of Ebola dies in the UAE
The national airline of the United Arab Emirates said Monday it has
disinfected one of its planes after health authorities there announced that
a Nigerian woman who died after flying in to the capital, Abu Dhabi, may
have been infected with the Ebola virus.
The health authority in Abu Dhabi said in a statement carried by state news
agency WAM that the 35-year-old woman was traveling from Nigeria to India
for treatment of advanced metastatic cancer.
Her health deteriorated while in transit at Abu Dhabi International Airport.
As medics were trying to resuscitate her, they found signs that suggested a
possible Ebola virus infection. The health authority noted, however, that
her preexisting medical condition also could have explained her death.
Medical staff treating the woman followed safety and precautionary measures
in line with World Health Organization guidelines, the health authority
The woman's husband, who was the only person sitting next to her on the
plane, as well as five medics who treated her are being isolated pending
test results on the deceased woman. All are in good health and show no
symptoms of the illness, according to health officials.
Etihad Airways, the UAE's national carrier, said the plane was disinfected
in line with guidelines laid out by the airline industry's main trade group.
It said it continues to monitor the situation and is working with health
authorities "to ensure the implementation of any and all measures necessary
to ensure the safety and well-being of its passengers and staff."
Abu Dhabi is the capital and largest of seven sheikdoms that make up the
United Arab Emirates. The country has grown into a major long-haul aviation
hub. It is home to Abu Dhabi-based Etihad and Dubai-based Emirates, the
Middle East's largest airline. (Associated Press)
Visit ABC News for the story.
HPN to sponsor
the annual UDI Conference!
As an educational authority on UDI, the 6th industry stakeholders together
with the FDA UDI Team will meet to ensure accurate UDI implementation and
continued adoption momentum. The annual UDI conference is being held October
28-29, 2014, in Baltimore, MD.
HPN is proud to sponsor the UDI
Conference - The annual industry gathering is important for medical device
manufacturers, distributors, and hospitals to learn about the UDI Regulation
and the Global UDI Database (GUDID).
Attend the conference to:
Learn the technical details about the UDI Regulation from the FDA Team
See how to best utilize the Global UDI Database (GUDID) to harness the data
Understand the requirements for your automatic identification systems
Create your plan for implementation
Gain the knowledge and establish resources needed to guide your organization
Teams from the following should attend: Medical Device Manufacturers; Health
Care Distributors; Group Purchasing Organizations; Hospitals and Health Care
Providers; and Health Care Industry Professionals.
** NEW this year â special âProvider Trackâ offered as part of the
Conference Program, hosted by the Association for Healthcare Resource &
Materials Management (AHRMM).
The UDI Regulation requires new/improved systems and processes to
efficiently mark/tag equipment, scan device information at various points in
its life cycle, and transmit that data to the GUDID and other software
systems. The UDI Conference allows attendees to interact directly with the
FDA UDI team, investigate UDI technology in the exhibit hall, plan a
migration path, and network with peers in the healthcare industry in one
place, at one time.
To secure a seat at the best price, register by September 5th. Enter "HPN"
in the promotional code field to automatically save $100. Team registrations
are encouraged. If 2 or more from the same company are planning to attend,
firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a discount code. Register today at
For additional conference details and the most up-to-date information,
For information on the FDA UDI Rule & GUDID Guidance,
The UDI Conference is produced and managed by The Clarion Group, Inc.
CMS gives doctors
more time to review open payments data
The CMS Open Payments system is back online after being suspended Aug. 3,
allowing physicians to register to review and dispute payment information
about them provided to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services by drug
and device companies, according to a CMS subscriber e-mail sent Aug. 15.
âTo account for system down time, CMS is extending the time for physicians
and teaching hospitals to review their records to September 8, 2014,â the
e-mail said, also noting that a public website containing the payment
information will still be available on its target date, Sept. 30. Before the
system was taken offline, physicians had until Aug. 27 to review and dispute
their payment information.
The Open Payments system was created by the Physician Payments Sunshine Act;
it requires manufacturers of drugs, devices and other medical supplies and
group purchasing organizations to report certain payments to physicians or
teaching hospitals. Payment data for the last five months of 2013 were due
to the CMS June 30.
Visit CMS for the ruling.
hospitalsâ mistakes list widens
Massachusetts acute-care hospitals reported 753 serious medical errors and
other patient injuries last year, a 70 percent annual jump that health
officials attributed mostly to expanded definitions of what constitutes
medical harm. So-called serious reportable events in other types of
hospitals, including those that provide psychiatric or rehabilitative care,
rose 60 percent from 2012, to 206.
Instances where patients underwent a procedure on the wrong body part, were
burned by an operating room fire or a too-hot heating pack, or were subject
to contaminated drugs or improperly sterilized equipment saw some of the
largest increases in reporting since 2012. Hospitals also reported more
patient falls, serious bed sores, assaults, and suicides and suicide
Dr. Madeleine Biondolillo, associate commissioner of the Department of
Public Health, which collects the information, said itâs unclear whether
incident rates are going up because the state broadened the type of
incidents hospitals are required to report. The department also adopted a
computerized system to replace faxes, making notifying health officials
easier. Even so, the numbers show that even after more than a decade of
focus on improving patient safety, lapses still occur regularly in hospitals
across the country, medical safety experts said.
Hospital executives are paying more attention to reducing hazards and some
are more openly discussing problems with patients and regulators, but they
are simultaneously under growing pressure to care for more and sicker
patients and to cut costs.
The focus on eliminating patient harm dates back to 1999, when the Institute
of Medicine released a groundbreaking report revealing that tens of
thousands of patients die each year because of preventable medical errors.
Since 2008, Massachusetts hospitals have been required to notify the health
department about serious reportable events, a rule that is intended to help
regulators and hospital administrators better understand how errors happen
and how to prevent them. In certain cases, regulators also investigate and
cite individual hospitals for their mistakes. Hospitals also must report
these lapses to patients or their families.
The health department â as well as the federal government â prohibits
facilities from charging insurers and government payers for services
provided as the result of a serious reportable event, such as follow-up
surgery to remove a clamp or sponge left inside a patient, as incentive to
prevent these mistakes.
Biondolillo said the state has followed national guidelines and broadened
what hospitals are required to report. Before October 2012, for example,
hospitals were required to notify the state only about incidents that left a
patient with a âserious disability.â Now, they must report any âserious
injury.ââ Health officials also added four categories to the reporting
requirement, including a patient death or serious injury resulting from
âfailure to follow up or communicate laboratory, pathology, or radiology
Hospital reports for 2014 should give regulators a better idea of whether
errors are rising, because no more major changes to the notification system
are planned, Biondolillo said. That information will allow regulators to
better target prevention strategies, she added.
Visit the Boston Globe for the report.
brokers in Israel lure desperate kidney patients to Costa Rica
RAMAT GAN, Israel â Aside from the six-figure price tag, what was striking
was just how easy it was for Ophira Dorin to buy a kidney. Two years ago, as
she faced the dispiriting prospect of spending years on dialysis, Dorin set
out to find an organ broker who could help her bypass Israelâs lengthy
transplant wait list. Only 36, she had a promising job at a software company
and dreams of building a family. For five years, Dorin had managed her
kidney disease by controlling her diet, but it had gradually overrun her
resistance. Unable to find a matching donor among family and friends, she
faced a daily battle against nausea, exhaustion and depression.
A broker who trades in human organs might seem a difficult thing to find.
But Dorinâs mother began making inquiries around the hospital where she
worked, and in short order the family came up with three names: Avigad
Sandler, a former insurance agent long suspected of trafficking; Boris
Volfman, a young Ukrainian Ă©migrĂ© and Sandler protĂ©gĂ©; and Yaacov Dayan, a
wily businessman with interests in real estate and marketing.
The men were, The New York Times learned during an investigation of
the global organ trade, among the central operators in Israelâs
irrepressible underground kidney market. For years, they have pocketed
enormous sums for arranging overseas transplants for patients who are paired
with foreign donors, court filings and government documents show.
The brokers maintain they operate legally and do not directly help clients
buy organs. Dodging international condemnation and tightening enforcement,
they have nimbly shifted operations across the globe when any one
destination closes its doors.
The supply of transplantable organs is estimated by the World Health
Organization to meet no more than a tenth of the need. Although there is no
reliable data, experts say thousands of patients most likely receive illicit
transplants abroad each year. Almost always, the sellers are poor and
ill-informed about the medical risks.
The vast marketplace includes the United States, where federal prosecutors
in New Jersey won the first conviction for illegal brokering in 2011.
Religious objections to recovering organs from brain-dead patients, combined
with cultural discomfort with living donation, has resulted in a severe
kidney shortage in Israel and helps explain the tiny nationâs outsize role
in the global organ trade.
But a Times analysis of major trafficking cases since 2000 suggests
that Israelis have played a disproportionate role. That is in part because
of religious strictures regarding death and desecration that have kept
deceased donation rates so low that some patients feel they must turn
That desperation was evident in the workings of the transplant tourism
pipeline that delivered Dorin and other foreign patients to Costa Rica from
2009 to 2012. Through more than 100 interviews and reviews of scores of
documents, The Times traced the network from the barrios of San JosĂ©,
Costa Ricaâs gritty capital, to the glass towers of Ramat Gan, a bustling
commercial district near Tel Aviv.
The Costa Rican government is not sure how many foreigners received
suspicious transplants there. But The Times identified 11 patients â
six Israelis, three Greeks and two American residents â who traveled to San
JosĂ© for transplants using kidneys obtained from locals. Two other Israelis
who were located brought donors from Israel with them for procedures that
most likely would not have been approved in their own country.
The network was built by a cast that included high-rolling Israeli brokers,
a prominent Costa Rican nephrologist and middlemen who recruited donors from
the driverâs seat of a taxi and the front counter of a pizzeria. In
interviews and documents, four Israeli patients or sources close to them
identified Dayan, known as Koby, as their conduit to Costa Rica.
The authorities in Costa Rica have been investigating the operation for more
than a year. But it is not clear that the police in either country have
linked the transplants to Dayan or other Israeli brokers. None of the organ
recipients contacted by The Times said they had been interviewed.
The odyssey began when her family was referred to Avigad Sandler, who
explained that he was sending clients to Sri Lanka for $200,000 in cash,
Dorin said. Her co-workers staged a fund-raiser, and her parents mortgaged
their house to cover the rest.
She said that some of the money was wired to a hospital in San JosĂ©, and
that she delivered a payment to Dr. Francisco JosĂ© Mora Palma, the kidney
specialist who oversaw her transplant. Dr. Mora then paid the equivalent of
$18,500 to an unemployed 37-year-old man for his kidney, according to a
confidential Costa Rican court document.
Just hours after Dorin arrived in San JosĂ© in June 2012, Dr. Mora met with
her and the donor at her hotel. There, she said, they signed affidavits in
Spanish, a language she could not read, swearing that money would not change
hands. Dorin said she had doubts about Dayanâs assurances that everything
was legal, but did not feel she had much choice.
Because most people can live with only one kidney, that organ accounts for
the vast majority of living-donor transplants. Laparoscopy has made the
surgery to remove a kidney fairly routine, although it is not risk-free.
Living donors account for about 40 percent of the roughly 80,000 kidney
transplants performed worldwide each year, according to the W.H.O.
Long criminalized across the globe, the organ trade was handed an
unequivocal rebuke at a worldwide conference of transplant practitioners in
2008. The groupâs manifesto, called the Declaration of Istanbul, asserted
that trafficking violated âthe principles of equity, justice and respect for
human dignity and should be prohibited.â And yet the prospective market for
trafficked kidneys has grown unabated as the gap between supply and demand
widens each year.
In the United States, the number of kidney transplants has remained static
for a decade at 16,000 to 17,000 a year. During the same period, the waiting
list for kidneys from deceased donors has nearly doubled, passing 100,000
this year. The median wait time for an adult is more than four years, and
more than 4,000 die waiting each year.
Some physicians and ethicists question the relative morality of allowing
thousands to die just because the means of saving them is considered
repugnant. A regulated marketplace, they say, could all but eliminate the
shortage. It is no accident, they argue, that the only country that allows
compensation for donors â Iran â effectively has no waiting list.
Experts list China, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Eastern
Europe and the former Soviet republics as hot spots for organ trafficking.
But illicit transplants usually go undetected unless there is a surgical
mistake or a payment dispute. Prosecutions are thwarted by false affidavits,
toothless laws and lack of international cooperation, particularly regarding
The Times found that brokers in
recent years typically have charged clients $100,000 to $200,000 to cover
expenses associated with a transplant. As with other scarce luxuries,
pricing can be elastic. Three of the central operators in Israelâs
underground kidney market, which has flourished in a country where deceased
organ donation rates are low.
In Costa Rica, doctors are paid by the case, so the more transplants they
perform, the more they make. One nephrologist in San JosĂ©, Dr. JosĂ© Fernando
Mangel Morales, said he sometimes doubled his monthly income by handling a
single transplant at a private hospital.
Dr. Mora, the chief of nephrology at the state-run Hospital Rafael Ăngel
CalderĂłn Guardia, also had privileges at two private hospitals â Hospital
ClĂnica BĂblica and Hospital La CatĂłlica. The Costa Rican authorities
believe he had been arranging transplants for foreigners at the hospitals at
least since 2009.
The Costa Ricans who provided kidneys to foreigners were mainly men who had
not finished high school and were either unemployed or held low-income jobs.
Visit the New York Times for the full story.
definitive agreement to acquire Sg2
MedAssets, Inc., announced it signed a definitive agreement to acquire
privately held SG-2, LLC (Sg2) for approximately $142 million. Based in
Skokie, IL, Sg2 is a provider of healthcare market intelligence, strategic
analytics and clinical consulting services that help more than 1,400
hospitals, health systems, as well as pharmaceutical and medical device
companies understand current and future market dynamics in order to
capitalize on growth and performance improvement opportunities.
"In today's rapidly evolving healthcare environment, industry leaders cannot
rely alone on analysis of past performance or even current best practices to
drive strategic business decisions and adequately prepare for future market
dynamics," said John Bardis, chairman, president and chief executive
officer, MedAssets. "Sg2's predictive analytics, market intelligence and
consulting expertise help healthcare executives formulate and forecast a
highly-informed strategic path for future growth. Sg2's knowledge and market
insight is highly respected, and we share a common mission to help
healthcare organizations make better decisions to improve performance,"
Sg2's SaaS-based EDGE intelligence and analytics platform provides a
valuable lens into national, regional and local trends and forecasts
throughout the full healthcare continuum. The EDGE platform enables
healthcare organizations and other market participants to optimize their
system of care in their community and business results while adapting
towards a shift to value-based care models.
MedAssets believes this compelling combination of companies can propel
further growth for the expanded business enterprise in several ways:
Improved channel access: MedAssets offers existing relationships with more
than 4,400 U.S. acute care hospitals to provide a powerful sales and
distribution channel for Sg2 software and services.
Broader data utilization: The addition of proprietary cost, claims
reimbursement, and episode-of-care datasets and tools from MedAssets to Sg2
analytics promises to create innovative new products and additional value
Complementary business intelligence and consulting businesses: MedAssets
Advisory Solutions capabilities â clinical resource management, process
improvement, workforce management, revenue cycle consulting, and clinical,
cost and operational analytics â complement Sg2's strategic analytics and
clinical business intelligence and consulting teams. Together, these
expanded capabilities will help providers identify and act on the strategic
and operational implications of the changing healthcare marketplace.
Under the terms of the agreement, MedAssets will acquire Sg2 for
approximately $142 million to be funded with cash on hand and borrowings
under its existing credit facility. Sg2 financial results and additional
terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The transaction is subject to
customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, and is expected to be
completed within 60 to 90 days.
Visit MedAssets for the release.
house calls to high-risk patients
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Allegheny Valley Hospital says, âWe want to keep the
patient at home where they want to be.â The hospitalâs approach is fueled
partly by the governmentâs goal to curb readmissions, which cost an
estimated $12 billion in Medicare spending. Three-quarters of readmissions
are preventable, according to an analysis of claims data by the Medicare
Payment Advisory Commission.
Records show Allegheny Valley in the past two years received among the
steepest fines for hospitals in Western Pennsylvania - 1 percent of its
Medicare reimbursement. Penalties nationwide have averaged about $127,000
per hospital every year.
Experts say the fines have pushed hospitals to send workers to patientsâ
homes, where they might learn some people canât get a handle on their
health. The task falls primarily on nurses; itâs unusual for doctors to
visit homes, said Dr. Karen Joynt, an instructor at Harvard University
School of Public Health who studies readmissions.
The impetus to address readmissions at Allegheny Valley came in March 2012
when administrators noted just over 19 percent of patients were returning
within a month of discharge. They established the high-risk care team -
nurses, social workers and paramedics - to meet daily and review details of
recently discharged patients who they suspected might return. Most such
patients are elderly with diabetes, congestive heart failure or other
They do not follow specific guidelines when deciding who should get a home
Officials at Allegheny Health Network consider the program successful enough
to try it at other hospitals. Readmission rates at Allegheny Valley dropped
to 11.8 percent in May, the lowest since officials recorded the 19.2 percent
readmission rate in March 2012.
UPMC Health Plan started a similar program about a month ago that is run by
doctors from an internal medicine practice at UPMC Montefiore in Oakland.
The program has enrolled 20 patients, said Dr. Jodie Bryk, who leads the
program with Dr. Gary Fischer.
Visit the Washington Times for the story.