What quality measures can tell us about nursing home ratings

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in Kaiser Health News, The Atlantic.com, New America Media, AARP.com and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health, Media & Policy at Hunter College in New York City, and co-produces HealthStyles for WBAI-FM/Pacifica Radio.

Photo: Brian Bullock via Flickr

Photo: Brian Bullock via Flickr

Nursing home star ratings are misleading and disingenuous, according to a recent analysis comparing ratings with quality measures alone. More than a thousand nursing homes nationally with high overall ratings had only one or two stars in quality measures, which could point to some serious health implications for residents. Continue reading

Another chance to get the story on women’s pelvic exams right

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Photo: Ann C. Ball via Flickr

Photo: Ann C. Ball via Flickr

When the U.S. Preventive Task Force Commission reported in late June that the evidence does not currently support routine pelvic exams during a woman’s OB-GYN visit, most media outlets covered it, as they should have.

But the quality of that coverage was spotty. Few stories captured the important nuances that distinguish pelvic exams from cervical cancer screenings and general wellness visits. Nor did many include the essential elements that women should know to understand the implications of the new recommendations.

Fortunately, the story isn’t over. What the commission issued were draft recommendations that won’t become official until after a public comment period that ended July 25. Continue reading

Deadline coming up to apply for fellowship to learn about medical evidence

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates social media efforts of AHCJ and assists with the editing and production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

CER400For the AHCJ Fellowship on Comparative Effectiveness Research, a select group of fellows will be chosen to spend a week in Washington, D.C., focused on understanding and reporting on medical research.

Joe Carlson, one of last year’s fellows, said the fellowship was, “Educational and practical – you don’t always get that. This was well worth my time.”

Applications are due no later than Monday, Aug. 1. Sessions will help fellows: Continue reading

Costly ‘tampon taxes’ join debate on health disparities

Susan Heavey

About Susan Heavey

Susan Heavey, (@susanheavey) a Washington, D.C.-based journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on social determinants of health and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on resources and tip sheets at determinants@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Eric Parker via Flickr

Photo: Eric Parker via Flickr

Taxes have long been used by policy makers to try and impact behaviors. But some lawmakers now are looking at taxes through the prism of health disparities and acknowledging the affordability gap for everyday health-related products.

The Washington Post’s Aaron Davis recently wrote about efforts to end so-called “tampon taxes” in another tax fight revolving around inequity. Some city legislators in Washington want to exempt feminine hygiene products – and diapers – from the city’s sales taxes, following on such efforts in California as well as New York. Continue reading

Medical students track former patients via EHRs, but is that ethical?

Rebecca Vesely

About Rebecca Vesely

Rebecca Vesely is AHCJ's topic leader on health information technology and a freelance writer. She has written about health IT since the late 1990s for a variety of publications.

Photo: rosefirerising via Flickr

Photo: rosefirerising via Flickr

Medical students are accessing patient electronic health records after those patients are no longer in their care, raising some interesting ethical, educational and patient rights issues.

The results of the small survey of about 100 fourth-year medical students, published in JAMA Internal Medicine this week, offer some insights into the reasons why medical students access former patient EHRs and any ethical dilemmas about doing so. Continue reading