A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Health Care Quality

Growing Consensus: Hospital Infections Got to Go

Signs all around that we will see next year a major offensive to eliminate hospital acquired infections -- nationally and in Massachusetts. According to federal data, MA has the 4th worst rate among all 50 states. Infections cause patient injuries and patient deaths, and excess health care costs. Even hospitals lose financially on the deal. Here's an update from today's Kaiser Health Policy Report: Read more »

Notes from 11/15 Quality-Cost Council Meeting

The Quality and Cost Council had its 1st annual meeting on 11/15. Future annual meetings will take place every September, but the Council did not want to wait until 9/07 to elect a Vice-Chair and a Treasurer. The Chair will continue to be the Health and Human Services Sect. (Tim Murphy now and then Deval Patrick’s HHS Secretary). Vice-Chair is Christopher DeLorey, President, Telamon Insurance & Financial Network. Treasurer is Robert Seifert, Executive Director, MA Medicaid Policy Institute. The governance subcommittee developed a job description for an Executive Director. The ED will be a... Read more »

Beware the Excessive Use of CT Scanning

Back in 2001, I had the opportunity to learn about the dangerous trend in excessive use of CT scanning in the US. My tutor in this area was Dr. William Orrison, a radiologist from Utah. Bottom lines: CT scans (like Xrays) expose recipients to ionizing radiation, the kind that can cause cancer. One's exposure to ionizing radiation is cumulative, meaning I carry with me radiation from every exposure in my lifetime. A very small percent of CT scan recipients will develop cancers from the scan. Kids are especially vulnerable. As the volume of CT scans grows exponentially, so do the number of... Read more »

Tommy Thompson: 20 states will have ind. mandate, + our health plans are the best

Two interesting items in today's news: 1. Kaisernetwork Health Policy Report reports that former federal HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson "told reporters that states likely will take the lead on health care reform in the absence of federal action, CQ HealthBeat reports. According to Thompson, regardless of whether Democrats take control of Congress after the midterm elections, federal action on health care likely will not occur until 2008, when he expects the issue to play an important role in the presidential election. He also said that at least 20 states likely will follow the lead of... Read more »

New Report Documents MA Dental Providers Shortage

New report released this past Monday by the MA Oral Health Collaborative and the Catalyst Institute: Massachusetts Oral Health Report -- Mapping Access to Oral Health Care in Massachusetts. Click here for the full report. Here are the major findings: -- Many rural areas of Massachusetts lack easy access to dental care providers. -- 30% of cities/towns in MA don't have enough dentists to care for the people who live there. -- 69 cities/towns have no dentist. -- 58% of cities/towns have no dental specialists. -- 65% of cities/towns have no pediatric dentists. -- More than 50% of cities/towns... Read more »

Leapfrog Names 59 Top US Hospitals -- MA's Got Five of Them

The Leapfrog Group, a business backed coalition that pushes hospitals to improve quality of care, has named 59 participating hospitals to their first Leapfrog Top Hospitals list. Their survey evaluated 1,200 hospitals nationwide to determine the state of health care quality and safety. The survey found that nine in 10 hospitals have policies in place to avoid operations on the wrong part of the body and eight in 10 require prescriptions to be reviewed by a pharmacist before being given to patients. The survey found that nine in 10 hospitals did not meet standards for two high-risk surgeries... Read more »

Public Citizen Ranks State Med Board Websites -- We're #3

Click here for a new Public Citizen report rating and ranking each state's website that provides information on physicians. Massachusetts' website ranks #3 overall -- New Jersey and Virginia are slightly ahead. Click here for the summary on the Massachusetts site. While overall, Massachusetts ranks well, the report points to a variety of ways the report could be improved to provide more and better information to Mass. consumers. Massachusetts was the first state to make physician profile information available to consumers on the Web, way back in 1996. It's good to see we're still near... Read more »

Quality and Cost Council Meeting #3

The Cost and Quality Council held its third meeting on October 17. The agenda consisted of reports from four subcommittees (governance, quality, cost, and communications). The Governance subcommittee presented draft by-laws, and much of the meeting was spent going through them. Highlights: Read more »

Newsweek on Fixing America's Hospitals

The brand new Newsweek has a fantastic set of articles addressing fundamental and systemic quality problems in US hospitals. Whole set of articles available by clicking here. Here's a bonus -- a parade of Massachusetts stars who play leading roles in our Commonwealth, across the US, and around the world in helping medical care to cure itself, including: --Drs. Don Berwick and Jim Conway of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement --Linda Kenney and Dr. Rick Van Pelt, founders of Medically Induced Trauma Support Services (MITTS) --Drs. David Bates and Anthony Komaroff at Harvard Medical... Read more »

Remaking American Health Care -- Begins Airing This Week

A four-part series called “Remaking American Medicine” will be airing on public television stations across the country starting Thursday evening. The series focuses on critical problems in health care quality and efforts to improve quality. Some of our local stars -- including Dr. Don Berwick of the Institute of Health Care Improvement -- are featured. Click here to find more information. Click here to find a list of local air dates. Read more »


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