Extra Extra : Health

Kids with no vaccinations clustered in some schools

"Some Ohio schools might as well have a target painted on the side of the building as far as public-health experts are concerned.

In some schools in the state, as many as 1 in 3 incoming kindergartners and newly enrolled older students have parents who oppose vaccines, according to a Dispatch analysis of schools’ immunization counts."

Read the full story from The Columbus Dispatch here.

Extra Extra Monday: Nebraska releases prisoners early; Koch brothers hold secret summit; Missile defense system proves unreliable

$40-billion missile defense system proves unreliable | Los Angeles Times

The Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, or GMD, was supposed to protect Americans against a chilling new threat from "rogue states" such as North Korea and Iran. But a decade after it was declared operational, and after $40 billion in spending, the missile shield cannot be relied on, even in carefully scripted tests that are much less challenging than an actual attack would be, a Los Angeles Times investigation has found.

The Missile Defense Agency has conducted 16 tests of the system's ability to intercept a mock enemy warhead. It has ...

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VA executives received $100M in bonuses as problems mounted

Executives and employees of the troubled Veterans Affairs health system enjoyed over $100 million in bonuses, according to the Asbury Park Press.

The federal government warned the VA in the past about the growing issue of excessive patient wait times and its detrimental effect on the health care system. Still, VA executives and employees received $108.7 million in bonuses over the course of three years.

Since 2005 more than a dozen reports have been released showing the negative impact of patient wait times at both the national and local levels. The VA said more than 57,000 veterans waited ...

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Taxpayers face big Medicare tab for unusual doctor billings

More than 2,300 providers – doctors, nurses, physician assistants – earned $500,000 or more from Medicare in 2012 from a single procedure or service, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of the data. A few of those providers, including an internist in Los Angeles and a dermatologist in Port St. Lucie, Fla., collected more from the single procedures than anyone else who billed for them — by very large margins.

The data release was prompted by a Journal legal effort to make the information public. This story is the first of a series, Medicare Unmasked, examining how payments are made ...

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Despite evidence of danger, some parents still share beds with infants

The tragedies put the city on pace for a deadlier-than-usual year for bed-sharing infants.

Jackson County, meanwhile, has recorded 100 such deaths since 2004 believed to be related to co-sleeping — grim statistics seldom discussed publicly.

The deaths continue to increase nationally despite a campaign by the American Academy of Pediatrics to avoid bed-sharing and efforts by advocates to promote safe-sleeping guidelines for infants.

Read the full story from The Kansas City Star here.

How the VA developed its culture of coverups

The resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki isn’t likely to fix systemic problems at the beleaguered agency, the Washington Post reports.

The VA’s “towering bureaucracy,” once designed to prevent mismanagement and corruption, ultimately allowed it to hide its problems from senior staff.

Scheduling clerks were told to “zero out” wait times. In Phoenix, for instance, official data showed veterans waited an average of 24 days for an appointment. In reality, the average wait was 115 days. Reporter David Fahrenthold explains:

This is how it worked: A patient asked for an appointment on a specific day. Turner ...

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Is an Arizona prison healthcare provider driving up its profits at the expense of taxpayers?

Arizona taxpayers pay $125 million a year to Corizon, a company contracted to provide healthcare to Arizona's inmate population. A KPNX-Phoenix investigation revealed there are questions about whether the company is driving up its profits at the expense of taxpayers.

What's more, billing records show the Department of Corrections is spending millions more to defend itself from a 2012 class-action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona and the Prison Law Office out of Berkeley, Calif. That filing accuses the department of not providing adequate medical care, mental health care and dental care to prisoners ...

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Trials of spinal surgery option Infuse were too little, too late

Three years after back surgery, Grace Nestler-Bramm learned that a drug designed to repair her spine was causing new bone to wrap around it and compress nerves.

In March, the Cedar Grove resident became one of nearly 1,000 people who are suing Medtronic, the company that markets Infuse — a number certain to grow.

A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/MedPage Today analysis of U.S. Food and Drug Administration data found that more than 6,500 reports of Infuse-related problems have been registered with the agency's medical device reporting system since 2002, the year Infuse was approved. Roughly half of ...

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Extra Extra Monday: High-poverty schools, the troubled VA healthcare system, medical examiner accuracy

Fatally flawed: Truth gets buried under broken rules | The Charlotte Observer

In a five-part series launched Saturday, the Charlotte Observer reveals that N.C. medical examiners routinely fail to follow crucial investigative steps, raising questions about the accuracy of thousands of death rulings.

The living face the consequences. Widows can be cheated out of insurance money. Families may never learn why their loved ones died. Killers can go free.

After a medical examiner concluded David Worley died in a Harnett County car wreck last July, a funeral home discovered what the examiner missed: four stab wounds in his back. His ...

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The cost of not caring: Inside a mental health system drowning from neglect

States have been reducing hospital beds for decades, because of insurance pressures as well as a desire to provide more care outside institutions, USA TODAY reports.

Tight budgets during the recession forced some of the most devastating cuts in recent memory, says Robert Glover, executive director of the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors. States cut $5 billion in mental health services from 2009 to 2012. In the same period, the country eliminated at least 4,500 public psychiatric hospital beds — nearly 10% of the total supply, he says.

The result is that, all too often, people with ...

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