycline, amoxicillin-clavulanate, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, cefixime, ciprofloxacin, or cefpodoxime) should be administered if help is more than 24 hours away.

As the population ages, diverticulitis is expected to become more prevalent. In a recent article Read more »

This post, Diverticulitis Expected To Become More Prevalent In An Aging Population, was originally published on Healthine.com by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

When Age Plays A Role In Medical Decision-Making

Missed Diagnosis Lawsuit and the Dynamics of Age Related to Risk

Years ago I had the opportunity to care for Mr Smith, a 101 year old man who presented to the hospital with chest pain and shortness of breath. Besides having  101 year old heart and lungs that tend to follow their own  biological clock,  this man also had a massive chest tumor filling 85% of one side of his thorax.

Whoah really?  What does that mean in a 101 year old man?  Most folks this age have exceeded the normal bell curve distribution of life and disease.  When you reach 101 years old, there isn’t a lot of chronic anything you can catch with the expected time you have left on earth.

Every now and then, however, we find patients who are the exception to the rule, such as the 101 year old guy that present with a new cancer diagnosis.  That’s where being an internist comes in handy. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Happy Hospitalist*

Physician Suggests Ways To Fix Medicare Part D

Twenty seven million individuals were enrolled in Medicare Part D as of December 2009. The government spent $51 billion to subsidize Medicare Part D in 2009. The $51 billion spent is in addition to seniors’ premiums and co-pays. The government subsidy was $1,889 per individual subscriber.

Who is making the money?

“A provision in the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA), known as the “noninterference” provision, expressly prohibits the Medicare program (the government) from directly negotiating lower prescription drug prices with pharmaceutical manufacturers.”

This was a gift to the healthcare insurance industry by the government as a result of intense lobbying efforts.

Over 300 private plans (Medicare Plan D sponsors) enter into negotiations with pharmaceutical manufacturers separately to deliver Medicare Part D benefits.

Medicare Part D eligible seniors are forced to deal with Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Repairing the Healthcare System*

Study Shows That Medicare Pays More For Patients Cared For By Hospitalists

Association of Hospitalist Care With Medical Utilization After Discharge:  Evidence of Cost Shift From a Cohort Study.

That’s the title of the latest medical study making the viral rounds.  I had an opportunity to read the study in full.  I called Happy’s hospital library and Judy had the pdf article in my email in less than 24 hours.  Now, that’s amazing.  Thanks Judy for a job well done.  You deserve a raise.

Presented in the August 2nd, 2011 edition of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, Volume 155 Number 3 Page 152-159, the study concludes that decreased length of stay and hospital costs associated with hospitalist care are offset by higher medical utilization and costs after discharge.

In summary, hosptitalist patients had an adjusted length of stay 0.64 days shorter and $282 less than patients cared for by primary care physicians, but total 30 day post discharge costs were $332 higher.  These additional charges were defined as 59% from rehospitalization, 19% from skilled-nursing facilities, and 22% from professional and other services.

OK fair enough.  Let’s come to that conclusion.  Let’s say Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Happy 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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