Federal prosecutors investigate double-booked #surgeries identified in Globe Spotlight series #MGH #qualityofcare

Note that the Globe’s story on double book has instigated some scrutiny from outside the world of medicine and journalism. ss2 (2)

Federal prosecutors have subpoenaed 10 years of internal records from Massachusetts General Hospital and have interviewed several physicians as part of an investigation into surgeons running two operating rooms at the same time, according to individuals with direct knowledge of the probe.

Some MGH staff members have raised concerns for years about double-booked operations in the renowned hospital’s orthopedics department, a dispute little known to the public until a Globe Spotlight Team report last month. Hospital officials say concurrent surgery is safe and improves efficiency, but critics say the practice is risky and that, too often, patients are not told their surgeon plans to manage a second, simultaneous case.

Also note that MGH feels the article treated the institution unfairly.

MGH 2010

MGH 2010

MGH set up a website for patients in response to the Spotlight report and sent out e-mails to employees defending double-booking.

“There is no quality and safety issue that the MGH has scrutinized more carefully in recent years than overlapping surgery,’’ Dr. Peter Slavin, the hospital president, and Dr. Thomas Lynch, head of the Massachusetts General Physicians Organization, wrote employees on Oct. 30. “We do not believe that the Globe article provided a fair and balanced description of surgical practices at MGH.’’

A hospital spokeswoman said MGH has had no cancellations or postponements of surgeries and only a handful of questions from patients.


Looking for Boston Globe health reporting? Try the business section

ssUPDATE: Props to Beta Boston, another source of Globe health reporting.

Since the Globe currently has no full-time health and science editor, no science writer and a hard-to-find, often dated health site, we turn to the business section for news on health, or at least health finance and pharma. Perhaps things will pick up in the fall.

In terms of Globe-ish  health-sci-ish  reporting, we see STAT continuing to pop up in the paper and the paper’s website but not the STAT website. The business section of the print version of today’s paper premieres a weekly column called Kendall Squared. Today, Andrew Joseph reports on the rebranding of the square-less square, the sale of dishes at the closed Hungry Mother restaurant, a Forsyth Institute dentist who runs a children’s clinic in Kuwait and a non-profit dispute resolution group that is being prices out of the Square.

In the meantime, best to follow individual members of the Globe‘s shrinking but solid Metro sci-health team:

Kay Lazar @GlobeKayLazar

Liz Kowalcyk @GlobeLizK

Felice J. Freyer @felicejfreyer

And, check the business page. The state Center for Health Information and Analysis has come out with it’s latest hospital profits report and today, The Globe helps sort it out for us.

The state’s biggest hospitals were the most profitable in 2014, with Massachusetts General Hospital, the largest academic medical center, earning $200 million, up 34 percent from the previous year, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital earning $152 million, up 9 percent. Both are owned by Partners HealthCare of Boston.

Other big earners were Baystate Medical Center of Springfield, Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in Burlington, Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. The results are for fiscal year 2014, which for most hospitals ended last September.

The profits overall, however, mask some of the struggles in the changing field. Quincy Medical Center lost $39 million last year, the most in the state. Its owner, Steward Health Care System, closed the hospital at the end of the year. North Adams Regional Hospital in the Berkshires closed several months earlier. The push to cut costs has, in part, prompted several hospitals to consider mergers or acquisitions.

Earlier this week, the paper reported that the advent of ACOs has cut Medicare spending at five major health systems in the state

New figures show five Massachusetts health systems saved a combined $141 million during that period as part of the program, which aims to rein in costs by better coordinating care for Medicare patients and cutting unnecessary hospital stays and medical services. Doctors manage care for these patients in pools known as Pioneer accountable care organizations.

MGH surgeon, who treated #bombing victims in Afghanistan and #Boston, brings #tourniquet campaign to area schools

How sad is it that teachers are learning how to use tourniquets?  Dr. David King, a Mass General surgeon tells the Globe that he thinks some of the students at Newtown might have survived if teachers had those skills.

After a stint in Afghanistan, where he responded to a truck bomb, and hours the Mass General OR working on the those injured in the marathon bombing,  King is familiar with lower limb injuries.

The lay people, the volunteers, the teachers: Those are the people who are truly the first who can respond to these kinds of incidents,” he said.

To prepare for such unforeseen events, King and other doctors are calling for greater access to commercially manufactured tourniquets and for training in their proper use.

In this story from Health Leaders Media, he explains why the marathon bombing made this clear.

His experiences here and overseas where 75 percent of all injuries were caused by explosions— have made King a huge promoter of the tourniquet. The bystanders at the finish line did their best with t-shirts, belts, and other makeshift tourniquets, he said. But, it takes a medical-quality device to stop arterial hemorrhaging and prevent blood loss that can make a leg wound fatal.

Here he talks about his own experience that day, when he was called in MGH after finishing the marathon himself.

Dr King’s Marathon from Tinker Ready on Vimeo.

In #Boston, young adults do battle with #cancer metaphors

The  Dana-Farber young adult cancer program dealt with an important issue at its recent conference — battle metaphors and cancer.

The language used to talk about cancer often focuses on battle words – those who are cured “won” or “survived,” while those who die from cancer “lost” their “fight.” But is cancer really something to be won or lost?

…Loved ones and those without cancer often consider cancer patients “heroes,” but, as one young adult put it, “I don’t feel very heroic when I’m going through treatment; I just take my medications and do what I’m told to do.” Another young woman added: “The intention is, ‘you inspire me; it inspires me to watch you survive,’ but they don’t do a good job at expressing that.” Being labeled as a hero may put undue pressure on patients or make them feel like they aren’t allowed to look sick or express negative emotions about their experience.

More here on the topic from the NYTimes

Below, keynote talk from Carolyn Ridge, who offered advice for young adults coping with cancer.

Are Facebook rankings of hospitals accurate? Two studies say yes

From Health Leaders Media:

childrens-facebookIn the era of the engaged patient, consumers shop around for healthcare services. When it comes to hospitals, they could consult several ratings programs for information on readmissions and hospital-acquired infection rates.

But data shows they don’t do so in big numbers.

One reason may be that quality measures familiar to providers may mean little to patients. Now, a study suggests that healthcare consumers may be able to find reliable data on hospitals quality in a familiar place – Facebook.

A Massachusetts General Hospital study has found that hospitals with lower 30-day readmissions rates have higher ratings on Facebook than hospitals with high readmission rates.

“The potential impact of social media ratings on healthcare consumer decision-making must not be underestimated in this changing healthcare environment,” say the authors of a study published online by the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

If you can’t join them, beat them: BIDMC in takes over Milton hospital

When the Harvard hospitals decided to join forces as Partners, they cut BIDMC out of the deal. So, this story from the Globe  – on Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Milton –is worth noting:

partnersdownloadConsolidation in the health care industry has been viewed with suspicion, leaving critics worried that the state’s biggest health care networks want to leverage increased market power into higher rates. Partners HealthCare, the largest health care system in Massachusetts, recently abandoned its bid to acquire South Shore Hospital in Weymouth in the face of such criticism and a ruling from a judge who said Partners’ growth would raise costs for consumers.

…The Milton case shows how consolidation — though it often increases costs to consumers — can also offer a lifeline to a struggling hospital. The brand alone of a big Boston health care network can be a powerful force, analysts said.


#BOSnow How hospitals and other provider are coping with six feet of snow

Here’s the Globe story on how the hospitals are coping. Usually a perennial but this yearBOSnow feb920150209_0094 is a little different — 72 inched and it’s snowing again.

With snow piled up to historic levels, and the region’s subways and commuter rail systems halted Tuesday, administrators labored to keep their hospital doors open, hobbled by a stranded workforce and patients unable to get home.

“This has put us in a capacity crisis situation,” said Dr. Paul Biddinger, Massachusetts General Hospital’s medical director for preparedness.

From Twitter:


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