When looking back at 2008, there have been many memorable health care stories. There have been a number of achievements as well as health care issues that need to be addressed in 2009. Here are 25 of the top health care headlines for 2008:
1) Medical Bills Result in Bankruptcy for Health Care Worker Cindy Ramer, a certified nursing assistant from Iowa, gives personal testimony at the Iowa state capitol about the effects of not having adequate health coverage to cover her late husband’s illnesses.
2) Health Workers Skip Flu Shot Operating room nurse Pauline Taylor knows her refusal to get a flu shot is based on faulty logic. Nearly 60% of health care workers fail to get a flu shot.
3) UVA Health System Study Shows Dramatic Drop in Needlestick Risks for U.S. Healthcare Workers After 20 years of intense regulatory and legislative activity and innovative changes to the design and handling of needles, U.S. healthcare workers are now significantly safer from needlestick injuries.
4) Physician Assistant and Nurse Practitioners Roles Blurring Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are now undertaking duties that patients would normally see doctors perform.
5) Review Recommends Aggressive MRSA Screening for Health Workers New research suggests that in health-care facilities with endemic methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), aggressive screening of health-care workers should be combined with other measures to help reduce infection rates.
6) Studies Suggest Doctors Too Quick to Blame Obese Patients’ Health Problems on Fat Now research shows that doctors may hold patients responsible for their weight problems. Patients feel chastised, blamed, and judged.
7) More Hospitals Recognize the Benefits of Patient-Centered Care Studies have shown that natural environments are much more conducive to healing than man-made ones.
8 ) Integrative Medicines Gaining Momentum Nick Jacobs of Hospital Impact believes that there’s definitely something to using more integrative medicine.
9) Nurses Mount Tougher Fight against Workplace Assaults Nurses and other personal care workers suffer 25 injuries annually. They say healthcare leaders don’t take it seriously.
10) Urgent Care Center Growth Exploding There are approximately 8,000 urgent care centers. Physicians prefer having their own business and setting their own hours instead of enduring the stress of working in a traditional primary care practice.
11) Simulating Old Age Helps Health Care Workers Understand Its Challenges The Macklin Intergenerational Institute in Findlay, Ohio developed Xtreme Aging as a sensitivity training program for schools, churches, workplaces and other groups that have contact with the elderly.
12) Nursing Homes Benefit From Culture Changes A new study suggests nursing homes that change their culture to make care more resident-directed, foster staff autonomy, and make the facility function more like a home than a hospital, do better on several measures of success.
13) Hospitals Finding Solutions for ER Overcrowding Wait times in the ER are up, and frustration and the potential for death or serious complications for critical patients are up. Hospitals continue to come up with potential solutions to the problems they are facing.
14) Rapid-Response Teams Have Little Effect on Cardiac Arrest Deaths A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found that rapid-response teams have little to no effect in reducing cardiac arrest or deaths in hospitals
15) Medicaid Patients Do Not Get Cancer Screening A new study suggests that Medicaid patients may not be getting the screening they need for cancers such as colorectal, breast, and cervical cancer.
16) Some States Inadequately Care for Mentally Unhealthy Children According to a recent survey, one in five states do not appropriately treat children with serious mental health problems.
17) U.S. has a Shortage of Trained Health Workers The nation is experiencing a shortage of respiratory therapists and others in allied healthcare fields. Hospitals are in serious need of trained workers as baby boomers age and retire.
18) ‘Conscience’ Rule for Doctors Ignites Abortion Debate The outgoing Bush administration is planning to announce a broad new “right of conscience” rule permitting medical facilities, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare workers to refuse to participate in any procedure they find morally objectionable.
19) Penalties for Health Care Workers Who Don’t Show up in a Pandemic? Some states seek to provide health authorities the power to order health care workers to provide assistance during a pandemic
20) Psychologists Vote to Ban Consultation in Interrogations Members of the American Psychological Association have voted to prohibit consultation in the interrogations of detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, or so-called black sites operated by the Central Intelligence Agency overseas.
21) Physician Recruiting Affected by Real Estate Market Not only are hospitals and clinics having to engage in their usual intense competition for physicians, they’re also having to be concerned about whether doctors will be able to find somewhere to live.
22) Chronically Ill Most Likely to Go Without Care A recent study found that chronically ill patients in the U.S. are much more likely to go without healthcare because of the cost than patients from the other nations studied.
23) Obama Sees Healthcare Reform as Crucial to Economic Recovery President-elect Obama doesn’t plan to waste any time in his health care reform efforts. He has stated that healthcare reform is an integral part of an economic recovery in the U.S.
24) GAO says FDA Needs to Inspect More Foreign Drugs A new report from the Government Accountability Office has estimated that the FDA only inspects about 8 percent of foreign manufacturing establishments that provide drugs to be sold in the United States. It is a percentage that is far too low to protect the U.S. public.
25) Doctors Treat Uninsured Differently Studies have shown that nearly 90% of physicians admit to making adjustments to their clinical decisions based on what kind of insurance a patient has.
Health care worker stories in 2008 have made the public and medical profession much more informed about the many issues surrounding the medical community. It is expected that 2009 will bring many new changes and challenges for health care professionals and the communities they serve.
What stories from the industry affected you most in 2008?