Author Archives: Cheryl Clark

Cheryl Clark

About Cheryl Clark

Cheryl Clark (@CherClarHealth) is AHCJ's core topic leader for patient safety, a MedPage Today contributor and inewsource.org investigative journalist. For most of 27 years, she covered medicine and science for the San Diego Union-Tribune. After taking a buyout in 2008, she became senior quality editor for HealthLeaders Media.

CMS proposal would make knee replacements, stents reimbursable at ambulatory surgery centers

Who reads Medicare rules?

Nobody, right?

They’re long, boring, hard to read because of the small type in narrow columns and they’re full of repetition and jargon.

But just in case you have a sleepless night, I recommend pulling up proposed or final rules for an IPPS, (inpatient prospective payment system) or an OPPS (outpatient prospective payment system) or a PFS (physician fee schedule), for starters. Continue reading

Quality data on ambulatory surgery centers and hospital outpatient services available

As my colleague Joyce Frieden reported for MedPage Today on Tuesday, in 2020, reporters will be able to compare the quality of some hospital outpatient departments and some ambulatory surgical centers for the first time, using metrics that are somewhat similar to those used to check up on hospital quality.

After all, some 60% of surgical procedures today are performed in an outpatient setting, so patients have a right to know what policies and procedures the facility uses to safeguard against errors and complications. Continue reading

Despite checklists, cataloging strategies and other efforts, ‘forgotten surgical items’ remain a problem

About this time every year, the story of Dan Jennings, a man I got to know fairly well, always seems to come to mind.  It was Sept. 14, 1999, when his odyssey as a patient zero of medical errors began, and became a wake-up call for me, a journalist, who realized how easy it is for lapses in simple safety protocols to ruin lives.

Jennings was 46, an educator for a San Diego company that sold devices to treat patients with sleep apnea. He traveled around the country teaching doctors about diagnosing and treating the disorder and demonstrating the correct use of continuous positive airway pressure devices, or C-PAPs. Continue reading

Annual list provides opportunities for stories on hazards in health care

The ECRI Institute every so often comes out with top 10 lists, and on Monday it issued its latest, focusing on devices that cause harm.

Its Top 10 Health Technology Hazards is produced annually.

Here is a verbatim list: Continue reading

IG report: Some states fall short on oversight of surgery centers

Photo: Hospital UTPL via Flickr

Here’s a somewhat worrisome report from the Office of Inspector General.  Some two-thirds of the ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) in the nation are supposed to be surveyed for quality and safety issues by their state health agency, according to Medicare rules. But a troubling number of states seem to be ignoring their responsibility.

Since Medicare reimburses ASCs for certain approved procedures — including some that carry higher risks for complications — federal officials have set requirements for how often and how extensively those state agencies are supposed to inspect those facilities.  One could argue, and many have, that stricter standards should be put into place, but this report is just about the compliance of the ones that do exist. Continue reading

Where have all the patient safety activists gone? … Answer: They’re still around, just a bit quieter

Today, Sept. 17, is the first World Patient Safety Day, declared by the World Health Organization to draw attention to ever-present need – still – to reduce avoidable patient harm in health care settings.

And November marks the 20th anniversary of “To Err is Human,” the National Academy of Medicine’s 1999 report that estimated as many as 98,000 people die a year in United States hospitals. That widely publicized report called for a national agenda to improve patient care processes to make it easier for honest providers to safely treat patients and harder for them to cause harm. Continue reading