Sunday, May 27, 2018
Health

Trauma centers miles apart, in place and price

When it comes to the trauma response fee, patients can wind up paying tens of thousands of dollars extra based on nothing more than geography and chance.

Consider the case of Eric Leonhard, a Fort Pierce boat captain whose rented limousine crashed in November 2012.

Leonhard and 15 friends were blocks away from their Vero Beach destination when their driver ran a red light into the path of a Jeep. Leonhard was rushed to the closest trauma center, Lawnwood Regional Medical Center, which has some of the highest response fees in the state.

If the crash had happened at the beginning of the evening, as the group neared Meg O'Malley's in Melbourne, he would have owed a fraction of the price. The Irish pub is just four minutes away from a different trauma center, Holmes Regional.

At the time, state data show that Holmes charged an average trauma fee of about $1,300, compared to $31,000 at Lawnwood.

Leonhard's fee would have been wildly different if he had been injured somewhere else in the state: Orlando ($6,300), Gainesville ($10,000), downtown Miami ($1,400).

In Tampa, the difference could have come down to on which side of Interstate 275 he found himself. The highway divides the territories of the city's two trauma centers, which are just 5 miles apart.

West of the highway, Leonhard likely would have been taken to St. Joseph's Hospital, which charged about $1,200 at the time.

East of it, he likely would have gone to Tampa General Hospital, where the average response fee was $12,000 — almost 10 times more.

Experts say it's fair to allow trauma hospitals to charge for response. They face legitimate costs for specialized doctors and equipment. The question is who should pay and how much.

"It's not fair to ask the person who gets hospitalized with a trauma to pay all of the cost," said Gerard Anderson, director of Johns Hopkins Center for Hospital Finance and Management. "They have already gotten hurt and now you are going to double that hurt by quadrupling the price."

The trade group that invented the fee, now called the Trauma Center Association of America, developed a formula to calculate it. Hospital officials could start with the hourly salaries of everyone who responds to a trauma call, down to the security guard outside and the clerk cataloging the patient's personal items.

They could then add a portion of administrators' paychecks, data entry, and even outreach events to promote injury prevention, like handing out free bike helmets at the health fair.

Said Connie Potter, the recently retired CEO of the group that created the fee, they could throw in the "kitchen sink" — as long as they used real trauma costs to calculate their charges.

Today, she said, many hospitals have gone beyond even her generous formula.

Some are doing little more than "pulling them out of their heinders," she said.

Comments
Stroke stories can have a happy ending: What you should know

Stroke stories can have a happy ending: What you should know

Arto Woods and his wife, Syvilla, had a good flight from Baltimore to Tampa in early May. En route, they talked about how convenient it would have been to fly directly into Orlando, where the conference that brought them to Florida was being held, bu...
Published: 05/25/18
Finding a yoga retreat to stretch the mind and body

Finding a yoga retreat to stretch the mind and body

Before I attended my first yoga retreat on a trip to see my sister in Oregon, I did exactly zero preparation. Turns out, that’s just fine, and it opened up the wider world of what a yoga getaway can give you.With four hours of yoga classes a day, my ...
Published: 05/25/18
Music makes us happy, motivated, determined … and hungry?

Music makes us happy, motivated, determined … and hungry?

Music is the ultimate mood setter. Faster beats gets us pumped up to work out. A slower rhythm can set a romantic mood or help one unwind at the end of a long day.Music can also influence the kinds of food we crave. A study co-authored by a Universit...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Estimated 7,000 bodies may be buried at former asylum

Estimated 7,000 bodies may be buried at former asylum

STARKVILLE, Miss. — Some of the boxes stacked inside anthropologist Molly Zuckerman’s laboratory contain full bones — a skull, a jaw, or a leg. Others contain only plastic bags of bone fragments that Zuckerman describes as "grit." These humble remain...
Published: 05/23/18
FDA warns teething medicines are unsafe for babies

FDA warns teething medicines are unsafe for babies

WASHINGTON — Federal health officials warned parents Wednesday about the dangers of teething remedies that contain a popular numbing ingredient and asked manufacturers to stop selling their products intended for babies and toddlers. The Food and Drug...
Published: 05/23/18
A chronic lack of sleep could lead to decreased brain function, study finds

A chronic lack of sleep could lead to decreased brain function, study finds

A sleep study revealed that less than six hours of sleep a day can limit the brain’s ability to function properly.The study, published on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that people experiencing less than...
Published: 05/23/18
Many cancer patients juggle care along with financial pain

Many cancer patients juggle care along with financial pain

Josephine Rizo survived chemotherapy, surgery and radiation, but breast cancer treatment wrecked her finances.Money was already tight when doctors told the Phoenix resident she had an aggressive form of the disease. Then she took a pay cut after goin...
Published: 05/22/18

Hernando County officials gather to remedy ‘dearth of services’ for youth with mental illness

BROOKSVILLE — Educators, court officials, law enforcement officers and health care professionals met Friday to identify the best ways to keep local youth with mental illnesses out of the court system and provide treatment for those already in the sys...
Published: 05/22/18
Give your arms a workout, too

Give your arms a workout, too

In addition to appearance, it is very important to maintain strength in those arms, as they are needed for practically every upper body movement we perform. We often take our 23 arm muscles for granted, until we reach a point where it suddenly become...
Published: 05/22/18
Intermittent fasting seems to be a good thing, new report suggests

Intermittent fasting seems to be a good thing, new report suggests

Going long hours without eating isn’t good for us, we are often told. Our bodies need fuel regularly. Otherwise, we may become lethargic, tired and hungry. Our thinking can become mushy, our ability to work, and even play, hampered.Not so fast.A new ...
Published: 05/22/18