State’s Ambulatory Surgery Centers Get Mixed Ratings

Connecticut’s outpatient surgery centers fare well in preventing patient falls and wrong-site surgeries, compared to national rates, but poorly in avoiding patient burns and in ensuring that surgical patients get intravenous antibiotics, new federal data show. In addition, many of the state’s 45 Medicare-certified centers perform significantly more surgical procedures than the national average, with eight centers reporting more than double the average caseload. The data -- recently made public by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and now available on C-HIT’s website – show that Connecticut’s ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) have a lower average rate of patients who suffer falls than the national average -- .077, compared to .095. The data is from 2013 and 2014, the most recent years available. The state’s ASCs also have a lower rate, on average, of patients who experience a wrong-site, wrong-patient or wrong-procedure error -- .017, compared to the national average of .028.

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Lawmakers Press For Thorough Review Of Two Health Insurance Mergers

Seventeen lawmakers are asking the state’s insurance commissioner for a fair and thorough review of two pending colossal health insurance mergers and a study on how they could affect Connecticut jobs. “The proposed Anthem-Cigna and Aetna-Humana mergers are likely to have a negative impact on both the cost and quality of care in Connecticut, permanently changing our state’s health care system for patients, physicians, and other stakeholders,” according to the lawmakers’ letter sent to Insurance Commissioner Katharine L. Wade. In a conference call Wednesday, legislators led by state Rep. Gregory Haddad, D-Mansfield, said, that the “mega-mergers” could drive up consumer costs, concentrating more than 64 percent of the Connecticut health insurance market in their hands and restricting provider networks. Legislators, in the letter, asked Wade to hold multiple public hearings across the state, grant consumer advocates intervenor status in the proceedings and commission a study of the impact the mergers would have on consumers in terms of health care cost and quality.  Also, they want a review of how the mergers would impact Connecticut jobs. Haddad said there could be increases in deductibles, premiums and out-of-pocket costs and restrictions to provider choice as a result of the mergers.

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Nursing Homes Fined Following Lapses In Care

Four nursing homes were recently fined by the state in connection with incidents in which residents were hospitalized, fell, broke a bone or were burned. On May 6, Sharon Health Care Center was fined $2,320 in connection with two residents who were burned when they were served hot food, the citation from the state Department of Public Health said. On Sept. 19, one resident was burned on the hand by hot pureed egg, the citation said. The resident was eating without help even though the care plan called for assistance during meals.

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Nursing Board Disciplines 13 Nurses

The Board of Examiners for Nursing has recently disciplined 13 nurses, and in nearly all of the cases, the nurses were abusing drugs or alcohol that affected their ability to practice. After a hearing this week, the board reinstated the license of Todd Stockheimer, a registered nurse who had been working for the Bristol-Myers Squibb drug company in Wallingford before being convicted of drug possession. The board also placed his license on probation for four years. State records show that Stockheimer had abused opioid painkillers after having back surgery in 2007 and that he received many of his prescriptions from a co-worker, Dr. Robert Hindes. In an unusual twist, Stockheimer sued Hindes for negligence, blaming his drug dependency on the doctor, and won a $3.5 million judgment, the Connecticut Law Tribune reported.

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Three College Registered Nursing Programs Placed On Conditional Status

The state Board of Examiners for Nursing on Wednesday placed the registered nursing programs at three colleges on conditional status for one year because too many students have failed the R.N. licensing exam. The programs - at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain and Gateway Community College in New Haven and the University of St. Joseph’s accelerated program in West Hartford – are expected to present correction plans to the board in June. To avoid conditional status, the programs must have a passing rate of at least 80 percent among students taking the licensing exam for the first time after graduation. Central’s most recent passing rate was 74 percent while Gateway and St.

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State Hospital Inspection Reports Now Available On C-HIT

Lapses in cleanliness, infection-control procedures and in the treatment of patients with behavioral health problems were among the most common violations found in Connecticut hospitals inspected by the state health department in 2015, reports collected by C-HIT show. Inspection reports from the state Department of Public Health, spanning 2013 through 2015 – posted in C-HIT’s Data Mine section -- show a mix of citations for poor physical conditions, such as mold and fungus in pharmacy preparation areas, and inadequate patient care, including improper evaluation and treatment of psychiatric patients and use of restraints. The state DPH inspects hospitals, which are all Medicare-certified through the federal government, once every four years. Inspections also occur when the DPH receives a complaint against a facility or is following up to ensure compliance with a corrective action plan. C-HIT’s database, based on DPH records through late 2015, includes reports on all 29 acute-care hospitals.

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Six Nursing Homes Fined Following Resident’s Death, Lapses In Care

Six nursing homes have been fined in connection with one resident who was physically abused, one who broke a leg and one who was hospitalized with severe dehydration and later died. In two state Department of Public Health [DPH] citations on Dec. 7, Touchpoints at Farmington was fined a total of $2,810 in connection with a resident who was hospitalized in May 2015 in intensive care with severe dehydration and then transferred to hospice care. Maura Downes, DPH’s spokeswoman, said the resident died more than two weeks after the incident, but DPH officials were not able to “substantiate causation between the incident and the resident’s death.”

The home was fined $1,580 in connection with the resident’s decline in fluid intake over eight days in May 2015. The home’s records failed to show that a doctor had been notified about the resident’s fluid intake, the citation said.

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Report: IT Systems, Patient ID Errors, Top Issues For Health Care Organizations

Health care organizations’ information technologies and workflows often don’t support each other, according to a patient care-focused nonprofit that flagged the problem as one of the top safety issues facing the industry. The ECRI Institute, which recently released its third annual ranking of the Top 10 Patient Safety Concerns for Healthcare Organizations, reported that patient identification errors and inadequate management of behavioral health issues in non-behavioral health settings were its No. 2 and No. 3 issues for health care organizations. When a health IT system is introduced, health care organizations should tailor it to their workflow, and vice versa, according to ECRI, which is based in Pennsylvania.

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3D Mammography Bill Headed To Governor’s Desk

The Senate voted unanimously Wednesday night to send a bill requiring private insurance companies to cover 3D mammography to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s desk. Sen. Joe Crisco, D-Woodbridge, whose wife is currently going through breast cancer treatments, fought back tears as he talked about how his wife had annual mammograms and checkups every four months, and yet has been fighting breast cancer for two months now. “Chemotherapy treatments, surgery, and now she faces 12 sessions of radiation,” Crisco said. “This new technology is offering new opportunities for physicians to diagnose breast cancer in women and provide life saving treatments earlier than ever.”

To read the full story by Christine Stuart of ctnewsjunkie.com click here.

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Hospice Facility Ordered To Hire Consultant, Fined

The state has fined an Orange hospice facility $2,500 and ordered it to bring in an independent nurse consultant after inspections at the facility last year uncovered nearly two dozen violations. Compassus – Greater Connecticut entered into a consent order with the state Department of Public Health (DPH) on April 8 in response to 22 violations DPH investigators found when they made unannounced inspections in August and September 2015. The violations included failure to devise and follow adequate plans for pain management, failure to inform patients about the frequency and cost of services rendered, failure to reconcile medications and update plans of care, and failure to ensure timely coordination of care. Other violations cited were failure to get doctors’ orders before pre-filling medication syringes, failure to have a performance improvement plan in place, and failure to adhere to tracking requirements for adverse events, among others. According to the consent order, which was signed by the president of Compassus, Tony James, the facility agreed to pay $2,500 at the time the order was signed.

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