Inside these posts: Doctors

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Cook County cutting nurses at 2 hospitals

Cook County is cutting 138 nursing jobs at two hospitals in a process that began today. Nurses union leader Leslie Curtis says nurses are calling it the “Valentine’s Day massacre.”

Cook County Health and Hospitals System spokesman Lucio Guerrero says the jobs are being eliminated at Oak Forest Hospital in the south suburbs and Provident Hospital on the city’s South Side.

Pay gap between male, female doctors widens

Newly trained female doctors in the United States make nearly $17,000 less than their male counterparts, even though women increasingly are choosing careers in higher-paying medical specialties, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.

They said there has been a widening gender gap in starting salaries for female doctors, rising from a difference of $3,600 in 1999 to $16,819 in 2008. Get the full story »

Merck ‘good cholesterol’ drug study wows doctors

Dr. Christopher Cannon, the leader of a study on an experimental Merck cholesterol drug, at the Chicago AHA conference. (AP Photo/AHA)

Merck’s highly potent drug to raise heart-protective HDL cholesterol may give doctors a new sledgehammer against heart attacks and strokes, and be prescribed as often as the leading current statin treatments for heart disease, doctors said on Wednesday.

Thousands of doctors listened raptly earlier at midday as researchers presented findings from a highly anticipated study of Merck’s drug, anacetrapib, at the annual scientific meeting of the American Heart Association in Chicago.

They were told that levels of HDL in patients taking the pill jumped 138 percent during the 18-month study, while levels of artery-clogging “bad” LDL cholesterol fell 40 percent. Get the full story »

Doctors urge Congress to halt Medicare pay cuts

The American Medical Association unleashed its latest salvo Monday in its campaign against cuts in Medicare payments to doctors with a survey that finds overwhelming concern among Americans.

The physician’s group did an online survey of 1,000 Americans aged 18 and older and found 94 percent of them said they are concerned about the cuts to doctors who treat elderly patients.

The group released the findings at a meeting in San Diego to kick off a new advertising and lobbying push to convince lawmakers to block payment cuts — set to take effect Dec. 1 — before they recess for the Thanksgiving holiday later this month. Get the full story »

Blue Cross, Advocate raise bar on accountability

The state’s largest health insurer and the area’s biggest medical-care provider have signed an agreement that holds doctors and hospitals more accountable for performance and quality service.

The three-year deal between Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois and Advocate Health Care, which operates 10 hospitals in Illinois, calls for Advocate to limit rate increases it negotiates from the insurance company. In addition, Advocate doctors and hospitals are being asked to meet performance targets tied to improved quality, safety and efficiencies of the medical care provided to patients covered by Illinois Blue Cross HMO and preferred-provider organization products. Get the full story »

Govt. wants bond revoked for fraud mastermind

The government is asking a federal court judge to revoke the bond of accused investor David Hernandez, saying he attempted to delay his sentencing by fabricating a letter from a doctor that said he was starting treatment for cancer.

Hernandez pleaded guilty in January to a Ponzi-style scheme that bilked more than 200 people of their savings. The swindle allegedly garnered $6.3 million for Hernandez, which he used to bankroll a now-defunct Chicago sports-talk radio station and other personal purchases.

Federal prosecutors say Hernandez who lives in Downers Grove and is free on bond until a sentencing that could mean up to 14 years in prison — should be locked up because he is a flight risk. Get the full story »

Gov. Quinn vetoes physical therapist bill

Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed Friday a Senate bill that would have allowed doctors to legally hire physical therapists because those partnerships, he said, would increase costs for citizens.

In Illinois, patients must have a doctor’s referral to see a physical therapist. But physical therapists can bill insurance providers for their services independently, which is why Quinn vetoed the bill.

“Senate Bill 2635,” Quinn said in a letter to the General Assembly, “also incents medical professionals to increase the volume of services provided.” Get the full story »

Malpractice insurer holds line on rates again

For the fourth consecutive year, the state’s largest insurer of medical liability for doctors said it will not increase the base premium rates on policies.

ISMIE Mutual Insurance Co. credited its decision to a stable “lawsuit environment nurtured by Illinois’ 2005 medical litigation reform law, but cautioned that resulting market improvements could be at serious future jeopardy.” Get the full story »