Florida lawmakers gut pediatric heart surgery safety bill
Lawmakers in Florida removed several key provisions in a measure aimed at preventing the kind of patient safety concerns that occurred in the pediatric heart surgery department at Johns Hopkins' All Children's Hospital, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
House lawmakers removed a provision that would have allowed unannounced visits by physician experts to struggling programs and shut down the Pediatric Cardiology Technical Advisory Panel, a group of cardiologists and cardiac surgeons developing standards for evaluating programs across Florida. (The Tampa Bay Times)
Hundreds laid off at Houston-area HCA hospital
Nearly 600 employees at HCA-owned Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center learned they would be laid off or reassigned as that 181-bed hospital converts into a free-standing emergency room, the Houston Chronicle reported.
The Houston-area hospital was acquired less than two years ago by Nashville-based HCA. "The realignment of select service lines at our northwest Houston hospitals we believe will help us better serve the communities in the northwest region,” said Sean Burnett, vice president of strategic communications for HCA’s local division, HCA Houston Healthcare in a statement to the Chronicle. (The Houston Chronicle)
Amid measles outbreaks, New York county and California take action
Ongoing measles outbreaks have prompted action in a New York county and the state of California.
Officials in Rockland County, New York, declared a state of emergency on Tuesday and barred unvaccinated minors from public places, including schools, in an effort to halt an aggressive measles outbreak, according to the Associated Press.
The county in New York City’s northern suburbs has seen more than 150 people infected with measles since last fall. The emergency declaration will last 30 days and bars anyone under 18 who is not vaccinated against measles from public gathering places, including shopping malls, civic centers, schools, restaurants and houses of worship. Officials hope the declaration will serve as a wake-up call to the seriousness of the situation.
In California, lawmakers are considering a bill that would crack down on false medical exemptions for childhood vaccinations, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The bill was introduced on Tuesday by State Sen. Richard Pan, M.D., a pediatrician, and would require state public health officials to approve medical exemptions requested by physicians for childhood vaccinations. Pan said the bill will combat doctors who sell fraudulent medical exemptions to parents who do not want to have their children vaccinated. (Associated Press report, San Francisco Chronicle article)
Maryland House OK's bill for state prescription board
Maryland lawmakers approved a bill to create a state board that would set limits on how much state and local governments pay for prescriptions.
The Baltimore Sun reported the bill calls for a Prescription Drug Affordability board to review drugs including brand-name drugs that cost more than $30,000 a year, existing brand-name drugs with an increase of more than $3,000 per year or existing generics with a price jump of more than 200% in a single year. (The Baltimore Sun)