What’s the latest in health care, August 28



world_stet21What’s new about swine flu?

Here are the latest figures on the H1N1 (swine) flu:

  • US, as of August 20
    hospitalized 7,983; deaths 522
  • Europe, as of August 13
    hospitalized more than 32,000; deaths 53
  • Worldwide, as of August 13
    hospitalized 182,166; deaths 1799

FDA Authorizes Emergency Use of H1N1 Test for U.S. Troops Serving Overseas
The US FDA issued and Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) earlier this week allowing testing for the H1N1 flu virus in US troops serving overseas. “An EUA authorizes the use of unapproved medical products or unapproved uses of approved medical products during a declared public health emergency.”

Duncan, Sebelius unveil new CDC H1N1 Guidance for Colleges, Universities, and Institutions of Higher Education
In anticipation of the start of the new school year, US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and US Department of Education (ED) Secretary Arne Duncan and Dr. Beth Bell, Deputy Director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC unveiled new guidance on how to mitigate and respond to the upcoming flu season. Schools, colleges, and dormitories are hotspots for epidemic outbreaks. Concerns about the H1N1 flu virus are especially big because young people seem to be highly susceptible. The new guidance suggests that the most important actions institutions can take are: to encourage and facilitate good hand washing and covering coughs and sneezes; to encourage flu vaccination for recommended groups when vaccine becomes available; and to separate sick people from well people as soon as possible.

WHO recommended use of antivirals
The World Health Organization (WHO) issued last week the latest guidleies for the use of antiviral agents in the management of H1N1 flu. The guidelines represent the consensus reached by an international panel of experts who reviewed all available studies on the safety and effectiveness of these drugs. Emphasis was placed on the use of oseltamivir and zanamivir to prevent severe illness and deaths, reduce the need for hospitalization, and reduce the duration of hospital stays.

What’s new in health care?

Four in Ten Emergency Department Visits Billed Public Insurance
According to data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), 50 million emergency department visits were billed to Medicaid and Medicare in 2006. This indicates that a large number of emergency patients do not have health insurance coverage. These uninsured patients are also more likely to be “treated and released” rather than admitted, indicated that the patients use the ER for non-emergency issues.

America’s Seniors and Health Insurance Reform: Protecting Coverage and Strengthening Medicare
The HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius issued a new report on health reforms and how these can affect America’s senior citizens. The report highlighted problems with the status quo that includes

  • Overpayments to Private Plans
  • High Prescription Drug Prices
  • Imminent Doctors’ Payment Cut will Limit Access
  • Preventing Medicare from Going Bankrupt

The entire report is available for download.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.
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