New Jersey hospital emergency room becomes first in U.S. to end use of opioid painkillers

From Pix 11:

St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center announced it has become the first hospital in the country to implement a program that will manage patients’ pain in the emergency room without the use of opioid painkillers.

Painkillers most frequently used in the emergency room in the past were oxycodone, vicodin and percocet, according to Dr. Mark Rosenberg, the Emergency Department chair.

“Our job here together is to look at the whole equation and understand how we can stop people from going from a prescription, to an addiction,” he said.

Teleophthalmology May Expand Coverage in Emergency Eye Care

From Medscape:

Teleophthalmology may play a role in reducing coverage gaps in emergency department eye care, particularly in rural areas, a new study suggests.

Lauren Wedekind, from the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System in California, and colleagues published the results of their study online March 24 in JAMA Ophthalmology.

“Surveyed emergency department nurse managers and physicians indicated moderately high interest and perceived value for a teleophthalmology solution for remote triage and consultation,” the authors write.

Why hackers are going after health-care providers

From the Post:

Washington is reeling from the news of a hack at MedStar, one of the largest medical providers in the area. A computer virus infecting the organization’s computer systems forced MedStar to shut down much of its online operations Monday.

The exact nature of the attack is not yet known, but MedStar is just the latest victim in a string of cyberattacks that have hit the health-care industry hard. Here’s what you need to know about how health-care providers became the latest digital battleground.

Federal officials, advocates push pill-tracking databases

From the Tribune:

The nation’s top health officials are stepping up calls to require doctors to log in to pill-tracking databases before prescribing painkillers and other high-risk drugs.

The move is part of a multi-pronged strategy by the Obama administration to tame an epidemic of abuse and death tied to opioid painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin.

But physician groups see a requirement to check databases before prescribing popular drugs for pain, anxiety and other ailments as being overly burdensome.

Husband and wife ‘cadaver dealers’ charged for renting disease-ridden bodies to medical students

From Becker’s:

A new development has unfolded in the case against Arthur and Elizabeth Rathburn, the now-estranged married couple charged earlier this year for renting diseased human body parts to medical and dental students.

From January 2007 to December 2013, authorities say the cadaver-dealing duo ran International Biological in Detroit. The company purchased donated bodies from biological resource centers and rented them to researchers. The couple lied to their customers, saying the bodies were disease-free when they knew the remains had tested positive for hepatitis and HIV, among other diseases.

Last week, Ms. Rathburn agreed to a plea deal — she pleaded guilty to wire fraud and agreed to testify against Mr. Rathburn, according to The Washington Post. As part of the deal, she admitted that in 2012, Ms. Rathburn took body parts contaminated with hepatitis B and HIV to an American Society of Anesthesiologists conference in Washington and claimed they were disease-free.

Lack of competition leads to EpiPen pricing woes

From Modern Healthcare:

A single prescription for the name-brand EpiPen—which comes in a two-injector pack—costs consumers about $535 when purchased under two major insurance plans, before a $100-off coupon available to most patients, according to sample data from Oration, a software company that helps companies and their employees reduce prescription costs. Without insurance, the device can cost as much as $574 when paid with the discount card.

Customers often buy multiple devices to have at school or work, and the devices expire which means they must be replaced every year even if they’re not used. That can feel like a waste of money to some. Some studies have suggested that the yearlong shelf life approved by the manufacturer and the Food and Drug Administration may be conservative, though the official instruction remains.

For most drugs or devices, patients might look to a competitor for a cheaper price. But Dr. Bobby Lanier, a Fort Worth, Texas-based allergist, said most of his patients end up using the name brand EpiPen rather than competitors such as Adrenaclick, which is made by Horsham, Pa.-based Amedra Pharmaceuticals.

Out-of-hospital births on the rise in U.S.

From Reuters:

Giving birth outside of a hospital has become more common in the U.S., especially for white women, with almost 60,000 out-of-hospital births in 2014, according to a new study.

“I think it speaks to some women’s growing discomfort with the standard hospital-based system of childbirth in the U.S,” said lead author Marian F. MacDorman of the Maryland Population Research Center at the University of Maryland in College Park.