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Celebrating World Hepatitis Day 2017

July 28 is World Hepatitis Day, and the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Joint Commission have reaffirmed their commitment to eradicating Hepatitis B and C by 2030.

The WHO says there’s promising data coming out of the 28 countries that represent 70% of the global hepatitis burden. Nearly all of those countries have established high-level national hepatitis elimination committees (with plans and targets in place) and over half have allocated dedicated funding for hepatitis programs and education. The organization also added a new generic treatment to its list of Hep C medicines to increase access to therapy this week.

“It is encouraging to see countries turning commitment into action to tackle hepatitis,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General in a public statement. “Identifying interventions that have a high impact is a key step towards eliminating this devastating disease. Many countries have succeeded in scaling-up the hepatitis B vaccination. Now we need to push harder to increase access to diagnosis and treatment.”

Viral hepatitis affected 325 million people worldwide in 2015 and caused 1.34 million deaths—more those people killed by HIV deaths. Of cases worldwide, 257 million were of Hep B and 71 million were Hep C, which are the two main killers of the five types of hepatitis. And while Hep C can be cured, only 7% of those infected have access to treatment.

“If you’ve been paying attention to health news, you’ve probably heard that everyone, especially Baby Boomers, should be screened for Hepatitis C,” Lisa Waldowski, DNP, PNP, CIC, Joint Commission infection control specialist wrote in a press release. “Testing for the disease, which produces few, if any symptoms, leads to treatment and, eventually, eradication of the Hep C virus that was transmitted at its highest rates from 1960 to 1980.”

The promotion of blood safety and infection control are also key factors in reducing both Hep B and C transmission. However, a 2016 study found that only 17.4% of U.S. nurses follow all the standard blood-borne disease precautions. http://goo.gl/jn7i2y The study also found that many nurses had several misconceptions about Hep C including:

  • 26% incorrectly believed Hep C is commonly spread through sexual activity (it’s spread primarily through blood)
  • 14% incorrectly think most Hep C victims will die prematurely
  • 12% didn’t know that people can have Hep C antibodies without currently being infected
  • 11% didn’t know that there’re multiple Hep C genotypes

“The national response towards hepatitis elimination is gaining momentum. However, at best one in ten people who are living with hepatitis know they are infected and can access treatment. This is unacceptable,” said Dr Gottfried Hirnschall, WHO’s Director of the HIV Department and Global Hepatitis Programme. “For hepatitis elimination to become a reality, countries need to accelerate their efforts and increase investments in life-saving care. There is simply no reason why many millions of people still have not been tested for hepatitis and cannot access the treatment for which they are in dire need.”

The Joint Commission has made a list of several resources about hepatitis, and the WHO press release came with a list of injection safety tools and resources.

Report: Financial penalties prove effective against readmissions

Based on data collected from more than 2,800 hospitals, researchers were able to prove the effectiveness of the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program (HRRP). Harvard and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center researchers added that facilities that were penalized the most saw the greatest improvement in readmission reduction. Nearly $1 billion in penalties have been imposed so far.

“It’s a quite clear example that when hospitals are reimbursed, not just for how much they do but how well they do it, it makes an impact on their behavior,” study co-senior author Robert W. Yeh, MD, told HealthLeaders. “That is what you would expect from an individual and this seems to incentivize organizations to act collectively to move in the same direction.”Money

Researchers looked at 30-day readmission rates for patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI), congestive heart failure, or pneumonia. In January 2008, the readmission rates at penalized institutions were 21.9% for AMI, 27.5% for heart failure, 20.1% for pneumonia, compared to 18.7%, 24.2%, 17.4%, at non-penalized facilities. However, once HRRP was announced in March 2010, rehospitalization rates declined notably faster at penalized hospitals. Compared to non-penalized facilities, penalized hospitals decreased their AMI readmissions by 1.24%,  1.25% for heart failure, and 1.37% for pneumonia.

For a full interview with the researchers, visit HealthLeaders Media.

Report: $28 billion saved through patient safety efforts

Efforts to improve patient safety are paying off, according to a new Health and Human Services (HHS) department report. Between 2010 and 2015, increased patient safety efforts have:
•    prevented 3.1 million hospital-acquired conditions (HAC), a 21% decline
•    saved 125,000 lives
•    saved $28 billion in healthcare costs

In the announcement, HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell cited the Affordable Care Act as a major cause of the improvement in patient safety.Money

“The Affordable Care Act gave us tools to build a better healthcare system that protects patients, improves quality, and makes the most of our healthcare dollars and those tools are generating results,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. “Today’s report shows us hundreds of thousands of Americans have been spared from deadly hospital-acquired conditions, resulting in thousands of lives saved and billions of dollars saved.”

There are other federal patient safety efforts mentioned in the report as aiding in patient safety improvement. Among those cited were the Partnership for Patients initiative, a public-private partnership launched in 2011 though CMS Innovation to target a specific HACs. CMS also worked with hospital networks and aligned payment incentives to improve focus on making care safer.

“These achievements demonstrate the commitment across many public and [more]

Mental disorders and substance abuse are the top U.S. health condition

In its newest Health Index, Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) found that mental disorders are the chief cause of shortened longevity and health in America. The top five conditions cause about 30% of commercially insured Americans’ overall reduction in optimal health, and are as follows:

1. Depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders
2. Hypertension
3. Diabetes
4. High cholesterol
5. Substance use disorders

The BCBS Health Index compares 200 different conditions using millions of BCBS claims, along with healthcare costs and global burden of the disease to find out which ones have the largest impact on American’s quality of life and health.

American Psychiatric Association (APA) President Maria A. Oquendo, MD, PhD, told Medscape that the report, “highlights the impact of mental health and substance use disorders on people’s health and quality of life and reinforces the importance of making access to quality mental healthcare for all a national priority.”