News Briefs

Leapfrog offers web-based compendium of incentives

The Leapfrog Group, based in Washington, DC, has developed the first public web-based compendium of incentive and reward programs aimed at improving health care in both inpatient and outpatient settings. The compendium is available free of charge at www.leapfroggroup.org/ircompendium.htm.

The compendium documents and categorizes both financial programs, such as those that reward providers with quality bonuses, and nonfinancial programs, such as those that reward providers with public recognition.

Currently, the Leapfrog compendium details 77 programs from around the country, including 17 that incorporate the group’s performance measures. Users are able to sort by location and program target and search the programs using a built-in keyword search function. For example, a search might focus on HEDIS measures of Leapfrog’s four quality and safety practices.

Intended users are purchasers, health plans, and providers.
 


CDC reports four deaths related to transplants

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported four organ transplant recipients died of rabies after receiving organs from the donor, an Arkansas man who died in May of what was then diagnosed as a brain hemorrhage.

The fourth case was reported later than the initial three reported on July 1, noting the deaths that had occurred from June 8-21.

Officials plan to screen employees who may have come in contact with the fourth patient and said employees found to have "significant exposure" to the donor or three earlier patients were being treated.

Officials said any remaining blood vessels or tissue procured from the infected donor have been destroyed. The cases mark the first reports of rabies transmission through solid organ transplants, though the virus has been transmitted through cornea transplants.

The CDC says it is working with health officials in Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and Alabama — states where the transplants took place, or where the donor and recipients resided — to identify health care workers and family members who might have come into contact with the infected patients and determine whether treatment is needed.

The agency also says it is working with federal agencies to evaluate potential future steps to reduce the risk of rabies transmission through organ transplants, but emphasized that human rabies is exceedingly rare in the United States with only one to three cases reported each year.

There have been no cases of transmission of the virus from an infected person to family members or health care workers in the United States.


FCC: TRS use does not violate HIPAA privacy rule

The Federal Communications Commission has published a notice clarifying that telecommunications relay services (TRS) can be used to facilitate telephone calls between health care professionals and patients without violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act’s privacy rule, and without requiring the TRS facility or its communication assistants to sign a disclosure agreement.

The notice can be found under "Federal Communications Commission" at www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/fedreg/a040708c.html.


Software helps hospitals prepare for flu pandemic

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed a software program to help hospitals and public health officials prepare for the next flu pandemic.

The spreadsheet-based software, FluSurge 1.0, estimates the potential surge in demand for hospital beds, intensive care unit beds, and mechanical ventilators for each week during a pandemic and compares it with actual capacity. It’s a companion to the previously released FluAid 2.0, which estimates the total deaths, hospitalizations, and outpatient visits that might occur during an influenza pandemic.

Both software programs and accompanying manuals are available free at www.dhhs.gov/nvpo/pandemics/.