August 2, 2014

Researchers Probe Vacuum Therapy for Brain Injury

brain.jpgInjury to the brain can be some of the most devastating trauma a person can suffer. One reason for this is that there remains no complete cure for a brain injury. In addition, successful treatment is heavily dependent on reducing damage after the injury has occurred. The smaller the subsequent damage, the greater the chance of reducing long-term effects. This is why a new study is so exciting. New research found that vacuum treatment used soon after a brain injury can help reduce the severity of the injury and promote recovery of the patient.

Researchers investigated the effects of using controlled vacuum or mechanical tissue resuscitation to heal sections of the brain damaged by injury. The researchers experimented with the therapy on swine that had localized, controlled brain injuries. Different levels of vacuum therapy were used and the resulting effects of the therapy were compared.

The investigators also focused on the effects of the use of mechanical tissue resuscitation after 3 or 5 days. They evaluated the effects of the therapy differed and how it differed when treatment was administered immediately or within three or six hours of the brain injury.

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June 13, 2014

Senior Patients at High Risk of Medical Errors

old%20hands.jpg Far too many senior patients are at risk of suffering injuries as a result of medical errors, including medication errors and errors in treatment. According to a disturbing new study, as many as one in five Medicare patients find themselves suffering medical injuries that are unrelated to their disease or medical condition.

The results of the research were published recently in the journal, Injury Prevention. According to the researchers, some of these errors included giving the wrong type of medications, allergic reactions to certain prescription drugs, or giving treatment that actually complicated existing diseases or medical problems. Overall, these medical injuries were not the result of any underlying disease or medical condition that the patients suffered. The injuries were due to inadequate or incorrect medical care. Moreover, most of these injuries occurred not in the hospital but during outpatient care.

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June 7, 2014

Timing of Surgery, Hospital Admission Could Affect Patient Care

clock%20face%20326.jpgPatients, who are due for surgery or hospital treatment during certain times of the month, or even certain days of the week, have a much higher risk of dying. This phenomenon is called the "July Effect" in which patients are much more likely to be exposed to the risk of medical errors in the month of July as interns enter hospitals. A new study confirms that the risk of fatality after surgery is highest in the afternoons, on weekends, and when patients are admitted to a hospital in the month of February.

The study was presented recently at the European Society of Anesthesiology Meeting in Stockholm in Sweden. The researchers analyzed data involving 219,000 patients, who had surgical procedures between 2006 and 2011. They found in the analysis of the data that patients who had surgery in the afternoon, had a 21% higher likelihood of dying, compared to patients who had surgery during other times of the day.

Patients who had surgery on the weekend had a 22% higher likelihood of death, compared to those who had their surgeries on weekdays. February was also a deadly time to go to a hospital for surgery, or for any kind of treatment. Patients who underwent surgeries in February had a 16% greater likelihood of dying, compared to those who underwent surgery during the other months.

Earlier unrelated studies have indicated a higher risk of fatality for patients admitted into the hospital on weekends. This is because many of the top doctors and specialists may be off on weekends, and many hospitals operate with a skeletal staff on weekends. That means a patient may not receive the immediate care that he requires when he is seriously ill, or suffering from a medical emergency. It also means that the patient may not get the kind of specialized care that he needs.

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May 31, 2014

Teen Safety: Surviving The Deadliest Days of Summer

kids%20car%20keys.jpgThe “100 Deadliest Days of Summer” is not the title of a new blockbuster film playing at a theater near you. This is the term given to the period between the Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays which constitutes the hundred most dangerous days for teenage drivers. These are the days when a teenage motorist’s risk of being involved in an accident rises dramatically, especially when the teen is driving with passengers or driving aimlessly as teenagers often do during the summer months.

So, what can teenage parents do to keep their children safe during a season when teenagers are less likely to stay at home and are at a much higher risk of accidents when they do drive?

According to the AAA, an average of 261 teenagers dies every year during each of the summer months - May, June, July and August - in traffic accidents. That is an increase of 26% when compared with the death toll the rest of the year.

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May 24, 2014

Feds Allow Veterans to Receive Medical Care from Private Hospitals

stethescope%2013.jpgThe Department of Veterans Affairs has found itself embroiled in a nationwide scandal at several of its facilities. Cover-ups aimed at showing that facilities were conforming with VA regulations, while they were, in fact, delaying care for servicemen and women.

Now, the administration has decided that it will slowly allow service members to access medical care at private facilities around the country. The federal administration made the decision to allow more veterans to seek medical treatment or care at private hospitals because this will help take some of the pressure and strain off Veterans Affairs facilities across the country that are struggling to cope with a continuing stream of patients. It is not just veterans returning from the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who have to wait for weeks and even months for an appointment. Even veterans of earlier wars requiring medical treatment have to deal with long wait times. As these veterans get older, their need for medical treatment only becomes greater.

The Veterans Affairs scandal broke recently after whistle blowers alleged that as many as 40 service members died due to delayed medical care at a VA facility in Phoenix. These were servicemen and women who waited for appointments and medical care that never came their way. Simultaneously, staff maintained a secret wait list at the facility that was designed to show that the hospital was conforming to federal guidelines for timely care for veterans. Such falsification of records has now been found to exist not just at the Phoenix facility, but at other VA facilities across the country.

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May 17, 2014

Agency Calls for Mitigation of Blind Spot Hazards for Truck Drivers

sunset%20truck.jpgSome of the most devastating truck accidents occur when the truck driver fails to spot or identify a motorist in one of his blind spots. There are several such blind spots located behind, at the sides, and in front of the truck. When a motorist is in one of these areas, he is not visible to the truck driver. Therefore, the potential for an accident is extremely high. The National Transportation Safety Board recently called on the federal agency for trucking safety to take more steps to mitigate such hazards.

The National Transportation Safety Board is especially concerned about the risks to “vulnerable” road users: those pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicyclists who share our roads. These persons may be even more invisible to a truck driver when they are in the blind spots. In spite of the fact that accidents caused when a truck driver collides with a car, motorcycle or pedestrian in his blind spot number in the thousands every year, the federal administration has focused very little on how mitigating such hazards could prevent accidents and save lives.

The National Transportation Safety Board requests the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to establish new regulations that could help prevent these accidents by boosting blind spot awareness. The Board also wants the federal administration to look more closely at advanced technologies that can be used to mitigate blind spot hazards.

These technologies include the use of advanced mirror system. The Board in its report is not specific about the kind of mirror systems that can be used, but it does indicate that enhanced mirrors like crossover convex mirrors that are required in New York and in many Europe countries, could alert drivers to a motorist in their blind spots. The systems could also include rear view cameras that display to truck drivers motorists or pedestrians in the blind spots behind the tractor-trailer.

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May 10, 2014

Drug Diversion Contributes to Medical Errors

pill%20bottle%2032.jpgIt’s a little known term that has potential to seriously increase the risk of medical errors and compromise patient safety. The term “drug diversion” refers to the stealing of pharmaceutical drugs by healthcare workers, like doctors and nurses. Those drugs are meant for patients and are intended to treat life-threatening disease and severe pain. Substance abuse is a major problem in the American health care sector, and has the potential to be a serious patient safety threat. The problem is magnified because the drugs are so easily available to the abusers.

According to a review of data conducted by USA Today, more than 100,000 medical professionals, including health aides, doctors, nurses and medical technicians, abuse drugs or are addicted to prescription medications. Many of these personnel find that it is often very easy to feed their addiction by stealing the pharmaceuticals because they work in a profession that places them in very close proximity to the drugs.

Drug diversion is widespread in the healthcare industry, although exact statistics about the volume of drugs that are stolen every year are unavailable. However, medical malpractice lawyers are aware of several recent healthcare infections that occurred in clinics and hospitals after technicians and nurses used medical products, like syringes were meant for patients.

According to the USA Today analysis, the incidence of substance abuse and addiction is high in the stressful workplace of the modern American hospital. The healthcare industry is filled with highly stressful jobs and the people who work in a high-pressure environment can make even the smallest of mistakes. These errors can cost someone's life. Not surprisingly, the combination of stress and substance-abuse magnify the risk of medical errors.

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May 3, 2014

Education Helps Protect the Brain

brain%20scan%2032.jpgThose years of pulling all-nighters as you worked toward your college degree could be useful for more than getting a better job – higher education could actually help protect your brain against an injury. According to scientists at Johns Hopkins, a new study clearly finds that people who have had a lot of education are more likely to survive with no measurable disability after a brain injury.

According to the researchers, it is a dramatic difference, and the study clarifies that people with high education levels are seven times more likely compared to high school dropouts, to have no serious disability one year after a brain injury. In other words, the brains of people with higher education levels are able to somehow find their way around the kind of damage that can result after a brain injury.

The study focused on 769 persons who suffered a brain injury and evaluated their condition about one year after the injury. They found that about 39% of the brain injury patients who had earned a college degree, suffered no disability. However, among high school dropouts, the rate of persons with no disability was just 10%. People who had advanced college degrees seemed to fare much better in the amount of protection that their brains had against the long-term effects of a brain injury. These brains recovered much quicker from the injury, and the people were left with no lasting effects at then end of the one-year study period.

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April 26, 2014

Outpatient Clinics and a 5% Misdiagnoses Rate

doctor%20office.jpgExperts estimate that each year, as many as 12-million Americans visit an outpatient clinic and are wrongly diagnosed. The high rates of diagnostic errors in outpatient clinics remains unaddressed while health care experts and industry officials continue to focus on hospital-based diagnostic and other medical errors.

According to a new analysis of data from several published studies, primary clinics, doctors’ offices and other outpatient settings account for a large percentage of all diagnostic errors recorded every year. Statistics suggest that as many as 1 in 20 people who visit an outpatient clinic are misdiagnosed.

Misdiagnoses are serious medical errors because, at the very least they increase the risk of delayed treatment. In the worst scenario, they result in fatalities. A misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor fails to accurately identify a medical condition. When the patient's condition is wrongly diagnosed, the wrong treatment may begin and the original condition may be left to worsen.

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April 19, 2014

Increasing Nurse Participation Can Improve Patient Outcomes

nurse%27s%20week.jpgHospitals that increase participation by nursing staff and establish a more positive environment for nurses are much more likely to see positive patient safety outcomes. Those were the results of a new study that was published recently in The Journal of Nursing Administration.

The results of the study found that making improvements to nurses’ positive contribution and participation in a hospital environment, including care delivery and care giving decisions, can actually improve patient safety outcomes. Overall, there are much better levels of patient care when quality improvement efforts focus on the role of nurses, instead of focusing only on doctors.

The results of the study also confirmed earlier research that has found that hospitals that make investments in nursing improvements achieve better patient outcomes. For example, one study that was conducted earlier this month year found that when magnet hospitals that invest in staffing, education and more positive work environments for nurses, were able to achieve better patient outcomes. Magnet hospitals are known for their high quality of care as well as nursing excellence, and are also believed to be generally more successful at attracting and retaining the highest quality and caliber of nurses. In this new study, researchers compared as many as 56 magnet hospitals with 495 non-magnet hospitals. They clearly found that magnet hospitals were linked to a higher level of patient care and quality.

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April 12, 2014

Higher Mortality Rates for Hospitals Catering to the Poor

hospital%20scissors.jpgEarly research points to an association between a higher risk of mortality after surgery and a lower social economic background. However, a new study confirms that it may not be the lower social economic background of the patient that is to blame for the higher risk of fatality after surgery. Rather, it is the risk that comes from having a surgery conducted in a hospital that caters to poor patients.

The research was conducted by the investigators at the Center for Healthcare Outcomes and Policy at the University Of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The researchers analyzed more than 500,000 cases of patients who underwent several cancer surgeries including gastrectomy, pancreatectomy, colectomy, cystectomy, and other cancer surgeries between 2003 and 2007. All of these procedures were conducted at hospitals that served a patient base made up largely from a lower socioeconomic demographic.

The researchers found that patients from a poor background were much more likely to have a bad event (26.7%), compared to richer patients (23.2%). However, a closer look at the analysis shows that overall, the risks of post-surgical fatality were high for all patients regardless of their economic status, when the surgeries were performed at hospitals that had large number of poor patients.

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April 5, 2014

Indiana Pedestrian Accident Fatalities Increase

crosswalk%2034.jpgThere is a nationwide trend of lower pedestrian accident fatalities in the first half of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012. Unfortunately, Indiana's numbers are going the wrong direction, showing an increase in fatalities over the same period. According to statistics released by the Governors Highway Safety Association, Indiana was one among several states that actually posted increases in pedestrian fatalities in the first six months of 2013.

According to the data, there were 27 pedestrian accident fatalities in the state of Indiana for the first six months of 2012. That number increased to 35 pedestrian deaths in the first six months of the following year. The fact that there has been a significant increase in pedestrian fatalities in Indiana is disturbing, especially in light of the fact that many states with large populations like Florida and California, which also face several pedestrian safety challenges have actually managed to post significant declines in pedestrian fatalities.

In California, there was a drop of 37 pedestrian accident fatalities in the first half of 2013, compared to the previous year. The Golden State has a traffic safety culture that strongly focuses on the rights of motorists, with little attention paid to pedestrians and bicyclists. In spite of that culture, there has been a significant decline in accident fatalities in that state. Florida faces significant pedestrian safety challenges of their own with large numbers of retirees. Yet, the state posted a decline of 55 fatalities in 2013, compared to the previous year. In contrast, the lack of progress made in pedestrian safety in Indiana is disappointing, to say the least.

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