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June 17, 2022

Around the nation: HHS will not release data on Covid-19 transmission in individual hospitals

Daily Briefing

    The Biden administration said it would not release Covid-19 transmission data for individual hospitals due to "privacy concerns," in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from Georgia and the District of Columbia.

    • District of Columbia: The Biden administration said it would not release Covid-19 transmission data for individual hospitals due to "privacy concerns." Notably, the American Hospital Association (AHA), which has voiced support for data reporting at an aggregate level versus and individual level, praised the administration's decision. "Reporting aggregate data is the most appropriate approach given the very low occurrence of hospital onset Covid-19," said Nancy Foster, VP of quality and patient safety for AHA. However, patient advocates have voiced opposition for keeping individual hospitals' Covid-19 transmission data private. According to Matthew Cortland, an immunocompromised disability rights activist, "[a] majority of voters want HHS to level with us—tell us how much coronavirus is spreading in the particular hospital we go to." However, he added, "that transparency is inconvenient for the powerful hospital lobby." (Gamble, Becker's Hospital Review, 6/27)
    • District of Columbia: The Supreme Court on Monday unanimously ruled that prosecutors must prove that two doctors who were sentenced to decades in prison knowingly distributed controlled medications in an unlawful manner. During the trial, the doctors argued they acted in "good faith" by trying to provide care to their patients. While laws and regulations allow doctors to prescribe controlled substances "for a legitimate medical purpose" in ways that coincide with "the usual course of [his or her] professional practice," the case disputed the threshold that doctors had to cross for their prescribing patterns to be considered unlawful. Ultimately, the Court did not dismiss the two physicians' convictions. Instead, it returned the case to appeals courts to review."After a defendant produces evidence that he or she was authorized to dispense controlled substances, the Government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew that he or she was acting in an unauthorized manner, or intended to do so," Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the opinion. (Joseph, STAT News, 6/27)
    • Georgia: CDC last week reported an outbreak of meningococcal disease in Florida, with at least 26 confirmed cases of serious illness. According to CDC epidemiologist Sam Crowe, seven of those cases have been fatal. So far, the outbreak has primarily impacted men who have sex with men, with at least 24 of the cases and six of the deaths among gay and bisexual men. Currently, Crowe noted that the outbreak is "very much ongoing," with new cases still being reported. The disease—caused by the Neisseria meningitidis bacterium—is usually transmitted through close or prolonged contact, during activities like kissing. Notably, it can manifest as meningitis or septicemia. While the disease is still rare, it is serious and can cause death "literally overnight," said Jill Roberts, a molecular epidemiologist at the University of South Florida. "The number of cases is not very high," she added. "However, any cases of meningitis are really considered something that we worry about." (Anthes

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