DON’T DEPEND ON ANYONE ELSE TO BRING THE COFFEE! & other Lessons Learned as a junior hospital CEO back in the day….

“It is fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” – Bill Gates

Vignette 1
One summer Friday early afternoon I was in my car heading off for the weekend when the New Jersey Commissioner of Health called and told me he was closing the Jersey City Medical Center Trauma Center for failure to get renewed State approval.
Our new Trauma Service Director had told me that we were at risk for non-approval so we should have an American College of Surgeons consultation visit before the ACS certificationvisit, a prerequisite for State approval. But apparently he did not know that State approval had an absolute re-approval date of three years no matter what preparatory steps we chose to take.
The call was on the re-approval deadline date so the Commissioner shut the TC down but the radio stations said the ER was shut down, making the matter even worse.
To make a long story short, we got approval to reopen the TC on Monday after an early morning compliance visit by the State, and three months to get re-approval. Which we did with no contingencies, conditions or recommendations.
And what would you do about the Trauma Service Director?

“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.” – Henry Ford

Vignette 2
Bariatric Surgery was the rage and our new Chairman of Surgery said we had to be in the game. So he recruited a team of bariatric surgeons to branch out to Jersey City Medical Center, and spent time at their home base training to be an Assistant Bariatric Surgeon (and thus able to bill for this role).
We staffed up, lots of prospective patients came to orientations, but no cases were ever done. Why? The prospective patients were mostly our own employees who “chose”, we were told, to have the surgery at the team’s home base for “privacy concerns.” So we not only paid for the programs fixed costs but also for the insurance impact when our employees had the surgery elsewhere.

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell

Vignette 3
Each of our three hospitals had different protocols to avoid “wrong site/ wrong side” surgery (e.g., a wrong kidney removal actually happened). Some surgeons operated at 2 or 3 of our hospitals (as well as at other non-system hospitals) and thus had to navigate the different protocols. We called a meeting to establish one standard protocol for our system, to be approved by each hospital’s medical staff.
Only to find out months later that our two community hospital medical staffs amended the protocol rather than simply adopt it. So as CEO of all three hospitals I mandated the standard protocol, it rose to the level of the Boards of Trustees, but common sense prevailed.

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein

Vignette 4
Three full time Chairmen told me they were in the final stages of building a free-standing surgi-center a half mile away from the hospital, and that the previous President had promised to buy it. Nothing in writing. I demurred. So they partnered with two competing hospitals. One Wednesday morning I went to a Chamber of Commerce showcase event only to find the three Chairman at their surgi-center booth. All three ran residency training programs and Wednesday was Grand Rounds for all three. They told me they were using vacation time. I said that was not appropriate. They said it was none of my business. I told each of them they had a choice, either sell their shares of the surgi-center or be fired. Two sold, one “left” and took his residents with him to one of the competing hospitals.

Vignette 5
The Mystery of the Hospital CLAUSTROPHOBIA CLUSTER
Recently a friend was told by his doctor he needed an MRI and said that he could get it at the hospital on the campus where the doctor’s office was located, or at a private imaging center two blocks away.
This reminded me of the mystery of the Claustrophobia Cluster about twenty-five years ago, in Greenville Hospital, a member hospital of LibertyHealth.
Our Teaching Hospital, Jersey City Medical Center had just acquired a new state-of-the-art MRI, GH was only a little over a mile away, there was an MRI transfer protocol in place, and we ran a robust county-wide EMS transport system.
But almost every insured patient at GH who needed an MRI was referred to a “private” free-standing Imaging Center due to CLAUSTROPHOBIA. Somehow, also mysteriously, Medicaid patients and the uninsured made it to JCMC.
The problem was compounded by the fact that we were under a DRG reimbursement system where we got reimbursed an all-inclusive rate for every diagnosis, and had to pay for “outside” MRIs out of that bundled payment. These very expensive outside MRIs often meant that GH and the system lost money on many of these patients.
Whichever entity provides the service tacks on a Facilities Fee to the professional fee charged, for example, by a radiologist.
This raises the question of whether self-referral is a purely clinical recommendation or might “ownership” and the Facilities Fee be an influence.
We never solved the CLAUSTROPHOBIA CLUSTER mystery, because the outside MRI was buried in a myriad of corporations, although we felt somewhere this was the case of physicians referring patients to a facility they owned.
But it ended as mysteriously as it started when we started tracking referrals.

Vignette 6
The DOH issued a CN “call” for inpatient rehabilitation beds. This was an excellent opportunity for Meadowlands Hospital with all single bedded rooms and flagging admissions.
The Meadowlands medical staff wanted a patient care model where any physician could admit to the rehab unit and the physiatrist was a consultant. The best practice at academic medical centers as well as rehab hospitals in New Jersey was a “closed unit” where the physiatrist managed the patients and other physicians could consult on other medical conditions such as COPD, UTI, and coronary disease.
This was not a battle over best patient care but a battle over money. We adopted the “closed unit” model but the major Meadowlands attending staff members punished Liberty by never referring patients to Jersey City Medical Center, the closest tertiary care hospital, again unless they were uninsured.
Parenthetically two MH urologists covered the Urology Clinic at JCMC. Patients with insurance were transferred to MH for surgery while those without insurance were treated medically at JCMC. When the urologists were fired MH/ JCMC animosity increased.

Vignette 7
Jersey City Medical Center had “free-standing” residency training programs in medicine, obs/gyn, and pediatrics. After JCMC became a teaching affiliate of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine the programs could be either be affiliated, sponsored, or integrated. “Affiliated” was a euphemism for “free-standing”, “sponsored” meant over sight by the Mount Sinai Dean for Graduate Medical Education, and “integrated” was the “gold standard” or one set of residents rotating between Mount Sinai, JCMC and other Mount Sinai affiliated hospitals.
Our chiefs wanted “affiliated” so no one would be looking over their shoulders but I mandated “sponsored” as a step toward “integrated.”

Vignette 8
In the early 1990’s Jersey City Medical Center was the only hospital in Hudson County to have a diagnostic cardiac catheterization lab. Interventional cardiac catheterization was highly regulated with on-site cardiac surgery back-up required, so there were no interventional labs in the County.

When I was a member of the State Health Planning Board, DOH staff were against a hospital in Trenton getting a CN for open heart surgery, and just assumed the Board would agree. Under-the-radar we garnered support for the application and to the amazement of the DOH staff, it was approved – setting the stage for JCMC in the future.

Then the New Jersey Department of Health issued a Certificate of Need “call’ for a demonstration project allowing a handful of community hospitals to have cath labs for primary angioplasty without cardiac back up, but each applicant had to have a transfer agreement for elective angioplasties. Nearby Bayonne Hospital put in an application including an agreement with JCMC for patient transfers, so we provided a letter of support and together we lobbied the DOH. We were trying to position JCMC as a referral center so we could apply for cardiac surgery, anticipating a “call” down the road. Bayonne got its cath lab and then immediately sign a new transfer agreement with a hospital in Newark.

Later the DOH essentially deregulated primary cath labs and in a period of about one year over 20 new cath labs opened across the State, including three in Hudson County, one being at Meadowlands Hospital. I was against the MH lab but the parent Liberty Board supported the MH Board. Most of the new labs closed within a few years, including all three in Hudson County.

In 1999 JCMC had the opportunity to apply for a CN to start a cardiac surgery program. Everyone on the senior staff was against it except for the CMO. The CFO may and end run to the Board, and the Board chairman told me it was my decision but my “job was on the line.”
We were in the process of building a total replacement hospital on a new site. It was impossible to become a Top Tier New Jersey Hospital without cardiac surgery/ interventional cardiology.
The payer mix at the old hospital was 70% Medicaid/ Charity Care/ self-pay.
We opened the cardiac surgery program at the new JCMC just two months before the CN expired.
Several factors helped the program and saved my job. The American College of Cardiology protocol channeled many insured patients to JCMC mostly those candidates for stenting within the one hour “golden” hour (only JCMC did stenting then). The cardiac surgery payer mix eventually becoming 75% insured, 25% Medicaid, uninsured.

Coda
“Cardiac department at Jersey City Medical Center reaches milestone with 503rd open-heart surgery, looks to future expansion.” Saturday, April 09, 2011 By RHEA MAHBUBANI, JOURNAL STAFF WRITER
“Although each surgery costs between $30,000 and $50,000, there has been a constant demand for both elective and emergency operations. On most days, the cardiac surgery team can expect one such four-to-five hour procedure, while some days bring none and others, two or three.
The first 500 operations were representative of the efforts being made to establish a high-quality program, which could serve as a backbone for the Hudson community, they said.
Having reached nearly 550 surgeries by late-March, the team is no longer focused on simply the basic, daily functioning of their department. “Now its time to start expanding,” “

Vignette 9
Three baseball umpires are at a continuing education program on Barbados, the subject “What’s a ball, and what’s a strike?” The rookie umpire says “There are balls, and there are strikes and I call them as they are.” The mid-career umpire says: “There are balls, and there are strikes and I call them as I see them.” The veteran umpire, about to retires, says” “There are balls, and there are strikes and they ain’t nothing ‘til I call them.” (source unknown)

Vignette 10
There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know. (Donald Rumsfeld)

Vignette 11
“Don’t depend on anyone else to bring the coffee! There’s nothing worse than starting the day at a meeting where they don’t provide coffee. It’s better to have two cups than none.”
I started every new course with this “early morning meeting” aphorism. But students took this as something much more “strategic” and started using it in presentations, papers etc. as a metaphor.
What do you think they were thinking?

“I made a lot of mistakes in my time but didn’t waste any time making them.”
(attributed to Gustave Levy, Goldman Sachs)

“TRUST, BUT VERIFY.” (Ronald Reagan)

“If Columbus had an advisory committee he would probably still be at the dock.” (Arthur Goldberg)

“Never, never, never give up.” (Winston Churchill)

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HOW ACADEMIC MEDICAL CENTERS ADDRESS CONFLICTS-OF-INTEREST

DISCLOSURE. I am a member and Interim Chairman of the IRB* at Stevens Institute of Technology.

“There are many varieties of conflicts of interest, and they appear in different settings and across all disciplines. While conflicts of interest apply to a “wide range of behaviors and circumstances,” they all involve the use of a person’s authority for personal and/or financial gain. Conflicts of interest may involve individuals as well as institutions. Furthermore, individuals, in certain circumstances, may have conflicts occurring on both an individual and an institutional level, as may be seen among members of an Institutional Review Board (IRB).
Conflicts of interest are broadly divided into two categories: intangible, i.e., those involving academic activities and scholarship; and tangible, i.e., those involving financial relationships.” (A)

“In an article in the May 2014 issue of Compliance Today, Bill Sacks, Vice President and co-founder of HCCS, a HealthStream company, describes how new NIH regulations are forcing academic medical centers (AMCs) to examine and update their conflict-of-interest policies. He lists the 15 best practices for management of conflicts of interest that have been proposed by the Pew Charitable Trust and discusses how some of these recommendations are enjoying wide acceptance, as others are being met by serious objections. The Pew “Best Practice” recommendations are summarized below.
1. No gifts or meals should be accepted from industry sales representatives…
2. Faculty must disclose all conflicts of interest. All academic medical centers must have a process in place to manage conflict of interest (COI) disclosures.
3. Industry-funded speaking should not be allowed…
4. Industry-funding of continuing medical education (CME) should be severely limited or prohibited…
5. Faculty, students, and trainees should not attend industry-supported promotional or educational events…
6. Limit or prohibit pharmaceutical sales representative access in academic medical centers…
7. Limit medical device representative presence in academic medical centers to what is necessary…
8. Conflict-of-interest education should be required for all clinical staff and students
9. Conflict-of-interest policies should apply to everyone with a relationship to the academic medical center—paid, volunteering, affiliated, etc…
10. Industry-supported clinical fellowships should be available for scientific training only…
11. Ghostwriting and honorary authorship are strictly prohibited…
12. …Consulting arrangements must require written contracts with clear deliverables, to ensure that inappropriate payments are not involved…
13. Consulting relationships for marketing purposes are prohibited.
14. Pharmaceutical samples can be accepted and used only when they don’t become marketing tools.
15. Members of pharmacy and therapeutics committee cannot vote on formulary or treatment changes involving a company or product in which they have a financial interest… (B)

“Open Payments gives the public more information about the financial relationships between physicians and teaching hospitals and applicable manufacturers and GPOs. Specifically, the program:
Encourages transparency about these financial ties
Provides information on the nature and extent of the relationships
Helps to identify relationships that can both lead to the development of beneficial new technologies and wasteful healthcare spending
Helps to prevent inappropriate influence on research, education and clinical decision making. (C)

“Community Catalyst offers this Policy Guide to Academic Medical Centers and Medical Schools to assist leaders, faculty, staff and medical students in successfully adopting and improving policies to address conflicts of interest and interactions with the pharmaceutical and device industries. Policies such as these and their effective implementation are of critical importance to the integrity of medical education and patient care…
Toolkit on Transparency and Disclosure. Toolkit on Relations with Sales Representatives. Toolkit on Promotional Speaking. Toolkit on Continuing Medical Education. Toolkit on Ghostwriting and Name-Lending. Toolkit on Samples. Toolkit on Pharmaceutical and Therapeutics Committees. Toolkit on COI Policy Implementation. Conflict of Interest Curriculum Toolkit (D)

“Papers in medical journals go through rigorous peer review and meticulous data analysis.
Yet many of these articles are missing a key piece of information: the financial ties of the authors.
Nearly two-thirds of the 100 physicians who rake in the most money from 10 device manufacturers failed to disclose a conflict of interest in their academic writing in 2016, according to a study published Wednesday in JAMA Surgery.
The omission can have real-life impact for patients when their doctors rely on such research to make medical decisions, potentially without knowing the authors’ potential conflicts of interest…
They did this by sampling 10 large surgical and medical device manufacturers. This list includes Medtronic, Stryker Corp., Intuitive Surgical, Covidien, Edwards Lifesciences Corp., Ethicon, Olympus Corp., W.L. Gore & Associates, LifeCell Corp. and Baxter Healthcare.
The researchers also pinpointed the 10 physicians who received the highest compensation from each company. They then searched for articles published by these physicians between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2016, and reviewed the full text of each article for COI disclosure.
According to their findings, those 10 companies paid more than $12 million in 2015 to the 100 doctors included in the study. The median payment to these physicians was $95,993.” (E)

“Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center launched a conflict of interest task force in the wake of the resignation of its chief medical officer, Dr. José Baselga, who failed to disclose connections to medical industry…
The Manhattan-based cancer center said the task force will assess its internal policies and processes for reporting and managing outside activities and industry-supported clinical trials.
The task force was announced by President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Craig Thompson. It will be chaired by Debra Berns, MSK’s Senior Vice President and Chief Risk Officer.
Among its objectives, the task force will: Review MSK’s policies, procedures, and training on conflicts of interest; Identify best practices in COI, including monetary and commitment limits; Assess new or improved processes to support timely and thorough disclosure; Identify medical societies and journals with whom to partner in improving public disclosure at meetings and in publications. (F)

“One of the world’s top breast cancer doctors failed to disclose millions of dollars in payments from drug and health care companies in recent years, omitting his financial ties from dozens of research articles in prestigious publications like The New England Journal of Medicine and the Lancet.
The researcher, Dr. José Baselga, a towering figure in the cancer world, is the chief medical officer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He has held board memberships or advisory roles with Roche and Bristol-Myers Squibb, among other corporations; has had a stake in start-ups testing cancer therapies; and played a key role in the development of breakthrough drugs that have revolutionized treatments for breast cancer.
According to an analysis by ProPublica and The New York Times, Baselga did not follow financial disclosure rules set by the American Association for Cancer Research when he was president of the group. He also left out payments he received from companies connected to cancer research in his articles published in the group’s journal, Cancer Discovery. At the same time, he has been one of the journal’s two editors in chief.
At a conference this year and before analysts in 2017, he put a positive spin on the results of two Roche-sponsored clinical trials that many others considered disappointments, without disclosing his relationship to the company. Since 2014, he has received more than $3 million from Roche in consulting fees and for his stake in a company it acquired.” (G)

“Dr. José Baselga, the chief medical officer of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, resigned on Thursday amid reports that he had failed to disclose millions of dollars in payments from health care companies in dozens of research articles…
Thompson echoed comments he made to the hospital staff on Sunday, saying that the cancer center had “robust programs” in place to manage employees’ relationships to outside companies, but that “we will remain diligent.” He added, “There will be continued discussion and review of these matters in the coming weeks.” (H)

“An artificial intelligence start-up founded by three insiders at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center debuted with great fanfare in February, with $25 million in venture capital and the promise that it might one day transform how cancer is diagnosed.
The company, Paige.AI, is one in a burgeoning field of start-ups that are applying artificial intelligence to health care, yet it has an advantage over many competitors: The company has an exclusive deal to use the cancer center’s vast archive of 25 million patient tissue slides, along with decades of work by its world-renowned pathologists.
Memorial Sloan Kettering holds an equity stake in Paige.AI, as does a member of the cancer center’s executive board, the chairman of its pathology department and the head of one of its research laboratories. Three other board members are investors…
Hospital pathologists have strongly objected to the Paige.AI deal, saying it is unfair that the founders received equity stakes in a company that relies on the pathologists’ expertise and work amassed over 60 years. They also questioned the use of patients’ data — even if it is anonymous — without their knowledge in a profit-driven venture.” (I)

“…The AAMC is continuing to work with member institutions, other associations and societies, journals, and the continuing education community to develop tools and resources to help institutions and individuals manage the disclosure of conflicts of interest.
Institutions looking for immediate steps to take could:
Remind faculty of the importance of full disclosure, not only to your institution, but in other writing, speaking and teaching situations, as well as grant applications.
Use relevant current events as an opportunity to recommit to the institution’s obligation to facilitate transparency about the ways in which faculty and industry may be collaborating, and the processes that are in place to review and manage those relationships.
Encourage faculty to review the information posted about them publicly on the Open Payments website, and to ensure its accuracy as well as consistency with complete disclosures in all aspects of their professional responsibilities.” (J)

* “Under FDA regulations, an IRB is an appropriately constituted group that has been formally designated to review and monitor biomedical research involving human subjects. In accordance with FDA regulations, an IRB has the authority to approve, require modifications in (to secure approval), or disapprove research. This group review serves an important role in the protection of the rights and welfare of human research subjects.
The purpose of IRB review is to assure, both in advance and by periodic review, that appropriate steps are taken to protect the rights and welfare of humans participating as subjects in the research. To accomplish this purpose, IRBs use a group process to review research protocols and related materials (e.g., informed consent documents and investigator brochures) to ensure protection of the rights and welfare of human subjects of research.” (K)

(A) https://ori.hhs.gov/education/products/columbia_wbt/rcr_conflicts/foundation/#1_1
(B) 15 Conflict-of-Interest Best Practices for Academic Medical Centers, https://www.healthstream.com/resources/blog/blog/2014/06/04/15-conflict-of-interest-best-practices-for-academic-medical-centers
(C) Open Payments Data in Context, https://www.cms.gov/OpenPayments/About/Open-Payments-Data-in-Context.html
(D) Conflict of Interest Policy Guide for Medical Schools and Academic Medical Centers, https://www.communitycatalyst.org/initiatives-and-issues/issues/prescription-drugs/conflict-of-interest-policy-guide
(E) Financial Ties That Bind: Studies Often Fall Short On Conflict-Of-Interest Disclosures, by Rachel Bluth, https://khn.org/news/financial-ties-that-bind-studies-often-fall-short-on-conflict-of-interest-disclosures/
(F) Memorial Sloan Kettering launches conflict of interest task force after CMO’s resignation, by David Robinson, https://www.lohud.com/story/news/health/2018/09/21/memorial-sloan-kettering-conflict-interest-task-force/1381042002/
(G) Top Cancer Researcher Fails to Disclose Corporate Financial Ties in Major Research Journals, by Charles Ornstein and Katie Thomas, https://www.propublica.org/article/doctor-jose-baselga-cancer-researcher-corporate-financial-ties
(H) Top Official at Memorial Sloan Kettering Resigns After Failing to Disclose Industry Ties, by Charles Ornstein, and Katie Thomas, https://www.propublica.org/article/memorial-sloan-kettering-official-jose-baselga-resigns-after-failing-to-disclose-industry-ties
(I) Sloan Kettering’s Cozy Deal With Start-Up Ignites a New Uproar, by Charles Ornstein, and Katie Thomas, https://www.propublica.org/article/sloan-kettering-cozy-deal-with-start-up-paige-ai-ignites-new-uproar
(J) Conflicts of Interest and Transparency Initiatives, https://www.aamc.org/initiatives/research/coi/
(K) Institutional Review Boards Frequently Asked Questions – Information Sheet, https://www.fda.gov/RegulatoryInformation/Guidances/ucm126420.htm
(L) Facing Crisis, Sloan Kettering Tells Exec to Hand Over Profits From Biotech, by Katie Thomas and Charles Ornstein, https://www.propublica.org/article/facing-crisis-sloan-kettering-tells-exec-to-hand-over-profits-from-biotech(M)

Addendum
“A vice president of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has to turn over to the hospital nearly $1.4 million of a windfall stake in a biotech company, in light of a series of for-profit deals and industry conflicts at the cancer center that has forced it to re-examine its corporate relationships…
The move to hand over his stake is one of several steps now underway as the cancer center tries to contain a crisis that has already led to the resignation of its chief medical officer and a review of its conflict-of-interest policies. Several board members and some executives of the nonprofit institution have maintained close ties to the health and drug industries at a time when stunning cancer breakthroughs are generating excitement among investors and spawning a flurry of biotech startups.
At other cancer centers and research institutions, employees are barred from accepting personal compensation when they represent their institution on corporate boards. But Memorial Sloan Kettering had no such prohibition until now.” (L)

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HOSPITAL WEB SITE ARCHEOLOGY

When “googling” for hospital information we often wind up at hospital web sites.
Hospital web sites are marketing based so how does one find and aggregate key elements and then do comparative analysis?

You can use these web sites for this exercise, all hospitals with which I have been involved

City Hospital Center at Elmhurst (I was the Administrator of Mount Sinai Services, 1975-1979)
https://www.nychealthandhospitals.org/elmhurst/

Mount Sinai Hospital (I held various positions at the medical school and medical center from 1979-1989, leaving as an SVP)
https://www.mountsinai.org/locations/mount-sinai

LibertyHealth/ Jersey City Medical Center (I was President & CEO from 1989-2006. Now, Jersey City Medical Center/ RWJ Barnabas Health)
https://www.rwjbh.org/jersey-city-medical-center/

Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center (was part of LibertyHealth with Jersey City Medical Center; has changed ownership several times in the last ten years, now Hudson Regional Hospital)
https://www.hudsonregionalhospital.com/

CarePoint Health/ Hoboken (I was on the Board of the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority for three years; now owned by CarePoint Health)

or better yet, compare hospitals in your medical service area!

Ok, let’s get started:
Find ABOUT US. This is the picture painting how the hospital wants to be envisioned.
Find the MISSION STATEMENT, a formal summary of the aims and values of the hospital, as approved by the Board of Trustees and required for accreditation.
Compare ABOUT US and the MISSION STATEMENT. Are they clear and consistent?
Find ACCREDITATION. This gets trickier. A long list of certifications is not in of itself important. What is important is are they evidenced-based, completed by an arms-length review, and for a fixed period of time then must be renewed. You can google the agency and find the methodology used.
Find QUALITY. Again quality recognition awards should be evidenced-based, completed by an arms-length review, and for a fixed period of time then must be renewed. You can google the agency and find the methodology used.
Find AFFILIATIONS. A medical school affiliation is an excellent benchmark, however is it robust or ceremonial?
Go to LEADERSHIP/ BOARD OF TRUSTEES. Are Board member recognized community leaders?

And then go to

HOSPITAL COMPARE https://www.medicare.gov/hospitalcompare/search.html
at this MEDICARE site you can compare hospital performance metrics

HOSPITAL COST COMPARE/ CMS
http://www.hospitalcostcompare.com/
what over 3000 U.S. Hospitals billed Medicare for the top 100 Diagnosis Related Groups (DRGs) along with what Medicare actually reimbursed

OPEN PAYMENTS/ CMS.gov https://openpaymentsdata.cms.gov/
search payments made by drug and medical device companies to physicians and teaching hospitals.

THE LEAPFROG GROUP http://www.leapfroggroup.org/compare-hospitals
an independent organization where you can compare hospital quality metrics

US NEWS. BEST HOSPITALS REGIONAL RANKINGS
https://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals/area
ranks hospitals regionally in both states and major metro areas

THE JOINT COMMISSION
https://www.jointcommission.org/
An independent, not-for-profit organization, The Joint Commission accredits and certifies nearly 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States.
https://www.qualitycheck.org/

AGENCY FOR HEALTHCARE RESEARCH AND QUALITY http://archive.ahrq.gov/consumer/qnt/qnthosp.htm
Choosing a Hospital Worksheet

Then take a look at:
NATIONAL QUALITY FORUM
http://www.qualityforum.org/About_NQF/
NQF measures and standards serve as a critically important foundation for initiatives to enhance healthcare value, make patient care safer, and achieve better outcomes.

AVOID for-profit “hospital quality” web sites like Healthgrades.
“Partnering with Healthgrades doesn’t just give you access to our talented marketing services group — it’s more accurate to say it becomes an extension of your own marketing department. Our team is dedicated to your success and available when you need us.”
https://hs.healthgrades.com/solutions/marketing-services

“At his surgery center near San Diego, Rodney Davis wore scrubs, was referred to as “Dr. Rod” and carried the title of director of surgery. But he was a physician assistant, not a doctor, who anesthetized patients and performed liposuction with little input from his supervising doctor, court records show.
So it was perhaps no surprise, in 2016, when an administrative judge stripped Davis of his license, concluding it was the only way to “protect the public.” State officials also accused two former medical directors of Pacific Liposculpture of enabling Davis to act as a doctor.
One powerful authority in California took a different view. The state-approved private accreditation agency that oversees the center left its approval in place. So the center is still operating and Davis remains an owner and administrator, state records show.
California is the only state with more than 1,000 surgery centers that has given private accreditors a lead role in oversight. Those accreditors are typically paid by the same centers they evaluate.
That approach to oversight has created a troubling legacy of laxity, an investigation by Kaiser Health News shows. In case after case, as federal or state authorities waved red flags, state-approved accreditation agencies affixed gold seals of approval, according to a KHN review of hundreds of pages of doctors’ disciplinary records, court files and accreditor reports — which are public only for California surgery centers.” (A)

Then…
The next challenge is reconciling accepted metrics with data connected on the internet!
A recent report..
“Crowd-sourced ratings of the “best overall” hospitals produced scores similar to Hospital Compare’s ratings, but crowd-sourced ratings were less reliable as indicators of clinical quality and patient safety, according to recent research.
The study in Health Services Research examined hospital ratings on Facebook, Google Reviews, and Yelp. The findings showed crowd — sourced ratings reflected patient experience rather than other factors…
The research examined data from nearly 3,000 acute care hospitals. Perez’s group found that:
• For best-ranked hospitals on the crowd-sourcing sites, 50% to 60% were ranked best in Hospital Compare’s overall rating.
• For best-ranked hospitals on the crowd-sourcing sites, 20% ranked worst in Hospital Compares overall rating.
• For clinical quality and patient safety, hospitals ranked best on crowd-sourced sites were only ranked best on Hospital Compare about 30% of the time.
Perez said Hospital Compare, which combines as many as 57 metrics for patient experience and clinical quality, was used to gauge the accuracy of the crowd-sourcing sites for several reasons.
“The clinical quality and patient safety measures are based on Medicare claims data, which means there is a lot of information about patients, and they can do risk adjustment,” she said of Hospital Compare.
Risk adjustment is crucial when comparing hospitals, she added. “Rather than being concerned that some hospitals are treating a sicker pool of patients, and have worse outcomes as a result, the Hospital Compare data can be adjusted for the health of the patient mix.”
The crowd-sourcing sites are more prone to bias, she said. “A concern when you look at social media is that people only write reviews when they have really good or really bad patient outcomes,” she pointed out.” (B)

Postscript.
“Medscape asked over 11,000 physicians to rank their preferences for care and treatment for themselves or family, assuming no barriers, such as transportation or cost.” (C)

(A) Despite Red Flags At Surgery Centers, Overseers Award Gold Seals, by Christina Jewett, https://khn.org/news/despite-red-flags-at-surgery-centers-overseers-award-gold-seals/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Issue:%202018-09-20%20Healthcare%20Dive%20%5Bissue:17208%5D&utm_term=Healthcare%20Dive
(B) Crowd-Sourced Ratings Rely Heavily on Patient Experience, by Christopher Cheney, https://www.medpagetoday.com/hospitalbasedmedicine/generalhospitalpractice/75111?xid=nl_mpt_DHE_2018-09-19&eun=g1223211d0r&pos=11111&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%20Headlines%202018-09-19&utm_term=Daily%20Headlines%20-%20Active%20User%20-%20180%20days
(C) Medscape Physicians’ Choice: Top Hospitals for Key Conditions and Procedures (Non-cancer), https://www.medscape.com/slideshow/top-hospitals-key-conditions-6010216?faf=1#1

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Confidential September 11, 2001 LESSONS LEARNED memorandum by hospital CEO Jonathan Metsch goes “viral” and becomes a New Jersey gubernatorial campaign issue

Previously posted was an op-ed describing Jersey City Medical Center’s “Rapid Response” role after the attack on the World Trade Center towers.
Military helicopters and jets were overhead, as President Bush was getting ready to leave. The plumes of smoke from the World Trade Center were still billowing skyward.
https://network.aupha.org/communities/community-home/digestviewer/viewthread?MessageKey=d375f16c-d2ff-4d54-b93f-d33c3c6330b3&CommunityKey=7457c476-880a-47b2-ad0b-8677bba9e9e4&tab=digestviewer#bmd375f16c-d2ff-4d54-b93f-d33c3c6330b3

Since Jersey City Medical Center was the New Jersey anchor in the response, I prepared a confidential Lessons Learned memorandum in preparation for a Debriefing Meeting called by the Democratic Party candidate for Governor.
As a courtesy I provided a copy of the memorandum to Bret Schundler, the former Mayor of Jersey City who was out-of-the country on September 11th and could not get back for almost a week. He was the Republican Party candidate for Governor. I forget that “No good deed goes unpunished” and Schundler widely circulated the document as a campaign issue.
“Rookie” mistake! Read the article below. What would you have done differently?

New York Times. September 22, 2001

Schundler Assails New Jersey’s Response to Terrorist Attack
By DAVID M. HALBFINGER
Making the World Trade Center disaster the focus of his campaign for governor, Bret D. Schundler is criticizing New Jersey’s response to the attack and has released his own plan to improve the state’s defenses against terrorism and its preparedness for future emergencies.
Mr. Schundler, the Republican candidate, has said that both the State Police and the National Guard reacted slowly and mismanaged their resources after the Sept. 11 attack, and that flaws in New Jersey’s emergency-management system made it difficult to coordinate the efforts of hospitals, ambulance crews and other volunteers.
Mr. Schundler, the former mayor of Jersey City, is now calling for bolstering New Jersey’s defenses, including restoring to the nation’s air-defense system an Air National Guard fighter wing that is stationed in Atlantic City and which, until two years ago, had two F-16’s ready to scramble 24 hours a day. He said New Jersey should conduct a thorough inventory of sensitive installations, like power plants, reservoirs and chemical factories, and immediately enhance security at Newark Airport and the the Hudson and Delaware River crossings.
He is also proposing an array of measures to improve the state’s response to emergencies, like maintaining rosters of doctors, nurses, engineers and others who might be needed in the case of another terrorist attack.
Mr. Schundler’s aides described his proposals as an attempt to provide leadership where it was needed and denied that he was trying to jump-start his campaign, which has stalled along with most of the political machinery in New Jersey.
But in critiquing the state agencies, hospitals and other institutions that responded to the attack — while the smoke is still rising from ground zero and many voters are still awaiting the remains of their loved ones — Mr. Schundler is running a huge risk: that he could be seen as trying to make hay out of a national tragedy.
”This is not a political exercise,” said Richard McGrath, a spokesman for James E. McGreevey, the Democratic candidate. ”Jim McGreevey’s been working in a quiet way to assimilate as much information as possible to address emergency needs and prevent future catastrophes,” Mr. McGrath said. ”This terrorist incident has had a profound effect on all Americans, and we don’t intend to parcel it out with any political agendas.”
In a telephone interview he initiated on Thursday, Mr. Schundler described a number of ways in which the state’s response to the attack had apparently broken down. For instance, he said he had been told by a police official in Jersey City that the State Police troopers who set up an operations center in Liberty State Park ”didn’t do much of anything — they just sat there.”
Mr. Schundler added that the troopers’ ”inaction” had forced the city’s police department to coordinate the supply effort for emergency workers, and said that troopers did not even arrive in Jersey City until 4:30 p.m. on the day of the attack.
Officials of the State Police and other agencies today briefed Mr. Schundler and Mr. McGreevey about their efforts. But on Thursday, Col. Carson Dunbar, the superintendent of the force, said there had been numerous tussles over turf in the hours after the attack, which were compounded by the loss of a radio-transmission tower at the World Trade Center, and which could have led to crossed signals about troopers’ assignments. But Colonel Dunbar said that state troopers were on the scene in Jersey City almost immediately after the attack. For instance, he said, one marine unit was among the first to ferry the injured to safety in New Jersey.
On Thursday, Mr. Schundler also released a five-page memorandum about breakdowns in the state’s response system that was prepared by Jonathan M. Metsch, president and chief executive of Jersey City Medical Center, which treated 175 people hurt in the attack.
The memo noted that police from outside Jersey City had prevented staff members from getting to the hospital; that National Guard troops who drove ambulances to the hospital ”had no leadership and provided no help”; that the blood donor system ”did not work”; and that it ”took too long” to prepare a list of the injured being treated at New Jersey hospitals, meaning each hospital was inundated with thousands of calls.
Dr. Metsch, reached today, said he had written the memo for state health officials, that it amounted only to his own impressions, and that he had done so merely to ensure that lessons would be learned, not to assess blame. He said he provided a copy to Mr. McGreevey on Wednesday after a private meeting of hospital executives that Mr. McGreevey had called to inquire about the response to the twin towers attack and ways to improve New Jersey’s readiness.
Dr. Metsch said he then provided a copy to Mr. Schundler, whom he called a friend, as a courtesy. But he said he had not expected the memo to be released to the public. ”These were off-the-record observations,” he said, adding that over all, New Jersey performed admirably.
But Bill Pascoe, Mr. Schundler’s campaign manager, said Dr. Metsch had not asked Mr. Schundler to keep the memo confidential. And he said Mr. Schundler’s use of it transcended politics.
”If the U.S. responds anytime in the next few days or weeks, we may be facing an immediate counterattack from the terrorists,” Mr. Pascoe said.
”We don’t have the luxury of time to let the dust settle. We have to use this event and our response to it right now as a learning exercise. What have we learned about what we did right and did wrong? What can we do better? That’s the point, and that’s the job of a leader.”

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Military helicopters and jets were overhead, as President Bush was getting ready to leave. The plumes of smoke from the World Trade Center were still billowing skyward.

*written by Jonathan M. Metsch on September 14, 2001; published in the Jersey Journal on September 18, 2001

Suddenly a huge white military hospital ship with four Red Crosses steamed by and docked right across river. I thought how this hospital ship brought the war even closer to home but mostly about how the hospitals in Hudson County had responded and performed so magnificently.
Liberty HealthCare System is comprised of Jersey City Medical Center, Greenville Hospital, and Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center. The Medical Center, the County’s Trauma Center, treated 175 patients. Greenville treated 11 patients and processed over 500 volunteers who wanted to give blood; Greenville had originally been asked by the Red Cross to be a blood center but this was changed early on so donor information was passed (every volunteer was “typed and matched”) to the blood collection centers. Meadowlands treated 7 patients and was preparing to be a command center given its heliport; late Tuesday night Governor DiFrancesco used the heliport to depart from his visit to the triage center at Liberty State Park.

Every hospital in the County provided emergency services to victims. According to the Jersey Journal: Palisades Medical Center treated 12 patients; St. Francis Hospital treated 67 patients; Christ Hospital treated 54 patients; St. Mary Hospital treated 74 patients. Bayonne Hospital treated 58 patients.

At the Medical Center staff watched from windows the attack on the World Trade Center, then immediately went on Disaster Alert. Over 150 physicians covering all medical and surgical specialties were in the building as they are every day, and over 1000 other staff joined predetermined teams – trauma and surgery in the emergency room, and “walking wounded” in the auditorium. The library was organized for aftercare and rooms were set up for family members arriving from all over the metropolitan area. The injured started arriving around 10AM and suddenly, and sadly, everything stopped about 6PM. We hope and waited for more patients, and still wait “on alert”, our hope fading.

Since the New York City Command Center was in the World Trade Center complex and destroyed, good information was not available. We were told to expect somewhere between 2000 and 5000 injured.
Many others contributed to our success in handling the medical response to this act of war:
– Over 200 ambulances simply appeared from all over the state to assist. They were restocked from Medical Center inventory and dispatched by Medical Center EMS.
– New Jersey Commissioner of Health and Senior Services George DiFerdinando was in contact with us immediately and made sure we were re-supplied, and developed a plan with whereby trauma centers outside of Hudson County were on high alert so patients could be transported there to prevent Hudson County hospitals from being overwhelmed.
– Every hospital in the New Jersey was on disaster alert with elective admissions and surgery cancelled, and disaster teams ready until late Tuesday evening.
– Providers of food, IV solutions, medications, surgical supplies, and much more sent in truckloads of supplies without being asked.
– Volunteers poured in to help us in any way possible. For example with their help a “Hot Line” was set up at the Medical Center with up-to-date information on all disaster victims seen at New Jersey hospitals. This “Hot Line” was soon designated as “official” until the New York City Command Post was reestablished.
– Hudson Cradle opened its doors, wanting to help, wanting to serve.
– Mayor Cunningham and Jersey City police and fire officials coordinated all local efforts while supporting the recovery in New York City and securing the waterfront where victims were arriving by ferry in great numbers to several sites including Exchange Place and Liberty State Park. I know public officials in Hoboken, Secaucus, Bayonne and Weehauken did the same.
– And untold numbers were praying for the victims and those providing care – we could feel those prayers.

How can you help? Volunteer to give blood; blood will be needed for weeks and months to come. If you can, make a cash donation to help the families of those killed in this tragedy. Certainly go to community vigils and prayer services. Befriend someone who does not look like you and let them know that all Americans share this pain together and that the beauty of America is that we all came from somewhere else, and now live and work harmoniously side-by-side.

On a practical level we and other local hospitals can use your help. If you are a mental health worker and want to help with World Trade Center disaster Crises Counseling in hospitals, schools, and offices please call us. If you are a nurse who works outside the County or doing something else right now – particularly emergency room, critical care and operating room nurses, though all nurses are welcome – and want to be on our roster of volunteers for future emergencies please us. And if you just want to join the cadre of volunteers at our hospitals please call us. Please call 201 915-2048.

Finally I want to thank all the staff at Liberty, who once again, provided services so well. They acted heroically while worried about missing family and friends, and their children at home who had to cope with this tragedy without them nearby. I am honored to work with you

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“…(WHO) reports the next seven to 10 days are critical in controlling the spread of the Ebola virus in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.”

“A doctor in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been hospitalised with the deadly Ebola virus after coming into contact with nearly 100 people…
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday investigating the infection and its possible spread to 97 people in contact with the physician would be difficult because the area was entirely surrounded by rebels.”
“It is the first time we have a confirmed case and contacts in an area of high insecurity,” said Dr Peter Salama, WHO’s deputy director-general for emergency preparedness and response.
“It is really the problem we were anticipating and at same time dreading,” he told a news briefing.” (A)

““Really, in two weeks, we’ve gone from 24 cases to 105 cases,” … mainly because many health workers at a hospital in the town of Mangina, where the outbreak began, became infected when they treated early patients without recognizing that they had Ebola and therefore did not take adequate precautions….
So far, Redfield said, it is not necessary to test travelers at U.S. ports of entry, in part because there are no direct flights to the United States from the affected region and screening of outgoing travelers is being conducted. Four years ago, debate raged about whether to cut off all travel from West Africa to the United States. President Trump, then a private citizen, was an outspoken advocate of that position, tweeting that the United States should not allow two infected American missionaries back into the country for treatment.” (B)

“Military escorts are helping health workers quell an Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic of Congo that’s killed 63 people in three weeks…
World Health Organization and Health Ministry workers are using escorts from the Congolese army and the United Nations peacekeeping force in areas of insecurity, said Michael Yao, a WHO spokesman. Other key partners, such as Doctors Without Borders and the International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies, eschew the assistance to maintain their neutrality.” (C)

“Uganda has opened two Ebola treatment units in the border districts with the Democratic Republic of Congo, a World Health Organisation official said.
Yonas Woldemariam, WHO Representative in Uganda, told Xinhua that the two treatment units have been established in the western border districts of Kasese and Bundibugyo to respond to any deadly Ebola hemorrhagic fever alert case or outbreak.
He said the units are fully equipped and ready to manage any Ebola case in the east African country.
“Ebola Treatment Units are where patients can get the best care possible – with access to rehydration methods and protection from infecting their family and community,” said Woldemariam.
Although there is no confirmed Ebola case in Uganda, the country remains on high alert following an outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever in neighbouring DRC. “ (D)

“Congo has approved the use of four more experimental treatments in the Ebola virus outbreak in its northeast, as health officials try to contain the spread amid the threat from armed groups in the region.
The treatments ZMapp, Remdesivir, Favipiravir and Regn3450 – 3471 – 3479 can now can be used on those suffering from Ebola, the health ministry said Wednesday. On Tuesday, health officials administered Remdesivir, which is produced by Gilead Sciences, to a patient in Beni, the ministry said.
Health officials began using the mAb114 treatment on Aug. 11 on 10 patients and the ministry said they were doing well.” (E)

“Congo’s health ministry says two of the first 10 people to receive an experimental treatment for the Ebola virus in the latest outbreak have recovered, and monitoring could show what role the treatment played.
The head of the World Health Organization on Saturday congratulated Congo’s government for making several experimental treatments available in this Ebola outbreak, calling it “a global first, and a ray of hope for people with the disease.”
The two people received the mAb114 treatment isolated from a survivor of an Ebola outbreak in 1995. It was the first of five experimental treatments Congo approved for use in the outbreak that was declared on Aug. 1. The others are ZMapp, Remdesivir, Favipiravir and Regn3450 – 3471 – 3479.” (F)

Interim Guidance for Preparing Ebola Treatment Centers
Who this is for: State and local health departments and acute care hospitals designated as Ebola treatment centers.
What this is for: Guidance to assist state and local health departments and acute care hospitals as they develop preparedness plans to serve as Ebola treatment centers.
Key Points
1. Ebola treatment centers are prepared to provide comprehensive care to people diagnosed with Ebola virus disease (EVD) for the duration of a patient’s illness.
2. Designation as an Ebola treatment center will be a decision made between state and local health authorities and the hospital administration, informed by the results of a CDC site visit conducted by an interdisciplinary team of subject matter experts.
3. Decisions to receive a patient with EVD should be informed by discussions with public health authorities and referring physicians, depending on the status of the patient. (G)

“The UN Children’s Fund said more than 82,500 children are being prepared for the new school year in Ebola-affected areas of the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo .
UNICEF said it was scaling up education, health and water, sanitation and hygiene programmes to assist the schools to provide a protective learning environment for children and their teachers.” (H)

“Days after the Democratic Republic of the Congo declared an end to a deadly Ebola outbreak in the western province of Équateur, a new one emerged in North Kivu province. With the number of cases and death toll rising rapidly, the country’s ministry of health, the World Health Organization, and partners are working to launch a rapid and effective response that includes the use of an experimental vaccine. But their decision not to vaccinate women who are pregnant or lactating unfairly deprives them of the protection they deserve against this deadly disease….
Some contacts, though, won’t get the vaccine. Pregnant women and those who are lactating are being excluded from this life-saving intervention. From a public health perspective and an ethical perspective, the decision to exclude pregnant and lactating women is utterly indefensible.
There’s no question that evidence about the safety of the Ebola vaccine in pregnancy is limited. But what we don’t know is dwarfed by what we do know. We know that in previous outbreaks, up to 90 percent of pregnant women infected with Ebola died from it. We know that nearly 100 percent of the pregnancies of Ebola-infected women end in miscarriage or neonatal death. And we also know that pregnant and lactating women are more likely than many others in the population to be caring for sick relatives, and thus are among those most likely to be infected. Indeed, the most recent WHO situation report on Ebola in the DRC shows that a large proportion of the cases are among women of childbearing potential.” (I)

“The World Health Organization (WHO) reports the next seven to 10 days are critical in controlling the spread of the Ebola virus in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Its latest update reported 111 cases of Ebola, with 83 confirmed and 28 probable, including 75 deaths.
The WHO reports it is continuing to rapidly scale-up its response to the Ebola outbreak in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, including in Oicha, a town difficult to reach because of security concerns.
More than 100 armed groups are operating in these areas, putting some places, known as Red Zones, off limits because of the dangers. But, WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told VOA health workers have had access to all places they need to go with the help of MONUSCO, U.N. peacekeepers acting as escorts…
Lindmeier said the next week is critical in efforts to prevent Ebola from spreading to areas that cannot be reached.
“The quicker we can respond and in which we can get to people, to talk to them about how to protect themselves, how to prevent infection, how to deal with infected family members and loved ones, the better it is for any future control,” he said. “So, the earlier we get to any place where this outbreak could possibly reach, the better.”” (J)

(A) DRC: Doctor stricken with Ebola in rebel stronghold, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/08/drc-doctor-stricken-ebola-rebel-stronghold-180824095226217.html
(B) Ebola outbreak now at 105 cases, and bordering countries are on alert, by Lena H. Sun and Lenny Bernstein, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/ebola-outbreak-now-at-105-cases-and-bordering-countries-are-on-alert/2018/08/24/3b7a58a2-a7c2-11e8-a656-943eefab5daf_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.53c97b919f02
(C) Military Escorts Back Ebola Response in Restive Congo Region, by William Clowes and Ignatius Ssuuna, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-23/military-escorts-back-ebola-response-in-restive-congo-region
(D) Uganda opens Ebola treatment units at border with DRC, https://punchng.com/uganda-opens-ebola-treatment-units-at-border-with-drc/
(E) Congo approves 4 experimental Ebola treatments in outbreak, by CARLEY PETESCH, https://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/congo-approves-experimental-ebola-treatments-outbreak-57328608
(F) Two of first 10 people recover from Ebola outbreak in Congo after receiving experimental treatment, officials say, by Saleh Mwanamilongo, https://nationalpost.com/news/congo-2-who-received-experimental-ebola-treatment-recover
(G) Interim Guidance for Preparing Ebola Treatment Centers, https://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/healthcare-us/preparing/treatment-centers.html
(H) UNICEF prepares DRC school children for Ebola response, https://punchng.com/unicef-prepares-drc-school-children-for-ebola-response/amp/
(I) Pregnant and lactating women should be vaccinated in an Ebola outbreak , by Ruth Faden, Ruth Karron, and Carleigh Krubiner, https://www.statnews.com/2018/08/27/ebola-vaccine-pregnant-lactating-women/?utm_source=STAT+Newsletters&utm_campaign=9fa414a249-MR_COPY_12&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8cab1d7961-9fa414a249-149527969
(J) WHO: Rapid Response Needed to Stem Ebola Outbreak in DR Congo, https://www.voanews.com/a/who-rapid-response-needed-to-stem-ebola-outbreak-in-dr-congo/4547478.html

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QUICK CASE. Have you met your interventional pathologist or interventional neurologist or interventional oncologist?

Health care disruption has become so complex that there are few, if any, up-to-date case studies. So I have been developing a method of “raw” contemporaneous cases studies (CCS) each prepared by curating news articles into a coherent thread, after a topic has called out to me. Topics come from navigating the system news feeds, and friends and family.
As health care transformation takes place on an ever steeper and faster trajectory “real time” QUICK CASES can play an increasing “rapid response” role in the classroom. Each QUICK CASE CCS ends with a “challenge” for immediate discussion, debate, a group project, and/or homework assignment.

My first experience with clinical turf competition was in 1968 as administrator of the Department of Surgery at Wilford Hall U.S.A.F. Medical Center. The Chiefs of general surgery, E.N.T., and Oral Maxillofacial Surgery each needed Head & Neck surgical cases for their residents. Time and time again protocols were agreed upon to rotate the cases but they always broke down when residents in one specialty or another needed the required number of H&N cases before they graduated. Interestingly I never recall that any of the Chiefs thought the patients had a role in the decision-making.

Several months ago my GI physician ordered a “rule out” MRI. On my next visit my doctor clicked on the images and went over them with me; it was clear he had gone down to the radiology suite and gone over the “films” with the radiologist. In fact since the senior MRI radiologist was on vacation, he reviewed the images with him too when he returned.
While I did get copies of the MRI reports, I never spoke directly to the radiologist. No one usually does, perhaps with the exception of women talking to their breast radiologist.

Fast forward to another MRI and x-rays for chronic back pain. In each case I asked to meet the radiologist and in both cases the radiologist went over the images with me, before I went back to the referring physiatrist. WOW!!
Now the back MRI and x-rays were outpatient in a free-standing imaging center, and the radiologist was right there. Not so easy if you are in an ER, or a hospital bed, or if the images are read “off-site.”

Recently I met a physician who said he was an interventional gastroenterologist. I didn’t know what that meant.
Back in the day vascular procedures were the domain of vascular surgeons. So I started Googling and found that besides cardiology, stenting has expanded to GI, neurology, oncology, radiology, urology, nephrology, pulmonology, and pain management.
So now as an educated patient you should know more about interventional procedures and who is performing them on you. Some questions: Is the procedure evidence-based? Does the physician have special training in the procedure, and certification if this is the gold standard? Does the physician do enough of the procedure to ensure proficiency and good outcomes?

But first…
“A new study has found that while stents can be lifesaving in opening arteries in patients having a heart attack, the devices are ineffective in relieving chest pain.
A procedure used to relieve chest pain in hundreds of thousands of heart patients each year is useless for many of them, researchers reported on Wednesday.
Their study focused on the insertion of stents, tiny wire cages, to open blocked arteries. The devices are lifesaving when used to open arteries in patients in the throes of a heart attack….
When the researchers tested the patients six weeks later, both groups said they had less chest pain, and they did better than before on treadmill tests.
But there was no real difference between the patients, the researchers found. Those who got the sham procedure did just as well as those who got stents.
Clinical guidelines in the United States say stenting is appropriate for patients with a blocked artery and chest pain who have tried optimal medical therapy, meaning medications like those given to the study patients… “ (A)

Now let’s look at ever expanding interventional medicine.
“A vascular surgeon diagnoses, treats, and manages conditions in your arteries and veins, also called your blood vessels. These specialists treat a range of health problems, from spider and varicose veins to life-threatening aneurysms, and can help patients manage chronic conditions throughout their lives.
A vascular surgeon treats many conditions that affect the blood vessels in every part of your body except for your heart and brain. This can include: Aneurysm, a bulge or weak spot in an artery; Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, where plaque builds up on your artery walls; Carotid artery disease or peripheral artery disease (PAD), where the arteries that bring blood to your neck or limbs become narrow or blocked; Compression disorders like nutcracker syndrome and thoracic outlet syndrome; Dialysis access, or the placement of a graft or fistula that allows you to receive dialysis treatment for kidney disease; Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot in a vein deep below your skin; Spider veins, or small webs of veins just below the surface of the skin; Trauma to arteries and veins caused by accidents or injuries; Varicose veins, or large, swollen, twisted veins that can cause pain or aching in your legs; Venous ulcers and arterial and diabetic (neuropathic) wounds, which are nonhealing wounds that result from poor blood flow, especially in the legs” (B)

“Interventional Cardiology represents advanced training in cardiovascular disease and focuses on the invasive (usually catheter-based) management of heart disease.
Clinical issues usually managed by interventional cardiologists include: Ischemic heart disease (percutaneous coronary intervention (angioplasty), stent placement, coronary thrombectomy; Valve disease (valvuloplasty, percutaneous valve repair or replacement); Congenital heart abnormalities (repair of atrial and ventricular septal defects, closure of patent ductus arteriosus, angioplasty of the great vessels).” (C)

“Interventional Radiology” (IR) refers to a range of techniques which rely on the use radiological image guidance (X-ray fluoroscopy, ultrasound, computed tomography [CT] or magnetic resonance imaging [MRI]) to precisely target therapy. Most IR treatments are minimally invasive alternatives to open and laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery. As many IR procedures start with passing a needle through the skin to the target it is sometimes called pinhole surgery!
The essential skills of an interventional radiologist are in diagnostic image interpretation and the manipulation of needles and the use of fine catheter tubes and wires to navigate around the body under imaging control. Interventional radiologists are doctors who are trained in radiology and interventional therapy.” (D)

“Interventional Nephrology is a new and emerging subspecialty of Nephrology that mainly deals with ultrasonography of kidneys and ultrasound-guided renal biopsy, insertion of peritoneal dialysis catheters, tunneled dialysis catheters as a vascular access for patients undergoing hemodialysis as well as percutaneous endovascular procedures performed to manage dysfunction of arteriovenous fistulas or grafts in end stage renal disease patients.” (E)

“Interventional urology provides care for many urologic diseases in the most minimally invasive fashion possible. New approaches include state of the art prostate cancer screening technologies, focal therapies for prostate cancer, minimally invasive kidney cancer treatments, embolization for BPH, non-surgical approaches to treat varicoceles and erectile dysfunction.” (F)

“Interventional oncology uses image-guided technology to directly target solid tumors. It’s a complementary intervention that I hope will eventually be integrated into standard care algorithms. It gives clinicians another focused area of cancer care in which we can collaborate with other specialists. We perform targeted procedures that can be characterized as either arterial or ablative. Interventional oncology, and to some extent interventional radiology, also involves the use of biopsies for genomics analysis, in a similar way as other oncologic specialists use biopsies to help guide their biological therapies or systemic therapies.” (G)

“Interventional pulmonology is a relatively new field in pulmonary medicine. Interventional pulmonology uses endoscopy and other tools to diagnose and treat conditions in the lungs and chest.
These procedures may be offered by pulmonologists (lung specialists) who have undergone extra training. Cardiothoracic and other surgeons also routinely perform interventional pulmonology procedures.
Procedures for interventional pulmonolgy include: Flexible bronchoscopy. Biopsy of lung or lymph node.
Airway stent (bronchial stent). Rigid bronchoscopy. Foreign body removal. Pleuroscopy. Thoracentesis.
Pleurodesis. Indwelling pleural catheter. Bronchoscopic thermoplasty.
Interventional Pulmonary Diagnostics: Endobronchial ultrasound system (EBUS); Electromagnetic navigation bronchoscopy (superDimension) (H)

“Interventional (gastrointestinal) endoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that involves the use of a thin, flexible tube (or scope) that is equipped with a camera and light at its tip. The endoscope is inserted either in the mouth or rectum and passed through the esophagus or intestines to make color images of the esophagus and intestinal tract. It also can be used to make images of surrounding organs such as the pancreas.
Interventional endoscopy can be used to screen, diagnose, manage, and treat: Colon and rectal bleeding, polyps, and cancer; Complete and colon polyp resection, including large polyps; Complications from bariatric surgery; Diseases of the esophagus; Gallbladder disease; Gastric stomach diseases; Pancreatic diseases; interventional endoscopy also is used to prevent cancer by removing growths (polyps) before they become cancerous.” (I)

“Endovascular neurosurgery is a subspecialty within neurosurgery. It uses catheters and radiology to diagnose and treat various conditions and diseases of the central nervous system. The central nervous system is made up of the brain and the spinal cord. This medical specialty is also called neurointerventional surgery.
Interventional neuroradiology is a subspecialty within radiology. It also involves catheters and radiology to diagnose and treat neurological conditions and diseases.
The term endovascular means “inside a blood vessel.” Endovascular neurosurgery uses tools that pass through the blood vessels to diagnose and treat diseases and conditions rather than using open surgery. The surgeon often uses radiology images to help him or her to see the part of the body involved in the procedure.” (J)

“A variety of interventional procedures can be used to treat a range of pain conditions, from chronic low back pain to migraine headaches. Many of these techniques are performed under X-Ray guidance, which helps the physician deliver the therapy—whether it’s a steroid injection or heat-based remedy—to the exact source of the pain.
The range of interventional pain management treatment options include: Epidural Steroid Injections;
Medial Branch Blocks / Facet Joint Injections; Radiofrequency Nerve Ablations; Major Joint Injections (Knee, Hip, Shoulder); Occipital Nerve Blocks; Kyphoplasty (Balloon kyphoplasty). (K)

“Pathologists use microscopic examination and supporting tests to study tissues taken from biopsies and make diagnosis. In conventional pathology, the samples are taken by a surgeon and then sent away to a pathologist for analysis.
Interventional pathology is a new, less invasive option that allows for preliminary sample testing to be done in-person by the pathologist. It enables the pathologist to directly communicate with the patient and helps the doctor put the biopsy samples in context with the patient as a whole. This achieves faster, more accurate, and more complete diagnoses. With interventional pathology, patients can receive a better diagnosis than is available with conventional pathology, and in fewer trips to the doctor’s office.” (L)

“Over the past decade or so, the trend has been toward less and less invasive treatment—laparoscopic surgery instead of open-body surgery. Now enter so-called interventional cardiologists, who perform angioplasty and deploy stents (small mesh tubes that act as scaffolds inside an artery) to treat coronary-artery disease, in place of cardiac surgeons scrubbing in for a bypass. Indeed, since 1994, such surgeries have fallen more than 20 percent, to fewer than 300,000 annually. And then there are interventional radiologists wielding catheters and stents to deal with, say, carotid-artery disease, in place of vascular surgeons reporting for duty, scalpel in hand.
“It’s like the Wild West, the turf wars with the vascular surgeons,” … “You’ve got interventional cardiologists, interventional neuroradiologists, interventional neurologists all wanting in.”…
The solution, many doctors say, is to develop criteria that carefully spell out which conditions call for which procedures and—this is key—to make certain that the practitioner who first sees a patient is knowledgeable about all treatment options: surgical, interventional, medication, lifestyle modification, the whole deal.” (M)

In summary be thorough when getting care from any interventionalist. One should know who is doing the procedure, and his or her training, experience and performance results.

THE CHALLENGE: More and more hospital based interventionalists serve on “on-call” panels (often in-house 24/7). This means that in “rapid response” situations the interventional procedure is performed by a pre-designated physician. What mechanisms can be put in place so the patient (or family members) more fully participate in interventional clinical decision-making?

Postscript.
“Capital Health Regional Medical Center has become the first hospital in New Jersey to employ the Embotrap II Revascularization Device for treatment of stroke, the Trenton-based facility said.
Neurosurgeons at Capital Health’s Capital Institute for Neuroscience use Embotrap II to remove a blood clot in the brain causing a stroke. The stent retriever features a fine, mesh-like end and is guided through a major artery to trap the clot.” (N)

(A) ‘Unbelievable’: Heart Stents Fail to Ease Chest Pain, by GINA KOLATA, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/02/health/heart-disease-stents.html
(B) Learn About What Vascular Surgeons Do, https://www.acponline.org/about-acp/about-internal-medicine/subspecialties/cardiovascular-disease/interventional-cardiology
(C) Interventional Cardiology, https://www.acponline.org/about-acp/about-internal-medicine/subspecialties/cardiovascular-disease/interventional-cardiology
(D) What is Interventional Radiology?, by David Kessel, https://www.bsir.org/patients/what-is-interventional-radiology/
(E) Interventional Nephrology: a new subspecialty of Nephrology, by G Efstratiadis, I Platsas, P Koukoudis, and G Vergoulas, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2464263/
(F) Interventional Urology, http://www.mountsinai.org/patient-care/service-areas/urological-conditions-and-surgery/areas-of-care/interventional-urology
(G) Burgeoning Field of Interventional Oncology Is Poised for Takeoff: A Q&A With Dan Brown, MD, by Andrew J. Roth, http://www.onclive.com/publications/obtn/2013/november-2013/burgeoning-field-of-interventional-oncology-is-poised-for-takeoff-a-qanda-with-dan-brown-md
(H) Interventional Pulmonology, https://www.webmd.com/lung/interventional-pulmonology-uses-effects#1
(I) WHAT IS INTERVENTIONAL ENDOSCOPY?, https://www.summitmedicalgroup.com/service/Interventional-GI-Endoscopy/
(J) Endovascular Neurosurgery and Interventional Neuroradiology, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/test_procedures/neurological/endovascular_neurosurgery_and_interventional_neuroradiology_135,39
(K) Interventional Pain Procedures Under X-Ray Guidance, http://www.mountsinai.org/patient-care/service-areas/pain-management/pain-management-services/interventional-spinal-procedures-under-x-ray-guidance
(L) Interventional Pathology, https://sites.google.com/site/pathdiag/upcoming-seminars/our-company
(M) The rise of low-invasion techniques—and the doctors who specialize in them—has made the competition for surgical patients, well, cutthroat, by Joanne Kaufman, http://nymag.com/nymetro/health/columns/strongmedicine/n_9311/
(N) Capital Health first in NJ to employ Embotrap II stroke treatment, by Jessica Perry, http://www.njbiz.com/article/20180822/NJBIZ01/180829948/capital-health-first-in-nj-to-employ-embotrap-ii-stroke-treatment

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