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Thomas Memorial to offer early cancer screenings

By Candace Nelson

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Thomas Memorial Hospital is starting a new program meant to help diagnose lung cancer or other lung issues more quickly than in the past.

For a flat $99 rate, Thomas Memorial Hospital will provide lung-screenings to chronic smokers -- or others who may have worked in an area where they breathed in asbestos or silica -- without an appointment. The announcement came during a Thomas Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees meeting Thursday morning.

The lung-screening program will consist of a low-dose CT lung scan that will look for nodules or lesions. Patients sometimes come to the hospital coughing up blood or with other signs that disease has progressed significantly, according to those who attended the meeting.

With screenings not being reimbursed by insurance, Thomas Memorial Hospital's pricing aims to encourage more screenings to help extend patients' lives.

Radiologists will look for nodules or lesions in the lungs, and if other issues are found, they will be directed to the appropriate physicians. Members hope the step will help catch any health issues sooner, and if the program is successful, they will continue it depending on response.

Thomas Memorial Hospital welcomes those who do not have a primary care physician and looking for health-related services.

In other news, Thomas Memorial is looking into how to address an alert sent by the Joint Commission on medical device alarm safety in hospitals.

The Joint Commission is an organization that accredits and certifies health care organizations and programs in the United States. It routinely collects information to identify specific types of sentinel events, describes their causes and suggests steps to prevent occurrences in the future.

The Joint commission's Sentinel Event Alert stated that some hospital staff are being bombarded with alarms in today's technological world and are suffering from alarm fatigue. With alarms on IVs, monitors, ventilators, and more, clinicians can become desensitized or immune to the sounds. The alert noted that 85 to 99 percent of alarm signals do not require clinical intervention, but when they do and are not addressed, results can be deadly.

Between January 2009 and June 2012, 98 alarm-related events occurred. Of those reported events, 80 results in death, 13 in permanent loss of function, and five in unexpected additional care or extended stay.

Thomas Memorial is sending the alert through quality and patient safety committees to proactively address potential concerns.

The hospital has also resubmitted an application to Highmark to become a Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement. The distinction helps distinguish the hospital as a preferred place to go for hips and knees.

For more information on Thomas Memorial Hospital, visit Contact writer Candace Nelson at or 304-348-5148. Follow her at


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