Resources: Latest Reports/Studies

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Improving Access to Oral Health Care for Vulnerable and Underserved Populations

This report, from the Institute of Medicine's Committee on Oral Health Access to Services, examines the scope and consequences of inadequate access to oral health services in the United States and recommends ways to combat the economic, structural, geographic, and cultural factors that prevent access to regular, quality care.

CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Report - United States, 2011

According to the CDC release, the report shows that "Americans' differences in income, race/ethnicity, gender and other social attributes make a difference in how likely they are to be healthy, sick, or die prematurely." The report also found the data lacking when it came to disability and sexual orientation.

New realities of an older America

The Stanford Center on Longevity's 86-page report on the "New Realities of an Older America" examines the economic, political and social impact of the nations aging population.

GAO report: FDA has begun to enhance postmarket drug safety, but additional actions are needed

In its evaluation of FDA efforts to enhance postmarket drug safety, the Government Accountability Office finds the FDA has begun to enhance postmarket drug safety, but additional actions are needed. In particular, the GAO pushes the FDA to grant greater independence to the folks responsible for monitoring and enforcing postmarket drug safety.

AAMC's 2009 workforce report

The American Association of Medical Colleges 2009 annual workforce report is geared toward answering most common questions about physician supply on a state-by-state basis. The report includes state rankings on physician supply, medical school enrollment, graduate medical education, and the retention of physicians, each explained through a variety of maps, tables and graphs.

OIG on pandemic preparedness: Are we ready for a medical surge? What about vaccines?

The Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General has released two reports assessing just how prepared Americans are for a flu pandemic. Their findings? Communities are on the right track when it comes to preparing for a surge in patient numbers, but they're not as ready as they could be. Likewise, there's still more to be done before local organizations will be ready to distribute vaccines and antiviral drugs.

IOM report details H1N1 resources

Like many such organizations, the Institute of Medicine had an eye on pandemic influenza (and related pandemic diseases) well before H1N1 started making some such fears a reality. Now, IOM has assembled relevant flu pandemic research from the past few years in one handy guide.

GAO reviews child mental health and low-income primary care efforts in Katrina's wake

A pair of Government Accountability Office reports evaluating the progress of ongoing post-Hurricane Katrina rebuilding efforts - one looking at mental health services for children, the other at organizations providing primary health care - find that while federal grants have had an impact in both areas, there is still considerable work to be done.

GAO says VA medical centers don't meet all requirements for women veterans

A review by the Government Accountability Office has found that Veterans Administration medical centers often don't meet all VA policy requirements for women veterans.

IOM: Initial priorities for comparative effectiveness research

In their "Initial Priorities for Comparative Effectiveness Research" report, The Institute of Medicine has recommended 100 priority projects for stimulus-funded comparative effectiveness research.

Study: '62.1 percent of all bankruptcies in 2007 were medical'

A national study conducted by the American Journal of Medicine revealed that 62.1 percent of all bankruptcies in 2007 were medical, up from 46.2 percent in a smaller 2001 study.

GAO: Nation must maintain focus on flu pandemic preparedness/planning

A Government Accountability Office review of the nation's pandemic preparedness and response has shown that while efforts are on the right track, there are still gaps to be filled and roles and strategies to be honed.

GAO: Crowding, longer-than-recommended waits persist in emergency rooms

A Goverment Accountability Office review showed that, in 2006, emergency rooms remained crowded and patients were sometimes forced to wait for longer-than-recommended time periods in such facilities.

VA audit shows documentation of informed consent in human studies sometimes incomplete

The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General has released a 37-page "Review of Informed Consent in the Department of Veterans Affairs Human Subjects Research (PDF)." The purpose of the review is "to determine whether VA research involving human subjects had on file either the informed consent forms or a waiver for this requirement from the institutional review board" and to make sure that the requests on file were in compliance with current regulations. Not all of them were, primarily because they lacked witness signatures.

Health Care Reform: An Introduction

The Congressional Research Service released Health Care Reform: An Introduction a 20-page report on the underlying problems and major issues facing health care reform efforts. According to the primer, interest in reform has been propelled by three concerns: insurance coverage, cost and spending, and quality. Each is addressed in depth, and Lyke's thorough sourcing should help direct readers to other quality resources. 

HHS: 2008 National Healthcare Quality & Disparities Reports

These two annual reports from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services focus on the quality and accessibility of American health care. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the reports help make the case for comprehensive health care reform.

Hard Times in the Heartland: Health Care in Rural America

According to a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, tens of millions of rural Americans struggle with higher rates of poverty, higher rates of underinsurance and less access to primary care than their urban counterparts.

GAO: Coordinating national data on health-care associated infections

The Government Accountability office looked into providing reliable data on health-care-associated infections, and found that nationwide standardization of data collection was needed.

GAO: Focus on influenza pandemic planning and preparedness

This Government Accountability Office report looks for a sustained "focus on the nation's planning and preparedness efforts" for a possible influenza pandemic. It follows up on past GAO pandemic reports and finds that 13 of 23 GAO recommendations have been implemented. 

CDC Injury Research Agenda, 2009 to 2018

Over the past year, the CDC's Injury Center has revised its initial research agenda, published in 2002, to better reflect priorities. The Injury Center will use the new agenda to guide and direct future research efforts. The agenda focuses on injury response, unintentional injury prevention and violence prevention.

Patients in Medicare Part D gap change drug purchasing, maybe use
   The Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services looked into the effects of the "coverage gap" felt by Medicare Part D prescription drug subsidy plan users without additional financial assistance after they reached the initial plan limit of $2,250. The OIG found that 98 percent of such users changed their drug purchasing behavior when they hit the gap, and 69 percent purchased a lower average amount of drugs per month while in the gap. About one third of those surveyed may have "compromised their drug regimens with changes in use."
DOD health care reform committee's final action report

Military Health System Senior Oversight Committee has released its final report, after evaluating and implementing certain recommendations for the reform of the Department of Defense's military health care system.

GAO: Agencies say veterinarian workforce faces issues

The Government Accountability Office found that many federal agencies, much like the country in general, face a looming shortage of veterinarians. Government veterinarians are key to public health, especially in the containment of diseases that spread from animals to humans, the report said. The GAO found that the government's shortage is exacerbated by noncompetitive salaries and projected retirements.



IRS study of community benefit activity and executive compensation in nonprofit hospitals

The IRS has released the full results of a study into the community benefit activities and executive compensation practices of nonprofit hospitals. The data for the report came from more than 500 questionnaires the IRS sent to a sample of nonprofit hospitals. The results are broken down into four demographic and five revenue-based categories.

VA's demand projections effective in short, not long, term

A RAND study commissioned by the Department of Veterans Affairs explored the effectiveness of the complex model the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs uses to project future demand for its services and thus better allocate resources. The study found the VA's model to be effective in the short term but less accurate for longer-rate projections, especially in alternative policy environments.


Budget Options, Volume 1: Health Care

The Congressional Budget Office has released a 235-page report that presents 115 options, encompassing a broad array of issues related to the financing and delivery of health care. It includes some options that would reduce spending and others that would increase it, as well as changes that would reduce or raise revenues. (December 2008)

The uninsured often donate organs, but rarely receive them

People who lack health insurance are about 20 times more likely to donate their liver or a kidney for a lifesaving transplant than to receive one, a new study shows. The study is the first to assess the health insurance of organ donors nationally.

Health care policy in an Obama administration: Delivering on the promise of universal coverage

A new analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers' Health Research Institute examines the challenges Obama faces, explains how these reforms may be enacted, the potential impact for employers as well as those in the health industry and provides five ideas for making health care more affordable.

Adopted Children with Special Health Needs: Characteristics, Health and Health Care by Adoption Type

This research brief presents information on adopted children with special health care needs, using data from the 2005-2006 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs.

Rural Hospital Ownership and Competition

This paper asks how hospital ownership - nonprofit, for-profit, or government - affects medical service provision in the rural context. It considers two distinct ownership effects: 1) the direct effect of hospital ownership and 2) the spillover effect of the market mix of hospital types on a hospital's service offerings.

Medicare Part D claims data released

The data, on Medicare drug claims for the 25 million Medicare beneficiaries in the Part D program, was released at the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Symposium on Oct. 30.

Subtle racial bias from doctors may affect health care

In the first large study to explore possible unconscious bias among physicians, researchers have found that doctors mirror the attitudes of the majority in society and implicitly favor whites over blacks.

Disability is Associated with Intimate Partner Violence

American Public Health Association Researchers found that women with a disability were significantly more likely to report experiencing some form of intimate partner violence (IPV) when compared with women without a disability. 

VA study: Female vets report sexual trauma

About 15 percent of recently returned female veterans utilizing the VA health care system report experiencing sexual trauma during military service.

FDA Advisory Committees: Process for Recruiting Members and Evaluating Conflicts of Interest

The Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been criticized about how it recruits individuals to become members of its advisory committees and how it grants some determinations that allow members with conflicts of interest to participate in committee meetings.

GAO reviewed FDA advisory committee policies and analyzed meeting records for FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, and Center for Devices and Radiological Health. GAO also interviewed individuals familiar with FDA's committee member recruiting process.

Racial/Ethnic Health Disparities in People with Disabilities

A study in the October 3, 2008 edition of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) highlights findings on the health of people with disabilities. The study shows that among adults with a disability, Black, Hispanic and Native Americans report fair or poor health at higher rates compared with White and Asian Americans.

GAO reports on state reporting and other initiatives to reduce health-care-associated infections

The Government Accountability Office looks at 23 states that had established mandatory HAI public reporting systems through February 2008. The report looks at other initiatives to track health-care-associated infections.

Trends in Nursing Home Deficiencies and Complaints

This study describes the nature and extent of nursing home deficiencies and complaints in 2007 and identifies trends from 2005 to 2007. In each of the past 3 years, over 91 percent of nursing homes surveyed were cited for deficiencies and a greater percentage of for-profit nursing homes were cited for deficiencies than not-for-profit and government nursing homes.

GAO Report: Millions of children in Medicaid have untreated tooth decay

Nationally representative data from the 1999 through 2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey surveys indicate that about one in three children in Medicaid had untreated tooth decay, and one in nine had untreated decay in three or more teeth.

Projected to 2005 enrollment levels, GAO estimates that 6.5 million children aged 2 through 18 in Medicaid had untreated tooth decay. Children in Medicaid remain at higher risk of dental disease compared to children with private health insurance; children in Medicaid were almost twice as likely to have untreated tooth decay.

Failed drug studies published less often

A review published in the Public Library of Science journal, PLoS Medicine, found that many studies of prescription drugs that found them to be ineffective were published less often in medical journals than sucessful studies were. Failure to publish negative and positive results could skew doctors' opinions about a drug, the researchers said.

Federal official offers perspective on health care policy and costs

Peter Orszag, director of the Congressional Budget Office, recently make a presentation to the Center for Public Health at Stanford University titled "A Federal Perspective on Health Care Policy and Costs."

Study: Higher spending leads to better outcomes

An MIT Sloan professor's study found that higher health care spending results in better outcomes. Joseph J. Doyle, Jr., Ph.D., compared outcomes of heart attack patients in Florida who were exposed to different health care systems that were not designed for them.

GAO report: Many Underserved Areas Lack a Health Center Site

The Government Accountability Office was asked to examine to what extent medically underserved areas (MUAs) lacked health center sites in 2006 and 2007. To do this, GAO obtained and analyzed HRSA data, grant applications, and the written feedback provided to unsuccessful grant applicants and interviewed HRSA officials.


Hot or Not?: Recognizing and Managing the Health Impacts of Climate Change

Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholar Sabrina McCormick presents a paper that provides an analytical framework for the newly recognized and socially-contested category of "climate-induced illnesses."

F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies Are Failing in America 2008

This fifth annual report released by the Trust for America's Health (TFAH), reports that the rates of obesity in the United States have grown in 37 states. TFAH conducted a state-by-state analysis of adult obesity rates and reviewed some of the federal and state programs designed to combat the epidemic.

Majority of health journalists don't have specialized training

Amanda Hinnant and Maria Len-Rios, researchers at the Missouri School of Journalism, conducted a national survey and found that the majority of health journalists have not had specialized training in health reporting and face challenges in communicating new medical science developments.

Research shows Vioxx study was actually a marketing tool

A study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that ADVANTAGE, a study by Merck & Co. for the drug Vioxx, was a marketing campaign framed as science.

Organ donation: When should doctors act?

A report in the New England Journal of Medicine about pediatric heart transplantation is raising new questions about when and how someone can be declared dead. The Institute of Medicine has several reports on organ donation, which have explored how long surgeons should wait to take organs from donors among other difficult scientific and ethical questions.

Investigation finds problems in Central Ark. veterans' health care

The Department of Veterans Affairs' Office of Inspector General looked into allegations of human subjects protection violations at the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System and found violations in the areas of informed consent and adverse event reporting.

Americans want change in U.S. health care system

A survey released on Aug. 7, 2008, by The Commonwealth Fund finds that 82 percent of Americans think the U.S. health care system should be fundamentally changed or completely rebuilt.

Long-Term Care Insurance: Hearing and GAO report

The House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a July 24, 2008, hearing into whether consumers are adequately protected from premium increases and denials of claims. In conjunction with the investigation, the GAO released a report on the topic.

Future doctors overshare on Facebook

University of Florida researchers find that medical students using social networking sites are sharing personal information beyond what most physicians would ever share with patients.

Health IT and its future

Experts discuss the adoption and implementation of health information technology and the financial impacts.

Import safety: An action plan update

The Department of Health & Human Services has released a report outlining steps the government, private sector and international partners have taken to improve the safety of imported goods.

Estimates of Health Insurance Coverage for People under 65

This report, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, presents geographic estimates of people under age 65 who were uninsured, had private health insurance, or who had Medicaid or State Children's Health Insurance Program coverage. The report features data for 41 states. (June 25, 2008)

GAO: Some states, federal agencies address transition of young adults with serious mental illness

The Government Accountability Office looked into what services are available to help young adults with serious mental illness make the transistion to adulthood. The transition to adulthood can be difficult for young adults who suffer from a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. When these individuals are unsuccessful, the result can be economic hardship, social isolation, and in some cases suicide.

Inspector general reports on problems in prison health care

The Office of the Inspector General, in its semiannual report to Congress, details problems within the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The OIG made 11 recommendations regarding the provision of inmate health care, and the BOP agreed with all of the recommendations.

Economic costs of injuries due to interpersonal and self-directed violence

WHO and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched a joint publication entitled Manual for estimating the economic costs of injuries due to interpersonal and self-directed violence. The manual fills a gap in the area of normative guidance on how to assess the economic impact of the two most prevalent forms of violence.

GAO report on organ transplant programs

In 2005 and 2006 serious problems at organ transplant programs came to light. The GAO looked into the agencies involved in oversight of transplant programs (HHS and CMS) and found that, while the agencies have improved oversight, implementations issues remain. (April 2008)

Racial and Ethnic Disparities: States and Feds to the Rescue?

This briefing looked at what states are doing to help reduce disparities, and what the federal government and the states could do to narrow gaps even more.

Report shows innovation in the design and implementation of Medicaid family planning expansions

A Guttmacher Institute analysis and report shows that state officials have demonstrated creativity and entrepreneurship in designing and implementing Medicaid family planning expansions. 

"Pro-gun" states lead the nation in per capita firearm death rates

CDC data analyzed by the Violence Policy center shows that states in the south and west with weak gun laws and high rates of gun ownership lead the nation in overall firearm death rates.

GAO report, testimony about hospital infections

Testimony and report conclude "Leadership Needed from HHS to Prioritize Prevention Practices and Improve Data on These Infections" (March 2008)

Preparing for aging boomers

The Institute of Medicine has released "Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce," a report that finds the nation's health care system is not equipped to meet the needs of an aging baby boomer population.

2007 state quality data available

The data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality offers state-by-state health care quality information, including strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement from the National Healthcare Quality Report.

Expanded health data from birth certificates

This report from the CDC presents data for 2005 on selected items from the revised U.S. Standard Birth Certificate of Live Birth in 12 states (Fla., Idaho, Kan., Ky., Neb., N.H., N.Y. (excluding New York City), Penn., S.C., Tenn., Texas and Wash.). Information is shown in the following categories: risk factors in pregnancy, obstetric procedures, characteristics of labor and delivery, method of delivery, abnormal condition of the newborn and congenital anomalies of the newborn. (Feb. 29, 2008)

Shortage of psychiatric beds

The Treatment Advocacy Center, a nonprofit organization "dedicated to eliminating barriers to the timely and effective treatment of severe mental illnesses," has released a report (March 17, 2008) that finds a shortage of public psychiatric beds across the United States.

MRSA infections after face-lift surgery

In the March-April 2008 issue of Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery, researchers documents MRSA-positive surgical site infections after face-lift surgery - the authors believe this is the first such study.

GAO report on reliability of hospital quality data reported to CMS

This March 6, 2008, statement provides information on how hospitals collect and submit quality data to CMS and how CMS works to ensure the reliability of the quality data submitted.

Do EMS ride-along programs violate patient privacy?

An article from the Journal of Emergency Medical Services, re-posted with permission, that discusses whether ride-alongs are permissible and how EMS programs can ensure they don't violate HIPAA. The article, written by two lawyers, specifically discusses reporters on ride-alongs.

National Action Agenda for Public Health Legal Preparedness

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and partners have issued the National Action Agenda for Public Health Legal Preparedness.

GAO report on testing for mild TBI

The Government Accountability Office looks at a computer-based tool used by the Veterans' Administration to screen returning veterans for mild traumatic brain injury, beginning in April 2007.

Medical School Expansion: Challenges and Strategies

A study by the Association of American Medical Colleges looks at challenges and strategies for increasing enrollment in medical schools. (Jan. 31, 2008)

Government-Industry Roundtable on Quality in Long-Term Care

On Dec. 6, 2007, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Health Care Compliance Association (HCCA) co-sponsored a government-industry roundtable called "Driving for Quality in Long-Term Care: A Board of Directors Dashboard."

FDA failing to inspect medical device manufacturers

A GAO report (Jan. 29, 2008) reveals the FDA has not met the statutory requirement to inspect certain domestic establishments manufacturing high-risk medical devices every two years, and the agency faces challenges inspecting foreign establishments. It also finds that two FDA databases with information about foreign medical device establishments and their products contain inaccuracies that create disparate estimates of establishments subject to FDA inspection. Additionally, although comparing information from these databases could help FDA determine the number of foreign establishments marketing medical devices in the United States, these databases cannot exchange information and any comparisons must be done manually.

National Institute of Mental Health Director’s Report to the National Advisory Mental Health Council

This Jan. 11, 2008, report outlines NIMH's initiatives, budget, research and updates on its programs.

Maintaining Military Medical Skills During Peacetime

This research looks at how military doctors could best maintain the types of clinical skills needed during deployment, which are significantly different from the skills they normally practice during peacetime at military treatment facilities.

Review of 2007 FOIA amendments

Scott Hode, an attorney specializing in information and privacy law who previously worked at the Department of Justice, reviews the OPEN Government Act of 2007.

Military task force makes recommendations for treating patients with TBI

The Traumatic Brain Injury Task Force, a group of experts chartered by the Army Surgeon General, released a report making recommendations to improve the clinical, administrative and research processes involved with providing medical care and services to soldiers and other service members.

Performance data may not affect patient decisions

A study published in the Jan. 15, 2008, edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine concludes that there is scant evidence on whether or not publicly releasing performance data influences patients decisions.

CDC releases data on hypertension

The National Center for Health Statistics has released data on hypertension awareness, treatment and control. The data, from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, shows that 29 percent of adults had hypertension and that there are various age, gender, and race/ethnic disparities in hypertension prevalence, awareness, treatment and control. (January 2007)

The Cost of Pushing Pills: A New Estimate of Pharmaceutical Promotion Expenditures in the U.S.

In a study in the open access journal PLoS Medicine, Marc-André Gagnon and Joel Lexchin make the case for a new estimate of promotional expenditures in the pharmaceutical industry. They used databases to make a revised estimate and compared their results with those from other data sources to argue in favor of changing the priorities of the industry.

GAO Report on SCHIP: Experiences in states that cover adults

A study by the Government Accountability Office examined how 10 states that cover adults under SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program) structured their programs, what their experiences were with enrollment and expenditures and how they approached outreach. The study was based on data from 2006.

Disaster preparedness and the chronic disease needs of vulnerable older adults

In Preventing Chronic Disease, Nancy Aldrich writes about the importance of addressing the needs of older adults in the event of a disaster and steps to do so. The article says that about "80 percent of older adults have at least one chronic condition that makes them more vulnerable than healthy people during a disaster."

CO-related deaths rise in January

The CDC reports that deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning are highest during the month of January. The report analyzes death certificate data from the National Vital Statistics System. Nebraska has the highest rate of death from carbon monoxide poisoning, and rates were highest among adults over 65, men, non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic blacks.

DoD task force makes recommendations for future of military health care

The Department of Defense has released the final report of the Task Force on the Future of Military Healthcare. The 204-page report includes recommendations that include better integration of direct and contracted care, collaborate with other payers on best practices, conduct an audit of financial controls, implement wellness and prevention guidelines, change incentives in the pharmacy benefit and revise enrollment fees and deductibles for retirees.  (Dec. 20, 2007)

Status report shows HHS backlog of FOIA responses grows

The Department of Health and Human Services has posted an updated FOIA Implementation Status Report. HHS's goals were to reduce backlog, improve processing and improve public awareness. The department says it achieved the great majority of its goals, but acknowledges that there was an increase in the backlog as a result of an increase in FOIA requests.

Global Cancer Facts & Figures 2007

This report from the American Cancer Society has information and data about cancer, including basic facts about what cancer is, risks, genetic factors, numbers of people diagnosed and information about specific kinds of cancer.

Improving Population Health: The Uses of Systematic Reviews
   The report describes the methods, applications, and value for policymakers of systematic reviews that evaluate interventions intended to improve population health. Systematic reviews are the best available scientific guidance for choosing among alternative policies and apply the methods of research synthesis-a rapidly developing area of inquiry that merges the biomedical and social sciences.
U.S. not prepared for health emergency

Trust for America's Health released its report, "Ready or Not? Protecting the Public's Health from Disease, Disasters, and Bioterrorism, 2007," finding that while preparedness efforts have improved there are still serious problems. The report breaks down its findings by state and looks at vaccination plans, liability for health care workers, disease surveillance systems and more.

Does Court Secrecy Undermine Public Health and Safety?

The Senate Committee on the Judiciary before the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights held a hearing on “The Sunshine in Litigation Act: Does Court Secrecy Undermine Public Health and Safety?” on Dec. 11, 2007.

Survey: U.S. health care facilities not doing enough to curb MRSA

In a poll of infection control professionals, half said their facilities are not doing as much as they could or should to stop the spread of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections.

CDC's 'Health, United States, 2007'

Health, United States is an annual report on trends in health statistics. The report consists of a chartbook containing text and figures that illustrates major trends in the health of Americans and a trend tables section that contains more than 150 detailed data tables. With Chartbook on Trends in the Health of Americans and a special feature on access to care.

VA facilities face shortage of nurse anesthetists

A GAO report finds that Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities have challenges in recruiting and retaining VA CRNAs for their workforce. (December 2007)

FDA science and mission at risk

A November 2007 report concludes that "science at the FDA is in a precarious position: the Agency suffers from serious scientific deficiencies and is not positioned to meet current or emerging regulatory responsibilities."

Emergency on-call coverage suffering

A recent study released by the Center for Studying Health System Change finds that hospitals are having greater problems obtaining emergency on-call coverage. It is increasingly a problem for patients requiring specialty consultations. The study is based on site visits to 12 communities where HSC has been tracking change since 1996.

A high performance health system for the U.S.: An agenda for the next president

"A High Performance Health System For the United States: An Ambitious Agenda for the Next President," outlines strategies to contain costs and organize the U.S. health care delivery system to address its failings.

Forging Consensus: The path to health reform in Massachusetts

AHCJ member and independent journalist Irene M. Wielawski recently completed this report about Massachusetts’ new health reform law that would provide access to affordable health insurance for virtually all residents. The report is broken into six sections to highlight aspects of the Massachusetts process that are potentially adaptable to other states, even those with different health care systems and percentages of uninsured residents.

Identification of cytolytic peptides as key virulence determinants for community-associated MRSA

Researchers have discovered a class of secreted staphylococcal peptides that have the ability to recruit, activate and subsequently lyse human neutrophils, thus eliminating the main cellular defense against S. aureus infection.

Psychological distress, substance abuse in veterans

A government study finds that 7 percent of veterans aged 18 or older experienced serious psychological distress in the past year, 7.1 percent met the criteria for a substance use disorder, and 1.5 percent had co-occurring serious psychological distress and substance use disorder. The data comes from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

School Mental Health: Role of the SAMHSA and Factors Affecting Service Provision

This report from the Government Accountability Office discusses efforts by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to provide mental health care to children through schools.

While many of the existing mental health services for children are provided in schools, the extent and manner of school mental health service delivery vary across the country and within school districts. Federally led initiatives have identified schools as a potentially promising location for beginning to address the mental health needs of children.

Prevalence of Dementia in the U.S.: The Aging, Demographics, and Memory Study

This study, supported by the National Institutes of Health, suggests that about 3.4 million Americans age 71 and older have dementia, and 2.4 million of them have Alzheimer's disease. The study is the first to estimate rates of dementia and Alzheimer's using a nationally representative sample of older adults across the United States.

Characteristics of Kidney Transplant Recipients, Frequency of Transplant Failures, and Cost to Medic

The Government Accountability Office analyzed data from 1997 through 2004 from the United States Renal Data System (USRDS) and interviewed officials from pediatric transplant centers for this report on kidney transplant failures and costs to Medicare.

Invasive MRSA infections in the United States

This October 2007 JAMA article reports on the incidence and distribution of invasive MRSA disease in nine U.S. communities.

Big Cities Health Inventory, 2007: The Health of Urban USA

This report, released Oct. 30, 2007, by the National Association of County and City Health Officials focuses on 31 indicators of health and compares the 54 largest metropolitan areas in the United States.

5 percent of patients treated for MRSA in 2005 died

One of every 20 (or 5 percent) of the roughly 368,600 patients treated in U.S. hospitals in 2005 for Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, died, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Most of the patients who died of this highly dangerous antibiotic resistant staph infection were elderly or low income.

The impact of prescribed psychotropics on youth

Many psychotropics prescribed to children are unlicensed or off-label. This article uses the two most prescribed psychotropics (MPH and SSRIs) to illustrate various concerns about their impact on youth. It addresses five myths that may influence prescribing.

2007 National Report Card on Women's Health

The National Women's Law Center and the Oregon Health & Science University have released the 2007 National Report Card on Women's Health. Findings are presented as a national report or as state-by-state reports.

MEDICC Review: The International Journal of Cuban Health & Medicine

Quarterly, peer-reviewed journal publishing original articles by Cuban and international researchers on Cuban population health.

Use of Internet health information by patients with chronic conditions

The Pew Internet & American Life Project finds that just half of adults with chronic conditions use the Internet; but once online, they are avid consumers of health information.

Report on President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief

"PEPFAR: From Emergency to Sustainability" (Sept. 28, 2007) is a report from the Congressional Research Service on the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. This report focuses on some of the key issues that Congress might consider as it faces the issue of whether, and at what level, to reauthorize PEPFAR.

How Drug-Benefit Limits Affect Retiree Prescription Use

Medicare's Part D standard drug benefit has a gap in coverage - the so-called doughnut hole. At 2007 benefit levels, coverage ends after $2,400 in pharmaceutical spending, including copays but excluding premiums, and resumes again when total drug costs reach $5,451. Between 24 and 38 percent of Medicare enrollees are expected to reach the coverage gap in 2007. While it is too early to assess the effects of Part D, Rand researchers looked at how retirees fare under private insurance plans with similar benefit caps.

Study: Hospital quality comparisons are inconsistent

Researchers at UCLA reviewed six hospital comparison Web sites and found that they display inconsistent results and use inappropriate or incomplete standards to measure quality, according to a report in the September issue of Archives of Surgery.

Report on personalized health care initiative from HHS

This report, released Sept. 19, 2007, looks forward to the development of "personalized health care" - using genomics, information technology and scientific information to provide effective and individualized care. The report includes Information about challenges and how to achieve personalized health care as well as details about HHS programs supporting the initiative.

Statistics on Hospital-Based Care in the United States, 2005

This report includes information from the most recent database containing discharge records for all patients treated in a sample of approximately 1,000 hospitals in 2005. The report has information about length and reasons for hospital stays, most frequent diagnoses, most frequent procedures, as well as costs and charges for most frequent conditions and diagnoses. Uninsured inpatient hospitals stays is a special topic covered in the report.

Corporate Responsibility and Health Care Quality - A Resource for Health Care Boards of Directors

The Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General issued a guide on corporate responsibility and health care quality that offers questions related to health care quality requirements, measurement tools, and reporting requirements.

Federal Funding for Public Health Emergency Preparedness: Local Health Departments

The National Association of County and City Health Officials has released a report, "Federal Funding for Public Health Emergency Preparedness: Implications and Ongoing Issues for Local Health Departments," that describes the results of two surveys conducted by the association that examine the local impact of changes in federal funding for public health preparedness. Since the terrorist attacks of 2001, local health departments have significantly increased their capacity to prepare for and respond to emergencies with the support of funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Interim Statement of the Commission on Social Determinants of Health 2007

The World Health Organization's Commission on Social Determinants of Health has released its Interim Statement, outlining its vision and goals, the problems it seeks to ameliorate, and the intellectual foundation for a social determinants approach. Recommendations for action will be made in the Final Report in May 2008.

Comparing federal government surveys that count uninsured people in America

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, with support from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, have issued this this brief comparing estimates of health insurance coverage from three national surveys sponsored by the federal government, identifying the differences in their estimates of uninsurance and identifying two common themes.

World Health Report 2007

The World Health Organization released this report about how the world is at increasing risk of disease outbreaks, epidemics, industrial accidents, natural disasters and other health emergencies which can rapidly become threats to global public health security.

Growing Older in America: The Health & Retirement Study

The Health and Retirement Study (HRS), sponsored by the National Institute on Aging under a cooperative agreement with the University of Michigan, follows more than 20,000 men and women over 50, offering insight into the changing lives of the older U.S. population.

Increase in preventive care would reduce U.S. deaths by more than 100,000

More than 100,000 lives would be saved annually if U.S. residents increased the use of five preventive services, according to a report by the Partnership for Prevention, Reuters reports. [Aug 08, 2007]

The report also found racial disparities in the use of preventive care. Hispanic smokers were 55% less likely than white smokers to receive help to quit smoking, and Asian-Americans were less likely than all other racial groups to take aspirin and get screened for colorectal and breast cancer, according to the report.

Toolkit: ERISA and state health reform

This toolkit from the Alliance for Health Reform offers links to resources that will help people understand the relationship between the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and state-level health reform.  While many policy experts believe that experimenting at the state level is the most politically feasible way to achieve health reform, many state reforms may be in conflict with the federal statute known as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, or ERISA. (Aug. 10, 2007)

WHO project looks at venous thromboembolism and travel

WHO project finds venous thromboembolism risk higher after long travel, but still relatively low (June 29, 2007): Results from Phase I of the WHO Research Into Global Hazards of Travel (WRIGHT) project indicate that the risk of developing venous thromboembolism (VTE) approximately doubles after travel lasting four hours or more. However, the study points out that even with this increased risk, the absolute risk of developing VTE, if seated and immobile for more than four hours, remains relatively low at about 1 in 6,000.

National Healthcare Quality Report, 2006

The 2006 NHQR, from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, includes 211 performance measures that can be used to monitor the nation's progress toward improved health care quality for all Americans. This report focuses on a group of 42 "core" measures representing the most important and scientifically sound measures of quality.

Low literacy results in higher mortality rate

A study by Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine found that older people with inadequate health literacy had a 50 percent higher mortality rate over a period of five years than those with adequate literacy.

GAO report: Documentation requirement led to decline in Medicaid enrollment

States reported that the citizenship documentation requirement resulted in barriers to access to Medicaid for some eligible citizens. Twenty-two of the 44 states reported declines in Medicaid enrollment due to the requirement, and a majority of these states attributed the declines to delays in or losses of Medicaid coverage for individuals who appeared to be eligible citizens.

NYC-HANES finds elevated mercury levels in a quarter of NYC adults

A quarter of adult New Yorkers have elevated blood mercury levels, according to survey results released July 23, 2007, by the New York City health department. The findings are from New York City's Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NYC-HANES), the first such survey conducted by a U.S. city.

Infections with Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) in U.S. Hospitals, 1993-2005

Hospital stays for a type of antibiotic-resistant infection have more than tripled since 2000, and since 1995 have increased nearly 10-fold, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

National Survey of Physician-Industry Relationships

A national survey of 3167 physicians in six specialties (anesthesiology, cardiology, family practice, general surgery, internal medicine, and pediatrics) in late 2003 and early 2004 finds that most doctors  (94 percent) report some type of relationship with the pharmaceutical industry.

An Achievable Vision: Report of the Department of Defense Task Force on Mental Health - June 2007

Assessment of, and recommendations for improving the efficacy of mental health services provided to service members by the Department of Defense, released June 15, 207.

State Scorecard on Health System Performance

The Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System released the first comprehensive comparison of health system performance in all 50 states.

GAO: Enforcement doesn't deter some nursing homes from repeatedly harming patients
   The Government Accountability Office investigated nursing homes and the effectiveness of sanctions and enforcement actions in cases of deficiencies, finding that some homes continued to cycle in and out of compliance. The GAO identified weaknesses that undermine the effectiveness of the sanctions implemented against the homes reviewed and makes recommendations.
GAO reports on influenza
   Reports and testimonies related to influenza issued since October 2000 by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
Reauthorizing the Prescription Drug User Fee Act

Examines current law and FDA's proposed revisions to the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, which will expire on Sept. 20, 2007, unless Congress reauthorizes it. Published by the Rapid Health Policy Response Project of the School of Public Health and Health Services at The George Washington University.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Number of uninsured rising

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation compares estimates from four national surveys conducted by the federal government used to estimate the size of the uninsured population, identifies the differences between them, and points out two common threads.

Institute of Medicine: The Future of Drug Safety

In its report, The Future of Drug Safety: Promoting and Protecting the Health of the Public (Sept. 22, 2006), an IOM committee considered the drug safety system, including drug review, safety surveillance, and related activities of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER).

Commonwealth Fund's National Scorecard on U.S. Health System Performance

The Commonwealth Fund's National Scorecard on U.S. Health System Performance finds the nation falling far short on many measures of health system performance. At an Oct. 11, 2006, Alliance for Health Reform briefing, a panel of policy experts reviewed the Scorecard findings. An archived webcast of this event, along with speakers' presentations and source materials, is available through the Alliance Web site.

Hospital-acquired infections

On Nov. 14, 2006, the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council released a report on hospital-acquired infections. Consumers Union says this report is the first of its kind to tell consumers how many patients picked up infections at each of the state's hospitals, and how many died from them.

GAO: Issues Cited as Hampering Drug Development (Nov. 17, 2006)
   Science, Business, Regulatory, and Intellectual Property Issues Cited as Hampering Drug Development Efforts (Nov. 17, 2006): Although the pharmaceutical industry reported substantial increases in annual research and development costs, the number of NDAs submitted to, and approved by, FDA has not been commensurate with these investments.
Snapshot: Home Health Care in California: An Overview, 2006

The California HealthCare Foundation tracks home health care in California, focusing on agency utilization, quality measures, inspection and investigation results, and payment sources. As Americans live longer and face more health problems, many opt to get care from home health agencies. (Dec. 19, 2006)

GAO report: Health Information Technology (Feb. 1, 2007)

Health Information Technology: Early Efforts Initiated but Comprehensive Privacy Approach Needed for National Strategy - This GAO report describes the steps HHS is taking to ensure privacy protection as part of its national health IT strategy and identifies challenges associated with protecting electronic health information exchanged within a nationwide health information network.

End-of-life care - Racial and ethnic differences
   The California HealthCare Foundation releases a study that focuses on racial and ethnic differences at the end of life.
Medicare prescription drug plan tracker
   The Kaiser Family Foundation's updated Medicare prescription drug plan tracker, adding 2007 data for Medicare Advantage and stand-alone drug plans and enrollment figures from December 2006.
GAO report - Hurricane Katrina: Use of $2 billion for Medicaid and other health care needs
   Examines how the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services allocated $2 billion through Medicaid and SCHIP to several states affected by Hurricane Katrina.