Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Medicare Pays Billions for Poor Nursing Home Care
Nursing homes that failed to meet quality of care standards
received $5.1 billion in payments from Medicare in 2009, according
to a report released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services' inspector general.
In some cases, the failure to meet those standards resulted in
dangerous and neglectful conditions for patients, the
The investigators estimated that for every one in three times a
patient was admitted to a nursing home that year, they ended up in
facilities that did not meet the basic care requirements stipulated
by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
In one out of five nursing home stays, patients' health issues
weren't addressed in their care plans. In other cases, patients
received therapy they didn't require. The investigators said this
benefited the nursing homes financially because they were
reimbursed at a higher rate by Medicare, the
"These findings raise concerns about what Medicare is paying for," according to the Office of Inspector General's report.
It was based on medical records from 190 patient stays at
nursing homes in 42 states. The stays lasted at least three weeks.
That sample represents about 1.1 million patient stays at nursing
homes nationwide in 2009, the most recent year for which data was
The investigators recommended that CMS tie Medicare payments to
nursing homes' abilities to meet basic care requirements, and also
said the agency needs to tighten its regulations and improve its
CMS agreed that it should consider linking payments to the
quality of care provided at nursing homes, and also said that it is
reviewing its regulations to improve enforcement at the
"Medicare has made significant changes to the way we pay providers thanks to the health care law, to reward better quality care," Medicare spokesman Brian Cook said in a statement to AP. "We are taking steps to make sure these facilities have the resources to improve the quality of their care, and make sure Medicare is paying for the quality of care that beneficiaries are entitled to."
Slightly Increased Cancer Risk From Fukushima Disaster: WHO
The slightly increased risk of cancer among people exposed to
the highest doses of radiation during the 2011 nuclear plant
meltdown in Japan is so small that it likely won't be detectable, a
World Health Organization report says.
The agency asked a group of experts to assess the heightened
risk of various cancers among people at the epicenter of the
Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant disaster, the
There were meltdowns in three reactors at the plant after the
March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Radiation was released into
the surrounding air, soil and water.
The experts estimated that people in regions most affected by
radiation from the plant had a 4 to 7 percent increased risk of
developing cancers, including leukemia and breast cancer. Those
most hit by radiation would have about a 1 percent increased risk,
"These are pretty small proportional increases," said Richard Wakeford, of the University of Manchester in the U.K., one of the report authors.
"The additional risk is quite small and will probably be hidden by the noise of other (cancer) risks like people's lifestyle choices and statistical fluctuations," he told the AP. "It's more important not to start smoking than having been in Fukushima."
New Program Helps Students Get Exercise
A new partnership to encourage schools to get more creative in
helping students get their recommended amounts of daily exercise
will be announced Thursday by Michelle Obama.
The initiative begins with a new website (letsmoveschools.org),
where school officials can sign up to get started, the
The program is the latest addition to the first lady's "Let's
Move" campaign against childhood obesity, which she launched three
Some schools are already using unique ways to help students get
more exercise, including learning their ABCs while dancing, or
memorizing multiplication tables while doing jumping jacks, the
Lye-Injured Vermont Woman Receives Face Transplant
A Vermont woman whose face was disfigured in a lye attack
underwent a face transplant earlier this month at Brigham and
Women's Hospital in Boston.
Doctors were scheduled to discuss the case Wednesday at the
The 15-hour surgery on 44-year-old Carmen Blandin Tarleton
included transplantation of the neck, nose, lips, facial muscles,
arteries and nerves. It was the fifth face transplant at Brigham
and Women's Hospital.
Tarleton suffered chemical burns over 80 percent of her body
when her former husband attacked her with industrial strength lye
in 2007. She describes her recovery in a book she wrote about the
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