Wednesday, January 25, 2017

On Call by Casey Ross & Max Blau
Good morning! We're here to catch you up on the latest news on hospitals and health care. For more coverage, follow us at @statnews, @bycaseyross, and @maxblau on Twitter; or like us on Facebook.

Quote of the Day: Tom Price on "onerous" regulations

“You’ve got physicians who are leaving the practice...because of the onerous nature of the regulatory scheme coming out of Washington D.C."

— Congressman Tom Price, President Donald Trump’s nominee for HHS secretary, on a question about electronic health records during his confirmation hearing. 

We want to know: have you left or are you considering leaving medicine because of regulations? Tell us what you think. Email and we may feature your thoughts in an upcoming newsletter.

Lobbying for better treatment and access in the wake of a new president

The lobbying arms of the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association worked hard last quarter, as a new president with plans to shake up health care prepared to take office.  

The AMA spent nearly $4 million to push for everything from increasing opioid treatment funding to the expansion of telemedicine. They also supported  HHS pick Tom Price, an AMA member, which sparked a sharp divide among its members. Meanwhile, the AHA spent close to $5 million on dozens of bills including efforts to boost rural hospitals, give undocumented immigrants better access to health insurance, and streamline visa processes for international doctors and nurses.

“Our interest is to ensure that, in the context of immigration reform, the ability of hospitals to recruit well-qualified health care professionals is not impeded,” AHA spokesperson Marie Watteau told STAT.

Today in STAT: Why asylum-seekers rely on psychologists

Eros Dervishi 
Whether asylum-seekers are allowed to stay in the US often depends on their ability to remember details of the traumatic moments that forced them to flee their homelands. STAT's Eric Boodman writes about a nonprofit that's training clinician volunteers to translate that trauma into evidence for the courts.

Read more.

New research: Lowering C. diff infections by using fewer antibiotics

You can scrub your hands and hospital surfaces all you want. But the most effective way to reduce C. difficile infections is to prevent the overuse of fluoroquinolone antibiotics, according to a new study by the University of Oxford.

Researchers found that restricting the use of fluoroquinolones resulted in a 80 percent decline in the number of C. diff infections in the UK between 2006 and 2013. They used whole genome sequencing to trace the spread of C. diff while promoting a "deep cleaning" protocol. Transmission didn't go down in strains susceptible to fluoroquinolone, but it did for fluoroquinolone-resistant strains. 

Meanwhile, US officials released a report showing hospital-acquired conditions dropped by 21 percent between 2010 and 2015, resulting in 125,000 fewer deaths and $28 billion in savings.

This doctor-to-patient ratio means better outcomes in the ICU

It would seem like intensive care patients might benefit from having more doctors around. However, there’s been little research to determine if that’s actually the case. When a team of British researchers studied a series of  ICUs in the UK, they found the “sweet spot” for lowering the mortality rate occurs when there are between seven and eight patients per critical care doctor.

Why? Too many doctors meant not enough chances to hone their skills on a routine basis. Too few meant not enough time was spent with each patient. Check out the full study in JAMA Internal Medicine. 


  • In Nebraska, Trump supporters heavily rely on Obamacare (CNN)
  • Millennials rush to sign up for Obamacare before it's too late (Washington Post)
  • Gout was once the disease of kings, but now, it’s the disease of the people (STAT)
  • Why collections agencies go after people with medical debt (Kaiser Health News)
  • Forward, the startup vowing to redefine primary care, pressed for results (MedCity)

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