What We're Reading: Challenges for New FDA Commissioner; Changes in Hospital Ratings; Mental Health Disorders in Soldiers

January 30, 2020

The newly sworn in FDA commissioner faces tobacco regulation challenges; CMS announces changes in hospital quality ratings; soldiers with traumatic brain injuries are more likely to develop mental health disorders.

New FDA Commissioner Faces Challenges With e-Cigarette, Tobacco Use

CMS Updates Hospital Compare Star Ratings

Study Finds High Rates of Mental Health Disorders in Soldiers With Traumatic Brain Injuries

The American Lung Association found that the FDA failed to meet sufficient standards to pass the annual State of Tobacco Control Report. This is the administration’s fourth consecutive failing grade when it comes to regulating tobacco products, CNN reports. A major contributing factor to the failing grade was the Trump administration’s exclusion of menthol and tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes from its recently finalized policy to limit e-cigarettes in the marketplace, a marked shift from September's announcement of a ban on all e-cigarette flavors. The rise in teen tobacco use in 2019, estimated to be more than 6 million middle and high school students, also contributed to the poor rating. FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, MD, was sworn in on December 17, 2019.CMS recently revamped its hospital quality star rating on Hospital Compare, according to an article in Modern Healthcare. The agency’s plan to release methodology changes via a public rulemaking this spring has been met with opposition by hospitals. They feel CMS should remove ratings form Hospital Compare until changes are implemented. CMS Administrator Seema Verma responded to the criticism, saying, “The American people deserve up-to-date information on how hospitals are performing.” Methodology changes will be included in the proposed rule for fiscal year 2021, the Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment System.Recently published research in the journal Military Medicine found American soldiers who suffered moderate or severe traumatic brain injuries are more likely to experience a variety of mental health disorders, The Boston Globe reports. The study compared mental health disorders in these patients to those who suffered other serious injuries. The cases of 4980 service members who were injured in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2002 and 2011 were included in the study. Almost a third of this group suffered moderate or severe traumatic brain injuries. The report also found that combat soldiers with more severe traumatic brain injuries had a higher risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder.