Regulatory Reform Options for Implantable Devices

In 2011, some widely used implantable heart defibrillators, designed to correct potentially fatal irregular heart rhythms, developed cracked insulation on their high-voltage electrical wires. The result was that in some cases they caused severe shocks, and even deaths. Consumers with the defective implants had to decide whether to undergo dangerous surgery to replace the device or simply monitor it. Until the defective device is replaced, consumers run the risk that it will deliver an unnecessary high-voltage jolt of electricity—described as …

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 …

Doctors’ Errors: They Happen More Than You Think (And Can Hurt You)

By Sandra G. Boodman This Kaiser Health News story produced in collaboration with The Washington Post Until it happened to him, Itzhak Brook, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Georgetown University School of Medicine, didn’t think much about the problem of misdiagnosis. That was before doctors at a Maryland hospital repeatedly told Brook his throat pain was the result of acid reflux, not cancer. The correct diagnosis was made by an astute resident who found the tumor  –  the size …

5 Tips for Staying Safe in the Hospital: A Checklist

By Roni Caryn Rabin This KHN story was produced in collaboration with The Washington Post Wanted: an advocate for a hospital patient. Long hours, no pay. Must be articulate, assertive, able to ask tough questions and stay cool under pressure. Blood relative or close friend preferred. Knowledge about the health-care system a plus. “It would be ideal to have Dr. Marcus Welby looking in on you and coordinating everything, and giving you a big reassuring smile but that’s not the …

Is Your Dentist Safe? 5 Steps You Can Take

Few people like going to the dentist, even if those tooth-yankers do rate highly for honesty and ethics. At my most recent visit, I got a referral to the gum specialist … again. Painful memories have slowed me from making the call, but healthy choppers are important, so I know I will. But thousands of dental patients in the Tulsa, Okla., area have a new reason to fear the chair: their dentist might have given them hepatitis B or C, …

Why Are Hospital Ratings All Over the Map?

By Jordan Rau, Senior Correspondent, Kaiser Health News How good a hospital is St. Mary Mercy Livonia Hospital? Depends on whom you ask. The Leapfrog Group, a respected nonprofit that promotes patient safety, gave an “A” to this Michigan hospital. The company Healthgrades named it one of America’s best 50 hospitals. But the Joint Commission, a nonprofit organization that accredits hospitals, and U.S. News and World Report omitted St. Mary from their best hospital lists. Consumer Reports gave it an …