Care For Dialysis Patients Improves, Medicare Ratings Show

Dialysis centers in Connecticut continue to improve their overall quality of care, with 12 facilities reaching Medicare’s highest patient-care rating and just one scoring on the low end of the scale, the latest data show. That’s an improvement from the 2014 data, when six dialysis centers in the state scored low in quality-of-care ratings. Dialysis helps those with kidney failure remove waste from the body, regulate chemicals and control blood pressure. Most often, patients have their blood removed and cleaned in a machine called a dialyzer before it’s returned to the body. Another form of dialysis uses a cleaning fluid and the stomach as a filter.

State Disciplines Two Nurses

The state Board of Examiners for Nursing Wednesday disciplined two nurses, including a registered nurse from Branford who stole an opioid painkiller for her own use. The RN, Alice J. Miller, admitted that on Nov. 24, 2016, she took the oxycodone, a consent order she signed with the board said. The same month, she also used alcohol or controlled substances to excess, the order said. Her license was temporarily suspended, and Wednesday, the board continued the suspension for six months, followed by a four-year probation during which Miller must pass drug tests and attend therapy and support group sessions, the order said.

Med Board Drops Charges Against Fairfield Doc, Disciplines Two Others

The state Medical Examining Board on Tuesday dropped all charges against a former Fairfield doctor who illegally prescribed oxycodone because the doctor has voluntarily surrendered his medical license. Paul Bellofiore, 57, of Trumbull, gave up his license in October, state Department of Public Health records show. Bellofiore, who had practiced in Fairfield, also agreed not to contest the allegations against him if he ever seeks to have his license reinstated. In February, Bellofiore was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Hartford to two years of probation for illegally prescribing the painkiller. Judge Alvin W. Thompson also ordered him to perform 200 hours of community service and prohibited Bellofiore from writing prescriptions for controlled substances until Oct.

Three Nursing Homes Fined Following Lapses In Care

The state Department of Public Health (DPH) has fined three Connecticut nursing homes for violations that injured residents or jeopardized their safety. Autumn Lake Healthcare at New Britain was fined $3,000 after staff incorrectly used a ventilator machine on a resident. On Feb. 2, 2017, a resident with chronic respiratory failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease complained of shortness of breath and was put on a trilogy machine, a type of non-invasive ventilator, after other interventions failed to help, according to DPH. The resident was placed on the machine but continued to complain of shortness of breath and subsequently was taken to a hospital for observation and returned to the facility the next day, according to the citation.

Heavy Drinking Among Women At All-Time High, Despite Health Consequences

An ever-increasing number of women in the state are drinking to excess, state and federal data show. Statewide, female admissions to acute hospital emergency departments for alcohol-related reasons rose by 4.8 percent between fiscal years 2012 and 2016, according to the Connecticut Hospital Association. The female-only Eden Hill Recovery Retreat in Canaan fills an average of 10 to 12 beds per month; earlier in the center’s eight-year history, rarely were there more than eight beds occupied at a time. Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine note an increase in the number of women enrolling in studies that examine the effectiveness of a medication to curb one’s desire to drink alcohol. The uptick in problem drinking among women in Connecticut mirrors a national trend.

Med Board Fines Doc $5,000 Following Infant’s Death, Disciplines Four Others

The state Medical Examining Board Tuesday disciplined five doctors, including fining a Danbury obstetrician $5,000 for her lapses in care in connection with a baby girl’s death during delivery at Greenwich Hospital in June 2015. The board also reprimanded Dr. Marjan Hedayatzadeh and found that she failed to make an adequate assessment of the baby’s well-being and failed to order an ultrasound of the baby and her twin brother, a consent order that Hedayatzadeh agreed to with the board said. The order also said that Hedayatzadeh failed to accurately monitor the baby girl’s heart rate during three hours of labor and delivery, the consent order said. In signing the order, Hedayatzadeh did not contest the allegations or admit wrongdoing, the order said. The doctor has completed courses in fetal heart monitoring in the case of twin pregnancies and is now working under a protocol that requires an ultrasound in the case of all labor and deliveries, the order said.

State Fines RN For Fentanyl Abuse, Disciplines Four Others

The Board of Examiners for Nursing this week disciplined five nurses for cases involving alcohol or drug abuse, including one nurse who stole Fentanyl patches from nursing home patients. In a consent order with the board, Ashley Dizney of Southington, a registered nurse and an advanced practice registered nurse, agreed to pay a $1,000 fine and be placed on probation for four years for abusing Fentanyl to excess in January 2017. That month, she stole Fentanyl patches from patients in nursing homes in Torrington and Waterbury while working for Connecticut Mental Health Specialists of Farmington, the order said. From 2015 to 2017, Dizney also used alcohol and multiple controlled substances to excess, the order said. She chose not to contest the allegations against her.

Thousands Of Seniors, Disabled And Low-Income Residents Losing Care Coverage

Roughly 68,000 seniors and disabled residents will lose access to a Medicare financial assistance program January 1, when income eligibility requirements change under the newly enacted state budget. Currently, through the Medicare Savings Program, the state Department of Social Services (DSS) pays Medicare Part B premiums for low-income elderly and disabled adults earning less than 246 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $29,667. Part B covers things like doctor visits, lab tests and outpatient care. Those earning less than 234 percent of the poverty level, or about $28,220, can receive additional help covering co-pays, deductibles and prescriptions. In the new year, only those earning less than 100 percent of the poverty level—or $12,060—will qualify to receive all benefits under the program, and those receiving subsidies for premiums alone must earn less than 135 percent of the poverty level to be considered for eligibility.

Conversation With Your Doc May Be The Best—And Most Elusive—Medicine

When doctors and patients communicate well, research shows that patients are more likely to follow treatments, recover more quickly and are less likely to be the victims of medical errors. But with an average office visit of just 18 minutes and an increasingly complex variety of diagnostic and therapeutic options, good communication may be modern medicine’s final frontier. In this podcast, sponsored by ConnectiCare, Dr. Juan Estrada, medical director of Sanitas Medical Centers and Lisa Freeman, director of  the Conn. Center for Patient Safety, provide tips on how to communicate with your doctor. A recent patient survey by ConnectiCare found that patients generally rated communication with their doctors highly, but there were concerning gaps.