KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Research Roundup: Unnecessary Heart Tests; Americans Hit The Walkway

News outlets reported this week on a variety of studies dealing with health care policies.

Medpage Today: White Kids May Get Too Many Head CTs
Among children who suffered minor blows to the head, whites were more likely to receive unneeded cranial CT scans in the ED than were blacks or Hispanics, researchers found. In a national network of pediatric emergency centers, scans were performed in 84.1% of the high-risk white children compared with 79.8% of the black and Hispanic children combined, reported JoAnne E. Natale, MD, PhD, of the University of California Davis, and colleagues (Gever, 8/7).

Medpage Today: Employers Still Support Workers' Weight Loss
More than 70% of large employers will cover weight-loss surgery in 2013 -- a rate similar to past years, according to a survey by the National Business Group on Health. The group's Large Employers' 2013 Health Design Survey found 79% plan to cover gastric bypass surgery and 70% laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding. And 40% will cover physician-recommended obesity treatments for children, up slightly from 35% 2 years ago (Pittman, 8/8).

Medpage Today: QI Program Can Cut Unneeded Cardiac CT
Inappropriate coronary CT angiography (CCTA) exams can be curtailed if physicians are educated as to when the test should be ordered, researchers found. Follow-up after physicians underwent a 2-year continuous quality improvement program revealed a significant 60.3% decrease in inappropriate orders for CCTA tests (14.5% to 5.8%, P<0.0001), reported Kavitha M. Chinnaiyan, MD, from William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich., and colleagues (Kaiser, 8/9).

Medpage Today: Americans Step Up Their Walking
More Americans are walking for physical fitness now than they were 5 years ago, but they spend less time doing so, government researchers said. Between 2005 and 2010, the proportion of the population that reported walking at least 10 minutes a day rose from 55.7% to 62%, Dianna Carroll, PhD, of the CDC, and colleagues reported in a Vital Signs report in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. But the mean time spent walking daily fell from 15 minutes (105 minutes per week) to 13 minutes (90.8 minutes) during that time, the reasons for which are unclear, the researchers wrote (Fiore, 8/7).

Medscape: Falls Prevented With Novel Exercise Program For Older People
Embedding balance and strength movements into everyday activities such as "carrying the groceries from the car to the porch while walking sideways" may help older people prevent falls and improve overall strength and balance, according to a study published online Aug. 7 in the British Medical Journal (Hand, 8/8).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.