Hospitals Face Financial Squeeze

From the Wall Street Journal:

More than half of U.S. hospitals aren’t seeing enough patients to provide sufficient revenue to fund operations and are “teetering on the brink of insolvency” or already are insolvent, according to a study.

Restructuring firm Alvarez & Marsal said more than 2,000 of the nearly 3,900 acute-care hospitals the firm studied don’t make a profit treating patients. Nearly 750 hospitals that do turn a profit still don’t have enough to reinvest in improvements or other essential expenditures, the firm’s study found.

Experts Say Different Sports Require Different Helmets

From the Washington Post:

“Don’t forget to wear your helmet,” parents tell their kids now that warmer temperatures are luring them outside to cycle, skateboard, rock climb, kayak and ride horses. And with good reason. “Helmets basically keep your skull from cracking,” says pediatric neuropsychologist Gerard Gioia, director of the Safe Concussion Outcome, Recovery and Education Program at Children’s National Medical Center.

Can’t one all-purpose helmet suffice?

In a word, no, say medical experts. That’s because different sports subject the body to different forces from different directions — and sport-specific helmets are designed accordingly.

“If you think about riding a bicycle, people tend to fall off front first, so they are more at risk for the front of their head hitting the ground, or a wall, because they are moving forward,” Gioia says. A bike helmet has frontal protection to guard against this.

“But then you have kids that are on skateboards, and the more typical thing for a skateboard is the skateboard zipping out, and you fall backwards and hit the back of your head.” Skateboard helmets typically cover more of the skull and the back of the neck than bike helmets.


CDC: Flu season may be worst in four years

The 2007-08 U.S. flu season may be the most severe since 2003-04, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported yesterday. Flu activity peaked in mid-February with widespread activity in 49 states. As of April 5, just six states reported widespread activity: Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont. Early results from a study to measure the effectiveness of this season’s flu vaccine show an overall effectiveness of 44%, suggesting the vaccine provided substantial protection even though some of the viruses circulating differed from the strains in the vaccine, CDC said.