Yale: Opioid Addiction Treatment In ED Is Cost-Effective

As the opioid epidemic deepens, Yale researchers say starting treatment with medication is the most cost-effective way to treat patients in hospital emergency departments. People with opioid addiction often seek treatment in EDs for overdoses and other ailments. Those who receive buprenorphine, a medication that reduces drug cravings, in the ED incur lower health care costs over the following month than those who get a referral to treatment services or receive a brief intervention with a facilitated referral, according to a new analysis of a randomized clinical trial. The analysis, published today in the journal “Addiction,” compared the estimated health care costs for patients over the 30 days following their ED visit. Those costs included ED care, addiction treatment, inpatient and outpatient costs and medications.

Norwalk Residential Care Facility Fined, Ordered To Hire Consultant

State health officials have fined a Norwalk residential care home $1,000 and ordered it to hire an independent consultant after uncovering safety violations there earlier this year. Carlson Place was ordered to hire a consultant within four weeks of the consent order, which was signed June 26 by state Department of Public Health (DPH) officials and Carlson Place manager and owner Diane Mortali. The consultant must be familiar with public health codes, federal regulations, state building and fire codes, and others standards the facility failed to meet. According to the consent order, which is in effect for two years, the consultant will evaluate the facility’s engineering and maintenance program, assess the coordination of daily maintenance services various vendors provide, make recommendations and report back to DPH on the facility’s compliance efforts. The facility manager must meet with DPH representatives every 90 days.

Six Nursing Homes Fined Following Care Lapses

Six Connecticut nursing homes have been fined by the state Department of Public Health (DPH) for violations that resulted in injuries to residents. Bloomfield Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation was fined $3,000 for four incidents, spanning from 2015 to this year. On Oct. 8, 2016, a registered nurse found a resident unresponsive with no pulse. According to DPH, the RN did not do a full assessment or begin CPR.

Racial Disparities Persist Despite Decline In Sudden Unexpected Infant Deaths

The rate of infants dying suddenly and unexpectedly has dropped in recent years, but data show that racial disparities persist. Babies born to American Indian and Alaska Natives and African American families suffer much higher rates of sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUID) than other races and ethnicities, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show. Between 2011 and 2014, 194.1 American Indian and Alaska Native infants and 170.2 African American infants per 100,000 live births died from SUID nationwide. Those rates are significantly higher compared with 83.8 for whites, 51.1 for Hispanics and 32.1 for Asian or Pacific Islander babies per 100,000 live births, during the same time period. SUID encompasses sudden infant death syndrome, commonly known as SIDS, as well accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed, and other unspecified causes of death in children up to a year old.

Report: Many CT Consumers Don’t Understand Their Health Insurance Policies

Many consumers who obtain insurance through Connecticut’s health care exchange don’t understand the plans they buy—and can struggle to access care as a result, according to a new report. Insurance plans typically use complicated language that is difficult to understand, according to the Health Disparities Institute, UConn Health. As a result, some patients have trouble accessing care, experience delays in care, encounter administrative hassles and face other hurdles, the study found. The institute conducted a statewide poll last year among 516 adults who enrolled in qualified health plans through Access Health CT (AHCT), the state health insurance exchange created under the Affordable Care Act. Many struggled to understand basic insurance terms like “premium,” “deductible” and “co-pay.”

More needs to be done to educate all health insurance consumers, regardless of where they buy their policies, said Lisa Freeman, executive director of the nonprofit Connecticut Center for Patient Safety.

State Fines Six Nursing Homes Following Residents’ Deaths, Care Lapses

Six nursing homes have been fined for violations, including two incidents where residents died. The Reservoir in West Hartford was fined $3,000 after a resident died and investigators found staff did not administer CPR for the required period of time, according to the state Department of Public Health (DPH). The resident, who was at the facility for short-term rehabilitation, had difficulty breathing on Feb. 6, 2016. A licensed practical nurse (LPN) began performing CPR compressions but soon after, a registered nurse told the LPN to stop the compressions, according to DPH.

Yale Study: Minority Breast Cancer Patients Less Likely To Have Genetic Test

A genetic test that helps doctors determine how best to treat breast cancer—and whether chemotherapy is likely to help—is significantly more likely to be administered to white women than blacks or Hispanics, a Yale study has found. The test, called Oncotype Dx (ODx), uses gene expression to gauge how early-stage breast cancer is affecting patients’ gene activity. It uses the information to determine how likely cancer recurrence would be, and physicians and their patients can use that knowledge to decide how to proceed with treatment. Yale researchers retrospectively analyzed a group of more than 8,000 Connecticut women who were diagnosed with hormone receptor positive breast cancer between 2011 and 2013, and found “significant racial and ethnic disparities in use of this new gene test,” said study leader Dr. Cary Gross, a member of Yale Cancer Center and professor of medicine and epidemiology at Yale School of Medicine. “It reinforces that, at the same time we are investing in developing new treatments and new testing strategies and we’re promoting them with great excitement, we really need to double-down our efforts to eliminate disparity,” Gross said.

Community Health Centers Face Uncertain Financial Future

Federally Qualified Community Health Centers (FQHCs) in Connecticut have expanded services, upped their staffing and renovated their facilities mostly due to increased revenue streams from the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Connecticut and the 30 other states that opted for the ACA Medicaid expansion program have benefitted from billions of dollars in additional core grant funding, with Connecticut receiving $150.7 million from 2011 to 2016, according to a January report by the Congressional Research Service. Health centers in Connecticut used some of that funding to hire professionals to enroll thousands of residents in health insurance—residents who were previously uninsured and used the centers for their health care. Now the centers are serving about 70,000 more insured patients, mostly covered by Husky Health plans. The cost of treating uninsured patients has declined by about $10 million since 2012, according to Deb Polun, director of government affairs and media relations at the Community Health Center Association of Connecticut.

Three Nursing Homes Fined Following Resident’s Death, Care Lapses

State health officials have fined three Connecticut nursing homes for various incidents, including one in which a resident died last year. Apple Rehab Farmington Valley in Plainville was fined $2,140 for three violations that occurred in 2016. In one case, a resident died Oct. 23 after choking during dinner. The resident, who had dementia, was found by a licensed practical nurse (LPN) choking in bed.

Independent Living Facility Fined After Resident Was Found Dead In Pond

State health officials have fined a Willington independent living facility $1,500 after a resident left the facility last fall and was found dead in a nearby pond several days later. In addition to the fine, High Chase LLC agreed in a consent order with the state Department of Public Health (DPH) to implement new policies and procedures for staff to follow when a resident goes missing. The facility’s licensee denied the DPH’s allegations, but signed the order without any formal challenge of the allegations. Officials at High Chase did not return calls seeking comment this week. The fine and consent order stem from an incident discovered during a December 2016 inspection.