Menopause Puts Women At Higher Risk Of Fall-Related Injuries

A growing number of women are getting hurt by falling, and they are much more likely to suffer fall-related injuries than men, data show. From 2011 to 2014, 51 women per 1,000 population were hurt in falls, up from 47 per 1,000 from 2005 to 2008, according to recent data from the National Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Falls were the most common cause of nonfatal injuries to women, the report found, and significantly outpaced injuries from overexertion, the second leading cause of injury that afflicted just 14 per 1,000.  

Hormone-related changes associated with menopause are the main reasons women are so prone to falling, especially as they age, said Dr. Karen Sutton, an orthopaedic surgeon, director of Women’s Sports Medicine at Yale New Haven Hospital, and associate professor of orthopaedics and rehabilitation at the Yale School of Medicine. “Their muscles are weaker, their bones are weaker,” she said, since hormone changes lead to reduced bone mass and the onset of osteoporosis in many women.

Inpatient Mental Health Coverage Rare For State Insurance Plans

The state’s top insurers were more likely to approve claims for mental health services in 2015 than the year before, but rates of rejection for residential care remained high, a new state report shows. About 6.4 percent of claims for mental health services were rejected by eight top managed care insurers – down from about 8 percent in 2014 – according to an analysis of the 2016 Consumer Report Card on Health Insurance Carriers in Connecticut. At the same time, insurers continued to deny more than one in six requests for residential behavioral health care. And the percentage of managed care plan enrollees who received any inpatient services for mental health was low, with most companies providing such services for fewer than 0.3 percent of all enrollees. The analysis is based on eight companies that reported the same categories of data in 2015 and 2016 to the state Insurance Department, which changed the reporting format across the two years.

Proposed Bill Would End ‘Custody For Care’

State officials and parent advocates gave different versions Tuesday of how often, and why, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) takes custody of children with severe behavioral health problems – and whether the practice should continue. Advocates, including a group of adoptive parents, told the legislature’s Committee on Children that a proposed bill that would prohibit DCF from “requesting, recommending or requiring” that parents relinquish their custodial rights when seeking mental health treatment for their children is needed to stop a practice known as ‘trading custody for care.’ The bill, drafted by state Rep. Rosa Rebimbas, R-Naugatuck, was prompted by an October C-HIT story that described DCF’s use of “uncared for” custody petitions against parents who could not manage their children at home and insisted on specialized residential care. In testimony Tuesday, DCF Commissioner Joette Katz said the agency resorts to taking over custody only in rare cases in which parents refuse to take their children home from inpatient settings or “will not cooperate” with clinician-recommended in-home or community-based treatment services. “We disagree with the notion that DCF requires parents to completely relinquish custody of their children” to receive suitable behavioral health care, Katz said. She acknowledged that the agency has sharply reduced the number of children it places in residential treatment.

Derby Nurse’s Sentencing Delayed Until July

A federal judge has agreed to a six-month delay in sentencing a Derby nurse who pleaded guilty to accepting kickbacks in exchange for prescribing a powerful opioid painkiller because she is cooperating in “numerous ongoing criminal investigations,” according to court records. U.S. District Judge Michael Shea approved a Jan. 17 agreement between federal prosecutors and attorneys for Heather Alfonso that delays her sentencing another six months, until July 2017. Alfonso was charged in June 2015 with accepting $83,000 in kickbacks from Insys Therapeutics in exchange for her high prescribing of the drug Subsys. In arguing for the new sentencing delay, the U.S. attorney’s office in Connecticut said Alfonso “continues to cooperate in (investigations in) several federal and state jurisdictions, including the District of Connecticut.” A previous story by C-HIT reported on prior sentencing delays because she was cooperating in an ongoing federal probe.

Protein Sciences Struggles For Market Share Of Flu Vaccine

Almost four years after Protein Sciences began selling its innovative flu vaccine, the Meriden company still struggles to gain a foothold in a marketplace dominated by pharmaceutical powerhouses. Orders for Flublok – the only flu vaccine not derived from eggs – remain well below company goals, and officials haven’t been able to get it into some major pharmacy chains such as CVS and Walgreens. “We’re doing better than last year, but we’re still not doing as well as I would like to do,” said CEO Manon Cox. The company aims to sell 900,000 doses of Flublok by the end of the current flu season in late March, she said. So far, it has sold just 250,000, even as widespread flu outbreaks spread across several parts of the country.

State Disciplines Three Nurses

The state Board of Examiners for Nursing on Wednesday disciplined three nurses, including one who dealt in anabolic steroids. In the steroid case, the board fined RN Michael Mase of New Milford $3,000 and placed his license on probation for a year. He has said he started using steroids in connection with power lifting and that he bought them for his own use and to share with friends, records show. In 2015, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and intent to sell steroids, records show, and is now on criminal probation through 2018. Under the consent order he signed with the nursing board, Mase must undergo random drug tests but he can stay employed as an independent contractor with Vivacity Life Center in Stamford.

Med Board Disciplines Four Doctors, Fines Stonington Doc $8,000

The state Medical Examining Board disciplined four doctors on Tuesday, including fining a Stonington doctor $8,000 for failing to provide adequate follow-up care for a patient who later died of cancer. Dr. David Burchenal of Stonington was also reprimanded and placed on three years of probation under a consent order approved by the board. During the probation, Burchenal must hire a physician to randomly review his patient records and must take a course in assessing urinary tract disorders. In November, the board had rejected a $3,000 fine against Burchenal, with some members saying they wanted a stiffer penalty. Burchenal failed to follow up on test results that showed his patient, George A. Ruffo, had abnormally high red blood cell counts in 2011 and 2012, state records show.

FBI Reaches Out For Victims Of Subsys Scheme

In an unusual move, the FBI is reaching out publicly to patients who were prescribed the powerful narcotic medication Subsys, which federal agents allege was improperly dispensed by practitioners across the country, including a nurse in Derby. In a posting on its Victim Assistance Program website, the FBI asks people who were prescribed Subsys between March 2012 and December 2016 to complete a brief questionnaire that will assist in a federal probe of Insys Therapeutics, the company that makes Subsys. The appeal follows the indictments in December of six top executives and managers of Insys on charges they led a nationwide conspiracy to bribe doctors and nurses to prescribe Subsys, which is approved for treating cancer patients suffering episodes of breakthrough pain. In exchange for bribes and kickbacks, the practitioners wrote large numbers of prescriptions for patients, most of whom were not diagnosed with cancer, the indictments allege. One of the practitioners named in the indictments is Heather Alfonso, formerly an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) at the Comprehensive Pain and Headache Treatment Center in Derby. She has pleaded guilty to accepting kickbacks from Insys through a sham “speakers’ program,” in exchange for prescribing Subsys.

Thousands Give DNA To Further Crowdsourced Breast Cancer Research Project

Thousands of metastatic breast cancer patients nationwide have given researchers access to their tumors and DNA in the hopes it will lead to breakthrough treatments and therapies for one of the most deadly forms of cancer. As the groundbreaking study enters its second year, more than 2,900 women and men have signed on to participate in the Metastatic Breast Cancer Project (MBCproject) since it launched Oct. 20, 2015. Spearheaded by the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard, the project aims to find possible new treatments for the disease by examining patient-submitted DNA and medical records. Thirty-eight patients from Connecticut have expressed interest in the project and 21 of them have taken the next step and signed consent forms granting researchers access to their medical files and DNA as of November, according to Corrie Painter, the cancer researcher directing the MBCproject.