Mar 31, 2020 - Health

CMS gives hospitals new flexibilities to fight coronavirus

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals

Photo: John Nacion/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services yesterday issued new temporary rules that will allow hospitals to expand their capacity during the coronavirus epidemic.

Between the lines: These new flexibilities are designed to allow health care workers to treat more patients than the system is built for, and to help separate patients with the coronavirus from those without it.

Details: The rules allow facilities ranging from ambulatory surgical centers to convention centers to be repurposed to respond to the pandemic.

  • Ambulatory centers can, for example, be used to provide cancer or trauma care that would normally be performed in hospitals, thus protecting these patients from coronavirus exposure.
  • Non-hospital sites can be used to treat or quarantine patients, allowing hospitals to convert buildings like hotels or gymnasiums into care sites.
  • Hospitals and labs can test for the coronavirus in patients' homes or in community-based settings outside of hospitals, and hospital emergency departments can test and screen patients for COVID-19 at drive-through or off-campus sites.
  • Hospitals are also given new flexibilities that will allow them to rapidly expand their workforce.

Go deeper: What health care is getting out of the stimulus package

Go deeper

20 hours ago - Health

Medical journal retracts study that fueled hydroxychloroquine concerns

Photo: George Frey/AFP via Getty Images

The Lancet medical journal retracted a study on Thursday that found that coronavirus patients who took hydroxychloroquine had a higher mortality rate and increased heart problem than those who did nothing, stating that the authors were "unable to complete an independent audit of the data underpinning their analysis."

Why it matters: The results of the study, which claimed to have analyzed data from nearly 96,000 patients on six continents, led several governments to ban the use of the anti-malarial drug for coronavirus patients due to safety concerns.

May 22, 2020 - Health

Update: Study linking hydroxychloroquine to increased death risk is retracted

Hydroxychloroquine. Photo: George Frey/AFP via Getty Images

Editor’s note: The study referenced in this story has been retracted by the medical journal The Lancet due to questions on the veracity of its primary data sources. Read more here.

Coronavirus patients who took hydroxychloroquine or its related drug chloroquine were more likely to die or develop an irregular heart rhythm that can lead to sudden cardiac death, compared to those who did nothing, a retrospective review published in The Lancet shows.

Why it matters: Despite warnings from the Food and Drug Administration, President Trump has insisted the anti-malarial drug as a "game-changer" and admitted he has taken it as a preventative even though the drug is unproven.

18 hours ago - Health

HHS requests data on race and ethnicity with coronavirus test results

A nurse writes a note as a team of doctors and nurses performs a procedure on a coronavirus patient in the Regional Medical Center on May 21 in San Jose, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Department of Health and Human Services moved on Thursday to require that an individual's race, ethnicity, age and sex be submitted to the agency with novel coronavirus test results.

Why it matters: Some cities and states have reported the virus is killing black people at disproportionately high rates. There are gaps in the national picture of how many people of color are affected, since the data has not been a requirement for states to collect or disclose.