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MRSA Study

MRSA Study Slashes Deadly Infections in Sickest Hospital Patients

May 30, 2013 — Using germ-killing soap and ointment on all intensive-care unit (ICU) patients can reduce bloodstream infections by up to 44 percent and significantly reduce the presence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in ICUs. A new Department of Health and Human Services-funded study released today tested three MRSA prevention strategies and found that using germ-killing soap and ointment on all ICU patients was more effective than other strategies.

“Patients in the ICU are already very sick, and the last thing they need to deal with is a preventable infection,” said Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. “This research has the potential to influence clinical practice significantly and create a safer environment where patients can heal without harm.”

The study, REDUCE MRSA trial, was published in today’s New England Journal of Medicine and took place in two stages from 2009-2011. A multidisciplinary team from the University of California, Irvine, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) carried out the study. A total of 74 adult ICUs and 74,256 patients were part of the study, making it the largest study on this topic. Researchers evaluated the effectiveness of three MRSA prevention practices: routine care, providing germ-killing soap and ointment only to patients with MRSA, and providing germ-killing soap and ointment to all ICU patients. In addition to being effective at stopping the spread of MRSA in ICUs, the study found the use of germ-killing soap and ointment on all ICU patients was also effective for preventing infections caused by germs other than MRSA.

“CDC invested in these advances in order to protect patients from deadly drug-resistant infections,” said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “We need to turn science into practical action for clinicians and hospitals. CDC is working to determine how the findings should inform CDC infection prevention recommendations.”

MRSA is resistant to first-line antibiotic treatments and is an important cause of illness and sometimes death, especially among patients who have had medical care. Three-quarters of Staphylococcus aureus infections in hospital ICUs are considered methicillin-resistant. In 2012, encouraging results from a CDC report showed that invasive (life-threatening) MRSA infections in hospitals declined by 48 percent from 2005 through 2010.

“This study helps answer a long-standing debate in the medical field about whether we should tailor our efforts to prevent infection to specific pathogens, such as MRSA, or whether we should identify a high-risk patient group and give them all special treatment to prevent infection,” said lead author Susan Huang, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor at the UCI School of Medicine and medical director of epidemiology and infection prevention at UC Irvine Health. “The universal decolonization strategy was the most effective and the easiest to implement. It eliminates the need for screening ICU patients for MRSA.”

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    For Many, Affordable Care Act Won’t Cover Bariatric Surgery

For Many, Affordable Care Act Won’t Cover Bariatric Surgery

Uninsured Americans who are hoping the new health insurance law will give them access to weight loss treatments are likely to be disappointed.

That’s especially the case in the Deep South, where obesity rates are among the highest in the nation, and states will not require health plans sold on the new online insurance marketplaces to cover medical weight loss treatments like prescription drugs and bariatric surgery.

Dr. Erin Cummins directs the bariatric surgery department at in the state capital of Jackson. She grew up in the Delta, her husband is a cotton farmer, and although she’s petite and fit, she understands well enough how Mississippians end up on her operating table.

“You have to realize in the South, everything revolves around food. Reunions, funerals, parties — everything revolves around food,” Cummins says.

That long-standing food culture, as well as other factors like inactivity and poverty, have saddled Mississippi with the highest obesity rate in the nation.

Tips to pick the right health cover to suit your needs

It takes an agent several days, even weeks, to convince a customer to buy health insurance. Yet, 10 minutes at the billing counter of a hospital were enough to persuade Avinash Sharma (see picture).

When the Delhi-based professional visited a friend, who had undergone a minor surgery in a private hospital last month, he was shocked to see the bill at the time of discharge.

“A simple operation and one night’s hospitalisation cost him Rs 1.4 lakh. The cover from his employer covered only Rs 50,000 of the cost,” he says.

We are not surprised. Healthcare costs are rising at a fast clip. According to a survey by insurance consultancy firm, Towers Watson India, healthcare costs in India increased by 13.25% in 2011.

Health Insurance Reform: Steps to Take Now to Prepare

The Affordable Care Act doesn’t go into full force until January 2014, so you have plenty of time to get your company’s health insurance plans in order, right? Wrong, say health-care experts. Regardless of whether you already offer health insurance, or you plan to do so starting in 2014, there are several steps you need to take now to prepare for life under the Affordable Care Act, which is commonly called Obamacare.

Open enrollment, both for private health plans and for the new insurance marketplaces established by the law, starts Oct. 1. That’s sooner than you may think, given the complexities of the law, says Meredith Olafson, senior policy advisor in the Small Business Administration’s office of entrepreneurial development. “Every business owner is going to be impacted differently,” Olafson says. “They need to know the facts and information to plan for what’s ahead.”

Here are five important ways to ready yourself for health reform:

1. Brace for rising costs. Several major insurance carriers have warned that premiums will rise by more than 20 percent next year, and Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini told Wall Street analysts that premiums may even double for some small businesses.

In addition to preparing for that price boost, you need to understand what your company’s requirements will be for contributing to your plan. For example, the law says that to be deemed “affordable,” an employee’s out-of-pocket costs cannot total more than 9.5 percent of his or her income. Some companies used to be able to hold down healthcare costs by offering high-deductible plans, which shifted more of the out-of-pocket burden to employees. But under the law, “high” will likely be capped at deductibles of $2,000 a year for individuals and $4,000 for families.

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