7 March 2017

CDC Opioid Guideline App: A Valuable Prescribing Tool

Last March, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published the “CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain.” The document provides recommendations for appropriate prescribing of opioid pain relievers and other treatment options in order to improve pain management and patient safety. Recently, the agency launched the CDC Opioid Prescribing Guideline Mobile App to educate providers and inform clinical decision-making when prescribing opioids outside of active cancer treatment, palliative care and end-of-life care. This free mobile app puts the opioid prescribing guideline and other helpful content, tools and resources into prescribers’ palms at the point of...

2 March 2017

ID Genomics IDs UTIs and Best Antibiotics in 25-45 Minutes

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are one of the most common hospital-acquired infections in the U.S. UTIs can be quite painful, and since it usually it takes a lab about two to three days to identify the specific bacteria causing a patient’s infection, most doctors don’t want to wait that long to treat it. Instead, they make an educated guess as to which antibiotic to administer. Given that approximately 80 percent of UTIs are caused by E. coli bacteria, there’s a good chance the physician will choose an appropriate antibiotic. But that means that 20 percent of those patients may receive an ineffective or non-optimal antibiotic. And even if E. coli is the culprit, an increasing number of E....

28 February 2017

The Stealthy Spread of Superbug CRE in U.S. Hospitals

An alarming new study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard suggests that carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE)—a new class of superbug referred to as “nightmare bacteria” by former CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden—may be spreading more widely and more stealthily than was previously thought. The researchers found that CREs are growing in numbers and strength, are far more diverse than expected, and have many more mechanisms for not only resisting antibiotics but also spreading that resistance to other bacteria than have been identified to date. The study’s findings were published in January in the Proceedings of the National Academy of...

23 February 2017

What Happens When Doctors “Just Listen” to Their Patients

“Just listen to your patient; he is telling you the diagnosis.”

This medical maxim is attributed to Sir William Osler (1849–1919), widely considered to be one of the greatest physicians and diagnosticians of all time. Although Osler’s advice might seem impractical in today’s healthcare environment in which clinicians face increasing pressure to deliver care faster and more efficiently, a recent experiment by a New York City physician suggests that letting patients speak about their health problems without interruption can be both practical and beneficial for both parties. 

Studies have shown that doctors interrupt or redirect patients within the first 30 seconds after they begin...

21 February 2017

Research Recommends Continued Breast Cancer Screening Mammography for Older Women

New research about the appropriate age limit for breast cancer mammography screenings, presented at the Radiological Society of North America’s annual meeting late last year, challenges current conventional recommendations. While the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that women undergo screenings every two years until age 74, researchers from the University of California at San Francisco assert this age limit may be arbitrary after finding that the precision of breast cancer mammography screening, and thus the rate of cancer detection, increases significantly as women age.

Pulling from the American College of Radiology National Mammography Database, the research team examined 5.7 million...

16 February 2017

No Link Between Maternal Influenza and Increased Autism Risk for Children

Current research by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects about 1 in 68 children in the United States. While the exact causes for ASD are not yet known, previous and now widely discredited scientific research contributed to the popular belief that vaccinations can cause the disorder. Despite new research that increasingly disproves any potential link, this belief continues to linger. To further investigate a possible connection, a recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics examined the association between maternal influenza vaccination during pregnancy and an increased risk of ASD for children.

For this cohort study, researchers from Kaiser Permanente...

14 February 2017

Virtual Coaching for Patient Engagement

A recent study published in the American Journal of Managed Care found that patients who used “virtual health coach” (VHC) technology while waiting for their physicians in the exam room were encouraged to engage in conversation with their physicians about a healthy lifestyle topic that was not discussed during previous appointments. 

Eighty-nine patients who agreed to test out “new technology” during their exam room downtime were given handheld tablet computers equipped with virtual health coaches driven by artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language understanding (NLU) technologies, similar to Apple’s Siri or Google’s Alexa. The patients interacted with an...

9 February 2017

Are the Best Hospitals Led by Physicians?

Healthcare’s increasing complexity in this country and the growing emphasis on patient-centered care and efficiency in delivering clinical outcomes are forcing clinicians get better at balancing the competing imperatives of cost versus quality and technology versus humanity. Those challenges are preparing them to take on leadership roles—a good thing, say the authors of a recent op-ed published in the Harvard Business Review, who make a strong case that the best hospitals are led by physicians.

Many of the Top-Ranked Hospitals Are Led by Doctors

James K. Stoller, MD, a pulmonary/critical care physician at the Cleveland Clinic and chairman of the Education Institute; Amanda Goodall, PhD, senior...

7 February 2017

Grand Strand Medical Center Adds Neonatology Program

Grand Stand Medical Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina has launched a new neonatology program that has been in the works for about a year. The hospital is working to recruit two permanent, local neonatologists. Until those positions can be filled, neonatologists from other counties in South Carolina are working at the hospital, making Grand Stand Medical Center the only hospital in Horry County to have a neonatologist either in the hospital or on-call at all times.

Dr. Art Shepard, the Sheridan neonatologist who worked on staff at the hospital during the first week of the new program, told local ABC News affiliate WPDE that the hospital delivers about 1,000 babies a year, and that 8-10 percent of all babies need...

2 February 2017

Making it Easy for Patients to Read Their Doctors’ Notes

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) gives patients the right to inspect, review, and receive a copy of their medical records, including doctor’s notes, held by health plans and health care providers. Accessing those records can take time and the process can be a hassle, so most patients don’t bother. Yet patients often have a hard time remembering the details of their medical diagnoses and care instructions after leaving the doctor’s office, especially when there is a complex diagnosis, stressful news, or when the patient has cognitive issues. Electronic health records (EHRs) enable doctors to share their notes with patients the push of a button. Most health systems and...