Riding in Pickup Beds

We have the same concern in Iowa…
From the Honolulu Star-Bulletin:

While island motorists buckle up more than those in any other state, Hawaii is one of several states that allow passengers to ride unrestrained in the bed of pickup trucks.

Everyone from state lawmakers to national highway safety experts is questioning the rationale of having a seat belt law while people roam freely in truck beds. They say laws need to be changed before more people are killed.

“Considering every state but one has a law that requires people to be belted in vehicles, it makes no sense to me they can ride unrestrained in the back of a pickup truck that has no protection at all,” said Susan Ferguson, of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. “There’s no restraints in the rear, and it’s extremely dangerous.”

Thirty states have some type of restriction on riding in cargo areas, but many of those fall short of a comprehensive ban, according to the institute.

The states without any type of restriction are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Many states, including Hawaii, prohibit young children from riding in the back. Several states allow truck bed riding for work, like farmers, or during parades. Colorado allows it only if the cargo area is enclosed on all sides.

Adults Ambivalent About Higher Payments to High Quality Providers

A Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive Health-Care Poll shows that many U.S. adults believe it is fair to assess healthcare quality, but they are ambivalent and confused about whether or not payments to doctors and hospitals should be linked to quality metrics.

Half of all adults believe there are fair and reliable ways to measure and compare the quality of care provided by different hospitals and medical groups. However, only one in five (19 percent) think it would be fair for patients to pay more to be treated by healthcare organizations that have been shown to provide better care. Furthermore, only 14 percent said they themselves would be willing to pay a significantly higher premium for such care.

Compared to individual patients, a higher percentage (33 percent) of adults favor health insurance plans paying more to hospitals and medical groups that have been shown to provide better care. However this is down from 44 percent in 2003.

Changes in Medicare Fiscal Intermediaries

From CMS:

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is implementing significant changes to the Medicare fee-for-service program’s administrative structure. This Medicare Contracting Reform (MCR) will:

Integrate and simplify the administration of Medicare Parts A and B with primary A/B MACs which will process both Part A and Part B claims for the fee-for-service benefit;

Make contracting dynamic, competitive and performance-based, resulting in more accurate claims payments and greater consistency in payment decisions; and

Centralize information, creating a platform for advances in the delivery of comprehensive care.

Under MCR, there will be 23 Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) with no national MAC. These new MACs will include:

Fifteen primary A/B MACs to serve the majority of all types of providers for
Part A and Part B;

Four specialty MACs to serve home health and hospice providers; and

Four specialty MACs to serve durable medical equipment (DME) suppliers.

Emergency Physicians Warn That Risky Drinking Can Increase Your Risk of an ER Visit

From an ACEP press release:

As part of Alcohol Awareness Month in April, the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) and the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) have launched a campaign to educate occasional drinkers about how much is too much alcohol consumption and why it may put them at a higher risk of a trip to the emergency department.

Funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Risky Drinking Campaign hopes to keep people from driving after drinking and increase awareness about how much is too much alcohol. ACEP emergency physicians are available in 21 communities across the country to comment on the campaign and to talk about the consequences of risky drinking. Additional information about the campaign also is available at http://www.acep.org/riskydrinking.

Percentage of Uninsured Americans Rising

From Yahoo News, via Symtym:

The percentage of working-age Americans with moderate to middle incomes who lacked health insurance for at least part of the year rose to 41 percent in 2005, a dramatic increase from the 28 percent in 2001 without coverage, a study released on Wednesday found.

Moreover, more than half of the uninsured adults said they were having problems paying their medical bills or had incurred debt to cover their expenses, according to a report by the Commonwealth Fund, a New York-based private, health care policy foundation. The study of 4,350 adults also found that people without insurance were more likely to forgo recommended health screenings such as mammograms than those with coverage, and were less likely to have a regular doctor than their insured counterparts.

Drive-in Option Not Available

From the Marshalltown (IA) Times-Republican:

A Marshalltown man was arrested Monday after running into doors at the Marshalltown Medical & Surgical Center, then leading police on a chase through part of the city and county.

Nathaniel James Kopel, 22, of 403 N. Second Ave., ran his car into doors at both the OB-GYN center on the east side of the building and the emergency room doors on the west side of the building, according to police. MMSC spokesman John Cahill said the OB-GYN doors were hit first, followed by the emergency room side.

Change the lights from red to green…

We had these on the ambulances, fire trucks and police cars in Ames, Iowa. From CNN.com:

A man who said he bought a device that allowed him to change stop lights from red to green received a $50 ticket for suspicion of interfering with a traffic signal.

Jason Niccum of Longmont, Colorado, said the device, which he bought on eBay for $100, helped him cut his time driving to work.

“I guess in the two years I had it, that thing paid for itself,” he told the Daily Times-Call on Wednesday.

Niccum was issued a citation March 29 after police said they found him using a strobe-like device to change traffic signals. Police confiscated the device.

“I’m always running late,” police quoted Niccum as saying in an incident report.

The device, called an Opticon, is similar to what firefighters use to change lights when they respond to emergencies. It emits an infrared pulse that receivers on the traffic lights pick up.

Air Medical Scam

From JEMS:

OREM, Utah — If a stranger calls wanting your credit card number in exchange for the dispatch of a medical helicopter to help a loved one in distress — be skeptical.

Orem police are warning residents about a scam by individuals posing as operators of Life Flight, Intermountain Healthcare’s medevac unit.

According to police and hospital officials, a person will call and identify themselves as an IHC employee. The caller will then say that they are calling to inform them that one of their family members has been in an accident.

The caller will then say that a credit card number is needed before the helicopter will transport the injured party to a hospital for medical treatment, said Orem Police Lt. Doug Edwards.

However, the scammers have nothing to do with IHC, said Janet Frank, a company spokeswoman.

“When (Life Flight) picks up a patient, they have nothing to do with money,” Frank said. “When they’re called, they pick the person up.”

12 Nails to the Head: Picture

Blogged yesterday, picture today, courtesy of the Mumbai Times:

Docs seek access to Rx tracking

From the Boston Herald:

Pill-hungry “doctor shoppers” who gin the system to score multiple narcotics prescriptions are being tracked by regulators via mapping technology, but frustrated physicians and pharmacists on the front lines of the addiction battle say they are being pointlessly denied the vital information.

“I would like to know exactly who it is who is going doctor shopping,” said Dr. Srdjan Nedeljkovic, director of Pain Fellowship Education at Brigham and Women’s. “Sometimes you wonder about a patient. I wonder if I’m doing the right thing. How do you know?”

The $20,000 mapping software is used to pinpoint where patients are filling prescriptions for drugs such as OxyContin or Percocet. The new system uses data already collected by the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program.

The overall goal is to halt people from using scripts from numerous doctors to buy up large amounts of addictive painkillers for personal use or resale.

The program tracks patients’ prescription-filling trends through information given at the pharmacy counter, such as driver’s licenses.

While there is a proposal to notify doctors and pharmacists about patients who receive questionable prescriptions from multiple locations, for now only law enforcement, the DPH and regulators are allowed the data.The Public Health Council is likely to decide whether to let doctors and pharmacists access the data this summer. But that’s not soon enough for many of them.