Business of Medicine

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.

There is a good chance that your once-independent doctor is now employed by a hospital. Dr. Michael Reilly, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., orthopedic surgeon, does not believe this is good for physicians, patients or society.

Hospitals Seeking An Edge Turn To Unlikely Adviser: Toyota

Aug 7, 2015
Susan Black, chief kaizen promotion officer at Los Angeles County Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, reviews the quality and safety board in the ophthalmology clinic on June 9, 2015.
Anna Gorman / KHN

TORRANCE, Calif. – The equipment closet for the operating rooms at Los Angeles County Harbor-UCLA Hospital was a mess. Nurses had to maneuver through a maze of wheelchairs, beds, boxes and lights to find the necessary surgical supplies.

“It looked kind of like a dog pile of equipment,” said Dawna Willsey, a clinical director at the hospital. “It was every man for themselves trying to find anything.”

A map showing the status of state Medicaid expansion as of July 24, 2015
Anita Cardwell and Kaitlin Sheedy / State Refor(u)m

Congress established Medicaid fifty years ago today as a health insurance program for the poor, with the intention that the program would provide care just as good as what the rest of Americans receive. According to Rutgers University Medicaid scholar Frank J. Thompson, the program has done a lot of good, even if it hasn’t quite lived up to that early goal.

Progress For Bill To Bolster Medicare Patients' Hospital Rights

Jul 29, 2015

The Senate unanimously approved legislation Monday night requiring hospitals across the nation to tell Medicare patients when they receive observation care but haven't been admitted to the hospital as inpatients.

The distinction is easy for patients to miss — until they get hit with big medical bills after a short stay.

How Much Does It Cost To Have A Baby? Hospital Study Finds Huge Price Range

Jul 17, 2015
George Ruiz via Flickr/

Which hospital parents pick to deliver their baby can have serious cost consequences, according to a new study.

Hospital costs for women who had no maternal or obstetric risk factors to complicate childbirth ranged from less than $2,000 to nearly $12,000, the analysis of discharge data found. The wide variation in cost means that for expectant parents, it can pay to shop around.

Some parents pick out a name for their child as soon as the pregnancy test turns positive. For others, the choice of a name is a game-time decision, taking minutes, hours or even a day or two after birth.

My own baby went unnamed for about 20 minutes as my husband and I tried to figure out which of our top choices best fit her screamy little face.

Talk about sticker shock: Some U.S. hospitals charge patients more than 10 times the rates paid by Medicare.

Of the 50 U.S. hospitals with the highest charges, 49 are for-profit institutions, 20 operate in Florida, and half are owned by a single chain, according to a study published in the journal Health Affairs Monday.