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Health Highlights: Crowdsourcing birth costs, naming babies to prevent mistakes

Will Murphy via Flickr Creative Commons

Babies are crawling throughout the news this week! Check out several stories about infant health in this week’s installment of Health Highlights.

#PriceCheck: How much does childbirth cost in SoCal?

As part of our #PriceCheck project, we’re crowdsourcing the cost of giving birth in Southern California.

Here's how it works: If you or someone you know recently gave birth, we hope you’ll grab your Explanation of Benefits and go here to share three pieces of information with us. We're looking for what the facility charged for the care, what insurance paid and what you paid.

If something shocked you about your bill, you can also e-mail me directly at Impatient@scpr.org.

Waiting to pick your baby's name raises the risk for medical mistakes

Parents may have little control over the bill for childbirth, but they do have control over at least one thing that can affect a child's health: The name.

Sometimes parents give their newborns nondescript names – like Baby Plevin - while they're coming up with real names at the hospital. But a paper published this week in the journal Pediatrics suggests that may not be a good idea. The authors argue this practice increases the risk of doctors mistakenly treating the wrong patient, writes Katherine Hobson for NPR.

The researchers came up with a new naming convention that incorporates the mom's first name. (My hypothetical baby, then, would be named "Rebeccasgirl Plevin.") They then compared the old and new naming approaches and found a 36 percent decline in the number of times health workers corrected orders for medical care. 

One of the study authors told Hobson the result isn’t definitive proof that this new system beats the old one, but it might be enough for some hospitals to consider switching.

LA County health officials responding to rise in congenital syphilis

This week, state health officials reported that Los Angeles County is one of the areas in the state experiencing a rise in the number of pregnant women passing syphilis on to their babies in utero, known as congenital syphilis.  In response, county officials say they' re stepping up their educational outreach to health care workers and patients, KPCC Health Care Correspondent Stephanie O’Neill reports.

County officials say they're launching a campaign next month that will highlight the importance of early and regular prenatal care and how it can stave off congenital syphilis.  They'll also educate providers who treat reproductive-age and pregnant women about the risk of syphilis.

New MLK hospital provides a guide for every patient

The new Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in South Los Angeles is taking an innovative approach to patient care: It's assigning a care manager to help every patient.

KPCC  Senior Health Care Reporter Elizabeth Aguilera reports  the goal is to follow each patient through the entire course of his treatment, regardless of whether he's admitted to the hospital. This advocate will stay involved for as much time as needed afterward to make sure the patient follows treatment plans, gets his medications and makes it to follow-up appointments.

What consumer health stories are you reading this week? Let me know in the comments section below or ping me on Twitter.