- Associated Press - Monday, January 20, 2014
Report: Wis. hospitals improve quality, save money

MILWAUKEE (AP) - More than 100 Wisconsin hospitals have been collaborating to improve the quality of health care, and their efforts have paid off with a decrease in costly outcomes such as readmissions and hospital-associated infections, according to a report released Tuesday.

Hospital officials around the state have spent the past few years stepping up efforts to share knowledge and best practices associated with patient care. The result has been better care and cost savings of nearly $40 million since mid-2012, the Wisconsin Hospital Association said.

Hospitals have been looking to cut costs as their Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates decline. The new health care law requires Medicare to reduce payments to hospitals that have an excessive number of readmissions, so there’s an additional incentive to improve patient outcomes.

Hospital teams logged into monthly online sessions to collaborate on health care strategies that have worked well and figure out how to improve, the report said. The teams also discussed ways to make sure patients understand how to comply with their post-hospital instructions and shared ways to cut down on adverse reactions to medications.

Since 2012, an estimated 3,556 discharged patients avoided having to be readmitted to hospitals, saving about $34 million.

“When improvement work reduces hospital-associated infections and readmissions it translates into cost savings, and that is a value for patients, employers and insurers,” association president Steve Brenton said in a statement.

The report said efforts to reduce readmissions were already under way before the new health care law passed, the report said, and included calling patients who’d been sent home but were still at risk of infection and spending more time educating patients and their families on how to continue the recovery process.

___

Frigid air settling in Dakotas, moving eastward

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Another band of arctic air began creeping into the northern U.S. on Monday, bringing a wave of frigid temperatures that could linger for most of the week across the upper Midwest and New England.

Temperatures plunged below zero in North Dakota and northern Minnesota on Monday morning. The cold front was expected to sweep south into Iowa and as far east as Maine by Tuesday night, and remain entrenched through Thursday.

The bitter blast will lead to a swath of subzero temperatures, with highs in the single digits and wind chills of minus 20 or colder, said Paul Collar, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

“It’s not to the extent of the last outbreak but it’s still bitterly cold,” he said, referring to the recent polar vortex that sent temperatures plunging well below zero across much of the country and was blamed for at least a dozen deaths.

Some areas of across the U.S.-Canada border could see nighttime lows in the negative double digits in the next few days, he said.

Portions of Minnesota, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine were under wind chill warnings, meaning wind chills could be 34 degrees below zero or colder.

“With these temperatures you’re going to have issues with exposed skin and frostbite, but not to the degree of severity of the last outbreak,” he said, describing it as “a normal cold event you’d see in a typical winter.”

___

Wisconsin events honor King’s legacy

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Gov. Scott Walker is proclaiming Monday as Martin Luther King Jr. Day across the state.

Walker sang along to “We Shall Not Be Moved” and read a proclamation dedicating the day to the civil rights activist during an annual King tribute at the state Capitol on Monday afternoon. Protesters turned their backs on Walker as he spoke, holding up signs that read “Still a Liar” and “MLK Jr. would have expanded Medicaid.”

Earlier in the day Walker attended the 17th annual breakfast honoring King at the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee.

A “freedom sing-in” will be held at Madison’s 29th annual City-County observance Monday evening at the Overture Center. Former UN Ambassador Andrew Young will give the keynote address.

___

Warrants released in missing Milwaukee woman case

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Search warrants provide new details of the investigation into the disappearance of 27-year-old Kelly Dwyer last October.

While police have publicly called it a missing person case, WISN-TV reports (http://bit.ly/1aFilsthttp://bit.ly/1aFilst ) that investigators said in the newly unsealed warrants they were looking for evidence of homicide and hiding a corpse.

Dwyer was last seen with her boyfriend, Kris Zocco, Oct. 10. He is not charged in her disappearance, but was charged with drugs and child pornography possession after police searched his apartment. He’s free on bail.

The warrants say a cadaver dog hit on Dwyer’s scent in five locations in Zocco’s apartment building, including at a trash chute, a first-floor trash room, and near a trash bin.

Police searched a suburban Milwaukee landfill in October but haven’t said what they found.

___

Information from: WISN-TV, http://www.wisn.comhttp://www.wisn.com

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide