July 17th, 2012

Depending on where you live in California, your hospital bill might be a lot more (or less) than in other areas, according to a new study from the California Public Interest Research Group.

The study looked at the 12 most common elective, inpatient surgeries performed across the state, like knee surgery, cesarean sections and angioplasty. Researchers found that the highest-cost regions (Alameda and San Mateo) charge prices 2.7 times higher than the lowest-cost region. The Fresno and Orange County regions are the least expensive. 

The research also outlined how much health care costs have risen since 1999:

In 2009, health care spending per Californian was $6,238, 79 percent more than just 10 years earlier. Family insurance premiums rose by 113 percent from 2001 to 2009.

Read the full report here.

July 12th, 2012

East Bay doctor under fire for prolific painkiller prescriptions

Meet Dr. Edward Manougian, an East Bay physician who has ordered so many OxyContin pills for low-income patients that he ranked as one of the state’s most prolific prescribers. Until the California medical board stopped his prescribing last year, Manougian ordered patients to take doses of opiate pain pills that are three to 12 times higher than what doctors consider high. His prescriptions have been linked to three patient deaths. 

Now, Manougian’s practice has drawn the attention of federal investigators. The case raises the question: Given the widespread problems of overdose and addiction related to opioid painkillers, when does prescribing actually exacerbate the suffering it’s meant to ease? 

Read our full investigation here. To learn more about the issues surrounding opioid abuse, check out our resources on React & Act.

July 26th, 2011

Have you visited a California emergency room?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there are nearly 124 million visits to U.S. emergency rooms annually. California Watch, a project of the Center for Investigative Reporting, is trying to learn more about patients’ ER experiences. If you or someone you love has had a personal experience with emergency rooms that was upsetting for some reason, click through to share your insights. Everything you share within the Public Insight Network is confidential unless you give us explicit permission to publish it.

May 17th, 2011

latimes:

“A new state department would be formed to manage California’s violence-plagued mental hospitals under a proposal in the governor’s Monday budget revision,” Lee Romney reports. The revised budget proposes $9.5 million for security teams and a separate agency to oversee the state’s mental hospitals.

You can read more about the worsening safety trend at California mental hospitals here.

Photo: Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

Reblogged from Los Angeles Times
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California Watch, the largest investigative journalism team operating in the state, was launched in 2009 by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Investigative Reporting. Areas of coverage include education, health and welfare, public safety, the environment and the influence of money on the political and regulatory process.

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