Emergency Physician using an ambulance for a rally run stops to help a stricken bystander

From the Bangor Daily News:

When the Waterbury “Spin Doctors” team arrived at Davenport Park on Saturday for its Fireball Run Adventurally stop, the team jumped out of its ambulance and real emergency room doctor Peter Jacoby put on his real-world hat.

A member of the Maine Troop Greeters, on hand to greet the nearly 40 rally vehicles, had passed out and was down on the ground.

“We were going by them, and one of the greeters came up and said one of their guys was down — we, of course, jumped out,” Jacoby, who is the emergency room director at St. Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury, Conn., said Sunday morning during a phone interview. “I said, ‘I’m on my way.’”

In ambulances, informing the medical database is almost as important as the medicine

From The Telegraph:

The push to create digital medical records starts when medical treatment begins, which for emergency cases means in the ambulance.

That’s why New Hampshire has pushed emergency services to adopt digital records, usually via the state’s Internet-based system, for almost a decade.

American Medical Response, the nation’s largest ambulance firm, which provides 911 service in Nashua and Manchester, has just rolled out an updated software system that it says will improve treatment down the road by allowing faster analysis of hundreds of thousands of emergency calls.

ERs set limits on dispensing painkillers

From the Des Moines Register:

Des Moines hospitals are putting up a stark warning to anyone tempted to scam emergency-room doctors into prescribing large amounts of painkilling pills: Don’t bother trying.

Mercy Medical Center put up signs last year warning that its ER doctors would prescribe pain medication only for emergency medical conditions. Mercy will soon put up the same signs in its urgent-care clinics, and its main rival, Iowa Health-Des Moines, is poised to follow suit.

The hospitals’ signs and stricter policies are a reaction to increasing abuse of prescription narcotics, such as Oxycontin, hydrocodone and methadone, and increasing deaths from overdoses.

Emergency Department Interventions to Reduce Patient Drinking

From HealthNewsDigest:

Researchers at Yale School of Medicine have developed and validated a new tool, the first of its kind, to measure how well emergency department physicians administer a brief intervention aimed at curtailing harmful drinking by patients.

The tool is a simple checklist that can assess whether physicians have been properly trained to implement such an intervention to give it the best chance of working. The study appears online in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.

LETTER: Some suggestions for improving emergency rooms

From the Gaston Gazette:

We need to improve the time spent in waiting rooms in order to improve the health of children and families in our community. By designating areas specifically for pediatrics, adults, and behavioral health we can reduce the amount of germs patients come in contact with. We can also purchase black lights and use Glo Germ Gel to encourage good hygiene.

Making Greater Use Of Dedicated Hospital Observation Units For Many Short-Stay Patients Could Save $3.1 Billion A Year

From Health Affairs:

Using observation units in hospitals to provide care to certain patients can be more efficient than admitting them to the hospital and can result in shorter lengths-of-stay and lower costs. However, such units are present in only about one-third of US hospitals. We estimated national cost savings that would result from increasing the prevalence and use of observation units for patients whose stay there would be shorter than twenty-four hours. Using a systematic literature review, national survey data, and a simulation model, we estimated that if hospitals without observation units had them in place, the average cost savings per patient would be $1,572, annual hospital savings would be $4.6 million, and national cost savings would be $3.1 billion. Future policies intended to increase the cost-efficiency of hospital care should include support for observation unit care as an alternative to short-stay inpatient admission.

Providers: Fraud not the same thing as additional coding

From FierceHealthcare:

“We will continue to escalate our efforts to prevent fraud and pursue it aggressively when it has occurred,” HHS and the Attorney General said.

AHA responded, saying although the hospital trade group supports HHS’ hard-nose stance again EHR cloning and upcoding, “more documentation and coding does not necessarily equate with fraud,” according to a Tuesday statement.

With more than half (55 percent) of hospitals qualifying for incentive payments under Meaningful Use, according to HHS, EHRs could put hospitals and other providers in a sticky situation to more accurately code, yet may expose them to risk for increased coding and higher payments that could be interpreted as fraud.

“One of the biggest selling points of EHRs is that this wonderful new electronic tool automatically captures additional data providers may have missed when manually coding, enabling providers to bill more accurately for their services. It’s called ‘right coding,'” FierceEMR columnist Marla Durben Hirsch wrote.

Wireless ECG Telemetry Delays Problematic

From MedPage Today:

Wireless ECG monitoring systems may have clinically significant delays between when a patient’s heart rhythm is measured and when it shows up on a bedside monitor, according to a science advisory from the American Heart Association.

In cases when instantaneous assessment is needed for clinical decision-making, healthcare professionals should use hard-wired telemetry systems, stated a writing group chaired by Mintu Turakhia, MD, of the VA Palo Alto Health Care System in California.

Kinect Can Help Doctors Monitor Your Physical Rehab From Home

From Gizmodo:

Bright minds at the West Health Institute in San Diego have developed a technology that allows patients in need of physical therapy to perform necessary exercises away from their doctors expert guidance through use of a Microsoft Kinect. The technology, called the Reflexion Rehabilitation Measurement Tool (RMT), utilizes a Windows 7 personal computer and the Microsoft Kinect for Windows motion camera device to keep patients actively and consistently engaged in physical therapy throughout their daily lives.

“Emergency Rooms Are on Life Support”

From the Huffington Post:

Emergency departments are the frontlines of our health care system, ready to provide care for you, no matter who you are. The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) of 1986 was intended to prevent hospital from turning away uninsured patients and to guarantee that all patients in the U.S. could receive emergency treatment. As an unintended consequence,55% of emergency care now goes uncompensated, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. In addition, the average emergency physician provides nearly $150,000 a year in uncompensated care due to the mandates of EMTALA. And, since no other medical specialty is under this mandate, other physicians can send uninsured patients to the emergency department for medical treatment that they do not want to provide.

Yet emergency medicine researchers receive less than 1% of National Institutes for Health (NIH) funding — the largest source of federal funding for research in the US.