Do small military hospitals meet the grade?

Published on September 3, 2014 at 4:29 AM · No Comments

The New York Times takes a critical look at small military hospitals where the limited number of patients may compromise doctors' ability to treat serious problems. Other stories look at a surge in surgery prices and at programs to standardize children's surgical care.

The New York Times: Smaller Military Hospitals Said To Put Patients At Risk
Mrs. Smith underwent hernia surgery at Winn Army Community Hospital in Fort Stewart, Ga., one of 40 hospitals across the country run by the armed forces. Her case illustrates what outside experts and dozens of current and former military hospital workers interviewed by The New York Times call a signal failing in a system that cares for 1.35 million active-duty service members and their families, among others. Put simply, they say, many of the hospitals are so small and the trickle of patients so thin that it compromises the ability of doctors and nurses to capably diagnose and treat serious illnesses. ... Two-thirds of the hospitals last year served 30 or fewer inpatients a day (LaFraniere and Lehren, 9/1). 

NBC News: Surgery Prices Surge With Innovation And Consolidation Under Obamacare
The price to remove a gall bladder or replace a hip has spiked more than 20 percent during the past five years, according to an analysis of data collected for NBC News. Surgery has bloomed into a $500 billion industry in the United States, where 80 to 100 million procedures are performed annually -- a per-capita rate that's some 50 percent higher than in the European Union, said Dr. John Birkmeyer, a researcher and adjunct professor at the Dartmouth Institute and in the university's Community & Family Medicine program. The reason? Expensive yet safer technologies and hospital consolidations that create medical monopolies, according to doctors and researchers (Briggs, 8/31).

The Wall Street Journal: Programs Aim To Standardize Surgical Care For Children
For parents, the prospect of a child's surgery can be frightening, with little information on how to pick the best hospital or understand complex procedures. To help, surgeons have developed a new classification system for pediatric surgical centers according to the level of care they provide, similar to the one that classifies trauma centers. Meanwhile, hospitals are offering new programs to help demystify the risks and benefits of pediatric surgery (Landro, 9/1).

Dallas Morning News: Baylor, Methodist Hospital Systems Aligning With Elite
Two of the largest health care systems in North Texas are aligning with two of the best-known national providers, part of ongoing efforts to improve quality and control the cost of care. Baylor Scott & White Health said it is about to complete an agreement that will make three of its Dallas-area hospitals part of the Cleveland Clinic's national cardiology network. And Methodist Health System plans to partner with the Mayo Clinic, The Dallas Morning News has learned. Citing nondisclosure agreements, Methodist did not offer details. But it appears that Methodist will join Mayo's expanding network of affiliates across the country. Affiliates can consult with Mayo specialists, share Mayo know-how and get advice on improving operations (Jacobson, 8/29).


http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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