Healthcare Roundup—Patient advocates warn about downsides of planned sepsis study

Patient and nurse in hospital
Public Citizen is expressing concern about an NIH-backed study on sepsis, plus more healthcare headlines. (Getty/monkeybusinessimages)

Patient advocates warn about downsides of planned sepsis study

Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy organization, has lodged a formal complaint against a National Institutes of Health-funded sepsis study, which it says puts patients at risk and is unlikely to produce valuable results.

The NIH-backed study was developed at Harvard and will divide volunteer patients into two groups—one that will receive high amounts of intravenous fluids and another that will be treated with less fluid and more medication. The “sweet spot” between medication-based treatment and fluid-based treatment for sepsis can confound doctors.

Public Citizen says in its complaint that the study will put patients in dangerous situations—such as waiting hours for low blood pressure treatments—and will produce confusing results, as there is no control group. The researchers, however, stand by the study and its design. (National Public Radio)

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Study: Death toll in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria nearly 3,000

Nearly 3,000 people died in Puerto Rico between September 2017 and February 2018 as a result of Hurricane Maria, according to a new study.

Researchers at George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health found 2,975 excess deaths in that timeframe that it attributed to the storm. The research was backed by the Puerto Rican government. That number represents 22% more deaths than would have been expected in that window without the impact of the hurricane.

People living in the Puerto Rico's poorest municipalities faced the highest mortality risk in the wake of the storm—60% higher than expected. These risks were persistent beyond February, researchers said. The elderly, older men in particular, were also at higher risk, with a 35% higher mortality rate than would ordinarily be expected in that time period. (Study [PDF])

Intermountain cut 396 jobs in structural overhaul, but says 107 positions were added

Intermountain Healthcare launched a reorganization late last year, and it says that 396 jobs were eliminated as part of the work—though it was able to create 107 new positions as well.

Of the jobs that were cut, 59 were vacant positions. In addition, 67 people left the system because they could not find a suitable replacement position amid the overhaul, according to Intermountain.

Intermountain officials said the reorganization is 98% complete. As part of the changes, the system also announced that it would move 2,300 of its employees to R1 RCM, a revenue cycle management firm, in a move that could save $70 million over three years. (Deseret News)

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