Category Archives: Pharmaceuticals

Remember – it’s still flu season

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

While there is rightfully much concern about the COVID-19 (aka coronavirus) becoming a pandemic (see Bara Vaida’s excellent tip sheet on covering the virus), let’s not forget we’re in the middle of flu season, another disease that is potentially fatal for older adults. While COVID-19 is deadlier, flu is much more prevalent.

Flu activity is high in the U.S. and expected to continue for weeks, according to CDC’s Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report for the week ending Feb. 15, 2020. You can see a breakout by age groups for Influenza A and B strains here. CDC estimates at least 29 million flu illnesses, 280,000 hospitalizations and 16,000 deaths from flu so far this season. Continue reading

Are hospitals training staff to adequately treat delirium in older adults?

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

pill organizer

Photo: Marilyn Dunn via Flickr

Hospitalized older adults who take atypical, or second-generation, antipsychotics for delirium were at increased risk of death from cardiopulmonary arrest, according to a recent study by researchers in Boston.

Despite these known risks, antipsychotic drugs frequently are used to treat or prevent delirium. Delirium (sudden confusion or a rapid change in mental state) affects 15% to 26% of hospitalized older adults. It can lead those affected to harm themselves or others, or otherwise interfere with medical care. Continue reading

Report tackles the risk of medication overload among older adults

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Photo: tr0tt3r via Flickr

Experts on aging are sounding the alarm about another U.S. drug crisis: Too many older adults taking too many medications.

This trend is leading to a surge in adverse drug events (ADE) over the past two decades. The rate of emergency department visits by older adults for ADEs doubled between 2006 and 2014 — a problem as serious as the opioid crisis but whose scope appears to remain virtually invisible to families, patients, policymakers and many clinicians, according to a recent report by the Lown Institute, a nonprofit think tank in Brookline, Mass. Continue reading

Johns Hopkins’ Sharfstein shares his health care ‘toolbox’

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org. Follow her on Facebook.

Joshua Sharfstein

If anybody has come close to having “done it all” in health policy, it’s Joshua Sharfstein, M.D.

The vice dean for public health practice and community engagement and a health policy professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Sharfstein has worked in city, state and federal government, in the legislative and executive branches. He’s worked on drug policy, health coverage, infant mortality, payment and delivery reform, substance abuse, tobacco, public health – not to mention a global health stint in Central America. Continue reading

2019 AHCJ Reporting Fellows on Health Care Performance named

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 AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

The Association of Health Care Journalists has awarded AHCJ Reporting Fellowships on Health Care Performance to four journalists who intend to pursue significant projects in 2019. The program, in its ninth year, is meant to help journalists understand and report on the performance of local health care markets and the U.S. health system as a whole.

The fellowship program, supported by The Commonwealth Fund, is intended to give experienced print, broadcast and online reporters an opportunity to concentrate on the performance of health care systems – or significant parts of those systems – locally, regionally or nationally. The fellows are able to examine policies, practices and outcomes, as well as the roles of various stakeholders.

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Former CMS leader discusses vulnerable populations, drug pricing and a health journalist he admires

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Donald Berwick

Don Berwick is a former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) under President Obama. Berwick’s long résumé includes leadership positions at the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the National Advisory Council of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Institute of Medicine’s Governing Council, the IOM’s Global Health Board, and on President Clinton’s Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Healthcare Industry. He is president emeritus of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. He also teaches at Harvard Medical School and is on staff at several major Massachusetts hospitals.

Prior to his keynote address on social determinants of health at the recent Institute for Healthcare Improvement conference in Orlando, Fla., Berwick sat with me to talk about some of today’s most pressing health care issues. [This interview has been edited for clarity and length.] Continue reading