Saturday, December 21, 2013

Patient Safety in the News December 2013

Medical Care In The News

The BBC published yet another article discussing the fact that medical standards of care suffer on the weekends. New plans to improve care for patients over the weekend were enacted by the government, after a study demonstrated that people inn England were 16% more likely to die if they were admitted to a hospital on a Sunday, rather than during the week. Apparently, poorer outcomes on the weekend were related to the fact that historically, medical care at England hospitals was being provided by junior doctors in training. This problem is not exclusive to England, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2008 concluded that survival rates for people suffering heart attacks were lower for people admitted to the hospital in America on nights and weekends. This article from Forbes discussed how Kaiser Permanente has successfully dealt with this problem by scheduling diagnostic testing for some patients on the weekends so that weekend emergency patients can benefit from having qualified staff members in the hospital if the need arises.
Here is an article from the New York Times discussing a study from the Annals of Surgery which concluded that patient safety measures implemented in the last six years restricting the amount of hours residents can work have negatively impacted the skills of new surgeons.

Here is an article in the New York Times that discusses and provides links to websites that evaluate the safety records of hospitals.

Here is an article in the New York Times that discusses the disparity in breast cancer survival rates between white and black women in the United States. The article points out that black women have not benefitted as well from early detection and treatment initiatives because many lack insurance and often only report to physicians when their cancer is at a later stage.

Drug Safety in the News.

Here is an article from NPR on the subject of how drug companies influence the way physicians practice medicine. It raises questions about the fact that the new guidelines issued by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology will lead to doubling the number of patients taking cholesterol lowering drugs and that many of the experts who worked on the guidelines have ties to the pharmaceutical industry.  This article from BMJ addresses the same topic, pointing out the New Guidelines are controversial.

Here is an article in the New York Times exposing how the pharmaceutical industry’s marketing of ADD drugs has led to almost 3 million more children actively taking medication for this disorder over the last 13 years.  The article describes how the rise in ADD diagnoses coincided with a two decade campaign by pharmaceutical companies to promote the use of their drugs, which included marketing efforts directed not just at adults, but also children.

Here is an article from NPR that points out that the number of children taking antipsychotic drugs has tripled over the last 15 because doctors are prescribing these medications for reasons that are not approved by the FDA. This is going on despite the fact that there is “minimal evidence that the drugs help kids for approved uses, much less unapproved ones…” Once again, overuse of drugs in these cases has been ascribed in part to “overly aggressive drug marketing.

Here is an article published in Vanity Fair that discusses the NuvaRing, a contraceptive manufactured by Merck which carries with it an increased risk of blood clots and has resulted in roughly 3,500 lawsuits to date, but is still on the market.

Here is an article in the New York Times discussing a study in BMJ that determined that exercise worked as good as medication at decreasing the risk posed by heart disease, heart failure, stroke and diabetes.

Here is an article from NPR that points to recent studies that demonstrate that taking multivitamins does not promote health.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Questions and Answers for October 2013

Here are answers to the questions that were submitted to me online for the month of October 2013.