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On ‘Sound Medicine’: Health care reform, extreme conditioning, and hospital observation areas


The award-winning “Sound Medicine” announces its program for Jan. 13, featuring several segments about current issues including health care reform and the potential expansion of hospital observation units. Please check local listings for broadcast dates, times and stations.

“Sound Medicine” covers controversial ethics topics, breakthrough research studies and the day-to-day application of recent advancements in medicine. It’s also available via podcast and Stitcher Radio for mobile phones and iPads and posts updates on Facebook and Twitter.

How does the Affordable Care Act affect taxpayers now? Aaron Carroll, M.S., M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine, discusses how the Affordable Care Act will affect taxpayers in the coming months. The Affordable Care Act officially takes effect in January 2014, but several provisions are being implemented this year. These provisions specifically affect Medicare and Medicaid recipients, caregivers and all taxpayers

How can hospitals improve the quality of their care? According to Matthew McHugh, Ph.D., J.D., MPH, R.N., just ask a nurse. McHugh is an assistant professor of nursing at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. He recently led a study in which more than 16,000 nurses from 400 hospitals in California, Florida, New Jersey and Pennsylvania evaluated their hospitals’ quality of care. The researchers found that nurses’ perceptions of care accurately reflected hospital outcomes. Researchers also found that nurses working in hospitals with an outstanding level of care consistently reported that their hospitals provided an excellent level of care.

Can hospital observation areas decrease health care spending? Christopher Baugh, M.D., MBA, is the medical director of the ED Observation Unit at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Baugh recently conducted a study that concluded observation units could save hospitals $4.6 million a year by avoiding 3,600 unnecessary inpatient admissions. Observation units cut costs by accepting patients after they have been discharged from the emergency room. The observation units consist of eight to 10 beds, each of which can be occupied for up to 24 hours. Currently only one-third of U.S hospitals have observation units.

Will osteoporosis screenings fall victim to budget cuts? Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, M.D., FACP, associate professor of clinical medicine and pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine, says that women older than 65 should receive routine osteoporosis screenings. However, Medicare funding for osteoporosis screenings has decreased dramatically in the past few years. As a result, many women, especially African-Americans, are neglecting routine screenings. Many programs, including women’s health care initiatives, are in danger of further budget cuts, which could threaten already hard-to-access screenings and women’s health care as a whole.

Are extreme conditioning programs safe? Michael Bergeron, Ph.D., FACSM, is the executive director of the National Youth Sports Health & Safety Institute and a professor of pediatrics at the Sanford School of Medicine at The University of South Dakota. Bergeron is part of a team of doctors who published a paper citing the dangers of extreme conditioning programs, or ECPs, in civilian and military use. Programs like P90x and CrossFit are marketed as get-fit-fast programs for unfit 30 and 40 somethings. The military has embraced the ECP trend and routinely uses the programs to condition soldiers. As a result, the military is now seeing many injuries that result in lost duty time, an increase in medical treatment, and compromised operational readiness. Although Bergeron doesn’t suggest ditching the programs, he recommends proceeding with caution.

“Sound Medicine,” co-produced by the IU School of Medicine and WFYI Public Radio (90.1 FM) and underwritten in part by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, is aired on the following Indiana public radio stations: WBSB (Anderson, 89.5 FM), WFIU (Bloomington, 103.7 FM; Columbus, 100.7 FM; Kokomo, 106.1 FM; Terre Haute, 95.1 FM), WNDY (Crawfordsville, 91.3 FM), WVPE (Elkhart/South Bend, 88.1 FM), WNIN (Evansville, 88.3 FM), WBOI (Fort Wayne, 89.1 FM), WFCI (Franklin, 89.5 FM), WBSH (Hagerstown/New Castle, 91.1 FM), WFYI (Indianapolis), WBSW (Marion, 90.9 FM), WBST (Muncie, 92.1 FM), WBSJ (Portland, 91.7 FM), WLPR (Lake County, 89.1 FM) and WBAA (West Lafayette, 101.3 FM).

“Sound Medicine” is also broadcast on these public radio stations across the country: KSKA (Anchorage, Alaska), KTNA (Talkeetna, Alaska), KUHB (Pribilof Islands, Alaska), KUAF (Fayetteville and Fort Smith, Ark.), KIDE (Hoopa Valley, Calif.), KRCC (Colorado Springs, Colo.), KEDM (Monroe, La.), WCMU (Mount Pleasant, Mich.), WCNY and WRVO-1 (Syracuse, N.Y.), KMHA (Four Bears, N.D.), WYSU (Youngstown, Ohio), KPOV (Bend, Ore.) and KEOS (College Station, Texas).