U.S. District Court Judge Louis Sands has issued a temporary restraining order against further moves by Phoebe Putney Health System to consolidate with the former Palmyra Medical Center in Albany.
The ruling had been sought by the Federal Trade Commission. Phoebe Putney officials said in a statement that the judge’s action won’t alter day-to-day operations at the former Palmyra, which was purchased from HCA and has been renamed Phoebe North.
The FTC’s Richard Feinstein noted Wednesday in a statement that the ruling also prohibits “any price changes to existing health-plan contracts, pending our Motion for Preliminary Injunction.” A hearing on that motion has been scheduled for June 14, said Feinstein, who is director of the agency’s Bureau of Competition.
Here’s a link to Sands’ order.
It’s the latest legal step in a battle that has lasted more than two years. full story
Georgia nursing homes have cut their “off-label’’ use of antipsychotic medications by 16 percent, the biggest reduction in the nation, industry officials say.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has pushed for a decrease in the use of antipsychotics in managing dementia patients in nursing homes.
Prescribing these drugs for behavior problems is considered “off-label’’ use, meaning they are being employed in a way that’s different from their FDA-approved purposes. Off-label prescribing is a legal and very common practice.
Yet antipsychotics increase the risk of death, falls with fractures, hospitalizations and other complications for nursing home residents, leading to high medical high costs. Roughly half of Georgia’s nursing home patients have dementia, industry officials say.
Georgia had one of the highest rates of use of antipsychotics in 2011. Only Louisiana and Tennessee exceeded Georgia’s rate of 28.9 percent of patients. The state’s current rate of 24.2 percent is still above the national average of 22.2, according to the nursing home industry, citing CMS statistics. full story
A new national report card on diabetes care shows that many Americans with diabetes are not meeting their goals for controlling the disease.
Mohammed K. Ali, professor of Global Health at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, led a CDC team that analyzed the health data of people with diabetes from 1999 to 2010. Their findings were published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Diabetes takes a heavy toll in Georgia and across the South. From 1995 to 2010, Georgia experienced a 145 percent increase in its rate of diabetes. Proper care of the disease is a big factor in the state’s overall health statistics and even its economy.
In this video interview, courtesy of Emory University, Ali discusses with GHN the central findings of the study and how the data could help in assessment of reforms created by the Affordable Care Act.
Hospital executives across Georgia have been receiving a surprise delivery in the past week: a subpoena requesting loads of financial information.
The subpoenas were sent by attorneys representing Phoebe Putney Health System, which is locked in a long-running, contentious fight with the Federal Trade Commission over the 2011 Albany hospital merger.
A spokesman for Phoebe Putney told GHN on Wednesday that every Georgia hospital has been sent the requests, and so have some facilities in neighboring states if they treat Georgia patients.
There are two forms of requests. A subpoena to at least one hospital asks for financial statements from 2006 onward as well as medical quality reports, including those by the Joint Commission.
A subpoena to another Georgia hospital, however, asks for much more information, including documents on contracts, compensation, competition, services, pricing, and even the effect of the Affordable Care Act on the hospital if the state does not expand its Medicaid program.
“We understand it’s going to be a burden to other hospitals,’’ said Phoebe spokesman Rick Smith. “It’s unfortunate that all this information has to be sought.’’
The broad nature of the requests appears to have stunned the hospital industry in the state. full story
At South Georgia Medical Center in Valdosta, front-desk clerk Frances Blanton, 72, sees countless people bounce back and forth between hospital and home.
This is a high-traffic hospital, one of two in a county with nearly 115,000 people, but similar patterns can be seen in any hospital.
“We have a lot of frequent flyers in and out of here,” Blanton says.
Her responsibilities include keeping track of who is hospitalized on any given day, and she says some of the repeat admissions involve people who clog the emergency room as well.
“People do not see their doctor first, they just come into the ER,’’ she says. “This causes an overflow of patients.”
The repeat ER visits interfere with the hospital’s functioning and hurt the bottom line.
The federal government hopes to put an end to this “frequent flyer” problem through the new system of rewarding hospitals for quality care and penalizing them for readmissions. full story