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December 2012 Archives

Losing Sight

From the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I’m Ira Dreyfuss with HHS HealthBeat.

80,000 Surgical 'Never Events' Charted Over 20 Years

  A wide-ranging study of the nation's hospitals has found that, while surgical  "never events" are rare, they still pose a threat to patient safety and a  considerable financial burden to hospitals. Foreign objects such as towels and sponges are left inside patients' bodies  about 39 times a week, wrong procedures are performed on patients 20 times a  week, and wrong body site operations are performed about 20 times a week, estimates  a study from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In all, the study counted 80,000  "never event" episodes that resulted in hospital  payouts of about $1.3 billion between 1990 and 2010.

Immediate Jeopardy Fines for 12 California Hospitals

A 29-year-old patient who entered a Kaiser Foundation hospital in Oakland to  have a facial birthmark removed died of an arterial embolism because her doctor  didn't read the operating instructions for the laser device he tried to use.

Statement from State Rep. Lisa Brown on the meningitis outbreak and Michigan's drug immunity laws

"The outbreak of meningitis connected to a prescription steroid medication highlights Michigan's lack of consumer protection when it comes to pharmaceuticals. I introduced House Bill 4440, legislation that holds drug companies liable when they sell dangerous or defective medications that harm or kill patients, but House leaders haven't allowed the bill to move out of committee. How many more Michigan residents must be harmed by dangerous medications before they are able to hold drug companies accountable, as patients can in every other state?"

Patients transferred to the intensive care unit within 24 hours of admission to a hospital room have high risk of dying

Most critically ill medical patients who arrive at the emergency department (ED) are directly admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU).  However, some of these patients are admitted to a medical floor, only to be transferred to the ICU later on.  These unplanned ICU transfers have a high in-hospital case-fatality rate, exceeding 55 percent. A new study found that even when the transfer was made within the first 24 hours of admission, there was a high risk of mortality.

Pacemakers for the brain

An engineer of MEDTECH company checks the 'ROSA' robot aimed at helping surgeons during brain operations on October 19, 2012. Researchers in Baltimore have just begun experimenting with a kind of pacemaker for the brain.

Cancer Prevention

Here's something to consider for your list of New Year's resolutions:  Promise yourself you'll get your recommended cancer screenings in 2013. A large study including nearly 175-thousand Americans suggests we're not doing all that we can to protect ourselves.  Researchers at the University of Miami compared recommended screening rates set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to data from the National Health Interview Survey collected between 1997 and 2010.  They specifically looked at adherence rates for breast, cervical, prostate and colorectal cancer. Despite prostate specific antigen testing not being endorsed as a general screening test by the United States Preventive Services Task Force, the researchers included it in the analysis. The results: the general public did not meet government recommendations for any cancer types except colorectal cancer where screening jumped by more than 16%.
Mammography rates were flat while Pap smear and prostate cancer screening levels both fell by nearly 4 percent. Cancer survivors were the only group that remained diligent with their preventive tests. Cancer remains one of the leading killers in the U.S. last year claiming the lives of more than 570-thousand people.

Mississippi doctor sentenced to 20 years, ordered to repay nearly $8.2M in chemotherapy fraud case

This Aug. 12, 2011 file photograph taken in Canton, Miss., and released by the Madison County Sheriff's Department shows Dr. Meera Sachdeva, Sachdeva a doctor has been sentenced to 20 years in prison and ordered to repay nearly $8.2 million for fraud at a Mississippi cancer center

One-third of patients with hospital-acquired infections are readmitted within 1 year

Hospital readmissions can be costly. In one year alone, 20 percent of Medicare patients readmitted within 30 days of hospital discharge cost an estimated $17.4 billion. Patients infected with one of three strains of bacteria are more likely to be readmitted to the hospital after discharge, according to a new study.  Researchers looked back over an 8-year period to identify patients admitted to the hospital, who had a positive bacterial culture result 48 hours or longer after their arrival at the hospital. The focus was on three common hospital-acquired infections: methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant enterococci, and Clostridium difficile. The researchers analyzed the time to hospital readmission after discharge for all adults admitted to the hospital.

Surgery vs. Rehab: Heel Injuries and Disorders

You've probably seen it, professional athletes hobbling around in pain after tearing their Achilles tendon. It happens in amateurs and non-athletes, too.

CDC: The Facts About Binge Drinking

New estimates show that binge drinking* is a bigger problem than previously thought. More than 38 million US adults binge drink, about 4 times a month, and the largest number of drinks per binge is on average 8. This behavior greatly increases the chances of getting hurt or hurting others due to car crashes, violence, and suicide. Drinking too much, including binge drinking, causes 80,000 deaths in the US each year and, in 2006 cost the economy $223.5 billion. Binge drinking is a problem in all states, even in states with fewer binge drinkers, because they are binging more often and in larger amounts.

Robotic Arm Fueled by Brain Power

 Jan Scheuermann, who has quadriplegia, brings a chocolate bar to her mouth using a robot arm she is guiding with her thoughts. Researcher Elke Brown, MD, watches in the background. Photo credit: "UPMC"

A woman paralyzed from the neck down for 13 years was able to move a prosthetic arm and hand just by thinking after only about 2 days of training, researchers reported.

Five Tips for Choosing Safe Toys this Holiday

'You'll shoot your eye out'

Some propelling toys, like airsoft guns, BB guns, paintball guns and darts can be particularly hazardous, with the potential to cause serious eye injuries such as corneal abrasion, ocular hyphema, traumatic cataract, increased intraocular pressure, and even permanent vision loss. The good news that most eye injuries can be easily prevented by following EyeSmart's toy safety tips.

Stephen Goethel: MAJ Pacesetter

Stephan Goethel: MAJ Pacesetter

Two people influenced Ann Arbor attorney Stephen Goethel's decision to become an attorney.  "A fictional motivator was Atticus Finch for his role in To Kill a Mockingbird which I read in a High School Lit class.  The non-fictional person was my Dad.  He had a tremendous work ethic and wanted me to follow in his footsteps in the business world.  He knew how much I wanted to go into law. In the end, he stepped aside and encouraged me to pursue my dreams," said Goethel.

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