The New Hampshire House has passed a drug testing bill inspired by the hepatitis C outbreak at Exeter Hospital.
The bill, approved 289 to 48 by the House on Wednesday, would require hospitals to set up policies to prevent misuse of drugs by employees to maintain their licenses. It would also require they test employees for drugs if there was a reasonable suspicion of drug use.
Reduce, reuse, recycle? Not in the medical profession. While recycling has become the aspiration or even the norm in most areas of our daily lives, an operating room is the one place where recycling feels like a dangerous practice. Recent studies provide staggering statistics of the amount of waste produced by hospitals on a daily basis; one conservative estimate puts annual hospital waste at five point nine million tons, with operating rooms accounting for twenty to thirty percent of that total. In light of these numbers, there is a growing effort to bring sustainability into the health care sector while still maintaining the highest level of hygiene.
A recent national study of how much hospitals charge Medicare showed giant disparities among different facilities, even for the same procedures and within the same city! The research comes as policymakers intensify their focus on costs. We’ll explore why these huge variations exist, and efforts to reduce the price tag at hospitals in the Granite State.
Michael Green – President and CEO of Concord Hospital
New Hampshire's Exeter Hospital has temporarily closed its cardiac catheterization lab after four patients contracted hepatitis C, and officials are asking 651 other people who've been treated at the lab since August to get tested for the liver-destroying virus.
In a 198 to 161 vote, house members passed a bill that would allow for-profit specialty hospitals to avoid going through the certificate of need regulatory process. The bill also exempts these hospitals, most of which do not take Medicaid patients, from paying the state's Medicaid Enhancement Tax.
Opponents say the bill gives an unfair advantage to these for-profit specialty hospitals. Cancer Treatment Centers of America is eyeing New Hampshire as a location for a facility in the Northeast.
The Certificate of Need Board approves new hospitals and expansions of existing medical centers in the state. Wednesday the house voted 166-140 to get rid of the board entirely. The House rejected an amendment which would have overhauled the existing board and phase it out over five years. The idea was to reconfigure the board with non-stakeholders, such as not allowing hospital representatives to serve.
Federal health officials Tuesday called on hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and doctors' offices to work harder to fight the spread of a dangerous bacterial infection that can cause life-threatening diarrhea and other complications.
While other health-care related infections have been decreasing in recent years, cases of Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, continue rising, according to Clifford McDonald of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The House Health and Human Services Committee has sent an amended bill allowing not just Cancer Specialty Hospitals but all specialty hospitals to bypass the Certificate of Need process. All other hospitals in the state must go in front of the CON board to gain approval for new or expanded services.
Rep. Lynn Blakenbeker, Republican of Concord, voted in favor of the bill.
"We as a state should be encouraging businesses all kinds to come into the state especially when it comes to specialty healthcare treatment we should be offering all options," she says.
New Hampshire lawmakers are proposing a law that would do away with the Certificate of Need process. This is a state requirement for hospitals and other healthcare facilities that want to expand or establish new medical facilities. The aim of CON is to keep redundant healthcare out of the system.
Cancer Treatment Centers of America is eyeing a spot in New Hampshire. The for profit chain wants to build a hospital in the Northeast. CTCA successfully lobbied Georgia to change its regulations so a specialty hospital could be built in that state. The company is hoping lawmakers in New Hampshire will make similar changes. A proposed law would exempt specialty cancer hospitals from certain regulations and also from Medicaid taxes.
Lawmakers are now considering whether to give exemptions to for-profit cancer centers so they can do business in the state. Under current regulations these cancer centers are likely to be deemed redundant. But a new bill would allow them to avoid what is known as a Certificate of Need--to which all other hospitals must comply. These centers would also be exempt from Medicaid taxes.