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Top news stories from AMA Morning Rounds®: Week of May 6, 2024


Read AMA Morning Rounds®’ most popular stories in medicine and public health from the week of May 6, 2024–May 10, 2024.

The Washington Post (5/9, Gilbert) reports, “Ascension, one of the largest Catholic health systems in the United States with 140 hospitals, was struck by a cyberattack that affected computer systems across the country and impacted patient care, the system said in a statement Thursday.” The health system “said it detected the hack Wednesday and took immediate steps.” Systems affected include patient records and medication prescribing, “requiring doctors and staff to use paper records, according to the local reports.”

NBC News (5/9, Wile) reports, “The company said it had engaged cybersecurity consulting firm Mandiant to assist in the investigation and remediation process, and had notified law enforcement authorities.” The health system “is the fourth-largest hospital network in the country, with 140 locations in 19 states and Washington, D.C., including major presences in St. Louis and the Chicagoland area.”

Modern Healthcare (5/8, Hudson) reports, “Ascension has detected a cybersecurity incident that is disrupting its clinical operations, and has advised business partners to disconnect from its systems.” On Wednesday, “the nonprofit health system had discovered ‘unusual activity’ on select network systems that it believes is due to a cybersecurity event. An Ascension spokesperson did not respond to questions about the extent of the disruption.”

Editor’s note: Get the AMA’s updates on ongoing cybersecurity concerns and resources to protect patient health records and other data from cyberattacks.

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RevCycle Intelligence (5/7, LaPointe) says, “Hospitals are in a precarious financial position, according to a new report from the American Hospital Association (AHA).” Even though “expenses for labor, prescription drugs and supplies” are rising due to inflation, “government reimbursement through Medicare and Medicaid has not kept pace with hospital costs for patient care nor the rate of inflation, which grew by 12.4% between 2021-2023, more than two times faster than Medicare reimbursement for hospital inpatient care (5.2%), AHA reports.”

Editor’s note: The Medicare payment system is on an unsustainable path, threatening patients' access to physicians. The AMA is working to block payment cuts, advocate for physicians and patients, and build long-term solutions. Learn more.

CNN (5/6, Rogers) reports, “A daily spoonful of olive oil could lower your risk of dying from dementia, according to a new study by Harvard scientists” published in JAMA Network Open. Among “more than 92,000 adults observed over 28 years, consuming at least 7 grams—a bit over half a tablespoon—of olive oil daily was linked with a 28% lower risk of dementia-related death, compared with those who never or rarely ate olive oil, found the study published Monday.”

MedPage Today (5/6, George) says, “The relationship remained significant after adjusting for diet quality, including adherence to a Mediterranean diet, and after accounting for APOE4 gene status, the researchers reported.” Additionally, “replacing 5 g (about 1 teaspoon) of margarine and mayonnaise with the equivalent amount of olive oil daily was associated with an 8-14% lower risk of dementia mortality, they noted. Substitutions for other vegetable oils or butter were not significant.”

The Hill (5/3, Choi) reported, “The Senate Finance Committee introduced bipartisan legislation Friday aimed at preventing and reducing generic drug shortages by leveraging Medicare and Medicaid programs.” The bill “proposes the creation of a ‘Medicare Drug Shortage Prevention and Mitigation Program’ that would encourage improved contracting and purchasing practices in the drug supply chain.” The proposal also “would include requiring Medicare participants to adopt ‘new standards for supply chain resiliency, reliability, and transparency’ for generic drug purchasing in order to receive Medicare payment incentives.”

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