July 6, 2012
By Allison Cohen*
Study Shows That Most Post-MI Readmissions Are Due to Complications
MedPage Today (7/5) reports that according to a recent study, the increased thirty-day rehospitalization risk associated with myocardial infarction (MI) is often the result of comorbid conditions, longer length of stay, and complications of angiography and revascularization or reperfusion, rather than the incident heart attack. The observational study showed that more than 30% of rehospitalizations that occurred within thirty days of an MI were unrelated to the heart attack itself.
Congress Passes User Fee Act Reauthorization Bill Including Drug Shortages Provisions
American Medical News (7/2) reports that on June 26, the Senate passed the consensus version of the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) User Fee Act Reauthorization bill, which had been approved by a voice vote in the House the week before. The bill, which will reauthorize FDA's authority to collect user fees for the review and approval of drug and device applications, has been sent to President Barack Obama for his signature well before the September deadline for renewal of the programs. The bill also includes provisions to address drug shortages by requiring early notification to alert federal officials of potential shortages and establishing an FDA task force that will work with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to create a strategic plan to prevent and mitigate drug shortages.
Patients Are Warned About the Importance of Preventing Medications From Overheating
MedPage Today (7/5) reports since much of the country is experiencing excessive heat, doctors have been warning patients about the need to keep both themselves and their medications from overheating. Improper storage of medications in heat can affect the bioavailability of active agents in the drugs. In order to ensure effectiveness, drugs should be stored at room temperature (between sixty-eight and seventy-seven degrees Fahrenheit) with little time spent above or below that range. In these weather conditions, patients also need to be aware of whether the drugs they take will increase dehydration or interfere with the body's own cooling mechanisms.
The U.S. Supreme Court's Healthcare Reform Ruling Could Have a Substantial Impact on Medicaid Expansion and Eligibility
Kaiser Health News (7/3) reports that the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision on the Affordable Care Act allows states to choose not to expand their Medicaid program as required under the healthcare reform law. The High Court held that it was coercive for the federal government to take away existing Medicaid funds as a penalty if a state fails to extend Medicaid eligibility to a larger segment of their population. At least seven Republican governors have indicated they are likely to opt out of the expansion even though the federal government will cover 90% of the costs until 2017. The ruling could also result in several states deciding to cut people currently enrolled, because in 2014, states are no longer prohibited from making it harder for adults to qualify for Medicaid.
President Obama Discusses the Healthcare Law's Benefits and That It Is Now a Long-Term Fixture
Washington Post (7/5) reports that, emboldened by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision that the healthcare reform law is Constitutional, President Barack Obama discussed the benefits of the law with the public and explained that it is here to stay. The President also told the crowd that he is willing to work with those who oppose the law to improve it, but that we will not turn back to times when insurance companies could deny coverage or discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions.
Hospital Safety Ratings Released
Modern Healthcare (7/5) reports that individualized safety ratings were released by Consumer Reports. More than 1,100 hospitals were rated on a 100-point scale based on measures such as readmissions, healthcare-associated infections, and medication safety. According to a Consumer Reports news release, more than half of hospitals received an overall safety score below 50% (note: registration is required to access this article).
*We would like to thank to Allison M. Cohen, Esquire (Washington, DC), for providing this week's update.
AHLA Teaching Hospital Updates are intended to provide quick summaries of cutting-edge issues of interest to teaching hospitals and their counsel. Additional information and more in-depth coverage on these topics may be available from AHLA Health Lawyers Weekly and appropriate AHLA Practice Groups.
Follow the Teaching Hospitals and Academic Medical Centers Practice Group on Twitter @AHLA_TH_AMCs.