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Even Small Medical Advances Can Mean Big Jumps in Bills

NY Times |  By   Catherine Hayley is saving up for an important purchase: an updated version of the tiny digital pump at her waist that delivers lifesaving insulin under her skin.

Such devices, which tailor insulin dosing more precisely to the body’s needs, have transformed the lives of people with Type 1 diabetes like Ms. Hayley. But as diabetics live longer, healthier lives and worries fade about dreaded complications like heart attacks, kidney failure, amputations and blindness, they have been replaced by another preoccupation: soaring treatment costs.  Read more

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Double Dip: Doctors Paid to Advise, Promote Drug Companies That Fund Their Research

by Charles Ornstein and Ryann Grochowski Jones   ProPublica,  March 25, 2014, 12 a.m.  This story was co-published with The Boston Globe.  Research has been seen as less objectionable than other forms of interactions with drug companies, but 10 percent of researchers have multiple ties among the nine companies ProPublica analyzed. That raises questions about doctors’ impartiality.  A ProPublica analysis shows that more than 1,300 practitioners nationwide received both research money and speaking or consulting fees from the same drug maker in 2012. All told, they received more than $90 million in research grants — plus nearly $13 million for speaking engagements and another $4 million for consulting.  Read more

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Patient Safety Week 2014 – CTCPS highlights Antibiotics and their Overuse

It is Patient Safety Week, and we would like to highlight a medical concern that we are actively working on:  Infections and the overuse of antibiotics.

According to the CDC, “every day, about 1 in every 20 hospitalized patients has an infection caused by receiving medical care.  In 2010, 31.3% of patients who acquired a healthcare associated infections were readmitted within 30 days for an infection or complication.”

According to a recent announcement by Tom Frieden at the CDC, there is enormous variability in the rate at which antibiotics are prescribed from one hospital to the next – as much as three-fold!  This leads to the conclusion that even a small reduction in the amount of overprescribing will have a significant impact in reducing the number of infections, super-infections and C. difficile.  Shortly after the announcement, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America noted that routine overuse of antibiotics puts patients in harm’s way.

At CTCPS, we are working to bring about changes in the way that antibiotics are prescribed, following these findings, so that patients will not leave the hospital with more problems than they entered with.

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How Can So Many Bright People Not See What I See?

Connecticut Health Foundation  |   February 4, 2014  |  Today’s guest post was written by Jean Rexford, Executive Director of the CT Center for Patient Safety and former Connecticut Health Foundation (CT Health) board member.    How can so many bright people not see what I see?  Years ago, a PBS special featured how different animals and birds saw the world through their unique set of eyes. Eagles, chameleons, houseflies have a unique lens that allow them to see what they need to so that might survive in a complex world.  I think of this often as I sit at multiple tables, in Connecticut and on national committees.  Why don’t the other people at the table know what I know?  Read more

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How to be a good visitor at a nursing home

With flu season upon us, we need to remind ourselves of the following suggestions found in this APIC poster on how to be a good visitor at a nursing home.  But, as you will see, the suggestions can apply to hospitals and rehabilitation facilities also – anywhere where someone with a compromised immune system might be.


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Not all FDA-approved drugs get same level of testing

Liz Szabo, USA TODAY12:21 p.m. EST January 22, 2014  |  Patients might assume that all approved drugs are created equal.  Yet new research finds that there can be big differences in the amount of testing that drugs and medical devices go through before being approved or given to patients, according to a series of articles in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  Many heart devices, for example, have been approved through a Food and Drug Administration process that assumes newer models are safe and effective based on the approval of earlier versions, a study shows.  Read more

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Teaching Doctors the Art of Negotiation

NY Times  |  JANUARY 23, 2014, 12:30 PM  |  By DHRUV KHULLAR  |  By the time I rushed to his room, my patient had already ripped out his I.V., packed his knapsack and was making his way to the door, his hospital gown, on backward, flapping like a cape over the jeans he had hurriedly slipped on. He told me he felt fine now, after coming in feverish and sweating a few nights back, and despite his poorly controlled H.I.V. and the strong possibility that the lump in his neck was lymphoma.  We had been waiting several days for the biopsy results, but now he had had enough.  “I’ve got things to do,” he declared. “Call me when you know.”  “Wait! We, uh, almost…” I stammered. He glared at me and continued his bare-chested charge toward the door.

Just then the attending physician arrived and calmly approached the patient. He offered him a glass of water and asked if they could chat for a few minutes. Patients leaving A.M.A., or against medical advice, were not uncommon on this floor. The attending had practice. It showed.  Read more

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5 reasons to stop using antibacterial soap

Salon | Wednesday, Jan 8, 2014 08:00 AM EST |  ,  |  This article originally appeared on  |    A few weeks ago, the FDA announced a bold new position on antibacterial soap: Manufacturers have to show that it’s both safe and more effective than simply washing with conventional soap and water, or they have to take it off the shelves in the next few years.  ….   But triclosan’s use in home over-the-counter products was never fully evaluated by the FDA—incredibly, the agency was ordered to produce a set of guidelines for the use of triclosan in home products way back in 1972, but only published its final draft on December 16 of last year. Their report, the product of decades of research, notes that the costs of antibacterial soaps likely outweigh the benefits, and forces manufacturers to prove otherwise.  Read more


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YOUR MONEY-Are drug companies using your health records to sell you stuff?

Reuters – 6 hours ago   By Beth Pinsker  NEW YORK, Jan 8 (Reuters) –  If you went to visit your doctor and a drug company representative was sitting in the room with you, ready to hand out pamphlets and samples, you’d likely cry foul.  Depending on what electronic health record system your physician uses, the digital version of this sort of thing is already happening.

New regulations in the Affordable Care Act restrict access to doctors by pharmaceutical companies. As a result, drug companies are finding their way behind the medical industry’s closed doors via digital record-keeping systems.  Read more

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Report Finds More Flaws in Digitizing Patient Files

NY Times  By and Although the federal government is spending more than $22 billion to encourage hospitals and doctors to adopt electronic health records, it has failed to put safeguards in place to prevent the technology from being used for inflating costs and overbilling, according to a new report by a federal oversight agency.

The report, released on Wednesday by the Office of the Inspector General for the Health and Human Services Department, is the second in two months to warn about flaws in the oversight of the ambitious federal program aimed at converting patient records from paper to electronic. It comes as the Obama administration continues to face broad criticism over the troubled rollout of its health care law — especially the site.  Read more

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