Health care updates, June 4: what’s going on in hospitals

June 4, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

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New docs linked to death spike in July
Deaths  due to medical errors are highest in July in the US and the reason for this, according to  researchers at the University of California in San Diego is the influx of new medical residents at this time of the year.
July is the month when new residents start to get more responsibilities for patient care with less supervision. During this month, cases of medical errors (e.g. drug overdose and mix-ups, surgical mistakes, etc.) peak – 10% higher than in other months. This increase is especially evident in teaching hospitals and is not reflected in increased death rates in the general population. More about this next week.

Mail-Order Pharmacy Use Could Improve Patients’ Medication Adherence
Many of us associate buying medications online as dangerous, not to mention stupid, due to our experience with all the email spams and scams we receive every day. But there are some bonafide mail-order pharmacies out there, and these providers, according to a new study, actually help patients to comply with their pharmacological therapies. Researchers at Kaiser Permanente looked at patients who use the center’s personal electronic health record, My Health Manager, which allows patients to view online lab results, refill prescriptions, schedule appointments and send secure emails to their doctors. The results showed that patients are more likely to adhere to medication regime when medications are sent by mail than those who have to pick up their medication refills personally.

“Our findings suggest that there is a lot that health care systems can do to provide support that makes it easier for patients to take care of themselves and do the right thing.”  

Stanford/Packard study finds surprising disparity in where chronically ill kids hospitalized
Chronically ill children need specialized pediatric care, yet a California study showed that provision of this type of care varies widely. For example, children from San Francisco and San Mateo counties are more likely to be admitted to a pediatric specialty-care center than children from neighboring countries. What is even more interesting is that fact that children with private insurance are actually less likely to received specialized care than those with public insurance. In 2007, for example, 67% of pediatric beds at pediatric specialty care centers were occupied by publicly insured patients. The reasons for this disparity are not clear and might be very complex.

Innovative Software Cuts Costs and Time for States to Report Hospital Quality Information to the Public
Meet MONAHRQ—My Own Network Powered by AHRQ—a free, MS® Windows®-based software application just launched by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).  The software supposedly “significantly reduces the cost and time a State, hospital or other organization would need to spend to compile, analyze and post data on quality of hospital care, its cost and how that care is used. MONAHRQ allows users to create a customized Web site with data that can be used for internal quality improvement or reporting quality information to the public.”

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