More hospitals reporting quality data from EHRs but these data are not available by facility

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” PINKÉ via Flickr

The number of hospitals voluntarily submitting data on quality generated by electronic health records (EHRs) increased significantly over the past year, according to the Joint Commission, a leading health care facility accreditation organization.

However, these data are not publicly available by facility, according to the Joint Commission. This is unfortunate because the information offers another window into hospital quality. AHCJ has long advocated for the public release of the Joint Commission’s hospital accreditation surveys and complaint reports. Continue reading

Doctors talk about ethical decisions, surgery on conjoined twins

Gideon Gil

About Gideon Gil

Gideon Gil (@GideonGil) is a managing editor of Stat, treasurer of AHCJ and chair of AHCJ’s Finance and Development Committee. He was the health and science editor at The Boston Globe for a decade and a medical reporter and an editor at The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., for 19 years, and had a hand in three Pulitzer Prizes.

Photo: Gideon Gil/StatDr. Oscar J. Benavidez (left), Dr. Allan M. Goldstein and other doctors at MassGeneral Hospital for Children used a 3-D model of the twins’ anatomy during surgery to separate them.

The twin girls were joined at the abdomen and pelvis. They had two heads and four arms, but three legs. They had two hearts, but shared a liver, a bladder, and other organs. One was active, the other subdued and growing weaker.

Some 20 hospitals had said they couldn’t help the girls, who had been born nearly two years earlier in a village in Africa. But Dr. Allan M. Goldstein, surgeon-in-chief at MassGeneral Hospital for Children, said yes, they would consider operating to separate the twins. Continue reading

New studies consider how oral flora can impact health of the entire body

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ’s topic leader on oral health and the author of “Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America.” She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: mostly*harmless via FlickrFusobacterium nucleatum

The human mouth is home to a variety of ecological niches, inhabited by hundreds of microbial species.

Scientists are eager to learn more about that world and its dynamic population. They hope their study of the oral microbiome will eventually contribute to a deeper understanding of how oral flora contribute to health and disease.

One new study, recently published in Science, offers an example of the kind of work that is unfolding. Continue reading

Medical ethicist discusses Right-to-Try legislation

Sibyl Wilmont

About Sibyl Wilmont

Sibyl Wilmont is a second-career registered nurse and clinical researcher with more than 25 years of experience in health care journalism, patient advocacy, pharmaceutical/biotech PR, and academic medical communications.

Photo: Marko Javorac via Flickr

Taken at face value, Right-to-Try (RTT) legislation sounds like a no-brainer, promising to improve access to treatments yet unapproved for marketing by the FDA for people with terminal illnesses. But it’s not that simple, according to Alison Bateman-House, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.A., an ethicist and assistant professor at the New York University School of Medicine.

In fact, many of its basic provisions make it unlikely to deliver on its promise. At a New York City Metro AHCJ Chapter meeting in November, she discussed reasons for her argument that RTT will only serve to limit, rather than expand, access to potentially life-saving treatments. Continue reading

Making sense of how the new tax bill will impact health care

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.

Photo by Sean Stayte via flickr.

The House and the Senate both have passed tax bills which have provisions that will deeply affect health care, ranging from the repeal of the individual mandate to repeal of a tax credit meant to help businesses comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Since the bills are not identical, the final legislation must first be negotiated in a conference committee. Not all the provisions will survive, although the final bill most likely will more closely resemble the Senate version, which includes repealing the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. Continue reading