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Featuring hospital and health care headlines from the media and the Web.

Iowa News

Iowa public health warns of norovirus outbreaks
Reports of the norovirus illness have been increasing across Iowa in recent weeks, and Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids is seeing more patients than usual with the symptoms. The Cedar Rapids medical center is classifying the apparent spread as a “sporadic outbreak,” with an average 10 to 15 people coming in for treatment daily for the past 10 days. “The busiest week we had was the first week of January,” said Mercy spokeswoman Karen Vander Sanden. “And that was with people who were sick enough to be admitted.” (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

CR Blue Zones community forum set for Feb. 2
The purpose of the forum is to identify the major health issues facing the Cedar Rapids and Linn County communities. Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones, will make an appearance to discuss possible solutions to the issues. The first 100 attendees will receive a free copy of Mr. Buettner’s book. During the first hour of the CR Blue Zone Check-Up event, Stephanie Neff, interim director of Linn County Public Health; Tim Charles, CEO of Mercy Medical Center; Dr. James Levett, chief medical officer of Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa; and Ted Townsend, CEO of St. Luke’s Hospital, will discuss the most prevalent health issues facing the community. Pat Baird, retired CEO of AEGON, will moderate the discussion. Attendees will be invited to share their observations and join the discussion. (Corridor Business Journal)

Broadlawns first in state with 3-D mammography
Mammograms just got a lot more advanced in Iowa. The FDA approved the 3-D technology just last year, and Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines is the first in the state to use it. From seeing a still image to seeing layer after layer of breast tissue, a 3-D mammogram, also known as breast tomosynthesis, gives doctors a never before seen look at the breast. “We’re actually able to detect cancers at a smaller size, thus at an earlier stage, and we’ll increase the patient’s risk of survival,” said Dr. John Tentinger, a radiologist at Broadlawns. He said early studies show up to a 7 percent increase in the detection rate for cancer. (WOI)

National News

Landmark health overhaul get nary a mention
When it came to health, what was most surprising was how little President Obama had to say in his State of the Union address. His landmark 2010 health overhaul — whose fate is currently before the Supreme Court and whose repeal is the top priority for every GOP presidential candidate — got barely a passing mention. The president also resisted the urge to use the speech to criticize House Republicans for their passage last year of a budget plan that would dramatically reshape the Medicare program for the elderly and disabled. (National Public Radio)

CBO report on Medicare demos draws mixed response
A Congressional Budget Office report critical of the Medicare fee-for-service demonstration projects in disease management, care coordination, and value-based payments has received mixed reviews from stakeholders who acknowledge the report’s significance while contending that it contains no surprises for the healthcare industry. Meanwhile, officials at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which oversees the demonstration projects, have remained almost silent. (HealthLeaders Media)

Senate watchdog targets high-prescribing Medicaid docs
An influential U.S. senator is grilling officials in nearly three-dozen states, demanding to know how they are cracking down on physicians who prescribe massive amounts of potentially dangerous prescription drugs. Iowa Republican Charles Grassley sent letters to 34 states Monday asking what steps they had taken to investigate doctors whose prescribing of antipsychotics, anti-anxiety drugs and painkillers to Medicaid patients far exceeds that of their peers. (Pro Publica)

Florida hospital loses $178M judgment in negligence case
A Florida man and his family have won a $178 million judgment against the HCA-owned Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville, FL, and a doctor accused in the lawsuit of medical negligence in a case involving weight-loss surgery gone awry. A Duval County, FL, jury found Memorial was liable for damages of $168 million. And on Monday, the jury awarded an additional $10 million in punitive damages in the case. (Nashville Tennessean)

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