Colorado study says patients spend $800 million a year on unneeded ER visits

From the Post:

A new Colorado study estimates that residents rack up an extra $800 million per year in medical costs from unnecessary emergency room visits.

The study, released Wednesday by the nonprofit Center for Improving Value in Health Care, used a state health care database to compare the cost of going to an ER, a doctor’s office and an urgent-care clinic for the same ailment.

WellCare expects large losses from Iowa Medicaid contract

From Modern Healthcare:

WellCare posted a bigger year-over-year profit in the third quarter, but the health insurer’s stock dipped sharply in early trading Wednesday after projecting its new Iowa Medicaid contract would be significantly unprofitable in the early stages.

The Tampa, Fla.-based company also faces political uncertainty in Kentucky, where voters elected a new Republican governor.

WellCare was one of four private insurers that won Iowa’s three-year Medicaidprivatization contracts. Starting Jan. 1, the companies will start receiving capitated premiums and cover the care for the state’s 600,000 low-income Medicaid enrollees. Iowa’s decision to outsource Medicaid to private companies has drawn criticism from state residents as well as Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The Iowa caucuses kick off the presidential electoral process in February.

New ways to find misdiagnosis of abdominal pain in emergency departments

From Baylor:

Using electronic health records, researchers at Baylor College of Medicine studied patients who went to the emergency room with acute abdominal pain to evaluate factors contributing to an incorrect diagnosis and found that major causes of misdiagnosis included incomplete or incorrect history or exam and failure to order needed tests to determine the cause of pain. Their report appears today in the Emergency Medicine Journal.

Freestanding Emergency Departments: Growing in Numbers and Regulation

From MD News:

As the expansion of FEDs continues, further regulation by federal and local governments is expected. One area of concern is whether the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) will be applied to patient transfers. EMTALA, sometimes referred to as the “patient anti-dumping law,” governs when and whether patients may be transferred or discharged from an emergency department. Enacted to prevent hospitals from refusing to treat patients who do not have medical insurance and are unable to pay for the care rendered, EMTALA requires that any participating hospital emergency department provide “an appropriate medical screening examination” for all patients to determine the presence of an “emergency medical condition.”3 Such a patient must be stabilized prior to transfer or discharge.

DEA: Heroin top U.S. drug threat

From Reuters:

Heroin use has been exploding in the United States in recent years and on Wednesday federal officials said that for the first time it was viewed as posing the greatest U.S. drug threat.

In an annual assessment by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, heroin was ranked the No. 1 problem by the largest portion of local and state law enforcement agency authorities taking part, said DEA head Chuck Rosenberg.

Methamphetamine was ranked the top drug threat in 2014, and controlled prescription drugs was top in 2013, according to the DEA.

Heroin use in the United States has skyrocketed in recent years and there was 51 percent increase in users between 2013 and 2014. Though most common in the Northeast, heroin use in the Pacific and Great Lakes regions has tripled since 2007, the DEA said.