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(1/1505) Practice patterns, case mix, Medicare payment policy, and dialysis facility costs.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effects of case mix, practice patterns, features of the payment system, and facility characteristics on the cost of dialysis. DATA SOURCES/STUDY SETTING: The nationally representative sample of dialysis units in the 1991 U.S. Renal Data System's Case Mix Adequacy (CMA) Study. The CMA data were merged with data from Medicare Cost Reports, HCFA facility surveys, and HCFA's end-stage renal disease patient registry. STUDY DESIGN: We estimated a statistical cost function to examine the determinants of costs at the dialysis unit level. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: The relationship between case mix and costs was generally weak. However, dialysis practices (type of dialysis membrane, membrane reuse policy, and treatment duration) did have a significant effect on costs. Further, facilities whose payment was constrained by HCFA's ceiling on the adjustment for area wage rates incurred higher costs than unconstrained facilities. The costs of hospital-based units were considerably higher than those of freestanding units. Among chain units, only members of one of the largest national chains exhibited significant cost savings relative to independent facilities. CONCLUSIONS: Little evidence showed that adjusting dialysis payment to account for differences in case mix across facilities would be necessary to ensure access to care for high-cost patients or to reimburse facilities equitably for their costs. However, current efforts to increase dose of dialysis may require higher payments. Longer treatments appear to be the most economical method of increasing the dose of dialysis. Switching to more expensive types of dialysis membranes was a more costly means of increasing dose and hence must be justified by benefits beyond those of higher dose. Reusing membranes saved money, but the savings were insufficient to offset the costs associated with using more expensive membranes. Most, but not all, of the higher costs observed in hospital-based units appear to reflect overhead cost allocation rather than a difference in real resources devoted to treatment. The economies experienced by the largest chains may provide an explanation for their recent growth in market share. The heterogeneity of results by chain size implies that characterizing units using a simple chain status indicator variable is inadequate. Cost differences by facility type and the effects of the ongoing growth of large chains are worthy of continued monitoring to inform both payment policy and antitrust enforcement.  (+info)

(2/1505) Where do people go for treatment of sexually transmitted diseases?

CONTEXT: Major public health resources are devoted to the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) through public STD clinics. However, little is known about where people actually receive treatment for STDs. METHODS: As part of the National Health and Social Life Survey, household interviews were performed from February to September 1992 with 3,432 persons aged 18-59. Weighted population estimates and multinomial response methods were used to describe the prevalence of self-reported STDs and patterns of treatment utilization by persons who ever had a bacterial or viral STD. RESULTS: An estimated two million STDs were self-reported in the previous year, and 22 million 18-59-year-olds self-reported lifetime STDs. Bacterial STDs (gonorrhea, chlamydia, nongonococcal urethritis, pelvic inflammatory disease and syphilis) were more common than viral STDs (genital herpes, genital warts, hepatitis and HIV). Genital warts were the most commonly reported STD in the past year, while gonorrhea was the most common ever-reported STD. Almost half of all respondents who had ever had an STD had gone to a private practice for treatment (49%); in comparison, only 5% of respondents had sought treatment at an STD clinic. Respondents with a bacterial STD were seven times more likely to report going to an STD clinic than were respondents with a viral STD--except for chlamydia, which was more likely to be treated at family planning clinics. Men were significantly more likely than women to go to an STD clinic. Young, poor or black respondents were all more likely to use a family planning clinic for STD treatment than older, relatively wealthy or white respondents. Age, sexual history and geographic location did not predict particular types of treatment-seeking. CONCLUSIONS: The health care utilization patterns for STD treatment in the United States are complex. Specific disease diagnosis, gender, race and income status all affect where people will seek treatment. These factors need to be taken into account when STD prevention strategies are being developed.  (+info)

(3/1505) Evaluation of a smoking cessation intervention for pregnant women in an urban prenatal clinic.

A smoking cessation and relapse prevention intervention was tested in an urban, prenatal clinic serving predominantly low-income, African-American women. At their first prenatal visit, 391 smokers were randomly assigned to an experimental (E) group to receive usual clinic information plus a prenatal and postpartum intervention or to a control (C) group to receive only usual clinic information. The intervention consisted of individual skills instruction and counseling by a peer health counselor on the use of a self-help cessation guide and routine clinic reinforcement. Among the E group (n = 193), 6.2% were cotinine-confirmed quitters at third trimester and among the C group (n = 198) the quit rate was 5.6%. Quitters were light smokers at entry into prenatal care. Many had tried to quit smoking at least once prior to pregnancy.  (+info)

(4/1505) Essential drugs for ration kits in developing countries.

Since the early 1980s drug ration kits have been used to improve the supply of essential drugs to rural health facilities in developing countries. This paper evaluates some of the experiences with kit systems in Angola, Bhutan, Democratic Yemen, Guinea-Conakry, Kenya, Mozambique, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia in relation to the selection of drugs for the kits and their quantities and cost. Data were collected through a review of published papers, annual reports and programme evaluations, by questionnaires among field staff and interviews with key experts. In comparing the 10 programmes, 21 drugs can be identified that are used in at least two-thirds of all kits. This list may be useful for evaluation and planning purposes. Six drugs (ORS, chloroquine and 4 antibiotics) usually account for over 60% of the cost of the kit. Careful monitoring of the price and quantities of these 6 drugs can therefore be very cost-effective. In the absence of reliable data on morbidity and drug needs in the initial phases of a kit system, the median drug quantities in kits from these 10 countries may serve as a starting point. Accumulating surpluses are sometimes perceived as a serious disadvantage of kit systems, ORS, benzylbenzoate solution and iron tablets are the three drugs that have most frequently accumulated. These drugs are relatively cheap and usually have a long shelf-life; in most programmes they have been successfully redistributed to other health facilities while the kit content was being adapted. The overall financial loss due to accumulation of surpluses is therefore limited. Most programmes have reached a stable kit content within two years.  (+info)

(5/1505) The natural history of multiple sclerosis: a geographically based study. 5. The clinical features and natural history of primary progressive multiple sclerosis.

We report a natural history study of 216 patients with primary progressive (PP)- multiple sclerosis defined by at least 1 year of exacerbation-free progression at onset. This represents 19.8% of a largely population-based patient cohort having a mean longitudinal follow-up of 23 years. This subgroup of PP-multiple sclerosis patients had a mean age of onset of 38.5 years, with females predominating by a ratio of 1.3:1.0. The rate of deterioration from disease onset was substantially more rapid than for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, with a median time to disability status score (DSS) 6 and DSS 8 of 8 and 18 years, respectively. Forty-nine percent of patients were followed through to death. Examination of the early disease course revealed two groups with adverse prognostic profiles. Firstly, a shorter time to reach DSS 3 from onset of PP-multiple sclerosis significantly adversely influenced time to DSS 8. Second, involvement of three or more neurological systems at onset resulted in a median time to DSS 10 of 13.5 years in contrast to PP-multiple sclerosis patients with one system involved at onset where median time to death from multiple sclerosis was 33.2 years. However, age, gender and type of neurological system involved at onset appeared to have little influence on prognosis. Life expectancy, cause of mortality and familial history profile were similar in PP-multiple sclerosis and non-PP-multiple sclerosis (all other multiple sclerosis patients from the total population). From clinical onset, rate of progression was faster in the PP-multiple sclerosis group than in the secondary progressive (SP)-multiple sclerosis group. When the rates of progression from onset of the progressive phase to DSS 6, 8 and 10 were compared, SP-multiple sclerosis had a more rapid progressive phase. A substantial minority (28%) of the PP-multiple sclerosis cohort had a distinct relapse even decades after onset of progressive deterioration. These studies establish natural history outcomes for the subgroup of multiple sclerosis patients with primary progressive disease.  (+info)

(6/1505) Sophisticated hospital information system/radiology information system/picture archiving and communications system (PACS) integration in a large-scale traumatology PACS.

Picture archiving and communications system (PACS) in the context of an outpatient trauma care center asks for a high level of interaction between information systems to guarantee rapid image acquisition and distribution to the surgeon. During installation of the Innsbruck PACS, special aspects of traumatology had to be realized, such as imaging of unconscious patients without identification, and transferred to the electronic environment. Even with up-to-date PACS hardware and software, special solutions had to be developed in-house to tailor the PACS/hospital information system (HIS)/radiology information system (RIS) interface to the needs of radiologic and clinical users. An ongoing workflow evaluation is needed to realize the needs of radiologists and clinicians. These needs have to be realized within a commercially available PACS, whereby full integration of information systems may sometimes only be achieved by special in-house solutions.  (+info)

(7/1505) Improving pneumococcal vaccine rates. Nurse protocols versus clinical reminders.

OBJECTIVE: To compare the effectiveness of three interventions designed to improve the pneumococcal vaccination rate. DESIGN: A prospective controlled trial. SETTING: Department of Veterans Affairs ambulatory care clinic. PATIENTS/PARTICIPANTS: There were 3, 502 outpatients with scheduled visits divided into three clinic teams (A, B, or C). INTERVENTIONS: During a 12-week period, each clinic team received one intervention: (A) nurse standing orders with comparative feedback as well as patient and clinician reminders; (B) nurse standing orders with compliance reminders as well as patient and clinician reminders; and (C) patient and clinician reminders alone. Team A nurses (comparative feedback group) received information on their vaccine rates relative to those of team B nurses. Team B nurses (compliance reminders group) received reminders to vaccinate but no information on vaccine rates. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Team A nurses assessed more patients than team B nurses (39% vs 34%, p =.009). However, vaccination rates per total patient population were similar (22% vs 25%, p =.09). The vaccination rates for both team A and team B were significantly higher than the 5% vaccination rate for team C (p <.001). CONCLUSIONS: Nurse-initiated vaccine protocols raised vaccination rates substantially more than a physician and patient reminder system. The nurse-initiated protocol with comparative feedback modestly improved the assessment rate compared with the protocol with compliance reminders, but overall vaccination rates were similar.  (+info)

(8/1505) Regional dissemination of vancomycin-resistant enterococci resulting from interfacility transfer of colonized patients.

During early 1997, the Siouxland District Health Department (SDHD; Sioux City, IA) reported an increased incidence of vancomycin-resistant enterococcal (VRE) isolates at area health care facilities. To determine the prevalence and risk factors for colonization with VRE strains at 32 health care facilities in the SDHD region, a prevalence survey and case-control study were performed. Of 2266 patients and residents, 1934 (85%) participated, and 40 (2.1%) were positive for (gastrointestinal) VRE colonization. The prevalence of VRE isolates was significantly higher in acute care facilities (ACFs) than in long-term care facilities (LTCFs) (10/152 [6.6%] vs. 30/1782 [1.7%]; odds ratio [OR], 4.1; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.8-9.0). LTCF case patients were significantly more likely than controls to have been inpatients at any ACF (19/30 vs. 12/66; OR, 8.0; 95% CI, 2.7-23.8). Of 40 VRE isolates, 34 (85%) were a related strain. The predominant strain was present in all 12 LTCFs that had at least 1 case patient in each facility. Soon after the introduction of VRE isolates into this region, dissemination to multiple LTCFs resulted from resident transfer from ACFs to LTCFs.  (+info)