Naloxone Price Hikes

From Business Insider:

Frequently referred to as an “antidote” for opioid overdoses, naloxone has seen drastic price increases in recent years, according to information provided by Truven Health Analytics, a healthcare-analytics company. A popular injectable version of the drug has gone from $0.92 a dose to more than $15 a dose over the last decade. An auto-injector version is up to more than $2,000 a dose.

In June, Sens. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat from Missouri, and Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, sent a letter to the five pharmaceutical companies that produce naloxone — Amphastar, Pfizer, Adapt, Kaléo, and Mylan — asking for an explanation of the recent price changes.

“At the same time this epidemic is killing tens of thousands of Americans a year, we’re seeing the price of naloxone go up by 1000% or more,” McCaskill wrote. “Maybe there’s a great reason for the price increases, but given the heart-breaking gravity of this epidemic and the need for this drug, I think we have to demand some answers.”

Mobile videoconferencing from ambulance speeds up stroke care

From Medical News Today:

A study of a mobile videoconferencing system – where paramedics accompanying patients in ambulances confer with doctors through computer tablets – shows it can produce stroke assessments on a par with those done at the hospital bedside. Such a system could help stroke patients receive treatments more promptly and thus reduce the risk of disability and death.

“We Asked an Emergency Room Doctor Whether There’s a Safe Way to Take Drugs”

From Vice:

Are people surprised when you, a doctor, talk about drugs this way? I kind of thought you’d be all about strict abstinence.

I, personally, as a doctor see this in no way as condoning drug use. As a doctor, it’s just important that young people don’t die. The testing process, in my mind, is very much like condoms. You may have an issue with sex before marriage, which is kind of what prohibition is all about. And if you don’t want to have sex before marriage, that’s cool. But to expect that all young people aren’t going to have sex before marriage—sorry, excuse me while I try on my corset because I’m about to bust my gut.

The same actually applies to drugs. From a medical perspective, if you think the correct message is to just say no, the implication is that you also think it’s also okay for one or two people to die every year. Maybe to serve as a lesson to other young people. Now, as a doctor, that’s completely unacceptable to me. That the cost of young people using drugs is death, that’s rubbish. We accept that Australia will never be drug free, no country has ever been.

Telemedicine Puts A Doctor In The House, Literally

From Forbes:

At several rural hospitals nearby, there is a shortage of physicians who can work emergency room (ER) or care for acutely ill patients. Using a robot called AGNES from AMD Global Telemedicine, he is able to provide an immediate presence when needed. The robot provides a mobile platform of digital diagnostics and video communications: Littman electronic stethoscope for listening to the lungs, heart or abdomen; a dermascope (digital scope for looking at the skin lesions, rashes or whatever); an otoscope (camera to look into the ear); a vital signs monitor for the heart rate, respiratory rate, pulse oximetry and blood pressure; an Electrocardiogram (measure the electrical activity of the heart); or a multipurpose camera to look inside the mouth or more closely at a burn or cut…all are options available on the robot. The cameras can take high definition video and magnified still images of any part of the body.

HCA, Illini Community Hospital find psychiatric patients prefer robots to in-person visit with a doctor

From Healthcare IT News:

Illini Community Hospital is a 25-bed critical access hospital in Illinois that, despite its size, has a thriving telebehavioral care program that utilizes three robots.

The facility operates the 10-bed Worthington Square geriatric unit wherein psychiatrists see patients remotely from a tertiary facility in Quincy, Illinois and as far away as Kansas City.

“Surprisingly, most of the geriatric psych patients are very comfortable with the robot because they remember the cartoon TV show The Jetsons,” Illini CEO Kathy Hull said.

Indeed, as telebehavioral services continue gaining traction, hospitals of all sizes are tapping into unexpected benefits on consulting with patient remotely via modern technologies. Healthcare Corporation of America and PeaceHealth System are also seeing results similar to Illini Community’s, though each is taking a different tack to reach patients.

Smaller babies may need special car seat harnesses

From Reuters:

Restraints in infant car seats fit most newborns poorly, and low-birthweight infants in particular may not be well protected, Australian researchers say.

In their small study, fewer than one in five normal- and low-birthweight babies achieved a proper fit.

Historically, the smallest children’s car seats were designed for babies weighing between 6.5 and 9 pounds (about 3 to 4 kg) and do not account for lower-weight infants, said lead author Julie Brown, a senior research scientist at Neuroscience Research Australia in Randwick.

New car seat harnesses have become available for smaller infants, but there has been little research about how well they actually fit smaller babies, Brown told Reuters Health by email.

Hospital starts offering “virtual ER visits”

From Modern Healthcare:

The New York-Presbyterian health system has created a platform to provide a variety of telehealth services to patients across its network and across the country.

New York-Presbyterian says its new NYP On Demand platform provides virtual emergency and will begin offering virtual urgent-care visits by the end of the summer. It anticipates the program will reduce wait times in their emergency department and provide patients with more convenient care options. The system says it is the first health system in New York to provide virtual ER services.

Mercedes-Benz uses augmented reality to keep first responders safe

From CNET:

First responders are facing a new threat — cars. Cutting into a 1994 Tercel isn’t the same as cutting into a 2016 Leaf. Whether it’s high-voltage cables, batteries in odd locations or other newfangled engineering trickery, being a first responder ain’t easy. But Mercedes is hoping to make it a bit easier, using augmented reality.

Rescue Assist is an app Mercedes-Benz created for first responders. It provides a wealth of data on all its cars, including commercial brands, so first responders know the best way to enter a vehicle. Now, it’s added augmented reality, giving folks a better idea of what parts are where underneath all that sheet metal.

CMS: First Release of the Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating on Hospital Compare

From CMS (press release):

First Release of the Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating on Hospital Compare

Today, we are updating the star ratings on the Hospital Compare website to help millions of patients and their families learn about the quality of hospitals, compare facilities in their area side-by-side, and ask important questions about care quality when visiting a hospital or other health care provider. Today’s update comes after substantive discussions with hospitals and other stakeholders to review the Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating’s methodology. To learn more about our outreach and education with stakeholders and hospitals, please visit:


The Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating is designed to help individuals, their family members, and caregivers compare hospitals in an easily understandable way. Over the past decade, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has published information about the quality of care across the five different health care settings that most families encounter.[1]

The new Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating summarizes data from existing quality measures publicly reported onHospital Compare into a single star rating for each hospital, making it easier for consumers to compare hospitals and interpret complex quality information. This overall rating supplements the star ratings currently posted for hospitals on their patient experience of care data (, based on data from the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) Survey. The patient experience of care hospital star ratings were first publicly reported in April 2015.

The methodology for the new Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating was developed with significant input form a Technical Expert Panel (TEP) and refined after public input. CMS will continue to analyze the star rating data and consider public feedback to make enhancements to the scoring methodology as needed. The star rating will be updated quarterly, and will incorporate new measures as they are publicly reported on the website as well as remove measures retired from the quality reporting programs.

We have received numerous letters from national patient and consumer advocacy groups supporting the release of these ratings because it improves the transparency and accessibility of hospital quality information. In addition, researchers found that hospitals with more stars on the Hospital Compare website have tended to have lower death and readmission rates.[2],[3]

Measures Selected for Inclusion in Overall Rating

The new Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating will include 64 of the more than 100 measures displayed on Hospital Compare. CMS collects the information on these measures through the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting (IQR) Program and Hospital Outpatient Quality Reporting (OQR) Program.

Hospitals are only assessed on the measures for which they submit data. Some of the measures used to calculate the Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating are based only on data from Medicare beneficiaries and some are based on data from hospitals’ general patient population, regardless of payer. For example, measures on deaths, readmissions, and use of medical imaging include data from Medicare beneficiaries only. The patient experience, safety, and timely and effective care measures include data from any adult patient treated at hospitals. Specialized and cutting edge care that certain hospitals provide, such as specialized cancer care, are not reflected in these quality ratings.

A complete list of measures included in this star rating is provided in the Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating Methodology Report available on QualityNet.

Methodology for Calculating the Star Rating

The methodology for the new Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating was developed with significant input from a Technical Expert Panel (TEP) and refined after public input. The TEP, which included nominated individuals with various expertise, met three times. The first meeting established the inclusion criteria for measures to be included in the star rating, and the second and third meetings established the methodology to calculate the star rating.

We also hosted two opportunities for public input and hosted two National Provider Calls with over 4,000 participants. Hospitals had an opportunity to review their Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating, ask questions, and provide feedback during a “dry run” in July and August 2015.

CMS designed the methodology to be inclusive of as many hospitals and as many measures as possible. This approach prevents the methodology from limiting star rating calculations to certain types of hospitals based on characteristic or size. CMS will continue to re-evaluate and make any needed modifications to the methodology over time. We will also continue to work closely with hospitals and other stakeholders to enhance the Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating based on feedback and experience.

Today, we are taking a step forward in our commitment to transparency by releasing the Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating. We have been posting star ratings for different for facilities for a decade and have found that publicly available data drives improvement, better reporting, and more open access to quality information for our Medicare beneficiaries. These star rating programs are part of the Administration’s Open Data Initiative which aims to make government data freely available and useful while ensuring privacy, confidentiality, and security.

For more information on the methodology, please see the Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating Methodology Reportavailable on QualityNet.


Emergency Physician allegedly tasers patient in Nevada hospital

From Becker’s:

The union representing nurses at Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital in Elko said a lack of security at the facility contributed to an emergency room physician using a taser on a patient, the Elko Daily Free Press reports.

Service Employees International Union Nevada claims the physician used a taser on an allegedly combative patient transported from Carlin, Nev., over the Fourth of July weekend.

SEIU said the physician was placed on administrative leave and is expected to return to work Wednesday.

“Sources close to the incident say combative patients at NNRH and a lack of trained security have resulted in staff resorting to tasers, pepper gel and fisticuffs to protect themselves, requiring medical professionals to use force against the patients they are treating,” the union claimed.