HEALTH

Abbott: Nutrition counseling for hospitalized COPD patients reduces healthcare cost

BY Michael Johnsen

ABBOTT PARK, Ill. — People aged 65 and older, who were being treated for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in the hospital and received nutrition treatment (oral nutrition supplements) had reduced lengths of stay, hospital costs and chances of returning to the hospital within 30 days, according to an Abbott study published in CHEST.
 
The study evaluated Medicare patients who were hospitalized with a primary diagnosis of COPD. The study demonstrates that when older patients with COPD received nutrition treatment in the hospital, it reduced their length of stay by 1.88 days (21.5%) and total hospital costs by $1,570 (12.5%) on average, compared to those who did not receive nutrition treatment. When looking at the likelihood of readmission within 30 days, the people who received nutrition treatment had a 13.1% reduction in 30-day readmission.
 
"Our findings suggest that screening seniors in the hospital for malnutrition risk and providing cost-effective treatment for those who are malnourished or at risk, can have a positive health impact on outcomes," said Julia Thornton Snider of Precision Health Economics and lead author for the study. "In addition, our new readmission data suggests economic benefits for the hospital, including how they may better achieve the new Medicare mandates for reducing readmission rates in elderly COPD patients."
 
 
This year, Medicare will raise its maximum penalty for hospitals that have too many patients readmitted within 30 days. The program, part of the Affordable Care Act, typically calculates this number by looking at readmissions of patients who had a heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia. Beginning in 2015, Medicare will examine readmissions of total hip/knee replacements and patients with COPD. Medicare patients with COPD already incur roughly $20,500 more in healthcare costs than those without it.
 
Those with COPD are at a higher risk of being malnourished, which can weaken their strength and immune system and cause complications during recovery.
 
Despite the nutritional need for people with COPD and the fact that it is the third-leading cause of death in the United States, current guidelines do not include any specific recommendations for addressing nutritional deficiencies in this group. However, researchers are working to change this as a growing number of studies are being published that show the economic and health benefits that nutrition screenings and treatment have on COPD, as well as other health issues.
 
"Abbott has been partnering with leading research institutions to better understand how we can improve health outcomes of people affected by certain conditions," said Robert Miller, divisional VP R&D, scientific and medical affairs at Abbott Nutrition. "By identifying solutions, such as oral nutritional supplements, we may be able to help people with COPD have better health results and reduce healthcare costs."
 

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Solgar voluntarily recalls its ABC Dophilus Powder

BY Michael Johnsen

LEONIA, N.J. — Solgar on Friday voluntarily recalled its ABC Dophilus Powder. The recall was initiated, out of an abundance of caution, because the product was found to contain Rhizopus oryzae, which may cause Mucormycosis.  
 
Mucormycosis is a rare infection that may cause health problems to consumers, particularly pre-mature infants/infants, children and those with weakened immune systems. Although, it also may rarely occur in people who are otherwise healthy. Susceptible consumers should consult with their physician or healthcare provider if they have used this product.
 
Solgar is notifying consumers and customers not to consume this product.

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CDC: 23% of HS students currently use a tobacco product

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA — Almost 23% of high school students currently use a tobacco product, according to new data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Thursday’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Of particular concern, more than 90% of those using a tobacco product are using combustible tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars, hookahs and pipes.
 
Extensive use of combustible products is of special concern because tobacco smoking causes most of the tobacco-related disease and death in the United States. The 50th Anniversary Surgeon General’s Report released last January concluded that unless youth smoking rates drop rapidly, 5.6 million youth currently aged 0 to 17 years will die early from a cigarette smoking-related illness.
 
“Nine out of ten smokers tried their first cigarette by age 18,” stated Tim McAfee, director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “We must do more to prevent our youth from using tobacco products, or we will see millions of them suffer and die prematurely as adults. Fully implementing proven tobacco control programs would help keep our youth from falling victim to tobacco.”
 
The CDC’s National Youth Tobacco Survey found that in 2013, 22.9% of high school students and 6.5% of middle school students reported using a tobacco product within the last 30 days. Nearly half (46%) of all high school students and 17.7% of middle school students said they had used a tobacco product at least once in their lifetime. The survey also found that 12.6% of high school students say they currently use two or more tobacco products.
 
Youth who say they use more than one tobacco product are at higher risk for developing nicotine dependence that can lead to continued smoking into adulthood. Most youth who use tobacco believe they will be able to quit, but about three out of four high school smokers continue smoking into adulthood.
 
Among all high school students, 4.5% reported using e-cigarettes within the last 30 days; and 1.1% of middle school students reported using e-cigarettes in the last 30 days. While the impact of electronic cigarette use on public health remains uncertain, the 2014 Surgeon General’s report found that nicotine use can have adverse effects on adolescent brain development. Therefore, nicotine use by youth in any form — combusted, smokeless, or electronic — is unsafe, CDC stated.
 
Cigarettes were the most prevalent tobacco product used by white and Hispanic high school students (14% and 13.4%), although cigars were close behind (11.4% and 12.1%). Cigar use was more prevalent than cigarette use for other races/ethnicities. Cigar use among black high school students was nearly 50% higher than cigarette use (14.7% vs. 9%), and more than twice as high (4.5% vs 1.7%) among black middle school students. 
 
Cigars are currently unregulated by the FDA and are taxed at a lower rate. Some cigars are manufactured with fruit and candy flavors prohibited in cigarettes, and sold in small quantities.
 
“One effective strategy for reducing tobacco use among youth is raising the price,” said Brian King, a senior scientific advisor with the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “The Food and Drug Administration’s new youth-focused media campaign, 'The Real Cost,' is also expected to lead to reductions in youth tobacco use.”
 
The CDC article was released to coincide with the 39th anniversary of the Great American Smokeout, which will be held on Nov. 20. Surveys show about 70% of all smokers want to quit, and research shows quitting completely at any age has health benefits. 
 

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