More Doctors Accepting New Medicare Patients

It’s getting easier – not more difficult – to find doctors who take Medicare, according to a new study by the Department of Health and Human Services. Doctors have long complained about Medicare’s payment caps and the instability of a reimbursement system that forces cuts each year unless Congress intervenes to prevent them. Nonetheless, the HHS study says that the number of physicians accepting new Medicare patients is actually higher than the number taking new private insurance patients, according to …

Should Doctors Ask If You Own a Gun?

No one questions when a doctor asks if an older, cognitively impaired patient is still driving, and urges family members to take away the car keys for the safety of the patient and everyone else. So why is it any different for a doctor to ask if a patient with similar problems has guns at home that could endanger him or others? There is no difference — it’s simply the doctor’s role in contributing to patient and public safety, argues …

Is Your Doctor a 10? Medicare Site Takes Next Step Toward Ranking Providers

By Jordan Rau, Kaiser Health News Medicare Thursday added new features to its Physician Compare website as it prepares to start including quality data on thousands of doctors. The federal health care law requires the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to publish performance data on doctors, including how patients rate them, how well the physicians’ medical interventions succeed and how well they follow clinical guidelines for basic care. The site has been up since 2010, but contained only basic …

We Need More Nurses to Provide Primary Care

A recent survey of doctors and nurses has put the spotlight on a topic that is becoming more important every day — the shortage of primary care providers and the role for nurses in fixing it. According to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, the doctors and nurses broadly agreed that, “Nurse practitioners should be able to practice to the full extent of their education and training.” Unfortunately, they held very different views on just what that …

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 …

Three Ideas That Thwart Solutions to the Medical Care Crisis

The medical delivery system is under pressure to provide quality health care despite these dire trends: ·         Reduced access because of the closing of community hospitals and low-cost clinics, ·         Staggering increases in the cost of drugs, medical treatment and insurance, ·         An increasing reluctance of HMO’s to refer patients to specialists, and ·         A dramatic increase in the number of uninsured, now estimated at 50 million and growing. I could also mention the loss of physicians who are retiring …