Happy Memorial Day

Congress is out of town this week.  FEHBP carriers must submit their 2017 benefit and rate proposals to OPM tomorrow.  

The Washington Post offered a follow-up report on the antiobiotic-resistant e. coli superbug that first appeared in the U.S last week last Friday’s post].  Significantly the infectious disease doctor who is interviewed in the story concludes that

Q: How likely is it for someone to pick up this antibiotic-resistant strain of E. coli from food?
A: Even if you ingest some resistant E. coli, most of it would be dead as it goes through the stomach because the stomach is highly acidic and designed to sterilize what we ingest. Most of it is gone by the time it comes out of the stomach. Even if some of it makes it through, it can hang out in your gut for a while and disappear. Only a very small portion of those people may become sick. So to summarize, you are starting at a very low risk in food, and then it goes through the stomach, and most will disappear in the digestive tract. I don’t think there is anything to be super worried about.

He advises cooking meat thoroughly and washing your hands when you cook.  This is the same maternal advice that everyone receives.  The point remains that doctors and hospitals need to curb utilization of antibiotics. As the expert explains

Q: Should doctors and hospitals be doing anything differently now that we know this resistance gene has been found in the United States?
A: It’s always prudent for doctors, when treating a bacterial infection with colistin, to make sure it works against the bacteria in a test tube when they need to give this antibiotic to their patients, instead of assuming that it should work. Many hospitals already do this, including ours [the University of Pittsburgh Hospital].

Last week, HHS’s Office for Civil Rights clarified its recent rule on maximum charges for providing copies of health records to individuals under HIPAA.  Health IT Security reports that “as the healthcare industry becomes more digitized, more patients are requesting electronic copies of PHI [(“ePHI”)]. For  [HIPAA] covered entities that do not wish to calculate the labor and supply costs for providing ePHI, organizations can charge a flat fee of $6.50 or lower, which includes labor, supplies, and postage fees.”

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