Checking Up On Health: June 10, 2014

Health Policy News and Views 
Compiled by Benita M. Dodd


It’s the summer, so I’m going to give you a break (as opposed to a fracture) and try to keep it light. Although that, of course, depends on your perspective. For example …

Are mosquitoes victimizing you? Watch this video by Business Insider to find out what makes you a prime target. Hint: larger people, rare microbes and heavy breathing are mosquito magnets. Looked at another way, it makes a case for reducing carbon emissions. … So, shallow breaths, everyone.

Physicians cutting costs, but not in the way you think: The Associated Press cites a report that more than 2,500 Georgia doctors don’t have malpractice insurance, which can leave patients with little recourse if things go wrong. An analysis of state medical board data compiled under a 2011 law that requires doctors to tell the board whether they have insurance found that of the more than 29,500 licensees who responded, 2,546 said they had no malpractice insurance.

The more things change: If you want to see the future of ObamaCare, writes Froma Harrop, a columnist for The Providence Journal, “look not at the VA hospital system but at the Massachusetts health plan, now in its eighth year.” Harrop cites a poll by the Massachusetts Medical Society that found about eight in 10 of that state’s residents are pleased with their health care. “They do wish it were cheaper,” she adds. Really? A 2009 Gallup poll found – guess what? “Americans are broadly satisfied with the quality of their own medical care and health care costs, but of the two, satisfaction with costs lags. Overall, 80 percent are satisfied with the quality of medical care available to them, including 39 percent who are very satisfied.”

Judging by these Ziggy cartoons, perhaps they found satisfaction because they polled the wrong people instead of those with complicated ailments.

Record-breaking health woes: Many Americans cite health concerns or philosophical reasons when they skip vaccinations for themselves or their children. That’s dangerous, not just for their children but for others. For example, measles outbreaks in the United States are at a 20-year high since homegrown outbreaks were eliminated in 2000, the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. Nearly all the cases have been linked to travelers who caught the virus abroad and spread it here among unvaccinated people. Many travelers brought it back from the Philippines, where a recent measles epidemic struck 30,000. Think about it: You don’t have to go far; they’ll bring it right to you. After all, Atlanta is home to the busiest airport in the world.

About measles, from the CDC: Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the measles virus. The disease is also called rubeola. Measles causes fever, runny nose, cough and a rash all over the body. About one out of 10 children with measles also gets an ear infection, and up to one out of 20 gets pneumonia. For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die. Adults can also get measles, especially if they are not vaccinated. Children under 5 years of age and adults over 20 are at higher risk for measles complications including pneumonia, and a higher risk of hospitalization and death from measles than school aged children and adolescents.

Disruptive learning: In the “flipped classroom, students watch lectures at home in the afternoon then come to school the next day to do homework and other projects during class time.  This gives the teacher time and opportunity to address what the student doesn’t understand from the lectures rather than have students turn to their parents for their calculus homework (when dad had trouble passing algebra).

What happens with a flipped checkup?  Here’s an example of how it could go, according to DrJSmith on “Family has 4 months checkup scheduled. They review the 4-month checkup blog post.

Family comes in for a 4-month checkup.

“They say, ‘We read your blog 4-month check-up blog post and are ready to start solids and he seems to be developmentally OK but we did have some more questions about helping him sleep through the night.’

“This allows me to touch on the other areas for clarity and completeness but spend the majority of the rest of the visit discussing in depth about sleeping and some options for sleep training (or not, depending on the family’s preference).” Read more here. Source:

Samaritan laws: Pennsylvania school bus drivers may soon be able to administer an EpiPen to students who have an allergic reaction on the bus (after being trained, of course). Parents were worried about “the oversight gap that exists for their kids between home and school,” said Rep. Justin Simmons, the bill sponsor. “Nurses and trained teachers can administer the EpiPens at school. But what happens if the allergic reaction occurs while the child is on the school bus? My legislation allows the bus driver to help out without the fear of any legal consequences.” Source:

How many hospitals is enough? Georgia’s Rural Hospital Stabilization Committee met for the first time this week. The 15-member blue-ribbon panel is examining how provide triage health care in underserved rural communities. Its issues include funding, recruitment and retention of medical professionals and baby delivery. It takes a population of about 40,000 to support a hospital without a subsidy, Jimmy Lewis, CEO of HomeTown Health, an association of mainly Georgia hospitals, told the Macon Telegraph. Putting Georgia’s rural population at about 1.8 million, he said, would suggest viability for 45 rural hospitals but, “We’ve got 61 (rural hospitals).” Hardly viable …

Great places to work: Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Emory Healthcare and WellStar Health System of Marietta were the three Georgia-based hospital systems that made that made Becker’s Hospital Review’s 150 Great Places to Work in Healthcare 2014. Also listed were Meadows & Ohly of Peachtree Corners, Ga., a health care real estate firm, and MedAssets of Alpharetta, a health care management company.

Happy patients: Vanguard Communications has ranked the nation’s largest cities by physician reviews in its Happy Patient Index. Top three were 1. San Francisco/Oakland, Calif., 2. Honolulu, and 3. Indianapolis. Closest to Georgia was Birmingham, Ala., at No. 10. Least happy were 1. Bakersfield, Calif., 2. Modesto, Calif., and 3. North Hempstead, N.Y.  Source: Becker’s Hospital Review

Frozen” docs: The University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine Class of 2016 sings “Let It Go,” or rather, “I Don’t Know.”  A great job! Enjoy this video. … But hope you never encounter this doctor in the hospital.

Quote of Note:

“We can’t all have a chef or send our children to private schools with meatier lunches, as the Obamas do. But we can feed our children for less trouble and money than some think. Maybe the first lady can modify her message along with our menus: Cook for your kids and they’ll grow smart and strong.” – Kathleen Parker

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