Navigating the Health Care System

Navigating the Health Care System

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December 14 2012 20121214

Resources to Help You Stay Healthy in the New Year

As the New Year gets closer, it's a good time to think about how to stay healthy in 2013.One important way to do that is by getting regular medical checkups.  Depending on your age and health needs, these visits may include certain types of preventive and screening tests.If Medicare covers you or a family member, you may have already taken advantage of some of the new benefits provided under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  These benefits include a "Welcome to Medicare"... Read more

November 9 2012 20121109

Tool Helps Hospital Staff Improve Communications for Patients with Limited English Skills

If you're sick or need emergency care, being unable to communicate effectively can be a serious, even life-threatening, situation.Take the tragic case of Willie Ramirez, a healthy, Spanish-speaking 18 year old who developed a sudden and intense headache.Willie, in a coma, was taken to a hospital. His Spanish-speaking family members told the emergency room doctor that they thought he was “intoxicado.” Among Cubans, that word can mean a person feels ill because of something they... Read more

October 2 2012 20121002

Teamwork a Key Feature of Patient Safety Improvement Program

If you're a football fan like I am, you know that teams win or lose depending on teamwork. A good team may have a quarterback who can throw an accurate pass. But a great team also has players who can protect the quarterback and catch those passes. In short, when teams work together, everyone can do their best job. Today, this approach is catching on in health care in a big way. Doctors, nurses, and other staff have always depended on each other to provide high-quality care to patients. Now... Read more

September 4 2012 20120904

Helping You Avoid Return Trips to the Hospital

If you or a loved one has ever been in the hospital for a serious condition, the last thing you want is a fast return trip.But that's what happens to 1 in 5 patients covered by Medicare, the health insurance program for people 65 and older, a major study found. Hospital readmissions within 30 days are costly for Medicare and for patients. These readmissions total about $17 billion each year. Being readmitted to the hospital can also slow down a patient's ability to recover or cause new... Read more

August 7 2012 20120807

Get Up-to-Date on Shots Before Summer Ends

For many children, August marks the end of summer vacation and the return to school. For parents, it's a good time to make sure their children are up to date on vaccines—or shots—that prevent serious diseases.Because these diseases can easily spread to others, vaccines protect the health of others in your family, in your child's school or day care, and in your community.We need to do a better job making sure very young children get the shots they need, recent data from the... Read more

July 10 2012 20120710

Revealing Medical Errors Helps Chicago Hospitals Build a Safer Health System 2012

A preventable medical error happened when Michelle Malizzo Ballog had surgery in 2008. Worse, it was followed by tragedy her death at age 39.When her family tried to find out what happened, officials at the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago didn't dodge questions or have the family talk to the hospital's lawyers, according to the Chicago Tribune.Instead, the officials looked into their hunch that a fatal error occurred during Ms. Ballog's surgery. When they confirmed that... Read more

June 5 2012 20120605

Avoid Broken Bones: Learn About Low Bone Density

Until you or a loved one has broken a wrist or hip, it's easy to downplay the risks that come with low bone density. But these risks are serious, and the consequences can cause big life changes.Low bone density occurs when our bodies lose bone tissue faster than it can be replaced. It is a major cause of broken bones, especially at the spine, hip, and wrist. People with low bone density have either osteopenia, a mild form of this condition, or osteoporosis, a more severe type.Low bone... Read more

May 1 2012 20120501

One Step Forward on Quality Improvement, One Step Back on Access

You may already know that heart disease is the top cause of death for both men and women and is responsible for one in four deaths in the United States. It also costs more than $400 billion each year in health care services, drugs, and other expenses.But here's good news: Patients with heart disease are getting better quality of care. Better care has led to fewer hospital admissions and deaths.A new set of reports from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) show that fewer... Read more

April 3 2012 20120403

Consumers Learning To Recognize High-Value Health Care Providers

As a savvy consumer, you shop around and compare prices before you make a big purchase. Thanks to the Internet, information about price, quality, and opinions from others takes just a few clicks of your mouse.But information to help you make good decisions about the cost and quality of health care is not as easy to find.That may be one reason that consumers still tend to think expensive health care providers are better than lower cost providers, according to a new study funded by the Agency for... Read more

March 6 2012 20120306

New Processes Can Help Hospitals Spot - and Stop - Drug Errors

You might think that your doctor would know if a new drug would cause bad side effects in combination with one you already take. Or that your pharmacist could tell if a prescription you thought was for Darvon, (a painkiller), really should be for Diovan (a blood pressure drug). But with thousands of drugs (prescription and over-the-counter) of different strengths on the market, you could be wrong. When important information about medicines isn't communicated correctly at the right time, errors... Read more

February 7 2012 20120207

Million Hearts Campaign Aims to Lower Risk, Improve Care

With Valentine's Day around the corner, hearts shapes are everywhere - on cards, candy, and clothing. But every day of the year, your heart plays a big role in your health and well-being. And conditions or habits that harm our hearts, like high blood pressure or smoking, put our hearts at risk.The risk is serious. Heart disease and strokes kill more than 800,000 Americans each year and cost $445 billion each year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). People with... Read more