Quality Issue Roundup: J & J Revamping Controls; The Odds For Orthopedic Surgery; Automatic Prescription Refills And Patient Compliance

The New York Times: Johnson & Johnson has said it will "revamp its quality controls, creating a single framework for its drug, medical device and consumer health care divisions." The move comes after the drugmaker saw a number of recalls of its medicines, such as Tylenol and Motrin, as well as probes by a congressional committee and the FDA into actions at its McNeil Consumer Healthcare subsidiary. "In the last two years, F.D.A. inspectors have found significant violations of manufacturing standards at two McNeil plants, according to the agency's Web site. … In April, McNeil recalled an estimated 136 million bottles of liquid children's Tylenol and other products made at a company plant in Fort Washington, Pa. The company recalled the products because they might have contained too much of the active drug ingredient or foreign particles, the F.D.A. said" (Singer, 8/18).

Reuters: In the meantime, the "odds of going under the knife may depend on whether or not your orthopedic surgeon has a financial stake in your treatment center, suggests a new study." Patients getting orthopedic care from a provider with a financial ownership stake in the facility where they were seen were up to twice as likely to have surgery compared to those treated by others. "Federal law currently bans physicians from referring Medicare and Medicaid patients to centers in which the physician has an ownership interest. Half the states have similar laws. But the rules don't apply to specialty facilities or ambulatory surgery centers, the numbers of which have been on the rise across the country." The study was done by researchers at Georgetown University and looked at five years of claims data in Idaho, an "obvious choice due to its nearly equal numbers of physician-owned and competing general hospitals" (Peeples, 8/18).

The Wall Street Journal Health Blog: A group from CVS Caremark's Behavioral Change Research Partnership says "its research shows users of CVS Caremark's online prescription ordering system are twice as likely to sign up for automatic refills if the option is presented before the prescription is renewed rather than afterward." The researchers say auto-refills on prescriptions are a way to improve patient compliance with drug regiments (Hobson, 8/18).

HealthDay News: Catheter-associated urinary tract infections can be cut by 52 percent if hospitals use systems to remind staff when to remove the catheters from patients, a new study says. "Catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI) is the most common hospital-acquired infection, researchers from the University of Michigan pointed out. There are many types of reminder systems for catheter removal, including stickers placed on charts or catheter bags. The new study looked at the use of computer-generated reminders that appear when a nurse or doctor logs onto a patient's chart online." One Michigan researcher says reduced catheter use can improve comfort and mobility for patients and reduce need for antibiotics and chance of bloodstream infections (8/18).

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