Business of Medicine

Environmental services worker Jeanna Hibbert scrubs the hospital room to get rid of C-diff bacteria.
Michelle Faust / Side Effects Public Media

It’s usually doctors and nurses who are seen as the life-savers at hospitals. But when it comes to preventing certain lethal infections, the hospital’s cleaning staff play a vital role.  

The most common hospital-borne infection in U.S. hospitals is a stubborn spore that’s spreads easily and is tough to remove.


Some Nonprofit Hospitals Amassing Hundreds Of Millions

May 13, 2016
hospitalpenn.jpg
D Gorenstein

Pretty much any hospital executive will tell you it’s a thin-margin business.

But a new report out in the journal Health Affairs finds that there are hospitals out there making fat margins, worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Seven of the top 10 most profitable hospitals in 2013 were nonprofits, including one in Wisconsin with more than $300 million, according to the study.

Johns Hopkins economist Gerard Anderson said these hospitals tend to spend their money in several ways. 

When The Cost Of Care Triggers A Medical Deportation

Apr 13, 2016

In an emergency, hospitals, by law, must treat any patient in the U.S. until he or she is stabilized, regardless of the patient's immigration status or ability to pay.

Yet, when it comes time for the hospitals to discharge these patients, the same standard doesn't apply.

Though hospitals are legally obligated to find suitable places to discharge patients (for example, to their homes, rehabilitation facilities or nursing homes), their insurance status makes all the difference.

Study Says Patients Can Manage Complex Care At Home — And Cut Costs

Mar 21, 2016
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Lauren Silverman

The Holy Grail in health care is finding a way to cut costs and improve outcomes. Researchers at Parkland Hospital in Dallas say they’ve uncovered a way to do both — so that patients who typically have to stay in the hospital for more than a month can go home and care for themselves.

Warren J. Smith III didn’t want to lose his leg, but an infection just kept coming back.

It all started with a motorcycle accident in 2009. Since then, he’d had dozens of operations, round after round of antibiotics and countless days in a hospital bed --isolated in sterile rooms.

Hands Off That Frozen Pizza! Docs Advise Customers As They Shop

Dec 23, 2015
Lisa Tamura discusses her shopping habits with Dr. Phil Cecchini, a family doctor in Orange County. Cecchini spends the afternoon at a Laguna Hills supermarket advising shoppers on what foods to buy and what to avoid.
Heidi de Marco / KHN

When Lisa Tamura goes to the grocery store, she usually picks up a few frozen pizzas for the nights she doesn’t want to cook.

But on a recent Thursday afternoon at the Ralphs supermarket in Laguna Hills, California, she strolled right by the frozen food and headed straight to the fruits and vegetables.

That’s because she had some help from the ultimate personal shopper – a family doctor named Phil Cecchini.

“What do you like to eat?” he asked.

“Bad food,” she responded, laughing.

Conventional wisdom says in bigger cities, life is just more expensive. But it turns out people who live in locations with more hospitals may be getting a (relative) break when it comes to healthcare costs. That's just one finding in an new analysis of billions of dollars in health insurance claims from across the country. Money.com has more. 

Health Care Costs More in Cities with Fewer Hospitals

going into a CT scan machine
frankieleon via Flickr

Why do doctors order tests that might not be medically necessary? Defensive medicine. They're often trying not to miss a diagnosis or get sued.

KPCC's Rebecca Plevin connects the dots on several surveys, the latest showing doctors with higher hospital charges, including for tests, are less likely to get sued for malpractice.

That finding poses a challenge for policymakers wanting doctors to rein in costs.

Health Systems Dipping Into The Business Of Selling Insurance

Nov 10, 2015
American Fork Hospital in Utah is part of the Intermountain Healthcare System, which has begun offering health insurance to its patients.
GreenwoodKL via Wikimedia Commons

In addition to treating what ails you, a number of health care systems aim to sell you a health insurance plan to pay for it. With some of the most competitively priced policies on the marketplaces, “provider-led” plans can be popular with consumers. But analysts say it remains to be seen how many will succeed long term as insurers.

How N.Y.'s Biggest For-Profit Nursing Home Group Flourishes Despite a Record of Patient Harm

Oct 28, 2015
Charlie Stewart lost most of his leg to a wound that turned gangrenous during a 2013 hospital stay.
Allegra Abramo / ProPublica

Charlie Stewart was looking forward to getting out of the nursing home in time for his 60th birthday.  On his planned release day, in late 2012, the Long Island facility instead called Stewart's wife to say he was being sent to the hospital with a fever.

When his wife, Jeanne, met him there, the stench of rotting flesh made it difficult to sit near her husband. The small wounds on his right foot that had been healing when Stewart entered the nursing home now blackened his entire shin.

Antibiotics’ Misuse Puts Nursing Home Residents At Risk, Says CDC

Oct 20, 2015
Clostridium difficile bacteria, also known as C. diff., is known to spread when the body's defenses are weakened by antibiotics. Each year c. diff.  puts 250,000 people in the hospital and kills 15,000.
Sanofi Pasteur via Flickr

Antibiotics are prescribed incorrectly to ailing nursing home residents up to 75 percent of the time, the nation’s public health watchdog says.

The reasons vary — wrong drug, wrong dose, wrong duration or just unnecessarily – but the consequences are scary, warns the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Overused antibiotics over time lose their effectiveness against the infections they were designed to treat. Some already have. And some antibiotics actually cause life-threatening illnesses on their own.

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