Radiology lab agrees to $17.5 million Medicare fraud settlement; MR elastography can detect fibrosis in obese children;

News From Around the Web

> A Burbank, Calif., Laboratory has agreed to a $17.5 million settlement over allegations that it defrauded Medicare and Medi-Cal, the Associated Press reported. The company--Diagnostic Laboratories and Radiology--provides lab and X-ray services to nursing home patients and was charged with providing some nursing homes with a discount on some services in return for more business, resulting in inflated claims to Medicare and Medi-Cal. Article

> MR elastography can be used to detect fibrosis in obese children with chronic liver disease, according to a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics. According to the researchers, MR elastography could be particularly useful in cases of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which affects about 13 percent of adolescents and can lead to progressive liver disease and failure, AuntMinnie.com reported. Article

> Baltimore Veterans Affairs Medical Center, in expanding its mammography screening program to accommodate an increasing number of female veterans, found that as patient volume increased, the interval from diagnosis to time of treatment increased. The study of the program, published in JAMA Surgery, also found an increased utilization of non-VA breast services, Health Imaging reported. Article

Health IT News

> Federal legislators this week unveiled a bill that calls on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to develop an electronic system for tracking pharmaceuticals "from manufacturing to distribution." Article

Health Finance News

> The cost to the Medicare program for treating heart attack patients has risen by nearly 20 percent between 1998 and 2008, with post-discharge care driving the increase. The average per-patient costs rose $6,100, or 16.5 percent, based on a study recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine, which examined more than 300,000 Medicare discharges of heart attack patients treated in 1998-1999 and in 2008. Article

And Finally... Wisconsin legislators quacking up. Article

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Welcome to this week's Chutes & Ladders, our roundup of hirings, firings and retirings throughout the industry.