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Week in Review

by Kroger Burrus on April 23rd, 2014

Kroger | Burrus Week in Review

NEWS

Memorial Hermann Plans $650M Renovation of Texas Medical Center Campus
The Memorial Hermann Health System has plans to begin a $650 million renovation of its Texas Medical Center campus this summer. The project, which is scheduled to conclude in 2018, will add an additional 1.34 million square feet to the 2.5 million square foot campus, 160 new beds, 24 new operating rooms, and 16 additional emergency room bays.

Medicare Continued to Pay Sanctioned Doctors
Dozens of physicians who were suspended or terminated from state Medicaid programs, indicted or charged with fraud, or who settled civil allegations of submitting false claims, continued to receive reimbursement from Medicare for treating elderly and disabled payments, according to the nonprofit newsroom ProPublica. Payments to these doctors in 2012 totaled more than $6 million in 2012, according to the group’s analysis.

PET Scans Suggest Many Misdiagnosed as Vegetative
A new study involving the use of PET scans to assess patients who have emerged from a coma awake but unresponsive suggests that many who were diagnosed as being in a vegetative state have a higher level of consciousness than first thought. The imaging tests found minimal consciousness in 13 of 41 individuals pronounced vegetative patients, suggesting that some patients who appear vegetative actually have a low level of consciousness and the potential for recovery.

Whistleblower Lawyers Mining Medicare Billing Data
Lawyers who specialize in bringing whistleblower lawsuits on behalf of employees of drug companies and healthcare providers accused of defrauding the federal Medicare system started mining Medicare billing data shortly after its release last week. Under federal law, employees who can prove Medicare fraud are entitled to up to 30% of the amount recovered by the government, and the attorneys who represent them often receive 40% of that recovery.

Study Finds 12 Million Misdiagnosed in US Each Year
About 12 million Americans are misdiagnosed each year, according to estimates based on an analysis of 3,000 medical records collected during three previous studies. The study did not examine why mistakes were made, but prior studies have attributed errors to misinterpretation of test results and patients’ failure to provide accurate medical histories.

Patients Who Appeal Denied Health Claims Often Win
Patients who appeal their insurers’ refusal to cover health claims often win, according to recent studies. The Affordable Care Act set national standards that allow patients who are denied treatment to appeal denied claims to their insurance company and, when necessary, to a third party reviewer. Capital Public Radio’s analysis of data from California found that half the time patients appealed a denied health claim to state regulators, those patients won.

Study of VA Hospitals Finds Experienced Nurses Most Cost Effective
Patients who are treated in units staffed by nurses with extensive experience receive the best care, according to a study from the Columbia University School of Nursing and Columbia Business School. The review of more than 900,000 patient admissions to the Veterans Administration Healthcare System found that a one-year increase in the average tenure of RNs on a hospital unit was associated with a 1.3% decrease in length of stay, meaning patients received higher quality and more cost-effective care.

Free Samples Influence Physicians
Free pharmaceutical samples influence physicians’ prescription practices, according to a study published in JAMA Dermatology. The study compared prescriptions written for adult acne drugs by an academic medical center that prohibits the distribution of free samples with those in a database of prescriptions by office-based dermatologists nationwide. At the academic center, 17% of prescriptions were for brand-name drugs, compared to 79% of drugs prescribed in private offices.

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