Wellness Plans & Smokers

Sixty-six percent of consumers in wellness programs say their program does not include a medical test for nicotine use, according to HealthMine study. Also, 66% of wellness programs don’t offer financial incentives to quit smoking. More than half of smokers lie on health forms, according to CDC data. The survey also reveals the following about employees in a wellness program:

  • 57% say their program does not offer a smoking cessation program.
  • 34% say their program does offer an incentive to quit smoking.
  • 48% say that colleagues who smoke should pay a penalty or premium.
  • 32% say they have smoked within the past two years, and 11% have participated in a smoking cessation program through their wellness plan.
  • 80% say they probably wouldn’t complete a smoking cessation program without a financial incentive.

Bill Would Prevent Over-Prescribing

A California bill would require doctors to check California’s prescription drug database before prescribing opiates. The Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) is the nation’s most advanced prescription drug monitoring program, but just 35% of California providers and dispensers use it. Carmen Balber, executive director of Consumer Watchdogs said, “California loses 4,500 people a year to preventable drug overdoses–more than any other state….The legislature can help…by requiring doctors to check the prescription database before recommending patients take the most dangerous and addictive drugs. It’s clear that making use of the database voluntary does not work.”

SB 482, by California state Senator Ricardo Lara, would require doctors to check California’s CURES database when prescribing Schedule II or III drugs like Oxycontin to a patient for the first time, and annually thereafter if the treatment continues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new prescribing guidelines that recommend doctors use prescription drug databases every time they prescribe an opioid. Last month, president Obama proposed $1.2 billion in new federal funding to fight opioid abuse, including funds to expand the use of state prescription drug databases.

Twenty-two states mandate use of a state prescription database. States that track results have seen reduced doctor-shopping and lower opioid prescription rates. Also doctors say that the databases are useful to them in prescribing the right medications. The following states have seen improvements after mandating the use of a database:

  • New York saw a 75% drop in patients seeing multiple prescribers for the same drugs.
  • Kentucky found that opioid prescriptions to doctor-shopping individuals fell 54%. Also, overdose-related deaths declined for the first time in six years in 2013.
  • Tennessee saw a 36% drop in patients who were seeing multiple prescribers to get the same drugs. Tennessee prescribers say they are 41% less likely to prescribe controlled substances after checking the database, and 34% more likely to refer a patient for substance abuse treatment. Also, 86% of prescribers say the database is useful for decreasing doctor shopping.

Millions of Children Don’t Get Recommended Preventive Care

Millions of infants, children, and adolescents in the United States didn’t get key clinical preventive services, according to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Clinical preventive services include medical or dental care that supports healthy development. The CDC report focuses on the following: prenatal breastfeeding counseling, newborn hearing screening and follow-up, developmental screening, lead screening, vision screening, hypertension screening, use of dental care and preventive dental services, human papillomavirus vaccination, tobacco use screening and cessation assistance, chlamydia screening, and reproductive health services. In 2007, 79% of parents with children aged 10 to 47 months said that their healthcare providers hadn’t asked them to complete a formal screen for developmental delays in the past year. In 2009, 56% of children and adolescents didn’t visit the dentist in the past year, and 86% didn’t get a dental sealant or a topical fluoride application. Forty-seven percent of girls 13 to 17 years had not received their recommended first dose of HPV vaccine in 2011. Thirty-one percent outpatient clinic visits from 11- to 21 year-olds during 2004 to 2010 had no documentation of tobacco use status; 80% of those who screened positive for tobacco use didn’t get any cessation assistance. Twenty-four percent of outpatient clinic visits for preventive care for three- to 17-year olds had no documentation of blood pressure  measurement.“The Affordable Care Act requires new health insurance plans to provide certain clinical preventive services at no additional cost with no copays or deductibles. Parents need to know that many clinical preventive services for their children, such as screening and vaccination, are available for free with many health plans,” said Lorraine Yeung, M.D., M.P.H., a medical epidemiologist with the CDC. For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/childpreventiveservices.

480 sickened, 33 dead in fungal meningitis outbreak

CDC officials reported Friday that the fungal meningitis outbreak associated with contaminated steroid shots has sickened 480 people and claimed another life, bringing the total number of deaths to 33. The most recent death was in Indiana. U.S. News & World Report/HealthDay News (11/16)

CDC: Smoking rate drops slightly from 2010 to 2011

The number of U.S. adult smokers fell only slightly, from 19.3% in 2010 to 19% in 2011, but heavy smoking has become less prevalent, declining more than 25% since 2005, CDC officials said. They added that state funding for antismoking programs failed to meet the agency’s recommendations. The findings appear in the Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report. MedPage Today (free registration) (11/8)

West Nile cases hit highest mark since 2003

Through Tuesday, 5,054 cases have been reported in this year’s outbreak of the West Nile virus, the most for that period since 2003, CDC officials said on Wednesday. Ten states account for most of the cases, with Texas reporting more than any other state, and 228 deaths have been recorded. HealthDay News (11/7)

Diabetes-related deaths among U.S. youths are down

An analysis of data from the National Vital Statistics System showed a 61% decline in the rate of children and teens age 19 and younger dying from diabetes-related causes from 1968 to 2009. Improved treatment, greater awareness of symptoms and better disease management education may have contributed to the drop in deaths, CDC researchers said. The findings appear in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. InternalMedicineNews.com (11/1)

CDC: Rate of severe birth complications in U.S. is increasing

The number of women who experienced severe complications during or after childbirth nearly doubled between 1998 and 2009, CDC researchers found. However, childbirth-related complications and deaths remained uncommon in the U.S., with an estimated 590,000 cases reported in over 11 years. The findings appear in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. Reuters (10/23

Unintentional injuries are leading cause of child deaths in U.S.

Unintentional injury claimed the lives of more than 115,000 people aged 19 and younger between 2000 and 2009, making it the leading cause of child death in the U.S., CDC researchers wrote in the Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report. They noted that infants and 15- to 19-year-olds were the most affected age groups and that more than half of the deaths were due to motor vehicle accidents. DoctorsLounge.com/HealthDay News (10/18)

CDC: West Nile epidemic sickens more than 4,500

The CDC reported on Wednesday that 4,531 people have been infected by the West Nile virus, reaching a death toll of 183, up from 168 the previous week. Fifty-one percent of the cases were classified as neuroinvasive disease and 49% as non-neuroinvasive. U.S. News & World Report/HealthDay News (10/17)

Last Updated 01/20/2021

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