I-Team In-Depth

Recent Stories

State Residents Not Using Free Preventive Care, Worried About Costs, Survey Finds

C-HIT health care survey

Kathy Navaroli, 50, of Windsor, hadn’t seen a primary care doctor in years when she decided to go for a physical this summer. She didn’t ask about preventive care screenings, such as a mammogram or Pap test, in part because she worried they might involve an insurance co-pay or deductible. Her household income is below $30,000 a year. “I got a physical, they did some blood work, and that was it,” she said. Kerrishian McCants, 31, of Hartford, a mother of four, has a family history of diabetes and high blood pressure, but has not discussed those possible risks with her doctor. Continue Reading →

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Yale: Cancer-Screening Guidelines May Play Role In Decline In Screening Rates

Yale researchers found that mammography declined 7.4% overall.

Declines in several key cancer-screening procedures among the elderly can be linked to shifts in screening guidelines issued by major public health organizations, according to recently released findings by Yale researchers. James Yu, associate professor of therapeutic radiology at the Yale School of Medicine, and Sean Maroongroge, a third-year medical student, gleaned data from Medicare billing records from 2000 to 2012, analyzing more than 230 million screenings for prostate, breast, and colorectal cancers. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Tainted Dietary Supplements Frequently Hit The Market

dietary supplements

Every week for the past 7½ years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has identified an average of two dietary supplements being sold to consumers that were “tainted” and “potentially hazardous,” a C-HIT analysis of data reveals. The supplements contained prescription drug ingredients, controlled substances or untested pharmaceutical ingredients, which is prohibited by federal law and “can pose considerable dangers to consumers,” including stroke, liver damage, kidney failure and death, according to the FDA. (more…) Continue Reading →

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State’s Dialysis Centers Rate High, With Some Exceptions, New Data Show

Most dialysis centers in CT fared the same or better on quality measures than the national averages.

Five dialysis facilities in Connecticut received low quality-of-care scores under a new Medicare rating system, including one center cited for a high death rate, while 11 facilities received the highest rating possible, federal data show. Connecticut has 45 dialysis facilities in the Medicare program, all but four of them for-profit. Of the 41 for-profit centers, the majority are owned by two chains – DaVita, which has 24, and Fresenius Medical Care, with 13. (more…) Continue Reading →

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More Than 90 Percent Of CT Hospitals Face Readmissions Penalties

Seven hospitals face Medicare reductions of more than 1 percent.

All but one of Connecticut’s acute-care hospitals will lose Medicare reimbursement in 2015-16 as a penalty for high readmissions of discharged patients, new federal data show. The penalties against 28 hospitals mean Connecticut has one of the highest percentages nationally – more than 90 percent -- of hospitals facing Medicare reductions. Only the Hebrew Home and Hospital of West Hartford escaped penalties; the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center is exempted from the federal program. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Early Childhood Health Targeted As Path To Better Education

Miguelina Matista, right, benefited from early childhood programs for her daughter, Nicaury, and son, Noel. Now she is volunteering to let other Danbury parents know about free programs offered through social services agencies.

Experts are focusing more money and attention on the health of young children in Connecticut in an effort to prepare them to be successful in school later on. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Derby Pain Clinic Terminated From Medicaid Program

The state has barred practitioners at a Derby pain clinic, including a high-prescribing nurse, from participating in the Medicaid program because of improprieties in treatment and oversight. Documents from the Department of Social Services (DSS) show the physician heading the clinic, Dr. Mark Thimineur, and four nurses and assistants were notified in July that their participation in the Connecticut Medical Assistance Program, which includes Medicaid, is being terminated on Aug. 30. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Highest Prescribers Of Cancer Drug Paid As Speakers


Eight of the top 10 prescribers of a potent narcotic used for cancer pain were paid more than $870,000 in speaking fees by the drug maker in 2013 and 2014 -- indicating that Derby nurse Heather Alfonso was not the only high prescriber compensated by the company. Alfonso, an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who worked at the Comprehensive Pain and Headache Treatment Center in Derby, pleaded guilty last month to accepting $83,000 in kickbacks from 2013 to March 2015 from the drug company Insys Therapeutics, which has heavily marketed a painkiller called Subsys, a sublingual fentanyl spray approved only for cancer patients. Alfonso was paid to speak about Subsys at more than 70 “dinner programs,” but most of those programs were attended only by her and a sales representative for Insys, or by Alfonso’s colleagues and friends who had no authority to prescribe the drug, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Connecticut. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Can The FDA Adequately Police Generics?


As the federal government advocates increased use of generic drugs, concerns are mounting about the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s oversight and the quality or effectiveness of some generics. In the last eight months, the FDA has acknowledged that two generic versions of the attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder drug Concerta it approved may not work as effectively as the brand-name product. The agency told the drugs’ manufacturers to confirm their effectiveness or withdraw them from the market. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Meriden Family Sues Nurse For “Potentially Deadly” Prescribing

The family of a Meriden man who died in 2013 at age 56 is suing Derby nurse practitioner Heather Alfonso and the pain clinic where she worked, alleging that her rampant overprescribing of narcotics contributed to his death. Joseph Torchia’s wife and son claim in a lawsuit filed in Waterbury Superior Court that Alfonso, who was recently charged by federal prosecutors with accepting kickbacks from a drug company, prescribed “unlawfully high” doses of narcotics to Torchia for more than a year, ignoring signs that he was suffering from liver cirrhosis, gallbladder disease, internal bleeding and narcotics’ dependency. (more…) Continue Reading →

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