The Medical Establishment Took The Treasury’s Keys

According to Uwe E. Reinhardt, an economics professor at Princeton, about half a century ago, organized medicine and the hospital industry in this country struck a deal with Congress.

In retrospect, it was as audacious as it was incredible: Congress was asked to surrender to these industries the keys to the United States Treasury.

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America Spends The Most On Healthcare. Tell That To 3,900 People Who Just Lost Their Hospital Jobs.

Affected by reduced payments, hospitals in Pennsylvania cut 3,900 jobs from February 2013 to February 2014. Oh and more layoffs and budget cuts are expected, according to data from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry and The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania.

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If 1 in 25 Hospital Patients Get An Infection, Then Let’s Keep People Out Of The Hospital

Healthcare technology continues to advance, but the CDC has new estimates on where infection rates aren’t falling — hospitals.

About one in 25 hospital patients in the U.S. pick up an infection during their care, according to a new estimate from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Posted by: AtlasMD

December 4, 2013

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This Is The Best Advertisement For Direct Care (And We Didn’t Even Come Up With It)

Stop what you’re doing and read this article from The New York Times. In a piece called “As Hospital Prices Soar, a Stitch Tops $500” writer Elisabeth Rosenthal relays multiple stories of outrageous hospital charges. California Pacific Medical Center’s tidy emergency room treated Deepika Singh who had cut her knee at a barbecue and a toddler named Orla Roche who had sliced open her forehead on a coffee table. Here’s what their bills looked like: Ms. Singh’s three stitches were billed for $2,229.11; Orla’s forehead was sealed with a dab of skin glue that cost $1,696.

And great job, investigative journalists, researchers, everyone who’s fed up with the arbitrary nature of pricing. According to government statistics hospital charges represent about a third of the $2.7 trillion annual United States health care bill, the biggest single segment. These charges are the largest driver of medical inflation, too, a new study in The Journal of the American Medical Association found.

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Posted by: AtlasMD

November 26, 2013

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Medicare Penalizes Nearly 1,500 Hospitals For Poor Quality Scores

As you know, the health law’s insurance markets are struggling. Oh well, that hasn’t stopped the Obama administration from moving ahead with its second year of “meting out bonuses and penalties to hospitals based on the quality of their care,” says NPR.

And this year, it looks like more hospitals lost than won.

So how does this bureaucratic mousetrap work? The government determines if hospitals get more or less Medicare dollars for the work they complete based on patients’ surveys. And what were this year’s results? According to NPR, “Medicare has raised payment rates to 1,231 hospitals based on two-dozen quality measurements, including surveys of patient satisfaction and — for the first time — death rates. Another 1,451 hospitals are being paid less for each Medicare patient they treat for the year that began Oct. 1.”

NPR says half the hospitals will see negligible changes while others are going to see a noticeable difference.

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Preserving Doctors Means Preserving the Patient-Doctor Relationship

David Bornstein is making a career of empowering, thought-provoking articles on the emotional state of healthcare. In his New York Times op/ed “Medicine’s Search for Meaning” he advocates that as the patient-doctor relationship vanishes, so too will the doctors. He says, “Medicine is facing a crisis, but it’s not just about money; it’s about meaning.” Adding that, “As administrative and documentation burdens have exploded in the past three decades, doctors find themselves under pressure to work as quickly as possible. Many have found that what is sacrificed is the very thing that gives meaning to the whole undertaking: the patient-doctor relationship.”

Bornstein’s piece is powerful, weighing in on the manner with which we doctors handle grief. In his opinion, med school is where the doctor burnout is first felt. Students are pushed to absurd extremes–losing sleep, and being trained to approach medicine in a distant, compassion-less manner, even reprimanded if they break down and cry in the presence of a patient. So is it okay to cry in the presence of a patient? You have to decide for yourself. However, reprimanding a student for doing so is pure Vulcan, cold. But, according to Bernstein, almost half of medical students get burned out during their education. He claims that, “medical education has been characterized as an abusive and neglectful family system.” It places unrealistic expectations on students.

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