IRS Refunds $20M to Resident Physicians and Hospital

From Modern Healthcare:

Nearly 1,000 former medical residents and a Cincinnati hospital will split $20 million in refunds from the Internal Revenue Service.

The IRS says stipends paid to former residents from 1997 to 2005 weren’t subject to Social Security taxes because the residents were students.

An attorney for University Hospital in Cincinnati says the refunds will total $20 million. The former residents will get half.

Students are usually exempt from taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare. The IRS conceded earlier this year that it collected taxes from medical residents and their employers on wages that should have been exempt.

CDC chief pushes for action to fight rising painkiller abuse

From NewsOK:

Emergency room visits linked to abuse of prescription painkillers have jumped 111 percent in five years, straining the nation’s public health system, a recent study revealed.

Urgent action is needed to address this health threat, Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Thursday.

“Overdose with prescription drugs is one of the most serious and fastest-growing problems in this country,” he said.

Visits to hospital emergency departments for abuse of pain drugs more than doubled between 2004 and 2008, jumping from 144,644 to 305,885 visits annually, according to a study released last month by the CDC and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The dramatic rise occurred among both men and women, as well as people younger than 21 and those who are older.

“At the federal level, we need to look at action to target pill mills that distribute large amounts (of such drugs),” Frieden said. “There are law enforcement interventions that are needed there.

“At the state level, states need to look at the prescribing laws and ensure that they’re strong enough.”

Electronic record-keeping systems should be used to identify duplicate prescriptions and stop people from filling the same prescription multiple times, Frieden said.

“Doctors really need to not write prescriptions for more than is needed,” Frieden said.

“We may need to look at things like whether long-acting pain medication should ever be prescribed out of emergency departments.

“Police say patient traveled with stash”

From Online Athens:

An emergency room patient faces a drug charge after he brought a bag of marijuana with him in the ambulance early Saturday morning, according to an Athens-Clarke police report.

The marijuana was in a bag filled with other medications the man brought with him on the ambulance, though the report did not say why he needed medical attention or which hospital he was taken to.

“Overseas doctors cash in on rural shortage”

Ed. Hmmm… sounds familiar.

From the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)

The shortage of doctors in rural Australia is so acute that locum doctors from New Zealand are being flown across the Tasman to work in hospital emergency rooms, at times, just for a weekend’s work.

…to help ease the shortage of doctors in rural and regional areas, the Federal Government has been offering relocation payments of up to $120,000 and other incentives to encourage doctors to leave the cities.

Despite this, hospitals are still being forced in the bush to employ locum doctors to fill the gaps, paying them up to three times the salary of a regular doctor. The shortage is so acute that locum doctors from New Zealand are being flown across the Tasman to work in hospital emergency rooms, at times just for a weekend’s work.

Dentist’s drill allergy?

From the International Journal of Emergency Medicine

The authors present a case in which the dentist mistook the subcutaneous emphysema following such a procedure for an allergic/anaphylactic reaction and sent him to the emergency department in an ambulance. The differential diagnosis and the subsequent management, including the role of oxygen and techniques to prevent such complications, are discussed.

Wait times at emergency departments continue to increase nationwide

From Fierce Healthcare:

The state of emergency care in the U.S. might be much improved if every state followed the lead of Wisconsin. The Badger State not only ranks ninth in the nation in terms of time spent in emergency departments for patients (an average of roughly three-and-a-half hours), but also boasts two of the top 10 metro areas ranked in the nation in terms of patient satisfaction.

Nationwide, however, patients today are cooped up in EDs for longer periods of time than ever before, according to healthcare consulting company Press Ganey’s latest Emergency Department Pulse Report. From arrival until discharge, patients spend an average of 4 hours, 7 minutes in emergency departments–a four-minute increase from 2008. Patients in Utah spend an astonishing eight-and-a-half hours in emergency departments, on average, the report shows.

Ingenix to acquire Picis

From Modern Healthcare:

Ingenix, an Eden Prairie, Minn.-based health information technology subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, has announced plans to acquire Picis of Wakefield, Mass., a developer of clinical health IT systems for emergency, surgery and intensive-care departments and hospital financial information systems.