The most recent edition of The Associated Press Stylebook – the premier guide for copy editors – has a number of updates that are important for health journalists to be aware of. Many of them are around the subject of drug and alcohol use and misuse, which many of my colleagues find themselves writing about quite a bit these days.
No fewer than four of the 2016 winners of the Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism covered the opioid epidemic from different angles. No surprise — former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy noted last year that more Americans suffer from addiction than from cancer. During his tenure, Murthy made the opioid crisis a top priority.
Murthy’s 2016 report on addiction has been compared to an influential report on smoking decades earlier, and he created a website devoted specifically to addressing the opioid crisis. But how much of it could have been prevented with a bit less complacency on the part of researchers? Continue reading
Too many physicians are prescribing opioid medications for hospitalized older adults who may not need them. A new study found that one-third of 10,000 older patients were prescribed opioid pain medications, including Percocet and OxyContin, while hospitalized for non-surgical conditions.
These patients had a longer length of stay (six days vs. four) and were more often readmitted within 30 days. They were also more likely to be restrained or have bladder catheters while hospitalized, according to the retrospective analysis. Continue reading
On the issue of costs, Saturday morning’s session on “Bending the Cost Curve: The Social Determinants of Health” will look at how tackling social determinants of health can help lower costs and improve health, particularly when it comes to health care systems such as hospitals and other networks. Continue reading
On Monday, analysis from the Congressional Budget Office showed that 24 million more Americans would become uninsured over 10 years if the U.S. House Republican’s bill to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) becomes law. Coverage of the CBO report overshadowed other news last week that the proposed American Health Care Act also would slash insurance coverage for those who are addicted to opioids and other drugs, according to reporting in USA Today and the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Deirdre Shesgreen and Terry DeMio on March 9 reported the bill would freeze the ACA’s Medicaid expansion provisions and limit federal payments to the states for all beneficiaries. That would result in a disproportionately adverse effect on patients coping with mental illness and addiction, they wrote. Continue reading