Most Connecticut hospitals will lose a portion of their Medicare reimbursement payments over the next year as penalties for having high rates of patients being readmitted, new data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) show. Statewide, 27 of the 29 hospitals evaluated—or 93 percent—will be penalized in the 2019 fiscal year that began Oct. 1, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis of CMS data. The Medicare program has penalized hospitals since the 2013 fiscal year for having high rates of patients who are readmitted within a month of being discharged. Nationally, hospitals will lose $566 million in penalties, which were instituted as part of the Affordable Care Act to encourage better health care delivery.
In February, Joan Goldstein of Monroe received a panicked call for help from her wife, Lauren Goldstein. Joan found Lauren rolled up like a ball on the floor in her office bathroom. “I have never seen her sick in 15 years,” Joan said. When Lauren couldn’t stop vomiting, Joan took her to the emergency room at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, where she received fluids intravenously—“three bags,” Joan said.
Various violations that jeopardized patient safety, including two that preceded patient deaths and several involving the improper use of restraints, have taken place at Connecticut hospitals, according to the most recent hospital inspection reports released by the state Department of Public Health (DPH). The reports, which can be found in C-HIT’s Data Mine section, cover inspections that took place at hospitals between 2016 and this year. Some of the violations resulted in injuries to patients, while others showed lapses in protocols and procedures. Bridgeport Hospital was cited for 26 violations, including an incident in which a patient with a diagnosis of an ovarian mass suffered a burn during surgery. Hartford Hospital was cited for 60 violations, including two violations that preceded patient deaths.
The state Board of Examiners for Nursing this week disciplined three nurses, including suspending the license of a Stamford Hospital nurse accused of stealing Dilaudid meant for 21 patients. The registered nurse, Kerrisha Stacy-Ann Hurd of Elmont, New York, took the painkillers meant for the patients but did not administer the doses to them between January and March while she worked in the Post Anesthesia Care Unit of the hospital, state records show. In March, she fainted while on the job, and a syringe with a bloody needle was found in her uniform pocket, records show. Then on April 26, she admitted that she gave herself a shot of Dilaudid while working, records show. She was taken to the emergency room and tested positive for opiates, records show.
In May 2017, Maura B. Gallagher entered Stamford Hospital for a Cesarean section for her unborn fraternal twins. According to a lawsuit filed by her family, Gallagher was 38 and an avid skier who was dedicated to her family, which included her fiancé, Max Di Dodo. There were signs that her pregnancy was challenging. At a little over 37 weeks, Gallagher, of New Canaan, showed signs of a low platelet count. The condition, known as thrombocytopenia, affects 7 to 12 percent of pregnant women.
Cancers linked to the human papillomavirus (HPV) rose dramatically in a 15-year period, even as the rates of young people being vaccinated climbed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported. The 43,371 new cases of HPV-associated cancers reported nationwide in 2015 marked a 44 percent jump from the 30,115 cases reported in 1999, according to a CDC analysis. HPV vaccination rates have improved over the years, but not fast enough to stem the rise in cancers, the CDC said. Oropharyngeal (throat) cancer was the most common HPV-associated cancer in 2015; accounting for 15,479 cases among males and 3,438 among females, the CDC data show. HPV infects about 14 million people each year and between 1999 and 2015 rates of oropharyngeal (throat) and vulvar cancer increased, vaginal and cervical cancer rates declined, and penile cancer rates were stable, according to the CDC.
William Evans grew up in Brookfield, a high school tennis player from a family with an Ivy League pedigree. By the time he was working at his first job after college, he was addicted to opioids, spending $25,000 in less than a year and driving to Philadelphia twice a week to buy drugs on the street. Now 37, Evans hasn’t used illegal drugs since 2006. He is married and has a 3-year-old daughter, a home in Trumbull, and a sales job at a software company. He attributes his sobriety to counseling and medication to treat his addiction.
Throughout the past seven years, the number of children and teens in New England with developmental or emotional disorders has increased exponentially, the Kids Count Data Center reports. Developmental disorders are conditions that interrupt a child’s development. They include Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and spina bifida. Emotional disorders affect a person’s ability to be happy, control their emotions and pay attention in school. They include attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder, anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder.
Maren Sanchez, 16, a student at Jonathan Law High School in Milford, was stabbed to death in April 2014 by Christopher Plaskon, 19, after she refused his invitation to the school prom. He was convicted of murder in June 2016 and sentenced to 25 years in prison. While Plaskon’s conviction may have offered little comfort to Maren Sanchez’s loved ones, her death called attention to the issue of teen dating violence. Connecticut enacted a state law in 2014 requiring teachers, administrators and other school personnel to receive training in how to recognize teen dating violence and domestic violence. And the pain from the loss of her daughter prompted Donna Cimarelli-Sanchez to create the Maren Sanchez Home Foundation with the mission “to empower girls to defend themselves against emotional, psychological and verbal manipulation and physical violence.”
According to the 2017 Youth Behavior Risk Survey, about 10 percent of teens in Connecticut said they have experienced sexual dating violence in high school.
Connecticut hospitals ranked fourth from the bottom nationally for timely treatment of sepsis, new data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) show. Sepsis is the body’s extreme response to an infection and occurs when an infection you already have triggers a chain reaction throughout your body, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Without timely treatment, sepsis can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and even death, the CDC reports. In 2015, CMS decided to start assessing hospitals’ treatment for sepsis. The first treatment statistics were released recently. A high percentage score means that a hospital has been following sepsis treatment protocols; a low score indicates poor sepsis care. Connecticut’s average score was 43 percent, compared with a national score of 49 percent, the data show. C-HIT has updated its Hospital Infections easy-to-use searchable database to include the sepsis ratings for each hospital.