Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Hospital Care Improvements Saved 15,000 Lives and Billions in
Health Spending: HHS
Improvements in hospital care prevented nearly 15,000 deaths and
560,000 patient injuries, and saved $4 billion in health spending
in 2011 and 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Health and
The overall 9 percent decrease in hospital-caused harm to
patients is due to reductions in areas such as drug-related
complications, falls, and infections.
Hospital readmissions among Medicare patients have also
declined. The 30-day readmission rate held steady at 19 percent
from 2007 to 2011, fell to 18.5 percent in 2012, and further
decreased to 17.5 percent in 2013.
That reduction means there were about 150,000 fewer hospital
readmissions among Medicare patients between January 2012 and
December 2013, according to the federal government.
"We applaud the nationwide network of hospital systems and providers that are working together to save lives and reduce costs," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in an agency news release.
"We are seeing a simultaneous reduction in hospital readmissions and injuries, giving patients confidence that they are receiving the best possible care and lowering their risk of having to be readmitted to the hospital after they get the care they need," she added.
The government attributes the improvements in hospital care to
policies and public-private cooperation carried out under the
Affordable Care Act.
$100 Million Fund Proposed for Victims of Meningitis
A fund of more than $100 million could be created to compensate
Americans affected by a meningitis outbreak linked to the New
England Compounding Center in Massachusetts.
The fund would be created under a settlement reached between the
owners of the pharmacy and a court-appointed bankruptcy trustee. It
was filed with a federal bankruptcy judge, who must approve it, the
Under the settlement, the company's owners would pay $50 million
into the fund and insurers would contribute another $25 million.
The company owners would also be permitted to seek $20 million in
tax refunds, which would be added to the fund.
Money from the proposed sale of an affiliated company,
Ameridose, would increase the total amount of the fund to more than
$100 million, the
The 2012 meningitis outbreak, which sickened more than 750
people in 20 states and caused 64 deaths, was blamed on tainted
steroids produced by the New England Compounding Center. Indiana,
Michigan and Tennessee were hardest hit by the outbreak.
The settlement is "another important step in a frustratingly
long process to get fair compensation to hundreds of victims of the
meningitis outbreak," said Thomas Sobol, the attorney representing
people who sued the company, the
He said he hoped the court would approve the settlement by the
end of the year and that victims would began receiving their
payments in early 2015. Those eligible for compensation include
people who suffered serious injuries and the families of those who
No criminal charges have been laid in the case and the owners of
the New England Compounding Center have denied wrongdoing or
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