Duke Health System CEO appointed to head Institute of Medicine

Dr. Victor J. Dzau, the current president and CEO of Duke University Health System and chancellor for health affairs at Duke University, has been appointed to a six-year term as the next president of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), effective July 1, 2014. Dr. Dzau will take over the lead role from Dr. Harvey Fineberg, who served in the position for twelve years.

Live chat: Karen van Unen on medical marijuana

Health officials Friday revealed the names of the companies that will receive the first 20 licenses to open medical marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts. But what does this mean for residents, patients, and the medical community? Get your answers from Karen van Unen, the executive director of the medical marijuana program at the Mass. Department of Public Health.

Dr. Arnold Relman on becoming the patient

Dr. Arnold “Bud” Relman’s frequent writing about medicine has made him a notable voice among physicians. But, for a piece published in the latest edition of the New York Review of Books, Relman takes on an entirely new role for himself: helpless patient.

Trauma surgeons back funding to analyze emergency care in Mass.

Boston’s teaching hospitals have been so widely praised for saving dozens of Marathon bombing victims that trauma surgeons worry the state will grow complacent. They met with legislators Tuesday to remind them that luck and timing played a role on Patriot’s Day, and that the trauma system still has gaps that require attention.

  • Boston Medical Center
  • Childrens
  • Mass General
  • Mass Health Law
  • Patient Safety
  • Public Health
  • Senate compounding bill would exempt hospital pharmacies

    The state Senate passed a bill Wednesday requiring compounding pharmacies that custom-mix sterile drugs to obtain a special license from the state pharmacy board, submit to annual inspections, and report more information about their operations. But, unlike the plan approved last month by the House, it temporarily exempts a large segment of the industry: hospital pharmacies.

    Bill to increase pharmacy oversight in Mass. passes House

    Patients would be able to go online to check the safety record of Massachusetts compounding pharmacies that custom-mix medications and the businesses would be subject to surprise inspections under legislation unanimously approved by the House Wednesday and aimed at preventing a repeat of the deadly fungal meningitis outbreak blamed on steroid injections made by a Framingham speciality pharmacy.

  • Patient Safety
  • Public Health
  • Steward CEO Dr. Ralph de la Torre looks to sell his house, but says he’s staying at health system

    Under its agreement with state regulators, Cerberus Capital Management soon will be free to sell its 11-hospital Steward Health Care System, fueling speculation about the company’s plans. The talk among hospital executives intensified this month when Steward Chief Executive Dr. Ralph de la Torre put his seven-bedroom West Newton Hill home up for sale. But his spokesman said the former cardiac surgeon is committed to staying in Boston and does not plan on a career change.

  • Steward Health Care
  • Free symposium looks at the story of the Elephant Man and the implications for modern medicine

    Joseph Carey Merrick, better known to the world as the Elephant Man, died more than a century ago, but his life might hold lessons for the U.S. health care system today. The New Repertory Theatre, which begins performances of “The Elephant Man” on Saturday, will host a symposium on how the play reflects on the modern-day role of medicine in human rights.

  • Affordable Care Act
  • Boston University
  • Gap in insurer payments to Partners and competitors surprises Mass. health official

    A new state report describing the Massachusetts health care market provides an interesting snapshot of where patients go for medical care and the cost. I hit on some highlights in Wednesday’s Globe, including the dominance of Partners HealthCare compared to other provider groups.

  • Beth Israel Deaconess
  • Brigham Womens
  • Insurance
  • Lahey
  • Mass General
  • Mass Health Law
  • Partners Healthcare
  • Steward Health Care
  • Tufts Medical Center
  • UMass
  • Massachusetts nursing homes that advertise specialized Alzheimer’s and dementia care units will be required to provide workers with at least eight hours of initial training to care for such residents, and four additional hours annually, under proposed rules unveiled Wednesday by state regulators.

  • Patient Safety
  • State health officials say a horse in Belchertown, near Amherst, is the first this season in Massachusetts to be diagnosed with Eastern equine encephalitis, a potentially lethal mosquito-borne disease that infected seven residents last year

  • Public Health
  • Audio timeline of Aurora, CO, mass shooting

    A note on the Globe’s stories Sunday about the Boston Marathon bombing. The Aurora, CO, cinema shooting last July, which killed 12 people and injured 58 others, played a key role in preparing Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston to treat the onslaught of victims injured in the explosions at the Marathon finish line on April 15.

  • Brigham Womens
  • Bill unveiled to strengthen oversight of compounding pharmacies

    Massachusetts pharmacists who specially mix injectable and other sterile medications would be required to take continuing education classes, and their pharmacies would have to provide patients with the number of a staffed hotline to report problems, under legislation approved Tuesday by the Joint Committee on Public Health and aimed at preventing a repeat of the deadly fungal meningitis outbreak blamed on a Framingham speciality pharmacy.

    Budget has $2.5 million to expand inspections of pharmacies, hospitals, nursing homes, clinics

    Pharmacies, hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care facilities are likely to face greater scrutiny under the $34 billion budget approved by lawmakers this week. The spending plan, which was sent to Governor Deval Patrick for his approval, includes an additional $1.3 million for pharmacy inspections and an extra $1.2 million for review and inspections of hospitals and other health care facilities.

  • Patient Safety
  • Public Health
  • Reflections from Residency: ‘Training’ may be over, but learning won’t end

    Recently, during one of my last shifts as a resident, I was supervising my intern as we admitted a middle-aged man, Mr. S, who had been transferred from another hospital. His history was complex, the diagnosis unclear. His wife handed us a thick stack of radiology reports, lab test results, and physician notes. For the moment, Mr. S appeared stable, breathing comfortably on supplemental oxygen from a mask. We had time to examine him, go through the records, and think about his symptoms.

  • Reflections from Residency
  • Two more top employees leave Board of Registration in Medicine

    The state medical board’s general counsel has resigned, and its spokesman was fired on Monday, building on two years of turnover at the agency. Special Assistant Russell Aims was let go after about nine years with the Board of Registration in Medicine, charged with licensing and disciplining doctors. General Counsel Brenda Beaton had started in the role in 2006.

    McLean Hospital wins approval for $12.5 million expansion in Belmont

    McLean Hospital won state approval Wednesday for a $12.5 million expansion of its Belmont campus. The project features a three-story addition to its existing admissions building and 31 new beds for psychiatric patients. The Public Health Council approved the project, which the hospital said is needed because of increasing demand for psychiatric treatment, particularly in its short-term care and psychotic disorders units.

  • Brigham Womens
  • Cambridge Health
  • McLean
  • Mental Health
  • Partners Healthcare
  • Public Health
  • Cambridge Health Alliance puts off decision to shrink child psychiatry services

    Cambridge Health Alliance officials said Wednesday they will not shrink services to children and teens with acute mental illness this year, as they had planned. The hospital system backed off a proposal to consolidate psychiatry units serving children and teens and to cut the total number of beds from 27 to 16, a week after the state Department of Public Health issued a letter saying those services were critical to eastern Massachusetts.

  • Cambridge Health
  • Mental Health
  • ‘How do you plug in a blood vessel?’ and other questions in recovery

    I write in today’s Globe about Muji Karim’s recovery after a fiery car wreck in 2011 and how he is using his experience to help Marathon victims and other trauma survivors to picture their lives after injury. Karim’s care was so complicated that it took him awhile to understand all that doctors had done in treating him. Some details he prefers not to know. But in March 2012, seven months after the crash, the 30-year-old from Quincy went in for a check-up with Dr. Simon Talbot, a surgeon, with questions ready.

  • Brigham Womens
  • Health Policy Commission to review Partners HealthCare plan to acquire South Shore Hospital

    The state’s new Health Policy Commission is moving forward with a cost and market impact review of Partners HealthCare System’s plan to acquire South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, the first test of its ability to influence the ongoing hospital consolidation trend in Massachusetts. A statement issued by the commission staff Wednesday afternoon said executives at South Shore and Boston-based Partners, which owns Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s hospitals, were notified that the commission will examine how the proposed merger of the two highly paid health care providers is likely to affect costs and the state’s health care market. The commission was created by last year’s state health cost containment law as a watchdog to monitor changes in the health care market.

  • Mass Health Law
  • Partners Healthcare
  • Christina Severin will lead the Beth Israel Deaconess Care Organization

    Christina Severin will assume the posts of president and chief executive of the Beth Israel Deaconess Care Organization in late June. In January, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center launched the organization, known as BIDCO, with doctors and other hospitals as it looked to adapt to a national movement toward payment systems that provide a single, set fee to care for each patient’s health. BIDCO, formed with the medical center’s physician group and partner hospitals, aims to improve care by emphasizing wellness over treatment. Since 2006, Severin has served as president of Network Health, a Tufts Health Plan subsidiary. She has also taught classes in health care administration and management at Boston University, Northeastern University, and Harvard University.

  • Beth Israel Deaconess
  • Harvard University
  • Affordable Care Act
  • Clipboard: After calling for better regulation, lawmakers cut funds for pharmacies inspectors

    After failures at a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy caused hundreds of people to be sickened by tainted drugs, state officials called for better oversight of the industry and Governor Deval Patrick pledged an additional $1 million to help the Department of Public Health conduct routine inspections. But that money has been cut from the Senate’s proposed budget, prompting Rachel Zimmerman, of WBUR’s CommonHealth blog to ask, “Really?”

  • Public Health
  • Readers applaud Beth Israel Deaconess nurses who healed bombing suspect

    I wrote in Sunday’s Globe about nine trauma nurses at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center who played a very private but critical role in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing: They cared for gravely wounded suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in a heavily-guarded ICU, nursing him back to health. E-mails from readers across the country, commending and thanking them, have been pouring in.

  • Beth Israel Deaconess
  • Reflections from Residency: Looking past a patient’s crimes

    It was the first day of a new rotation. I was getting to know my patients, trying to match faces and diagnoses with names on my list. A frail man with end-stage heart failure, Mr. T was too weak to walk and spent most of his time in a reclining chair. He had been in the hospital for weeks with pneumonia, kidney failure, and several other complications. He was quiet, unlike most of my other patients. No one came to visit him.

  • Reflections from Residency
  • Returning a 96-year-old favor, Nova Scotia sends donation to Mass. General

    The devastation was incredible. About 2,000 people were killed and thousands more injured when a munitions ship exploded in the harbor of Halifax, Nova Scotia. That was 96 years ago. Boston responded then, sending doctors and others to help the devastated city. In thanks, each year, Nova Scotia sends a Christmas tree to stand in the Boston Common. After Boston was rocked by double blasts at the Marathon last week, the province sent $50,000 to Massachusetts General Hospital.

  • Mass General
  • Once again, Massachusetts tops in NIH funding

    Boston again drew the most National Institutes of Health funding of any city in the nation in 2012, receiving total grants of $1.78 billion. The city’s hospitals, universities, and research institutions attracted 3,700 awards from the NIH last year, about 72 percent of NIH funding in Massachusetts and 8 percent of the agency’s funding nationally. It was the 18th consecutive year that Boston topped the nation in NIH funding.

  • Brigham Womens
  • Harvard University
  • Mass General
  • Post-marathon jitters and unattended car lead to evacuation of Brigham and Women’s

    In a sign of how jittery the marathon bombings have left Boston, a portion of Brigham and Women’s Hospital was evacuated at about 3 p.m. Wednesday after a person pulled up to the valet entrance at 45 Francis St. and left the car. Valets noticed gas cans inside and security ordered an evacuation of the building out of an abundance of caution “because it’s post-marathon,” hospital spokeswoman Erin McDonough said. After a few minutes, people were allowed to return inside.

  • Brigham Womens
  • Hearings scheduled on proposed pediatric-care cuts at Cambridge, Taunton hospitals

    The Department of Public Health will hold a hearing May 8 on Cambridge Health Alliance’s plans to eliminate 11 of 27 beds for treating children and teens with acute mental illness. Hospital officials said early this month that they planned to consolidate child and adolescent units. A separate hearing on Friday will review a plan by Steward Health Care to close a 13-bed unit for treating children with acute medical needs at Morton Hospital in Taunton.

  • Cambridge Health
  • Public Health
  • Dana-Farber checks in on its marathon team

    Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund regularly represent one of the largest contingencies of runners and fund-raisers at the Boston Marathon. This year was no different. On Tuesday afternoon, the hospital sent this note to team members and supporters: “At this time we are fortunate to report we are not aware of any significant harm to any Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge runner, volunteer, or staffer. Sadly, though, we have confirmed a report of serious injury to two family members of a runner.”

  • DanaFarber
  • Paging Sgt. Tyler: Someone would like to say ‘thank you’

    One of the 19 patients admitted to Tufts Medical Center after the double bomb blasts at the Boston Marathon Monday is looking for the man who helped her, hospital spokeswoman Brooke Tyson Hynes said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon. The woman, “believes he did indeed save her life,” Hynes said. The unidentified patient, who suffered severe injuries to her leg, remembers the man telling her his same was Sgt. Tyler and that he is a former Marine.

  • Tufts Medical Center
  • Boston doctors: Ball bearings, nails removed from patients from the marathon

    Each doctor who has spoken before TV cameras and reporters this morning has described similar things: Pellets, small BBs, headless nails -- projectiles they believe were packed with the bombs, removed from some patients by the dozens. “My opinion is that most of them were in the bomb,” said Dr. George Velmahos, trauma chief at Massachusetts General Hospital. “I think it’s unlikely they would be so consistent if they were pulled out from the environment.”

    BBs, nails embedded in kids treated at Boston Children’s Hospital

    The victims of the Boston Marathon bombings include a 9-year-old girl who lost a leg and a 10-year-old boy who suffered deep shrapnel wounds to his legs, according to the director of the trauma program at Boston Children’s Hospital. The most seriously injured children had BBs and nails embedded in their bodies, said Dr. David P. Mooney -- objects that were apparently packed into the explosive devices. The 9- and 10-year-olds are in critical condition but are expected to survive.

  • Childrens
  • Marathon medical tent ‘transformed into trauma unit’

    Boston Medical Mysteries blogger, Dr. Sushrut Jangi, was working in the medical tent when bombs went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. He writes: “A few minutes later, physicians, nurses, and coordinators were called to the site of the explosion; EMS ran to the scene and returned with stories about dismembered limbs and pools of blood. Immediately, the medical tent was transformed into a trauma unit.”

    “Pause before posting,” and other tips for doctors online

    Use secure e-mail systems. “Pause before posting” items to a personal or professional blog, to consider the implications for patient protection. And above all, a new policy paper issued Thursday by the American College of Physicians and the Federation of State Medical Boards suggests, doctors should remember that the boundaries of the physician-patient relationship apply online as much as they do in an exam room.

    BU Medical School selects students based on “holistic review,’’ not just test scores and grades

    Medical schools traditionally have accepted students with the highest test scores and best science grades. But in an article published online Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Robert Witzburg of Boston University School of Medicine writes about what he considers a better approach to choosing future physicians: holistic review. Medical schools that use this method give potential students points for overcoming adversity, showing resilience, and being empathetic -- as well as for academic achievement.

  • Boston University
  • Mass. may seek help from a nearby state to test medical marijuana

    Massachusetts regulators plan to require medical marijuana dispensaries to test their products for contamination but specialists say it is easier to mandate testing than to do it reliably. Few credible labs will test marijuana products for fear of losing federal government contracts. Interim state health commissioner Dr. Lauren Smith told the Public Health Council Wednesday morning that her agency is talking with another state in the region that is “taking on testing” of marijuana -- to learn about its plans.

  • Public Health
  • Author: Health care prices are “fiction, fantasy”

    David Goldhill isn’t your typical policy expert. He is the chief executive officer of GSN. That’s right, the Game Show Network. What does he know about health care? Quite a bit, it turns out. In addition to making insurance coverage decisions at his company, Goldhill is a board member of the Leapfrog Group, which regularly scores hospitals. Now, he has written a book, called “Catastrophic Care: How American Health Care Killed My Father -- and How We Can Fix It.”

  • Insurance
  • Patrick administration lawyers will review medical board director’s e-mails for release

    The Boston Globe’s request for e-mails exchanged by the former state medical board director, filed more than two months ago and still unanswered, has been handed over to the Executive Office of Health and Human Services for processing. Spokesman Alec Loftus said Thursday that Dr. Stancel Riley’s e-mails, which were found in archived folders on a state server after being reported missing by board staff, must be reviewed by attorneys in the executive office “page by page,” before they can be released.

    Massachusetts interim public health commissioner stepping down

    Dr. Lauren Smith, appointed Massachusetts interim public health commissioner last fall in the wake of two scandals that rocked the agency, said Friday she will step down from the position next month after finalizing the state’s first rules to regulate the use of medical marijuana. Smith, who served as the department’s medical director since 2007, told staffers that the “last several months have been difficult” for the department and for “those of us that care deeply about this agency’s work in public health.”

  • Public Health
  • Judge to Obama administration: Make morning-after pill available to teens over the counter

    A federal judge in New York has reversed a decision by the US Food and Drug Administration that restricted the sale of the morning-after pill to girls age 16 and under without a doctor’s prescription. Judge Edward R. Korman’s decision included some strong words for the government’s process in reviewing the matter and denied a request by the agency to take the issue through a rule-making process.

  • Public Health
  • Learning to see patients as more than a condition

    The elderly gentleman had a long cardiac history; his hospital stay had been complicated and he was quite sick. However, when I gently approached him about participating in a teaching exercise designed to help medical students improve their physical exam skills, he responded with a smile, “Anything to help the next generation.” Although patients come to our hospital seeking medical care and treatment, whether they realize it or not, they also serve an invaluable role -- as our greatest teachers.

  • Reflections from Residency
  • Beth Israel Deaconess and Lahey Clinic in talks about potential alliance

    The presidents of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Lahey Clinic told employees and affiliates Wednesday they are in preliminary talks with each other and three doctors groups about an alliance that could rival Partners HealthCare in scale and reach. In an e-mail to vice presidents, physicians, and managers that was obtained by the Globe, Beth Israel Deaconess president Kevin Tabb said the hospital is “exploring new possibilities to benefit our patients and the communities we serve.”

  • Beth Israel Deaconess
  • Lahey
  • Compounding pharmacy recall left 100 Children’s Hospital patients without antibiotic solution

    A recall and production shutdown at a Woburn compounding pharmacy last month left about 100 patients treated for bladder conditions at Boston Children’s Hospital without a product they need to keep catheters clear of infection. Speaking at a legislative hearing Tuesday, Children’s Hospital pharmacy director Al Patterson said Pallimed Solutions, Inc., made an antibiotic solution that these patients need to flush their catheters regularly.

  • Childrens
  • Drugs and Devices
  • Patient Safety
  • Public Health
  • Fewer Mass. teens are having babies, new report shows

    Fewer Massachusetts teenagers are having children, pushing the state’s teen birth rate to 50 percent below the national average and its lowest level in the 25 years public health officials have been reporting on birth rates, the state announced Monday. Teenagers typically are not as likely as older women to receive adequate prenatal care, which can jeopardize the health of their babies. The report also shows the lowest rate of smoking for pregnant women on record in 2010.

  • Public Health
  • Fewer Mass. teens are having babies, new report shows

    Fewer Massachusetts teenagers are having children, pushing the state’s teen birth rate to 50 percent below the national average and its lowest level in the 25 years public health officials have been reporting on birth rates, the state announced Monday. Teenagers typically are not as likely as older women to receive adequate prenatal care, which can jeopardize the health of their babies. The report also shows the lowest rate of smoking for pregnant women on record in 2010.

  • Public Health
  • Clipboard: Readers respond to suit filed against man who complained online about wife’s doctor

    A story in Sunday’s Boston Globe about Gary Votour, who wrote a blog post about his frustration with the care provided to his wife following a surgery during which she suffered a stroke, has prompted some strong debate among readers. Liz Kowalczyk of the Globe staff wrote about how Votour issued an “open letter” online to the surgeon, after the doctor declined a request to meet with him. Dozens of readers have commented on the story, mostly about how the Votour’s actions reflect on the health care system.

  • Brigham Womens
  • Recalled Woburn compounding pharmacy products were shipped to 21 states

    A recall by a Woburn compounding pharmacy where inspectors found visible contaminants in drug vials is more expansive than originally reported by the company, applying to 25 products distributed to patients and doctors in 21 states. A Pallimed Solutions spokesman told the Globe that the more complete company press release issued late Tuesday was not an indication of an expanded recall. But, the list of recalled products includes several drugs not part of the announcement that Pallimed made independent of regulators on Monday.

  • Patient Safety
  • Clipboard: State health officials urge caution in putting patients under the robotic knife

    Robot-assisted surgeries are being linked increasingly to complications for patients, according to an advisory letter sent by state health officials to hospitals in Massachusetts last week. Liz Kowalczyk of the Globe staff reports in today’s Globe that the Quality and Patient Safety Division of the agency the regulates Massachusetts doctors asked hospitals to make sure surgeons were proficient in the technology before using the robots on patients and to closely monitor results.

  • Patient Safety
  • Prescription drug abuse a target for Massachusetts lawmakers

    Massachusetts lawmakers have introduced two bills in Congress during the past week aimed at an curbing high rates of prescription drug abuse. Representative Edward Markey is co-sponsoring legislation that would require tighter control of drugs that include hydrocodone, an opioid in Vicodin and dozens of other brand-name products. On Friday, Representative William Keating announced legislation that would require more prescription painkillers to be sold in tamper-proof forms.

  • Patient Safety
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