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United States health care reform: progress to date and next steps, by Barack Obama; and editorial: The affordable care act and the future of US health care

by jmiller on July 12, 2016

A special communication from Barack Obama presenting a summary of the ACA, describing the successes, the challenges ahead, and the policy implications of the legislative history of the ACA.(JAMA early online publication) concluding: “Policy makers should build on progress made by the Affordable Care Act by continuing to implement the Health Insurance Marketplaces and delivery system reform, increasing federal financial assistance for Marketplace enrollees, introducing a public plan option in areas lacking individual market competition, and taking actions to reduce prescription drug costs.  Although partisanship and special interest opposition remain, experience with the Affordable Care Act demonstrates that positive change is achievable on some of the nation’s most complex challenges.”  Click here to read full-text.

MIND diet associated with reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s disease

by jmiller on July 7, 2016

“In a previous study, higher concordance to the MIND diet, a hybrid Mediterranean-Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet, was associated with slower cognitive decline.   This study related three dietary patterns to incident Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).  High adherence to all three diets may reduce AD risk.  Moderate adherence to the MIND diet may also decrease AD risk.  (Alzheimer’s & Dementia, Nov 2015)  Click here to read full article.

Early perfromance of Accountable Care Organizations in Medicare

by jmiller on July 5, 2016

“The first full year of Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) contracts was associated with early reductions in Medicare spending among 2012 entrants but not among 2013 entrants.  Savings were greater in independent primary care groups but not among 2013 entrants.  Savings were greater in independent primary care groups than in hospital-integrated groups.  (NEJM, June 16)  Click here to read full text.

Pharmaceutical industry-sponsored meals and physician prescribing patterns for Medicare beneficiaries

by jmiller on July 5, 2016

Article (Jama Intern Med, June 20)  concludes:  “Receipt of industry-sponsored meals was associated with an increased rate of prescribing the brand-name medication that was being promoted.  The findings represent an association, not a cause-and-effect relationship.”  Click here to read full text.

The Shadow Doctors: The Underground Race to Spread Medical Knowledge as the Syrian Regime Erases It

by jmiller on June 27, 2016

“In the past five years, the Syrian government has assassinated, bombed, and tortured to death almost seven hundred medical personnel, according to Physicians for Human Rights, an organization that documents attacks on medical care in war zones.”  A United Nations commission concluded, “Government forces deliberately target medical personnel to gain military advantage, denying treatment to wounded fighters and civilians as a matter of policy. In meetings, the U.N. Security Council strongly condemns such violations of international humanitarian law.  In practice, however, four of its five permanent members support coalitions that attack hospitals in Syria, Yemen and the Sudan.  Despite the onslaught, doctors and international NGOs have forged an elaborate network of underground hospitals throughout Syria.” To read this entire chilling article from this month’s New Yorker , click here.

From JAMA Surgery: “Revisiting nursing’s effect on surgical quality and cost” and “Comparison of the value of nursing work environments in hospitals across different levels of patient risk”

by jmiller on June 22, 2016

When nursing is the focus of a major medical journal, it deserves considerable attention, particularly coming from this month’s JAMA Surgery.  The article concludes: “Hospitals with better nursing environments and above-average staffing levels were associated with better value (lower mortality with similar costs) compared with hospitals without nursing environment recognition and with below-average staffing, especially for higher-risk patients.  These results do not suggest that improving any specific hospital’s nursing environment will necessarily improve its value, but they do show that patients undergoing general surgery at hospitals with better nursing environments generally receive care of higher value.”  “Improvements in surgical safety remain an important focus of hospitals and clinicians.  With nearly 100,000 patients dying per year in the United States after undergoing elective surgery and mortality rates varying from 2-fold to 10-fold across hospitals, excess surgical mortality qualifies as a significant public health problem.  Unfortunately, the precise means to improve surgical safety remain elusive.  The authors evaluate differences in patient outcomes and cost between hospitals with better nursing work environments, determined by Magnet status and higher nurse-to-bed ratios, and matched controls.  Two key findings: first, hospitals with better nursing environments have a nearly 20% lower failure-to-rescue rate than control hospitals, and second, the overall value of care delivered was superior to that of control hospitals. To read full-text, click here.

Adaptation of Airline Crew Resource Management Principles to Dentistry

by jmiller on June 2, 2016

AAMC recently hosted its first-ever “Virtual Grand Rounds” at the James and Sylvia Earl Simulation to Advance Innovation and Learning (SAIL) Center. Guest speaker Mark Pinsky, a dentist, international airline captain and aviation expert, discussed how surgeons can apply aviation methodologies to surgical processes. He presented a concept of adapting the use of aviation checklists as an organizational tool to empower each member of the surgical team to organize thoughts, identify errors and increase situational awareness.  Combining such systematic solutions with simulation practice could have a positive impact on improving quality and outcomes.  (JADA, 2010)  Click here to read full text.

Medical Error: The Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.

by jmiller on May 5, 2016

In the news, (BMJ, May 3) .  The article explains that the 1999 Institute of Medicine (IOM report is limited and outdated.  The results were contested by Leape in 1993, a chief  investigator of the 1984 Harvard study which published an article arguing that the study’s estimate was too low, contending that 78% rather than 51% of the 180,000 iatrogenic deaths were preventable. Similarly,  the Inspector General of the USDHHS Office examining the health records of hospital inpatients in 2008, reported that 180,000 deaths due to medical error a year among Medicare beneficiaries alone, a rate of 1.13%.  If this rate is applied to all registered US hospital admissions in 2013, it translates to over 400,000 deaths a year, more than four times the IOM estimate.  The ICD-10 coding system has limited ability to capture most types of medical error.  At best, there are only a few codes where the role of error can be inferred, such as the code for anticoagulation causing adverse effects and the code for overdose.  When a medical error results in death, both the physiologic cause of the death and the related problem with deliver of care should be captured.  Data should be shared nationally and internationally to improve safety, much in the way scientists share data about disease.  Click here to read full-text.

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