Increased nurse staff levels tied to lower odds of Medicare readmissions penalties, study says

( Nursing unions wanting higher staffing ratios have more ammunition thanks to a new study concluding that increasing nurse staffing levels could help hospitals avoid Medicare penalties for avoidable readmissions.

The study covered readmissions of Medicare patients who suffered heart attacks, heart failure or pneumonia. It appears in the October issue of Health Affairs. [Read more…]

The economics of nursing

(Nurse) Since the federal budget sequester became a reality on April 1, there has not been an immediate effect on nursing and healthcare organizations. No hospitals or long-term care facilities reported nursing layoffs directly related to the cuts, according to state and national industry organizations. [Read more…]

With nurses at risk of compassion fatigue, hospitals try to ease their stress

(Washington Post) Jan Powers, a clinical nurse manager in the pediatric oncology unit at the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, remembers how hard it was for her team after the death of a child. They met with an art therapist, who brought clay.

“There was a lot of pounding and kneading, and while we made our pots and whatever, people started to talk,” she said of the session last summer. “When your hands are occupied and you’re not in the spotlight, it’s easier to say things like ‘I feel really bad’ or ‘This child touched my heart and I’m grieving.’ It gives staff a chance to create out of something that is hurtful and painful.” [Read more…]

Senate Confirms Tavenner as Head of Medicare-Medicaid Agency

(FOX) Marilyn Tavenner, a nurse who’s been running Medicare and Medicaid on an acting basis, was confirmed 91 to 7 by the U.S. Senate to formally head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which also administers government health benefits to about 100 million Americans. [Read more…]

Emerging healthcare policy aims at reducing preventable hospital readmissions

(News Medical) Reducing preventable hospital readmissions is a cornerstone of emerging healthcare policy. The U.S. government has developed payment policies that will decrease payments to hospitals with excess patient readmission levels, for example. Early lessons learned from these current policy initiatives hint at their likelihood for success and are examined in an insightful article in Population Health Management, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Population Health Management website at [Read more…]

Pennsylvania hospitals expecting 24K job cuts in 2013 if March 1 budget cuts take place

(PennLive) Large-scale layoffs in health care will occur in Pennsylvania due to budget cuts scheduled to take effect March 1, warns the organization that lobbies on behalf of Pennsylvania hospitals.

They would occur even though health care is largely insulated from the sequestration process that would cut government spending by $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. [Read more…]

Expert: Health care too expensive, not effective

(Tribune Review) While the new federal health care law is not perfect, America’s current health care system is too expensive and not effective enough, a national health care expert said on Tuesday during a town hall meeting at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. [Read more…]

Few hospitals meet standards for reducing readmissions

(Pittsburgh Post Gazette) Historically, a patient who has to be readmitted has meant more revenue for a hospital, since it would receive payment for each stay. Under provisions of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, however, hospitals now are penalized if their readmission rate is too high.

Grove City Medical Center has been doing a better job than most at preventing those return trips to the emergency room. [Read more…]

7 Changes To Healthcare In 2013

(Record Herald) It took Congress only 2,700 pages to write the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare. But bureaucrats have generated 13,000 pages in new regulations for its implementation. Several new ObamaCare provisions take effect in 2013. Here are seven healthcare changes you should be aware of. [Read more…]

About half of Pennsylvania hospitals dinged over new quality measures

( The federal government recently announced new Medicare hospital bonuses and penalties based on quality of care.

They affect 1 percent of total Medicare payments to hospitals next year, and are part of an ongoing effort by the federal government to hold hospitals financially accountable for what happens to patients.

The calculations are based on patient surveys and a dozen basic patient care measures, including whether heart failure patients get discharge instructions, or surgery patients get antibiotics before operations. [Read more…]