A recent third-party Ontario election ad circulating on Twitter has sparked outrage in political circles for its claim about supposed federal health-care cuts under ex-prime minister Stephen Harper.
(CNN Money) — Hospitals may soon have to post their standard prices for patients online, under a proposed rule unveiled Tuesday by the Trump administration.
Also, the administration is seeking comments on how to stop so-called surprise billing — when patients are charged after unknowingly being seen by out-of-network providers — and how to give patients better information about the out-of-pocket costs they will face.
And officials are ramping up pressure on hospitals to give patients better access to their medical records electronically or face a penalty.
The proposed rule is the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ latest effort to give patients more information about the cost of health care and about their own medical history. The guidance applies mainly to Medicare patients and providers, but officials expect it will influence practices across the nation’s health care system. It would take effect in 2019.
The initiative builds on the Obama administration’s efforts to increase transparency. Hospitals are already required to provide either a list of their standard charges or their policies for allowing the public to view the prices. Trump officials want hospitals to post this information on the Internet and make it available in a way that third-party app developers can access.
The administration is also pressing providers to increase the sharing of information among hospitals so patients could see all their records, regardless of where they go for care. Currently, a hospital often gives patients access to their data through its own online portal.
“Our administration is serious about ensuring that when a patient leaves a hospital, they are able to get their medical information electronically,” said Seema Verma, the agency’s administrator.
SANTA CLARA (KPIX 5) — The flu is here and it’s deadly. Doctors are calling this a particularly bad flu season and hospitals aren’t taking any chances.
Hospitals in the South Bay are limiting visitors as they deal with a winter outbreak of flu.
Santa Clara County is reporting four flu-related deaths. The virus has been tearing through the Bay Area and California.
Staff and volunteers at Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose are taking extra precautions to avoid getting the flu.
After a spike in cases beginning around the holidays, the hospital also began a temporary restriction of visitors under the age of 16.
Allison Everman at Good Samaritan Hospital said, “Kids are more at risk for getting respiratory illness. And then quite frankly, they don’t always cover their coughs and their sneezes and that allows the germs to spread more easily. So it’s to protect staff, other patients and the children.”
Santa Clara County Assistant Health Officer Dr. George Han says this year’s strain is likely to make more people sick.
Dr. Han said, “It came a little bit earlier than last year’s and it looks like it’s more severe than last year’s as well. What we know is that it tends to produce more severe illness and more hospitalizations. It just seems that when there is an H-3 year, more people tend to get the flu.”
Dr. Han recommends people get flu shots as soon as possible.
Although reports from Australia say the vaccine was only about ten percent effective in that country, it could do better here.
“That is Australia,” Dr. Han said. “In the United States, we actually have a much higher rate of vaccinations. And that can create what we call herd immunity. And with herd immunity, the vaccine tends to be more effective.”
SANTA ROSA (KPIX 5) — Two hospitals in Santa Rosa were still out of commission Tuesday after patients were whisked to safety in the middle of the night.
Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital remains evacuated, as does Kaiser Permanente hospital.
Kaiser staff members in Santa Rosa described the encroaching flames as a wall of fire next to the hospital.
Around 3:30 a.m. Monday, they decided to evacuate its roughly 130 patients, including those in critical care, like laboring and post-partum mothers.
Each patient had to be quickly assessed to see if they needed a wheelchair, or just simply someone to hold onto.
Every patient had a staff member at their side as they exited the building. And they remained closely monitored as some were taken to nearby hospitals by bus, ambulance, or even some nurses’ personal cars.
It was the first time this hospital had to be evacuated, and all while the staff’s own homes were possibly on fire.
Dr. Joshua Weil, the Chief of the Emergency Department said, “Really, everybody here was being impacted by the fire. Everybody. I mean, it’s a frightening thing if you’re worried about your own home or your families. But additionally, you have people watching this wall of fire right here. And certainly, they had to be thinking about their own lives. But they just put that aside and took care of the patients.”
In order to move back in, the fire has to be deemed contained and under control. Then all the systems have to be turned on like electricity and water.
After that they have to wait up to 48 hours in order to test those systems and make sure nothing was damaged.
Best-case scenario, the hospital can reopen on Friday, but that is coming from Dr. Weil who said he was purely speculating and remaining hopeful.
The big winners in the spring edition of the Dream Lottery will be announced Thursday morning.
Urgent surgeries are those considered necessary within 24 hours of a patient being diagnosed.
(CBS) — A baking soda shortage could cause problems for hospitals.
WBBM’s Rob Hart explains.
Sodium bicarbonate is more commonly known as baking soda, but it’s also a key ingredient in some drugs.
The breakdown in the supply chain started last September at a manufacturing plant in North Carolina and has since rippled throughout the pharmaceutical industry.
Forbes health writer Bruce Japsen tells the WBBM Noon Business Hour health care providers can rely on stockpiles until suppliers catch up later this year.
“They do have stockpiles, but it is definitely something to keep an eye on,” Japsen says.
Sodium bicarbonate is used to treat a variety of diseases and conditions.
LONDON (CBS / AP) — Dozens of countries were hit with a huge cyberextortion attack Friday that locked up computers and held users’ files for ransom at a multitude of hospitals, companies and government agencies.
It was believed to the biggest attack of its kind ever recorded.
The malicious software behind the onslaught appeared to exploit a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows that was supposedly identified by the National Security Agency for its own intelligence-gathering purposes and was later leaked to the internet.
Britain’s national health service fell victim, its hospitals forced to close wards and emergency rooms and turn away patients. Russia appeared to be the hardest hit, according to security experts, with the country’s Interior Ministry confirming it was struck.
All told, several cybersecurity firms said they had identified the malicious software, which so far has been responsible for tens of thousands of attacks, in more than 60 countries. That includes the United States, although its effects there didn’t appear to be widespread, at least initially.
The attack infected computers with what is known as “ransomware” – software that locks up the user’s data and flashes a message demanding payment to release it. In the U.S., FedEx reported that its Windows computers were “experiencing interference” from malware, but wouldn’t say if it had been hit by ransomware.
Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at the Helsinki-based cybersecurity company F-Secure, called the attack “the biggest ransomware outbreak in history.”
Security experts said the attack appeared to be caused by a self-replicating piece of software that enters companies and organizations when employees click on email attachments, then spreads quickly internally from computer to computer when employees share documents and other files.
Its ransom demands start at $300 and increase after two hours to $400, $500 and then $600, said Kurt Baumgartner, a security researcher at Kaspersky Lab. Affected users can restore their files from backups, if they have them, or pay the ransom; otherwise they risk losing their data entirely.
Chris Wysopal of the software security firm Veracode said criminal organizations were probably behind the attack, given how quickly the malware spread.
“For so many organizations in the same day to be hit, this is unprecedented,” he said.
The security holes it exploits were disclosed several weeks ago by TheShadowBrokers, a mysterious group that has published what it says are hacking tools used by the NSA as part of its intelligence-gathering.
Shortly after that disclosure, Microsoft announced that it had already issued software “patches” for those holes. But many companies and individuals haven’t installed the fixes yet or are using older versions of Windows that Microsoft no longer supports and didn’t fix.
By Kaspersky Lab’s count, the malware struck at least 74 countries. In addition to Russia, the biggest targets appeared to be Ukraine and India, nations where it is common to find older, unpatched versions of Windows in use, according to the security firm.
Hospitals across Britain found themselves without access to their computers or phone systems. Many canceled all routine procedures and asked patients not to come to the hospital unless it was an emergency. Doctors’ practices and pharmacies reported similar problems.
Patrick Ward, a 47-year-old sales director, said his heart operation, scheduled for Friday, was canceled at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London.
Tom Griffiths, who was at the hospital for chemotherapy, said several cancer patients had to be sent home because their records or bloodwork couldn’t be accessed.
“Both staff and patients were frankly pretty appalled that somebody, whoever they are, for commercial gain or otherwise, would attack a health care organization,” he said. “It’s stressful enough for someone going through recovery or treatment for cancer.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May said there was no evidence patient data had been compromised and added that the attack had not specifically targeted the National Health Service.
“It’s an international attack and a number of countries and organizations have been affected,” she said.
Spain, meanwhile, took steps to protect critical infrastructure in response to the attack. Authorities said they were communicating with more than 100 energy, transportation, telecommunications and financial services providers about the attack.
Spain’s Telefonica, a global broadband and telecommunications company, was among the companies hit.
Ransomware attacks are on the rise around the world. In 2016, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in California said it had paid a $17,000 ransom to regain control of its computers from hackers.
Krishna Chinthapalli, a doctor at Britain’s National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery who wrote a paper on cybersecurity for the British Medical Journal, warned that British hospitals’ old operating systems and confidential patient information made them an ideal target for blackmailers.
He said many NHS hospitals in Britain use Windows XP software, introduced in 2001, and as government funding for the health service has been squeezed, “IT budgets are often one of the first ones to be reduced.”
“Looking at the trends, it was going to happen,” he said. “I did not expect an attack on this scale. That was a shock.
TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report
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