Dr. Lynda Young, a pediatrician with Chandler Pediatrics in Worcester and chief of community pediatrics at the Children's Medical Center within UMass Memorial, will take the helm of the statewide organization. The group officially voted Young into the office at its annual meeting today. She will replace Dr. Alice Coombs and serve a one-year term.
Young, who is from Worcester, has long been involved with the Massachusetts Medical Society, which also publishes the New England Journal of Medicine. She was vice president for two years and was previously a president of the American Academy of Pediatrics Massachusetts chapter.
Seriously ill patients at UMass Memorial Medical Center suffered fewer complications and were less likely to die when they were monitored by doctors working in a remote "eICU," some of the first evidence that telemedicine can improve on care provided at the bedside.
Intensive care specialists who oversaw the hospital's intensive care units from a low-rise office building three miles away improved care by essentially acting as a second set of eyes for the on-site doctors and nurses, found a study published online today by the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The remote doctors enforced treatment plans for patients, ensured that caregivers followed best practices to prevent infections and pneumonia, and even at times prompted staff to respond to alarms on monitors warning a patient was in trouble.FULL ENTRY
A look at the morning's top health industry news
Malpractice settlement for UMass Memorial Hospital: A judge approved a $7 million settlement yesterday in the case of a Shrewsbury woman who said she was not provided with an amniocentesis during pregnancy. The lawsuit, which names four professionals at the Worcester hospital said the test would have detected a genetic disorder in her daughter, now 3, and caused her to abort the fetus, Travis Andersen of the Globe reports this morning. It also says that the woman does not speak English and was not provided with a translator.FULL ENTRY
The story has been unfolding over the last month: flirtatious models beckoning potential bone marrow donors for a UMass Memorial registry, which charged insurers above-average prices to test samples swabbed from inside volunteers' cheeks. New Hampshire's attorney general was the first to launch an investigation, followed by Massachusetts’ attorney general Martha Coakley.
John O'Brien, chief executive of the Worcester-based hospital system, has not spoken publicly, but he sent a message to physicians and staff yesterday apologizing for the use of professional models and emphasizing the mission of the registry. Here's the Globe story and here's the letter.
UMass Memorial Health Care on Saturday suspended its recruitment of bone marrow donors in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, pending an investigation into its practice of luring potential donors with flirtatious models in malls and at sporting events, and charging insurers extraordinary rates for testing DNA samples.
The Worcester hospital already had temporarily stopped recruitment in New Hampshire for its Caitlin Raymond International Registry -- and use of models in all three states -- as attorneys general in Massachusetts and New Hampshire investigate whether recruiters provided false information to potential donors about the cost of the testing, among other questions.
The mayor of Manchester, N.H., alerted authorities when the city's health insurance plan was hit with hefty bills for tests on city employees, about $4,300 per person. UMass Memorial has told investigators it charges most insurers a discounted rate, between $700 and $1,500 per donor. In its statement, the hospital said it does not charge potential donors themselves.
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
Strained by flat patient volume and pressure from health insurers, UMass Memorial Health Care told employees today that it will eliminate about 350 jobs, nearly 2.6 percent of its 13,700-person workforce, in the state's largest hospital cutback this year.
The health care system, which operates the three-campus UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester and four community hospitals in Central Massachusetts, said it expects to lay off 130 workers, freeze another 120 vacant jobs, and shed the equivalent of 100 jobs by reducing overtime and shifting employees from full time to part time.
"We're trying to prepare ourselves for the longer term," John G. O'Brien, president and chief executive of Worcester-based UMass Memorial Heath Care, said in an interview. "We don't think the pressure on hospitals to reduce costs will abate for several years."FULL ENTRY
The same people who rate cars and vacuum cleaners are grading groups of doctors who perform heart bypass surgery.
Consumer Reports, collaborating with the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, today published its list awarding one, two, or three stars to surgical practices that agreed to share their performance data on patient survival, surgical complications, and adherence to guidelines on medication use and other care.
Four groups in Massachusetts -- doctors affiliated with Boston Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Mount Auburn Hospital, and North Shore Medical Center -- earned the highest rating. They are among 50 groups across the country to merit the above-average designation. Surgeons who operate at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield and St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester won two stars for average performance. No group in the state was among the five nationwide that ranked below average, but only six Massachusetts groups agreed to be part of the Consumer Reports list.FULL ENTRY
Unrelenting heat and humidity are combining to send people to hospital emergency rooms with heat-related illnesses, and the worst may be yet to come, according to an informal survey of several Massachusetts hospitals.
“Today is going to be the day that it spikes. It’s really oppressive out there,” said Dr. Marc Restuccia of UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester.
Most of the people seeking urgent care are suffering from heat exhaustion. They have muscle cramps or feel light-headed; some are nauseous and vomiting. Others have racing pulses or feel faint. In these cases, dehydration has taken a serious toll that infusing intravenous fluids can reverse. But untreated heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke, a life-threatening condition in which dangerously high body temperatures can have toxic effects on organs such as the kidneys or the brain.
One patient at Massachusetts General Hospital is suffering from heat stroke, Dr. Alasdair Conn, chief of emergency medicine at MGH, said today.
Only two patients with heat illnesses came to the ER yesterday, he said, but “the fact that we had four today by midday seems to indicate that it will continue to rise.”FULL ENTRY
Scientists at nine Massachusetts research centers were awarded a total of $55.5 million in federal stimulus grants today to pay for new buildings, labs, and renovations.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology received the most, $15 million, to underwrite renovation of a Cambridge building devoted to public health research focusing on neuroscience, aging, cancer, heart disease, and novel drug deliver models. Only two other institutions nationally received that much money.
The National Institutes of Health announced $1 billion in stimulus grants today. In a statement, Kathleen Sebelius, US secretary of Health and Human Services, said the money "will not only give our world-class scientists the modern facilities they need for impact research, it will also help create and maintain jobs."
Other top recipients in Massachusetts included Tufts University ($9.5 million), the University of Massachusetts at Amherst ($7.1 million), and Brigham and Women's Hospital ($6.1 million). The remaining recipients include Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center ($1.8 million), Boston University ($5.9 million), the Forsyth Institute ($4.4 million), Schepens Eye Research Institute ($500,000), and the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester ($5.2 million).
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