Oklahoma tornado devastates Moore hospital
Monday's devastating tornado in Moore, OK, incapacitated the Moore Medical
Center, a small hospital about 10 miles south of Oklahoma City, forcing it
to evacuate patients and redirect victims of the massive damage to other
The second floor of the Moore Medical Center was completely demolished,
though Kelly Wells, a spokeswoman for the Norman Regional Health System
said the staff did not suffer any injuries.
The Oklahoma hospital is normally equipped to provide 24-hour emergency
services, but victims in the area will have to find their way to other
medical centers in the area, said Wells.
CNN reported that patients from the Moore Medical Center were being sent
to the nearby Norman Regional Hospital and HealthPlex Hospital, and all
the patients normally under the purview of Moore were also being told to
In the aftermath of the tornado, 65 patients were being treated at
Oklahoma University Medical Center, according to CNN.
The tornado, which was reported to be at least two miles wide during its
most destructive moments, decimated about 300 homes in the Moore area.
At last count, at least 51 people in Moore were killed by the tornado, at
least 20 of whom were children. At least 145 others have been hospitalized
in the Oklahoma City area.
Visit Medical Daily for the story.
Will workplace wellness screenings under Obamacare
CVS Caremark was widely criticized in March when word got out that its
employees would have to submit to yearly health screenings or pay $50 more
a month for insurance. The pharmacy chain isn’t exceptional: The Kaiser
Family Foundation reports nearly half of U.S. companies with more than 200
employees have wellness programs that measure workers’ weight, blood
pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. That number is likely to grow next
year, when rules take effect under the Affordable Care Act that give
employers more tools to prod workers into healthier behavior. The law will
let companies charge employees who don’t meet certain health targets 30
percent more for insurance premiums, up from 20 percent now.
Chronic conditions such as obesity and diabetes account for three-quarters
of U.S. health costs; a lot of that money could be saved if Americans took
better care of themselves. Giving incentives to quit smoking or lose
weight, the reasoning goes, will help companies tame growing medical costs
while making workers healthier. It’s not at all clear that it does
either—and advocates for patients caution that the programs could be used
to make sick people pay more, a practice Obamacare was supposed to
“If it becomes a tool for shifting healthcare costs … you might undermine the
whole idea of workplace wellness,” says Alan Balch, vice president of the
Preventive Health Partnership, an alliance of the American Cancer Society,
the American Diabetes Association, and the American Heart Association.
The share of U.S. companies that reward workers who participate in
wellness programs grew to 61 percent in 2012 from 36 percent in 2009,
according to a survey by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on
Health. Market researcher IBIS World reports that employers spend $2
billion annually on the programs.
Often employees receive the incentives just for agreeing to a finger prick
and blood pressure check, no matter how the tests turn out. Johnson &
Johnson’s wellness program lowers premiums for workers who take screenings
and follow up with counselors to improve their health. At consumer credit
bureau Experian, workers can earn $690 in premium discounts and fitness
subsidies for joining the company’s wellness program.
But the Obamacare rules set to take effect next year would allow companies
more power to tie the price employees pay for insurance to specific health
goals. Workers in such programs would only receive money, or avoid an
increase in their insurance costs, if, for example, they keep their
cholesterol or weight at certain levels. Those who can’t—because of a
disability, or because of a predisposition to high cholesterol or
diabetes—must be given a “reasonable alternative” to earn the reward, such
as attending a seminar on healthy eating. In a February NBGH survey of 83
U.S. employers, 41 percent favored tying incentives to test results.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is now examining whether
such programs could violate anti-discrimination laws. And California’s
legislature is considering a bill that would bar linking financial rewards
to a worker’s health status. While some studies suggest $3 or more in
savings for every dollar spent on wellness programs, the gains may come
from shifting costs to less healthy employees rather than changing
behavior, a March analysis in Health Affairs concluded.
Dangling premium reductions as an incentive doesn’t get people to shape
up, the authors wrote: “Powerful personal, social, and financial
incentives to be healthy, nonsmoking, and thin already exist.” A RAND
Corp. study last year found there’s not enough evidence “to definitively
assess the impact of workplace wellness on health outcomes and cost.”
The rise of wellness programs has been accompanied by a proliferation of
medical tests. Public health guidelines recommend cholesterol screening
for healthy adults once every five years and screening for diabetes only
in people with high blood pressure, absent other symptoms. Wellness
screenings typically test for both annually.
Bruce Elliott, manager of compensation and benefits at the Society for
Human Resource Management, a trade group representing HR professionals,
says critics need to give wellness programs a few years to prove their
effectiveness: “It’s an investment, and it’s an investment that does take
some time.” Helping employees quit cigarettes or lose weight will
translate to lower medical costs over three to five years, he says.
There are a few simple fixes that have been shown to improve health and
save costs, says Jeffrey Harris, director of the Health Promotion Research
Center at the University of Washington. Aiding smokers who show a desire
to quit can quickly pay off. Workers who aren’t stepping out a couple
times an hour for a cigarette are more productive. And offering free
in-office flu vaccines translates into fewer sick days.
Beyond that, the advantages get murkier. Tom Emerick, former vice
president for benefit design at Wal-Mart Stores, says when he started out
in 1980 companies were just beginning to offer money to employees who quit
smoking or lost weight. Many employers ultimately discarded the programs
because they didn’t work. Now an independent benefits consultant, he’s
writing a book with Lewis that’s critical of wellness programs. He advises
clients to forget about health screenings. The best thing they can do for
their employees’ health, he tells them, is to reduce their stress by
making their work more rewarding and fulfilling.
The bottom line: Companies spend $2 billion annually on wellness programs
that haven't been proven to reduce costs or make people healthier.
Visit Business Week for the article.
All sterile drug products made and distributed by
NuVision Pharmacy Dallas Facility: Recall - lack of sterility assurance
FDA is alerting healthcare providers of concerns about a lack of sterility
assurance of all sterile drug products made and distributed by NuVision
Pharmacy of Dallas, TX. The FDA is basing this expanded alert on a recent
inspection of the NuVision Dallas facility, during which FDA investigators
observed poor sterile production practices that raise concerns about a
lack of sterility assurance of the company’s sterile drug products. The
agency is not aware of any additional adverse event reports associated
with other sterile products from NuVision.
In April 2013, NuVision recalled Methylcobalamin injection and lyophilized
injection products due to a lack of sterility assurance and concerns
associatedwith the quality control processes identified during the FDA
inspection. The FDA received adverse event reports of fever, flu-like
symptoms, and soreness at the injection site associated with the
Methylcobalamin injection product that was previously recalled.
For all sterile products from NuVision, the FDA recommends that healthcare
providers and other healthcare professionals, including hospital staff,
immediately check their medical supplies for NuVision sterile products,
quarantine those products, and not administer them to patients. Patients
who were administered any sterile drug products produced and distributed
by NuVision and who have concerns should contact their healthcare
Read the MedWatch safety alert, including a link to the FDA Press Release.
GHX kicks off 13Th Annual Healthcare Supply Chain
GHX kicked off the thirteenth annual Healthcare Supply Chain Summit Monday
at the Red Rock Resort & Spa in Las Vegas. Bringing together nearly 600
healthcare professionals from hospitals, suppliers, distributors and GPOs,
the Summit has become the world’s largest and most well-respected
healthcare supply chain event. This year’s conference is dedicated to the
idea of “We Are Change”– promoting collaboration, transparency, technology
adoption and forward thinking to change the healthcare status quo, reduce
costs and improve patient care.
Complementing the theme of “We Are Change,” many of the Summit’s sessions
will focus on the most pressing healthcare trends in the industry,
Accountable Care through
the Supply Chain: The healthcare industry is undergoing massive change as
it moves toward a system that pays for value, not volume. The post-reform
era requires informed leaders who understand how to turn their businesses
into accountable supply chain organizations.
Leaders: Leading change within an organization is not a simple task, but
elevating supply chain management to a strategic enterprise initiative is
critical to succeed in the new age of healthcare.
Taking Costs Out of
Healthcare: Increasingly, the healthcare supply chain is being looked at
to contribute value by maximizing those activities that work and, most
importantly, changing those that just add costs.
Creating Better Trading
Partner Relationships: Trust, transparency and collaboration are
relatively new concepts when it comes to trading-partner relationships,
but healthcare providers and suppliers need to transform and strengthen
their relationships in the changing market
The UDI Rule is Here to
Stay: The Food & Drug Administration’s Unique Device Identification (UDI)
regulation is creating major changes, not just for suppliers, but
organizations throughout healthcare. Jay Crowley from the FDA and David
Brooks from Covidien will offer attendees information they need to
understand about UDI, timing of regulation rollouts and what they can to
do to make sure they are ready. Craig Karagitz of Terumo Cardiovascular
Systems will also discuss his company’s journey of successfully completing
four test data loads into the GDSN in preparation for UDI.
The Dawn of the
Implantable Device Supply Chain (IDSC): The IDSC spans 15 processes from
initial case scheduling, through to the operation and final payment. It’s
a manual, error-ridden process that costs the industry $5 billion a year
in waste. But with new technologies and more collaboration between trading
partners, the IDSC is changing – becoming more automated, transparent and
reducing those processes from 15 to four.
The entire GHX Healthcare Supply Chain Summit agenda can be viewed here.
Follow the conference action in real-time by visiting the Healthcare
Hub blog or following #GHX on
Premature babies get boost from live music
CHICAGO — As the guitarist strums and softly sings a lullaby in Spanish,
tiny Augustin Morales stops squirming in his hospital crib and closes his
eyes. This is therapy in a newborn intensive care unit, and research
suggests that music may help those born way too soon adapt to life outside
Some tiny preemies are too small and fragile to be held and comforted by
human touch, and many are often fussy and show other signs of stress.
Other common complications include immature lungs, eye disease, problems
with sucking, and sleeping and alertness difficulties.
Recent studies and anecdotal reports suggest the vibrations and soothing
rhythms of music, especially performed live in the hospital, might benefit
preemies and other sick babies.
Many insurers won’t pay for music therapy because of doubts that it
results in any lasting medical improvement. Some doctors say the music
works best at relieving babies’ stress and helping parents bond with
infants too sick to go home.
But amid beeping monitors, IV poles and plastic breathing tubes in
infants’ rooms at Chicago’s Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital,
music therapist Elizabeth Klinger provides a soothing contrast that even
the tiniest babies seem to notice
“What music therapy can uniquely provide is that passive listening
experience that just encourages relaxation for the patient, encourages
participation by the family,” Klinger said after a recent session in
Augustin’s hospital room.
The baby’s parents, Lucy Morales and Alejandro Moran, stood at the crib
and whispered lovingly to their son as Klinger played traditional
lullabies, singing in Spanish and English. “The music relaxes him, it
makes him feel more calm” and helps him sleep better too, Lucy Morales
said. “Sometimes it makes us cry.”
Some families request rock music or other high-tempo songs, but Klinger
always slows the beat to make it easier on tender ears.
“A lot of times families become afraid of interacting with their children
because they are so sick and so frail, and music provides them something
that they can still do,” Klinger said, who works full time as a music
therapist but her services are provided for free.
Music therapists say live performances in hospitals are better than
recorded music because patients can feel the music vibrations and also
benefit from seeing the musicians.
More than two dozen U.S. hospitals offer music therapy in their newborn
intensive care units and its popularity is growing, said Joanne Loewy, a
music therapist who directs a music and medicine program at Beth Israel
Medical Center in New York.
Preemies’ music therapy was even featured on a recent episode of the hit
TV show “American Idol,” when show finalist Kree Harrison watched a
therapist working with a tiny baby at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
Dr. Natalia Henner, a newborn specialist at Lurie hospital, said studies
in nursing journals show music therapy for preemies “does help with
promoting growth. And there’s some good literature ... saying that the
time to discharge is a little bit shorter in babies who’ve been exposed to
more music therapy.” She said it “definitely facilitates bonding” between
parents of preemies and other babies too sick to go home.
Loewy led a study published last month in the journal Pediatrics,
involving 11 U.S. hospitals. Therapists in the study played special small
drums to mimic womb sounds and timed the rhythm to match the infants’
heartbeats. The music appeared to slow the infants’ heartbeats, calm their
breathing, and improve sucking and sleeping, Loewy said.
Soozie Cotter-Schaufele, a music therapist at Advocate Children’s
Hospital-Park Ridge near Chicago, says soothing rhythmic sounds of music
can mimic womb sounds and provide a comforting environment for preemies.
She sings and plays a small harp or guitar, and says the sounds help calm
tiny babies while they’re undergoing painful medical procedures.
Visit the Washington Post for the article.
New Jersey hospital has highest billing rates in the
BAYONNE, NJ — The most expensive hospital in America is not set amid the
swaying palm trees of Beverly Hills or the luxury townhouses of New York’s
Upper East Side. It is in a faded blue-collar town 11 miles from Midtown
Based on the bills it submits to Medicare, the Bayonne Medical Center
charged the highest amounts in the country for nearly one-quarter of the
most common hospital treatments, according to a New York Times
analysis of 2011 data, the most recent available. No other hospital was at
the top of the price list more often.
Bayonne Medical typically charged $99,689 for treating each case of
chronic lung disease, 5.5 times as much as other hospitals and 17.5 times
as much as Medicare paid in reimbursement. The hospital also charged on
average of $120,040 to treat transient ischemia, a type of small stroke
that has no lasting effect. That was 5.6 times the national average and
23.6 times what Medicare paid.
For those prices, the quality of care at Bayonne Medical is no better, or
worse, than that at most other New Jersey hospitals. In a 2011 state
hospital quality report, Bayonne Medical scored only in the top 50
percent. But profits at the hospital, which was bankrupt in 2007, have
soared in recent years, in part because it has found a way to turn some of
those high billings into payments.
The increasingly contentious issue of hospital charges drew renewed
attention last week when the federal government released Medicare data
showing that facilities nationwide submitted widely divergent bills for
the same treatments.
And while the unassuming, six-story brick hospital here holds a notable
place in those rankings, others stand out as well. The midsize Crozer-Chester
Medical Center in Upland, PA, was the top biller in the country for
urinary tract infections.
One prestigious Manhattan hospital, NYU Langone Medical Center, charged
twice as much as the equally high-end New York-Presbyterian to implant a
cardiac pacemaker. But Medicare considers the two New York hospitals so
similar it pays them both about $20,000 for the procedure.
The hospital industry is quick to say that the charges are irrelevant
because virtually no one, private insurers, Medicare or even the
uninsured, pays anywhere near those amounts. Medicare sets standard rates
for treatments and insurers negotiate with hospitals. But experts add that
the charges reflect decades of maneuvering by hospitals to gain an edge
over insurers and provide themselves with tax advantages.
Until a recent ruling by the Internal Revenue Service, for instance, a
hospital could use the higher prices when calculating the amount of
charity care it was providing, said Gerard Anderson, director of the
Center for Hospital Finance and Management at Johns Hopkins. “There is a
method to the madness, though it is still madness,” Anderson said.
A close look at the finances of Bayonne Medical Center sheds light on how
hospital pricing at the extremes may financially benefit an institution.
The practices at Bayonne Medical also highlight a new financial strategy
used by a small number of hospitals to increase their profits by “going
out of network”, severing ties, and hence contractual agreements that
limit reimbursement rates, with large private insurers.
Neither officials nor owners of Bayonne Medical responded to multiple
calls and e-mail requests for interviews. Because the company is privately
held, it does not have to release financial data. Bayonne Medical, which
was founded in 1888, was losing nearly $1.5 million a month before it
filed for bankruptcy in 2007. By 2011, under new ownership and a new
financial model, its patient revenue had nearly tripled and its operating
income had reached $9.3 million, according to the American Hospital
Directory. The hospital’s turnabout started in 2008 when it was acquired
out of bankruptcy by a consortium of buyers in a deal valued at about $41
First, they converted Bayonne Medical from a nonprofit to a for-profit
hospital at a time when such hospitals were a rarity in New Jersey. Next,
they moved to sever existing contracts with large private insurers,
essentially making Bayonne Medical an out-of-network hospital for most
Under New Jersey law, patients treated in a hospital emergency room
outside their provider’s network have to pay out of pocket only what they
would have paid if the hospital was in the network. But an out-of-network
hospital can bill the patient’s insurer at essentially whatever rate it
cares to set. While the insurers can negotiate with the hospital, they
generally end up paying more than they would have under a contractual
In recent years, Bayonne Medical put up digital billboards highlighting
the short waits in its emergency rooms in an effort to attract more
patients. Insurers complained that the hospital was seeking to take
advantage of the higher rates it could charge.
While the law was aimed at giving patients more hospitals to choose from,
it “has had the unintended consequence of rewarding folks for these
inflated charges,” said Wardell Sanders, president of the New Jersey
Association of Health Plans. “When people say these charges are just the
sticker price and it’s meaningless, it’s not meaningless.”
Community leaders in Bayonne, fearing the hospital could close, said the
buyers were always candid about the methods they intended to use to make
the hospital a profitable enterprise.
Not surprisingly, the insurers fought back against the out-of-network
model. In 2009, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey filed an
injunction in New Jersey Superior Court saying Bayonne Medical’s owners
had “flatly rejected” and refused to negotiate an in-network hospital
contract with Horizon. When the existing agreement expired in early 2009,
Horizon said Bayonne sharply increased its prices. Bayonne’s in-network
charges to Horizon averaged $13,000 a day in 2008. A year later, when it
was out of network, the charges soared to $29,000, the insurer said in a
spring 2009 news release.
Bayonne Medical denied allegations in Horizon’s lawsuit that it was
artificially inflating prices, and filed its own lawsuit against Horizon,
claiming the insurer had intimidated patients and tried to get them to
leave the facility before completing their treatments.
The two eventually settled in 2011, and Horizon became an in-network
insurance provider. A spokesman for Horizon declined to comment on Bayonne
Medical’s charges, citing terms of the settlement agreement. Still, many
other large insurance companies, including Cigna, United Healthcare and
Aetna, remain out of network at Bayonne and are paying the higher bills.
Like Horizon, Aetna said its bills from Bayonne Medical soared, and it
also filed a lawsuit in 2011. The suit was dismissed.
Aetna’s internal data showed that Bayonne Medical’s emergency room charges
jumped again in 2012 and are running 6 to 12 times as high as those of
After purchasing Bayonne Medical, the investor group went on a buying
spree, acquiring Hoboken University Medical Center in 2011 and the
bankrupt Christ Hospital in Jersey City last year.
Visit the New York Times for the article.
AACN National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition May 21-23 in
LINET to introduce a new ICU bed at NTI
LINET, a supplier in hospital beds and patient room equipment, will
officially introduce the Multicare LE bed at NTI 2013. This highly
acclaimed bed is designed to meet the needs of patients in the high
acuity medical-surgical segment as well as the ICU. Attendees of the
exhibit hall are invited to visit the Linet booth #2670 to learn more
about the Multicare LE bed and participate in live pressure mapping
“Linet offers a new and unique approach to the hospital bed market,”
says Colin Bain, CEO of Linet Americas. “The Multicare LE bed is a great
example of how our innovative technology meets the needs of our
customers. This bed is designed to help improve outcomes - use our
unique Mobi-Lift sit-to-stand device to facilitate early mobilization or
our lateral tilt that helps make turning patients easier, safer and less
The Multicare LE bed provides an innovative and cost-effective solution
to hospitals with a high-acuity med-surg population or for community
hospital ICUs that may not have the budget for all the ‘bells and
whistles’ of a fully featured ICU bed.
Acknowledged by healthcare facilities around the world for their
innovative, yet simple designs, LINET’s products help solve issues
facing hospitals today such as patient and caregiver safety, infection
control, and growing financial pressures. Linet is also offering its
industry leading 5-year warranty to assist with lowering ongoing
operational costs in these challenging economic times. Please visit
www.linetamericas.com for more information.
New diagnostics solutions from Welch Allyn to help
improve patient safety, reduce risk for facilities
Welch Allyn, a medical diagnostic device company that specializes in
helping clinicians improve patient outcomes, will showcase its new
FlexiPort EcoCuff blood pressure cuff and EarlySense Vitals Surveillance
System at the National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition
this week. Both products enable improvements in patient safety and
clinical decision-making to help reduce risk for facilities. They will
be on display in Welch Allyn booth 1535.
EcoCuff is a single-patient-use blood pressure cuff that helps hospitals
fight cross-contamination and rising costs while also having less
environmental impact than other disposable blood pressure cuffs.
EcoCuff is designed to remain with one patient for the duration of the
hospital stay and then be disposed of upon release. The Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention recommend the use of such
patient-dedicated products to help reduce cross-contamination. As part
of the FlexiPort line of disposable blood pressure cuffs, EcoCuff
utilizes the FlexiPort single-point connection standardization system,
making the EcoCuff compatible with virtually every device throughout the
The EarlySense Vitals Surveillance System is designed to help clinicians
identify patient deterioration to help achieve better outcomes and fewer
adverse events. Without ever physically touching the patient, the system
measures heart rate, respiration rate, patient movement while in bed,
and patient bed entries and exits, using a sensor that is placed under
the mattress of a bed. In the event of a change in a patient’s status,
the system provides alerts to the clinical staff via the bedside
monitor, a central nursing station, hallway displays, and directly to
their pagers or by text messages to the nurse's phone.
On June 4, Welch Allyn will host an hour-long webinar titled Proactive
Patient Care on the Medical-Surgical Floor: The Need for Continuous
Monitoring. The program will focus on early detection and timely
intervention, and will feature a case study presentation by Anna
Hagopian, MSN, RN, director of Medical/Surgical Services at MetroWest
Medical Center in Framingham, MA. Registration for the event is now open
and reservations can be made at