House Calls for Frail Medicare Patients Bring Savings

By Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer WASHINGTON (AP) – Ten or 12 times a year, Beatrice Adams’ daughter would race her frail mother to the emergency room for high blood pressure or pain from a list of chronic illnesses. Then Adams found a doctor who makes house calls, and the 89-year-old hasn’t needed ER care in the nearly two years since. “I’m not a wimpy female,” Adams said as Eric De Jonge, M.D.,  wheeled his medical bag into her dining …

How Medicare Might End Surprise Nursing Care Penalties

By Susan Jaffe for Kaiser Health News Medicare officials have allowed patients at dozens of hospitals participating in pilot projects across the country to be exempted from the controversial requirement that limits nursing home coverage to seniors admitted to a hospital for at least three days. The idea behind these experiments is to find out whether new payment arrangements with the hospitals and other health care providers that drop the three-day rule can reduce costs or keep them the same …

Sweet Dreams for Grandma Marty

I began hearing the dog’s squeaky bark after a few days of being transferred from West Hills Hospital to the nearby Topanga Terrace complex for physical therapy. I was to undergo a healing program after a bout with pneumonia and other potentially fatal problems. It was a faint yap that emerged out of the dim shadows down the hall at about 2 in the otherwise muted sounds of a quiet morning.  The slightest noise awakens me, especially unexpected disturbances, and …

Report Shows Rampant Patient Harm in Skilled Nursing Facilities

If ever there were a statistic to make your heart stop, this is it: 1 out of every 3 patients who went to skilled nursing facilities after a hospital stay was harmed by his or her treatment. A study released this week by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that this harm included infections and medication errors. The report looked at 653 Medicare patients from more than 600 skilled nursing facilities who had been …

Bill Would Cover More Medicare Patients for Skilled Nursing Care

A congressman is expressing confidence that a bill he sponsored – to fix a problem faced by many Medicare patients who are left without coverage for skilled nursing care – will pass this year. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., who introduced the bill with Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, told reporters in a conference call that the legislation has picked up 137 cosponsors. “This is not happening in a vacuum,” Courtney said, according to the Connecticut Mirror. “It’s happening because there is …

Are You in the Hospital or Not?

If you think you are having a stroke, you’ll probably go to the nearest ER. But will the hospital admit you? After you have been checked into the ER, the doctor may instead put you under “observation,” especially if it is unclear whether you have had a stroke, a fainting spell or something else. What is observation status? It’s an outpatient designation used to monitor patients during periods of medical uncertainty. Rather than being formally admitted as inpatients, patients in …