Trending News Today: Medication Billing Errors Occurring More Frequently

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

Experts are advising that individuals closely examine their medication billing information for any errors before paying a medical bill. The American Medical Association estimated that 7.1% of bills that are paid by commercial health insurers contain errors, however, others estimate that these errors are much more common than that. According to The Washington Post, errors can happen at any stage in the process, so when the bill first shows up, individuals should start with the basics when looking for errors. If an error is found, they can most often be resolved with phone calls to the patients’ insurer, provider, or both. Furthermore, individuals can ask for an itemized bill that will allow patients to see exactly what they are being charged for.

Research reveals that an epidemic of hospital-acquired superbug infections resulting in death are going unreported. According to The Los Angeles Times, thousands of Californians are dying each year from infections they caught while in the hospital, however, their death certificates do not reflect that. In 2014, researchers found that infections — both acquired inside and outside the hospital – would replace heart disease and cancers as the leading causes of death in hospitals if the count was performed by examining patient medical records, which lists what patients were treated for, instead of their death certificates. In California, not only are deaths from hospital-acquired infections not tracked, but they don’t require hospitals to report when patients become sick from rare and lethal superbugs. To prevent these deaths, experts state that hospitals can improve their infection control procedures, including simple tasks like ensuring that staff washes their hands.

Results from 2 large clinical trials for the drug dupilumab showed success in the treatment of atopic dermatitis, according to The New York Times. The studies lasted 16 weeks, and involved nearly 1400 participants. Those who were given dupilumab instead of placebo saw the itching began to subside in 2 weeks and was gone in a few months as the skin began to clear up. Nearly 40% of patients who received the drug saw all, or almost all of their rash disappear. Dupilumab is designed to block 2 specific molecules of the immune system that are overproduced in patients with atopic dermatitis, as well as some other allergic diseases. The only adverse events reported was a slight increase in conjunctivitis, as well as swelling at the injection site. According to the Times, an estimated 1.6 million Americans are suffering from atopic dermatitis.