A look at the morning's top health industry news.
What Massachusetts thinks: A New York Times editorial suggests that, for all the criticism of the federal mandate that most people must buy health insurance starting in 2014, public support nationally could follow the trajectory of that in Massachusetts and get stronger. It points to a recent poll that found most people in this state, 51 percent, support the state mandate. The poll, conducted by the Globe and the Harvard School of Public Health, found 63 percent of residents support state changes to health care overall.FULL ENTRY
Uncertain future for brokers: Health insurance brokers could go the way of travel agents as more consumers are given the option of shopping for plans online through state exchanges, writes Michelle Andrews of Kaiser Health News for the the NPR Shots blog. The brokers are fighting to preserve their commission, asking that their fees be excluded from calculations of administrative costs for insurance companies. Under the Affordable Care Act, the companies must prove that they spend no more than 20 percent of premiums on costs other than actual medical care. Brokers worry their commissions will be squeezed by the rule.FULL ENTRY
Dr. Howard Grant, president of Lahey in Burlington, recently proposed that the two institutions join forces -- though both sides said the discussions are preliminary.FULL ENTRY
A look at top items in health industry news.FULL ENTRY
For people who work in hospitals, getting a flu shot should be like washing their hands, public health specialist Dr. Al DeMaria says.
“There’s no logical reason to decline it, just like there’s no logical reason for health care workers to refuse to wash their hands,” said DeMaria, who is the state’s epidemiologist.
But Massachusetts hospitals fall short of the public health goal of vaccinating every health care worker, according to a report on immunization rates released by the state today.FULL ENTRY
Lahey Clinic has named a new leader, tapping an executive from a Pennsylvania health organization known for innovation, the Burlington hospital said today.
Dr. Howard R. Grant (left), executive vice president and chief medical officer at Geisinger Health System in Danville, Pa., will become Lahey's next president and chief executive officer on November 15. He will succeed Dr. David M. Barrett, who has been at the helm since 1999.
Geisinger is a group practice with 1,200 clinicians and 60 locations, including three hospital campuses. It has been cited by President Obama as a model of health care quality and efficiency. The New York Times explored how Geisinger is run in this story.
To hear Grant talk about Geisinger, go here.
Grant, both a lawyer and a physician, earned his medical and law degrees from George Washington University after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a bachelor's degree in political science. He completed a pediatrics residency at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Before coming to Geisinger, Grant was chief medical officer at Temple University Health System in Philadelphia.
State and federal health officials who investigated the death of a liver donor at Lahey Clinic said that they have not uncovered any problems with the quality of care at the hospital or other deficiencies that may have led to the tragedy.
The state Department of Public Health has completed its review of the May 24 fatality, as has the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Roseanne Pawelec, a spokeswoman for the Medicare program, said today. Health officials often investigate unexpected patient deaths at hospitals to determine if the hospital violated patient safety standards, staff training protocol or other rules.
A man who agreed to donate part of his liver to help a sick relative died while undergoing the transplant procedure -- believed to be only the third death of an adult living liver donor in the United States in the two decades since the first procedure was done, according to two leading transplant surgeons. A total of 4,036 have been performed.FULL ENTRY
A man who agreed to donate part of his liver to help a sick relative died during the transplant procedure at Lahey Clinic two weeks ago, the hospital said today.
One leading transplant specialist said it was only the third death in the United States of a living liver donor.
Lahey, which has performed more liver transplants from living donors than any other program in the United States, declined to identify the donor or release further details of the tragedy, which occurred on May 24, saying that the "families have informed the Clinic of their desire to grieve privately.''
The hospital said it reported the death to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, which has opened an investigation, and Lahey is conducting an internal review of what went wrong.FULL ENTRY
Dr. David Barrett, 68, will continue in a strategic leadership role through September 2012 as part of a succession plan, Lahey said. A committee will begin a search for his successor next month.
During Barrett's tenure, Lahey Clinic expanded facilities in Burlington and Peabody; formed clinical partnerships with other hospitals for specialty care; and strengthened its ties to Tufts University School of Medicine. Operating revenue grew more than 90 percent, to $833 million, since 1999.
Barrett, who is a physician and professor or urology at Tufts, came to Lahey from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. "I consider myself privileged to have served two of the finest health care institutions in the country," he said in a statement.
An experimental therapy to prevent recurrence of an increasingly troublesome bacterial infection that can produce debilitating diarrhea worked significantly better than standard treatment in a small study, Massachusetts researchers report today.
Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, senior author Dr. Donna Ambrosino of MassBiologics in Jamaica Plain and her colleagues say that monoclonal antibodies they developed against the bacterium Clostridium difficile reduced second episodes of infection by 72 percent at multiple sites in the United States and Canada.
"I think it is very promising and very exciting. These are some of the more challenging patients to take care of," Dr. Rocco Ricciardi, a staff surgeon at Lahey Clinic, said. He was not involved in the study, but he began researching the illness after he noted a decade-long climb in the number of people who needed to have their colons removed because of C. difficile infections. "This is very promising because it's a very common and difficult problem to treat."
About white coat notes
|White Coat Notes covers the latest from the health care industry, hospitals, doctors offices, labs, insurers, and the corridors of government. Chelsea Conaboy previously covered health care for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @cconaboy.|
Gideon Gil, Health and Science Editor
Elizabeth Comeau, Senior Health Producer