AHA Files Two Lawsuits Against “Two-Midnight” Rule

The American Hospital Association (AHA) has filed two lawsuits against the two-midnight rule, claiming it undermines medical judgement and disregards the level of care needed to safely treat patients. The lawsuits were filed against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), contending that several provisions of the rule burden hospitals with “unlawful arbitrary standards and documentation requirements and deprive hospitals of proper Medicare reimbursement for caring for patients.” The AHA plans on using the next six months contesting the rule in court.

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Tiptastic Tuesday: 11 Unexpected Spring Allergy Triggers

If you’re one of the approximately 20% of people who suffer from hay fever, you probably already know the basic ways of fending off allergies, such as staying away from pollen and taking antihistamines. Here are 11 other spring allergy triggers you should also be aware of to breathe easier this season:

  1. Fruit: The farmer’s market can strengthen your immune system, but it can also send your system into a frenzy. Tree, grass and weed pollen counts are high in fruit and can worsen allergies. Try peeling or cooking fruit to lessen or avoid any negative reaction.
  2. Alcohol: Alcohol dilates the nose’s blood vessels and can spur an immune response. To fight this, limit your alcohol intake (especially wine) and never mix alcohol with allergy medicine.
  3. Stress: Although stress does not cause allergies, it can worsen your symptoms. Make sure to take care of yourself and do whatever you need to do to de-stress. Try meditating, practice yoga, or soak in the tub.
  4. Hair products: These products can become pollen magnets. Try to use fewer hair products and make sure to wash your hair every day to remove any allergens from your locks.
  5. Thunderstorms: While light rain decreases pollen counts, thunderstorms stir up pollen. Try to stay inside during rough weather and keep your windows shut.
  6. Rising humidity: Dust mites love humidity and this can cause sneezing, itchy nose, runny eyes, and other symptoms similar to seasonal allergies. Use a dehumidifier to keep humidity levels between 40% and 45%.
  7. Over-watering houseplants: Overwatering an cause mold and mildew to grow in their soil. Research to see how much water your indoor plants actually need. Some plants such as the snake plant and golden pathos can also improve indoor air quality.
  8. Ceiling fans: These fans can swirl allergens around. Instead of turning on ceiling fans, run the A/C to cool off.
  9. Morning showers: Bathing at night can remove any pollen or mold on your clothing, skin and hair. If you prefer to shower in the morning, make sure to at least wash your face every night and give your eye area special attention.
  10. Spring cleaning: Spring cleaning can expose you to dust mites, cockroach and mouse allergens, mold spores and pet allergens. Try to get someone else to deep clean your home when you’re not there.
  11. Your dog: Dogs being outside can bring pollen, mold and other allergens into your home. Give your pup regular baths and do not let him hang out on your bed!

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New Bill Would Create Advanced Aide Positions in Nursing Homes

A new bill called the “Improving Care for Vulnerable Older Citizens through Workforce Advancement Act of 2014″ would create advanced aide positions in nursing homes to improve transitions and dementia care. The bill would establish six, three-year demonstration projects to train direct-care workers to focus on several areas, including training workers to take on deeper clinical responsibilities related to dementia, diabetes and congestive heart failure. Long term care facilities, home health agencies, managed care entities and hospitals would all be eligible to participate in the demonstration projects. Participants would receive the funding to plan, carry out and report on the outcomes of the projects. Experts believe that with adequate training and support, these new advanced aide positions could support health promotion, better chronic care management, and care transitions, leading to less institutionalization and re-hospitalizations.

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Monday Morning Recap

The HMS Healthcare Management Solutions Monday Morning Recap reviews some of the top stories and healthcare highlights you may have missed last week.

Breaking News: President Obama Nominates OMB Director To Lead HHS After Sebelius Resigns

President Obama has officially nominated Sylvia Mathews Burwell, currently the director of the Office of Management and Budget, as the new HHS secretary.

Yesterday, Kathleen Sebelius resigned as HHS secretary. Sebelius was widely criticized by Republicans for the rocky rollout of HealthCare.gov last year.

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Should More States Expand The Scope Of Practice For NPs?

More and more states are expanding the scope of practice for nurse practitioners (NPs) to fill in for the growing physician shortage. Currently, sixteen states and the District of Columbia allow NPs to practice independently, rather than under the supervision of a physician. However, many physicians believe that NPs lack the education and training for complex medical decision-making.

NPs maintain that they should be allowed to treat patients independently and point to several studies which conclude that patients who are treated by NPs have similar outcomes to those who are treated under the care of doctors. NPs also point out that in some cases, they receive higher patient satisfaction ratings than physicians. Physicians disagree saying that these studies “fail to distinguish between care provided by NPs independently and care provided under some sort of collaborative relationship with a doctor” and that these studies only track patients for a few months.

Despite their differences, most doctors and nurses interviewed agree that care can be significantly improved when healthcare professionals work together.

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