Tag Archives: surgery

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

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.

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

New data resource on NSQIP database can inform coverage of relevant medical studies

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

More than 1,500 peer-reviewed studies have relied on a surgical database known as the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP), or its pediatric counterpart, the NSQIP-P.

These databases, set up by the American College of Surgeons, offer extraordinarily granular information about clinical variables and outcomes (as well as demographic information) for a wide range of surgical procedures. Continue reading

VA surgery database explanation available for medical research reporting

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Photo: U.S. Pacific Fleet via Flickr

Surgery research can become complex very quickly: Not only are there the underlying conditions and demographics of each patient to consider, but also different characteristics particular to the procedure itself, the circumstances of the procedure, the institution and the providers doing the procedure.

If you frequently report on surgery studies, you may have covered a study that used data from the Veterans Affairs Surgical Quality Improvement Program (VASQIP).

Continue reading

Child’s death highlights effort to reduce risks of dental surgery

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.

Three-year old Daleyza Hernandez-Avila died on June 12 after being placed under general anesthesia at a Stockton, Calif., dental surgery center.

The child was scheduled to undergo routine treatment, including the placement of dental crowns and a possible tooth extraction during her appointment, Veronica Rocha reported for the Los Angeles Times. Continue reading

Keep in mind unintended consequences of price transparency

About Joe Rojas-Burke

Joe Rojas-Burke is AHCJ’s core topic leader on the social determinants of health, working to help journalists broaden the frame of health coverage to include factors such as education, income, neighborhood and social network. Send questions or suggestions to joe@healthjournalism.org or @rojasburke.

Image by Tim Caynes via flickr.

Image by Tim Caynes via flickr.

It’s always a good idea for reporters to think about unintended consequences, especially when we’re talking about the latest, trendiest policy fixes. I’m thinking of such ideas as requiring people who need medical care to put more “skin in the game” and to choose medical services with more attention to the prices. What could go wrong?

In an eye-opening essay for The New Yorker, Lisa Rosenbaum explores the consequences for people with limited means to pay. She makes the case that injecting price transparency into patient-doctor encounters could, if not done thoughtfully, “end up hurting most those we are trying to help.”

Rosenbaum, a cardiologist, starts with a first-person account of suffering a serious injury, and reflects on how pain and fear in such circumstances alter the way we think and make decisions, even among those who are pretty well off: Continue reading

Report shows how reference pricing brings down costs

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

dollar-signsOne issued we pursued during the AHCJ webcast last month (The cost of health care: Is transparency possible?) is whether price transparency will drive costs up or down.

The members of our panel reported that price transparency will cause providers to drop their prices, and now new research shows that when reference pricing is combined with price transparency, costs tend to decline as well.

A reference pricing initiative in California motivated hospitals to reduce prices for hip and knee replacements, according to a study released earlier this month by the Center for Studying Health System Change. HSC conducted the research for the National Institute for Health Care Reform.

The HSC report, “Potential of Reference Pricing to Generate Health Care Savings: Lessons from a California Pioneer,” showed that when the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) introduced reference pricing for patients seeking hip and knee replacements, the initiative had two positive results. First, it helped steer patients to lower-price hospitals, and second, it motivated hospitals to reduce prices for these joint replacement procedures. Continue reading