March 15, 2014

Many Patients Receive Ineffective Treatment for Bloodstream Infections

hand%20sanitizer.jpgBloodstream infections, or central line-associated bloodstream infections, contribute to thousands of patient fatalities every year. According to a new study, many patients, especially those who are treated in community hospitals, may not be able to access effective and appropriate treatment for bloodstream infections.

The results of the study, which were published recently in the journal Plos One, found that patients who were treated at community care hospitals were less likely to receive the kind of antibiotic therapy that they needed for these infections. However, overall, the researchers found ineffective treatment not just in community care centers, but also in highly specialized hospitals, or tertiary care centers. The researchers conclude from their findings that there needs to be more improvement in the kind of treatment that a patient is given immediately after being diagnosed with a bloodstream infection at a community care center or a tertiary care center.

Part of the challenge in treating central line-associated bloodstream infections is the fact that many of these infections are now caused by superbugs, or antibiotic-resistant bacteria. An increase in the number and types of such superbugs means that many antibiotics don't work to treat the infections, and therefore, you have treatment that is ineffective.

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March 8, 2014

The Problem with Surgical Checklists

scalple.jpgSurgical checklists, like the one developed by the World Health Organization, are highly recommended to help reduce the risk of surgical errors and complications. However according to a new study, surgical checklists are often not used properly, or not used at all. Noncompliance is a huge problem in the healthcare industry and as a result, patients are frequently exposed to the risk of serious or fatal errors.

According to a study that was conducted by researchers from the Columbia University School of Nursing, many hospitals don't even have a surgical checklist to prevent infections, while those that do implement checklists are unable to make sure that these are being followed completely. As many as one in 10 hospital Intensive Care Units did not implement the checklist for the prevention of central line-associated blood stream infections. These are potentially fatal infections that result from the contamination of the central lines that are used to deliver nutrition and drugs to a patient in an ICU. One in four hospitals did not even have a checklist for preventing ventilator-associated pneumonia, which is one of the most common fatal hospital-acquired infections. Even when the hospital did have a checklist, the checklists were only followed approximately 50% of the time.

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February 27, 2014

Death Toll Still High Despite Widespread Child Safety Restraint Use

kiddy%20shoes.jpgGreater parent awareness and stringent enforcement have led to an increase in the rates of child safety restraint usage; not just in Indiana, but across the country. However, despite the fact that more children are now being restrained safely in child car seats, booster seats, and seat belts, there are still far too many children being killed in accidents every year.

Auto accidents are the number one cause of unintentional deaths in children below the age of 15. Over the past five years or so, the number of car accident deaths of children has been dipping, thanks to increased car seat and seat belt usage. According to new data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of accident-related fatalities involving children below the age of 12 dipped by 43% during the 2002-2011 period.

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February 20, 2014

New Trucking Safety Regulations Help Reduce Driver Fatigue

tired%20time.jpgChanges to trucking safety regulations now require a commercial truck driver to have two rest periods every time he starts a new work cycle. These changes have helped reduce the effect of fatigue among truck drivers. Those are the findings of a new study commissioned by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration specifically aimed at establishing the effectiveness of the new regulations.

The change was made last July and required truck drivers to get at least two rest periods at night. These rest periods must occur between the hours of 1 AM and 5 AM. Lawmakers asked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to conduct a study investigating the effectiveness of the changes. The study was conducted by Washington State University Sleep and Performance Research Center and confirms that truck drivers who took advantage of two nighttime rest periods were less susceptible to the risk of drowsy driving truck accidents.

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February 13, 2014

Texting Affects Pedestrians’ Gait, Ability to Walk Straight

stoop.jpgThere is an increasing amount of evidence that texting while walking can be just as hazardous as texting while behind the wheel. Unfortunately, the dangers of these practices are very often brushed aside, and many pedestrians seem fine with reading and sending text messages while they walk, even if they wouldn't do this while they drive. A new study finds that texting while walking significantly increases accident and injury risks, because it impacts the way the person walks.

The new research was conducted by Australian researchers, and the findings were published in the Journal PLOS One. In the study, the researchers analyzed the walking gait of 26 young men. These men were made to walk approximately 27 feet more than once. The first time they walked and read text messages, the second time while writing text messages, and the third time without any distractions.

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February 6, 2014

Most Accident Victims Don't Plan to Sue In Spite of Pain

muscle%20pain%206.jpgMany crash victims don't plan to sue for compensation for their injuries, in spite of the fact that they continue to suffer from persistent and chronic pain in several areas of the body for up to six weeks after the accident. Those are the results of a new study that should help change the popular misconception promoted by the tort reform lobby that accident victims simply cannot wait to get out of the hospital and into the office of an attorney.

The study is believed to be the first that specifically looks at the incidence of musculoskeletal pain after an accident. Approximately 950 people who had been involved in accidents and treated in hospital emergency rooms for their injuries, were included in the analysis. The study found that approximately six weeks after being involved in the accident, more than 70% of the patients reported feeling persistent and consistent pain in at least one area of the body. Another one-third reported pain in five or more areas of the body.

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January 31, 2014

Low-Level Lack of Oxygen at Birth Also Increases Risk of Brain Injury

oxygen%2013.jpgLack of oxygen supply at birth, or oxygen deprivation during or around the time of birth, increases the risk that the baby will suffer from hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, or birth asphyxia. This is a condition in which the baby suffers from oxygen deprivation around the time of birth, leading to a number of long-term health effects, not least among which is brain damage. According to new studies, this oxygen deprivation at birth does not have to be at high levels to result in long-term neurological effects.

The research was conducted by scientists at University College Cork, and analyzed the brainwaves of 60 babies who were diagnosed with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy at birth. The analysis indicated that even in those cases where the birth asphyxia was at mild levels, the baby did suffer from long-term mental and other health problems. Specifically, there were developmental delays, concentration problems, learning difficulties and other problems as the child progressed in age.

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January 24, 2014

Alarms, Robotic Surgeries Feature in 2014 Top Medical Hazards

iv%20bag.jpgSome of the biggest medical hazards in 2014 involve alarm fatigue, robotic surgery complications, and medication errors from infusion pumps. According to the Emergency Care Research Institute, which has just released its list of the top 10 medical tech hazards for 2014, the biggest hazard we need to look out for this year is alarm fatigue.

The list includes a number of serious medical technology hazards that hospitals need to look out for the coming year. Some hazards featured on the list with alarming regularity every year, while other problems are fairly new; although the Institute believes that these problems have the potential to become serious hazards in the coming year. The good news is that all of these risks are entirely preventable.

Topping the list in 2014 is an alarm fatigue. This problem has already received a fair amount of attention in this blog. Alarm fatigue is a serious risk to patient care and refers to the kind of distractions that plague nurses who are exposed to dozens of medical alarms drinking continuously throughout their working day. At some point in time, nurses become desensitize to the frequent nature of these alarms and choose to simply ignore them, or worse, may unintentionally miss out on important alarms. This is a serious patient safety risk, and the only feasible solution is to reduce the number of medical alarms by eliminating those that may not be completely necessary.

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January 17, 2014

Motorists Aware of Speeding Risks, but Often Break Speed Limits

speedometer02.jpgMost motorists are aware of the immense dangers that are involved in driving at excessive speeds, but few of them are actually responsible and diligent about always following posted speed limits. Those are the findings of a new study recently released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

According to the study, approximately 91% of motorists agree with the statement that all motorists are required to obey speed limits, because it is the law. Further, and more encouragingly, approximately half of the drivers in the survey also believed that it was very important to help reduce speeding on roads. As many as four out of five persons admitted that driving at safe speeds helped avoid accidents.

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January 10, 2014

Characteristics of Drunk Driving Accident Fatalities

beer.jpgA recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety focused on the fact that alcohol-related crash fatalities have remained more or less the same over the past few years, even as the overall incidence of DUI has dropped. The Insurance Institute found a clear paradox in this, and wanted to understand the reasons for this finding.

The analysis involved a comparison of national roadside breath test surveys conducted in 48 states in 1986, 1986 and 2007. The researchers then analyzed this data, and compared it with fatal crash data from the federal administration. The analysis found that while the percentage of alcohol-impaired drivers dropped with every roadside survey, the proportion of fatalities involving blood alcohol concentration above .08% remained fairly stable at about one-third since 1994, after falling by 50% in 1982.

What seemed especially perplexing to the researchers was the fact that there was no difference in drunk driving accident fatalities over this period of time, even though there was a clear drop in the numbers of people driving under the influence of alcohol. The researchers then turned their attention to the characteristics of the persons involved in these fatal car crashes to understand the reasons for this inconsistency. They found that there were certain characteristics common among alcohol-impaired car crash fatalities.

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January 3, 2014

Lack of Data on Robotic Surgeries Is Dangerous

surgery.jpgLast year alone, doctors across the country performed more than 350,000 surgical procedures using the Da Vinci robotic surgery system. In spite of the prolific use of robotic systems, the federal administration still lags behind in collecting accurate information about the use of these devices and surgical errors resulting from such use.

According to a report recently published in Bloomberg, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is failing miserably in calculating accurate data about the use of robotic surgery systems in the United States. The FDA maintains a database of all injury reports, caused by the surgical system but the Agency has no legal authority to force hospitals or doctors to report any errors that occur with the use of the surgery systems or any injuries that result. Hospitals are required to report the number of errors that occur when using the systems, but they very often fail to comply with those rules. As a result, whatever data is contained in the FDA database is woefully inadequate.

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December 24, 2013

Drunk Driving is Common Problem During Christmas, New Year's Holidays

holiday%20alcohol.jpgThe holidays are dangerous for motorists, especially with an increased number of intoxicated drivers on the roads. A new infographic indicates that the Christmas and New Year holidays see a high numbers of traffic accident fatalities related to drunk driving.

The study focused on traffic accident fatalities during each holiday period which includes the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year's holidays. The information was based on traffic accident fatalities that occurred between the 2007 and 2011 holiday periods. Each holiday period was between 3 and 4 days in duration, as defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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