In April, Anna Wolfe, who covers health care for the Mississippi Clarion Ledger, started reporting on what appeared to be staggeringly high bills for using the emergency room at the Batson Children’s Hospital, in Jackson. The hospital is part of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, the only academic medical center in the state.
Parents who brought their children to the ER were being charged thousands of dollars in unreasonable emergency room facility fees that do not match the level of care received, Wolfe reports. Since that article was published April 15, Wolfe has continued to cover the complex ways the hospital calculates its charges. In the bills Wolfe reviewed, the hospital adds facility fees for ER visits, fees that are based on the level of care administered. Continue reading
Older adults can be especially vulnerable to natural disasters, be it a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, or the recent eruptions from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano. On top of health concerns, they often are socially isolated and lack good transportation options that can slow their response before, during and after a disaster.
A unique emergency department program focused on geriatric transitional care is helping older patients avoid unnecessary hospital admissions by as much as 33 percent, according to results of a study from Northwestern University Hospital in Chicago, Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, and St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in New Jersey. They’re collaborating on The Geriatric Emergency Department Innovations (GEDI WISE) program, an interdisciplinary approach to improving acute geriatric emergency care.
The program keeps older adults out of the hospital while keeping them safe, and has shown to prevent both 72-hour and 30-day readmissions. Continue reading
Emergency medicine physicians contend that Anthem’s policy regarding payment for emergency room visits in some of its markets has been putting patients’ lives at risk.
In six states so far, Anthem has a policy to deny coverage for emergency room visits that it later determines were not emergencies. Continue reading
In recent years, hospital emergency departments (EDs) have drawn millions of poor and underinsured patients coping with dental problems. Yet EDs remain tremendously expensive and ineffective sources of dental care, two new studies remind us.
Between 2008 and 2010, more than 4 million patients turned to hospital EDs for help with dental conditions at a cost of $2.7 billion. Research suggests that the vast majority did not receive dental procedures, but were instead treated with prescription medications. A total of 101 of the patients died in the emergency rooms, according to the study published in the April issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.
The authors used data gleaned from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), to produce their paper. They found that uninsured patients made slightly more than 40 percent of all dental-condition related ED visits. Continue reading
The recent chemical spill in West Virginia, which contaminated the drinking water of 300,000 people, became another occasion when federal agencies shut the door on reporters seeking answers, fueling public anxiety with their silence.
But after complaints from journalism organizations, including AHCJ, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week issued a mea culpa and a pledge “to work to reach that critical balance between accuracy and timely release of information the public expects and needs to protect their health.”
The CDC told West Virginia health officials on Jan. 15 that pregnant women should not drink the water until the chemical, called Crude MCHM, was at “nondetectable levels.” Reporters from the Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette had a lot of questions about this order – but could get no answers from the CDC press office. Continue reading