Wednesday, November 16, 2016

On Call by Casey Ross

Good morning! Here's the latest in hospitals and health care news. Get updates from @statnews on Twitter or like us on Facebook.

AMA to Trump: Keep our patients insured

Frenemies or just enemies?

Yesterday, the AMA drew its Obamacare line in the sand, telling president-elect Donald Trump that while they'd appreciate his effort to get rid of excess regulations, “any new reform proposal should not cause individuals currently covered to become uninsured.”

AMA President Dr. Andrew Gurman said this in a statement issued from its interim meeting in Orlando, Fla., adding that the organization intends to work with Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress to advance health care reform.

There are plenty of areas where the sides can work together, including on tweaking Obamacare. But insurance coverage could become divisive, given Trump’s proposal to turn Medicaid into a block grant.

Stay tuned.

Video spoof argues: Cigna, if you want to improve health care, pay for it

Move over, McDreamy. The real doctors have something to say.

So suggests a new video from the American College of Emergency Physicians that spoofs an ad campaign from health insurer Cigna touting the benefits of annual wellness exams. The ads feature actors who played doctors on shows like “Grey’s Anatomy,” “M.A.S.H.,” and “ER.”

Cigna’s campaign, reportedly cost $9 million, and raised eyebrows because many experts question whether annual check-ups for otherwise healthy adults are necessary.

STAT's Andrew Joseph tells us that emergency physicians have a better use for Cigna's $9 million: covering patients' emergency care, because hospitals have to absorb some of those costs if patients can’t afford them.

“Thanks to the insurance industry, emergency care is covered less and less, and patients are paying more and more,” one doctor in the video says. Another adds: “We’re asking the insurance industry to give us and our patients fair coverage for value.”

Cigna did not respond to a request for comment.

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Just in: When nurses don’t feel safe, patients suffer

Memo to hospital administrators: Pay attention to whether your RNs feel safe.

If they don’t, says a new white paper by the research group Press Ganey, chances are much higher that the quality of their work will suffer, and so will your bottom line.

In examining the association between perceptions of workplace safety and quality measures in more than 600 hospitals across the US, they report that nurses who didn’t feel safe were much more likely to work at hospitals where patients suffered more falls and pressure sores, and scored lower on CMS’ star-rating scale. Nurses were also less likely to respond quickly and completely to patient needs. 

Compared to hospitals that ranked in in the top quartile of safety, those in the bottom had:

  • A 110 percent higher rate of RNs reporting missed care of patients at the end of their shifts
  • A 41 percent higher average penalty for hospital acquired conditions
  • And an 18 percent lower overall quality rating from CMS

Zag of the day: Making room to recognize grief

Hospitals can be hard places for grieving family members, and Randi Kaplan should know.

In 2005, when her husband died at Montefiore Hospital in New York, Kaplan told STAT's Bob Tedeschi that she often felt lost and alone. As a result, Kaplan, a social worker, helped Montefiore establish New York’s first, and so far only, support centers specifically designed to help grieving families.

The roughly 900-square foot centers — there is one each at Montefiore’s Moses and Einstein campuses — are quiet spaces, with private rooms, waterfall fixtures and faux skylights for families to find sanctuary from the bustle of hospital units.

Kaplan and a team of volunteers walk the hospital’s floors, watching for overwhelmed or exhausted family members who might benefit from a cup of coffee, a sympathetic ear or quiet company as they get through the day.

Last night in Boston, Kaplan, 59, received the National Compassionate Caregiver of the Year Award from the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Care, in recognition of her service to more than 5,000 family members. It is the first time a social worker has received the award.

Might the recognition spur more hospitals in New York and elsewhere to consider similar programs?

“It takes a long time or people to catch onto things that are a little outside the box,” she said. “We don’t bill, and it’s free, but people have to get beyond that and understand that if you’re going to take care of the patient you have to take care of the family, because the family is the unit of care.”


  • PCSK9 drug shown to offer benefits by cutting LDL cholesterol to extremely low levels (Reuters)
  • Why Trump is pharma’s port in the storm (STAT)
  • The Wisconsin paradox: What it means that Obamacare users heavily backed Trump (The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

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Stay well, and come back tomorrow.


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