Daily check up: Alarm fatigue cited in second death at UMass Memorial

A look at the morning’s top health industry news.

Alarm fatigue cited in patient death: Liz Kowalczyk reports that state investigators have found that alarm fatigue was at least partly to blame for a second patient death at UMass Memorial Medical Center in four years. The 60-year-old man in intensive care died after alarms meant to alert staff of a fast heart rate and potential breathing problems went unanswered for nearly an hour, investigators said. In February, Kowalczyk wrote a two-part investigation of alarm fatigue and its effects nationwide. The latest case demonstrates the persistence of the problem even at a hospital that has worked to address it in recent years.


Hospital group opposes readmission penalty: Rachel Zimmerman reports on the WBUR’s CommonHealth blog that the Massachusetts Hospital Association has sent a letter to Medicaid Director Dr. Julian Harris saying a penalty set to take effect Oct. 1 that will dock hospitals pay if they have high readmission rates is “inexplicable and inexcusable.’’

How to talk to your doctor: Scott Hensley of the NPR Shots blog offers these tips for talking with your doctor. First, “don’t be bashful,’’ he said. And use this cheat sheet from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to prompt a fruitful discussion about your care. The agency also has created a tool to personalize the conversation to your needs.

Cuts to disability insurance: Michelle Andrews writes for Kaiser Health News about how disability insurance is following the trend in health insurance: Companies that offer it are shifting more of the cost onto employees. Among the employers who offer it, 37 percent paid the entire premium last year, down from 49 percent in 2002, she writes.

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