High-Prescribing Nurse Charged With Accepting Drug Company Kickbacks

A Derby nurse practitioner identified as the state’s highest Medicare prescriber of potent narcotics has admitted taking kickbacks from a drug company in exchange for prescribing pain medication.

Heather Alfonso, 42, of Middlebury, pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S District Court in Hartford to receiving $83,000 in kickbacks from January 2013 until March 2015 from an unnamed pharmaceutical company that makes a drug used to treat cancer pain.

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Handful Of High Prescribers Boost Medicare Spending, New Data Show

Oxy

Ten Connecticut prescribers, including a Derby nurse practitioner who is under investigation by the state, were responsible for more than 22 percent of the state’s Medicare spending on potent narcotics in 2013, new federal data show.

More than 4,300 Connecticut clinicians, mostly physicians, wrote Medicare prescriptions for oxycodone, morphine and other Schedule II drugs, which have a high potential for abuse and addiction, at a total cost of $40 million. But a handful of those providers accounted for the largest share of those prescriptions, an analysis of the data show.

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Binge, Heavy Drinking Rates Rise In State, Especially For Women

Drinking by County

Rates of heavy drinking in Connecticut spiked 21.3 percent between 2005 and 2012, while binge-drinking rates rose nearly 14 percent, with the largest increases among women drinkers, a new report shows.

The increases put Connecticut’s drinking rates above the national average, with survey data from some counties showing that more than one in five adults are binge drinkers -- defined as consuming more than four drinks a day for women and five for men on at least one occasion in the past 30 days.

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Mental Health Crisis Teams Bridge Service Gap To Stabilize At-Risk Youth

EMPS

The growing number of children and teens exposed to traumatic events in everyday life has forced the state’s crisis intervention teams to respond to a broader range of behavioral and mental health issues, and those teams often serve as a bridge until at-risk youth find appropriate outpatient or inpatient services.

Sixty-four percent of Connecticut’s youth who use Emergency Mobile Psychiatric Services (EMPS), the state’s mobile crisis intervention team, have experienced one or more traumatic incidents, such as domestic violence, cyber-bullying, physical assaults, or gang warfare, experts report.

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Mental Health Is Main Cause Of Hospitalizations in CT, New Data Show

Yale-New Haven was among the hospitals reporting a large increase in patient hospitalizations for mental health disorders.

Mental disorders surpassed respiratory problems and all other ailments as the leading cause of hospitalization in Connecticut in 2012 for children ages 5 to 14, teenagers and younger adults, according to a new state health department report.

The report shows that the number of days that patients with behavioral health problems were hospitalized surged 5.3 percent between 2011 and 2013, to nearly 260,000 patient days. Other categories of hospitalizations, including cardiac and cancer care, declined during that time.

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