Ohio doctors adjust to new opioid prescription rules

From the Courier:

Ohio has new rules about prescribing opioids for acute pain.

The rules, which went into effect Aug. 31, state that no more than seven days of opioids can be prescribed for acute pain for adults, and no more than five days for minors, and only with a parent’s or guardian’s written consent.

Health care providers may prescribe opioids in excess of these limits only if they provide a specific reason in the patient’s medical record.

These limits do not apply to the use of opioids for the treatment of chronic pain, or opioids prescribed for cancer, palliative care, end-of-life/hospice care, or medication-assisted treatment for addiction.

Unbudgeted: How the opioid crisis is blowing a hole in small-town America’s finances

From Reuters:

Cities, towns and counties across the United States are struggling to deal with the financial costs of a drug addiction epidemic that killed 33,000 people in 2015 alone, data and interviews with more than two dozen local officials and county budget professionals shows. (For graphics on the opioid crisis click here: tmsnrt.rs/2hO4YC7)

The interviews and data provide one of the first glimpses into the financial impact on local governments but it is far from complete because there is no central database collating information from counties and states. So, the true scale is still mostly hidden from view.

Just Breathe: Supplemental Oxygen Provides No Benefit in Acute Myocardial Infarction

From Urgent Matters:

The DETO2X-AMI study showed that administering supplemental oxygen to non-hypoxic patients with suspected AMIs did not improve mortality at either one month or one year.  Additionally, administration of oxygen did not appear to affect infarct size as both groups had similar troponin levels.  To date, the DETO2X-AMI trial is the largest randomized controlled clinical that evaluates the use of supplemental oxygen in AMI.  Its findings cast doubt on the benefit of routine oxygen therapy in these patients.  With this evidence, clinicians should consider supplemental oxygen ineffective in AMI patients without hypoxia, and ultimately it may be removed from clinical guidelines.

Mayo Clinic offers first aid assistance on Amazon’s Alexa

From Becker’s:

Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic is offering first aid advice through Amazon’s digital voice assistant, Alexa, reports the Star Tribune.

The free Mayo Clinic First Aid program is designed to help users with non-life-threatening medical problems — like how to care for a spider bite or treat a cut — although it can provide information in emergency situations, such as how to do CPR, according to Amazon’s product description.

“We provide health information in a print newsletter, digital newsletter, desktop web, mobile web, Mayo Clinic app. We view this voice interface, specifically the Amazon Alexa application, as basically a new channel to provide that information,” Jay Maxwell, a senior director in health information with the Mayo Clinic Global Business Solutions, told the Star Tribune.

Repealing Obamacare Could Close Your Local Hospital

From Forbes:

In states that expanded under Obamacare, hospitals were much less likely to provide care to patients and find themselves with no one willing or able to pay their bills – experiencing an almost $3 million drop in uncompensated care per year. For many hospitals, that money could be the difference between solvency and bankruptcy.

According to recent research by Chartist Group and iVantage Health Analytics, 41% of rural hospitals in the US are already operating with negative margin

Without Price Breaks, Rural Hospitals Struggle To Stock Costly, Lifesaving Drugs

From Kaiser Health News:

Rural hospitals have long wanted to be part of the so-called 340B program, too, but were blocked from participating until the Affordable Care Act of 2010. That historic health law added rural hospitals to the overall program. But, unlike bigger hospitals, rural hospitals can’t get discounts on expensive drugs that treat rare diseases because of a last-minute exclusion written into the ACA.

That seemingly minor detail in the law has left rural hospital pharmacists and health care workers struggling to keep medicines in stock, and wondering if they will be able to adequately care for patients.

NRHA endorses reintroduction of Save Rural Hospitals Act to new Congress

From the NRHA:

Nearly 80 rural hospitals have closed since 2010, and 673 additional facilities are vulnerable to closure — representing over 1/3 of rural hospitals in the U.S. Continued cuts to hospital payments have taken their toll, forcing closures, creating medical deserts across rural America and leaving many of our nation’s most vulnerable populations without timely access to care.

That’s why the National Rural Health Association supports the bipartisan Save Rural Hospitals Act, reintroduced today to the 115th Congress by U.S Reps. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa).

The bipartisan bill will stabilize and strengthen rural hospitals by:

  • Stopping the many cuts in Medicare that rural hospitals have endured for years,
  • Providing rural hospitals with new funding so they can provide quality primary care to rural patients across the nation, and
  • Creating a path forward for struggling rural hospitals by allowing them to provide care that makes sense in their communities and receive fair reimbursement for emergency room and primary care.

“This bill shines a light on the rural health crisis in Missouri and across the country,” says Rep. Graves. “If we accept this reality – and neglect this much needed conversation, rural hospitals in Missouri will continue to close, leaving thousands without access to health care, putting lives in jeopardy and affecting every family in rural America. That’s simply not acceptable.”

The Save Rural Hospitals Act will provide rural hospitals with financial and regulatory relief to allow them to stay open and care for rural residents who are older, poorer and have higher rates of chronic disease than their urban counterparts. CMS currently spends 2.5 percent less on rural beneficiaries than on those in urban areas.

“Rural hospitals are the lifeline for many Iowans living in rural communities,” says Rep. Loebsack. “Rural hospitals are the cornerstone of ensuring patients have access to high quality care and are a major contributor to the local economy, creating jobs in the hospital and the community. The Save Rural Hospitals Act will ensure rural patients in Iowa and across the country have the health care services they need.”

Rural Americans are facing a crisis in access to health care. If Congress doesn’t act now to prevent further closures, rural hospitals will be forced to lay off workers, cut wages, reduce services and close doors. Lives will be lost, and local economies will suffer. The average critical access hospital creates 195 jobs and generates $8.4 million in annual payroll.

“The National Rural Health Association has continuously called on Congress to stabilize rural hospitals by stopping the many cuts in Medicare that are causing rural closures and providing common-sense regulatory relief,” says NRHA CEO Alan Morgan. “We applaud Reps. Graves and Loebsack for reintroducing this bill and call for Congress to quickly pass this comprehensive legislation to save rural hospitals and ensure emergency access to care for rural patients across the nation.”

Ask your representatives to co-sponsor NRHA’s Save Rural Hospitals Act today to ensure the future of rural America.