Tuesday, July 29, 2008

We need a national joint registry!

From the New York Times article:

Dr. Dorr, 67, is a veteran of more than 5,000 hip replacement surgeries, a $30,000 to $40,000 procedure lasting more than an hour in which metal tools that would look at home in a garage are clanged and bashed against bone. He has been at it for three decades, long enough to say that history is repeating itself because this country does not gather evidence of how patients fare.

Eight years ago, he alerted another implant producer, Sulzer Orthopedics, that patients with one of its hip implants were having such pain they needed replacement surgery almost immediately. Sulzer withdrew the device six months later, but about 3,000 patients got replacements for the implant, which had become contaminated by oil during manufacturing. Sulzer, deluged by lawsuits, filed for bankruptcy protection.

But because of their registry, Swedish doctors were alerted after just 30 patients got the Sulzer hip that it had an alarmingly high replacement rate, Dr. Malchau said.

Click here to access.

Domestic fatal medication errors

From the New York Times article:

The authors blame soaring home use of prescription painkillers and other potent drugs, which 25 years ago were given mainly inside hospitals.

''The amount of medical supervision is going down and the amount of responsibility put on the patient's shoulders is going up,'' said lead author David P. Phillips of the University of California, San Diego.

The findings, based on nearly 50 million U.S. death certificates, are published in Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine. Of those, more than 224,000 involved fatal medication errors, including overdoses and mixing prescription drugs with alcohol or street drugs.

Deaths from medication mistakes at home increased from 1,132 deaths in 1983 to 12,426 in 2004. Adjusted for population growth, that amounts to an increase of more than 700 percent during that time.

Click here to access.

Lack of trust and patient compliance

From the New York Times article:
About one in four patients feel that their physicians sometimes expose them to unnecessary risk, according to data from a Johns Hopkins study published this year in the journal Medicine. And two recent studies show that whether patients trust a doctor strongly influences whether they take their medication.
Click here to access.

Monday, July 28, 2008

What price vanity?

From the New York Times article:
Dr. Donald Richey, a dermatologist in Chico, Calif., has two office telephone numbers: calls to the number for patients seeking an appointment for skin conditions like acne and psoriasis often go straight to voice mail, but a full-time staff member fields calls on the dedicated line for cosmetic patients seeking beauty treatments like Botox.
Click here to read the NYT article. It might not be fair and balanced, but it's interesting!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

California the first state to ban trans fat in restaurants

From the New York Times article:

Under the new law, trans fats, long linked to health problems, must be excised from restaurant products beginning in 2010, and from all retail baked goods by 2011. Packaged foods will be exempt.

New York City adopted a similar ban in 2006 — it became fully effective on July 1 — and Philadelphia, Stamford, Conn., and Montgomery County, Md., have done so as well.

Click here to access the NYT article.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

ICU-based pharmacists reduce medication errors

Check out this just published info in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy article by clicking here. (sub req.)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Study on health care value in the U.S.

From the New York Times article "While the U.S. Spends Heavily on Health Care, a Study Faults the Quality":

American medical care may be the most expensive in the world, but that does not mean it is worth every penny. A study to be released Thursday highlights the stark contrast between what the United States spends on its health system and the quality of care it delivers, especially when compared with many other industrialized nations.

The report, the second national scorecard from this influential health policy research group, shows that the United States spends more than twice as much on each person for health care as most other industrialized countries. But it has fallen to last place among those countries in preventing deaths through use of timely and effective medical care, according to the report by the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit research group in New York.

Click here to access.

National Pharma Audioconference: Analyzing the Newly Revised PhRMA Code

Click here to access. (Disclosure: I have no financial relationships with the sponsors of this audioconference).

ACCME Receives Clarification from CMS Regarding Stark II Regulations

Click here to access.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Massachusetts goes voluntary

From the Boston Globe article:
A hotly-debated ban on drug companies providing gifts and meals to physicians was stripped out of proposed legislation a House committee approved late yesterday.

The panel also removed requirements that drug and medical device companies report payments they make to doctors for consulting and speaking to other physicians and that the Department of Public Health post that information on its website. A proposed $5,000 fine per violation was also dropped from the bill, which is expected to be voted on by the full House today.
Instead, the measure would simply require drug companies to adopt a marketing code of conduct, such as the one the pharmaceutical industry's trade association announced last week while negotiations on the Massachusetts bill were in progress.
Click here to access the article.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Gary Gist wins American Cowboy Culture Award

From the www.myhorse.com article on my cousin:
Gary Gist, founder and president of Gist Silversmiths, named 2008 recipient of the American Cowboy Culture Award for achievement in Western Wear and Equipment. The award will be presented during the National Cowboy Symposium and Celebration in Lubbock, TX on September 4-7.

The American Cowboy Culture Awards program began in 1989 and was designed to honor individuals or institutions who have contributed significantly to Western heritage and cowboy culture. Today, it is the largest and most comprehensive awards program of its kind in the nation.

Click here to access.

Senator Grassley sends letter to medical society!

From the New York Times article:
After a series of stinging investigations of individual doctors’ arrangements with drug makers, Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, is demanding that the American Psychiatric Association, the field’s premier professional organization, give an accounting of its financing.
“I have come to understand that money from the pharmaceutical industry can shape the practices of nonprofit organizations that purport to be independent in their viewpoints and actions,” Mr. Grassley said Thursday in a letter to the association.
Click here to access the article.

Friday, July 11, 2008

AMA to apologize for past racism

From the Washington Post article:
The country's largest medical association is set to issue a formal apology today for its historical antipathy toward African American doctors, expressing regret for a litany of transgressions, including barring black physicians from its ranks for decades and remaining silent during battles on landmark legislation to end racial discrimination.
Specifically, the panel noted that the AMA permitted state and local medical associations to exclude black physicians, effectively barring these doctors from the national organization. In the early 20th century, the organization listed black doctors as "colored" in its national physician directory. In addition, the AMA was silent during debates over the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, and, for years, declined to join efforts to force hospitals built with federal funds to not discriminate.
Click here to access.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

No more pens and mugs from pharma?

From the New York Times article:
The pens, pads, mugs and other gifts that drug makers have long showered on doctors will be banned from pharmaceutical marketing campaigns under a voluntary guideline that the industry is expected to announce Thursday.

The industry’s Code on Interactions with Health Care Professionals will ask the chief executives of large drug makers to certify in writing that “they have policies and procedures in place to foster compliance with the code.” The code was written by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the industry’s trade association.

Wow, this really gets at the real issues (NOT!). Click here to read the article.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A grave problem

From the New York Times article:
“From 2000 to 2007, Medicare paid 478,500 claims containing identification numbers that were assigned to deceased physicians,” the subcommittee said in a new report. “The total amount paid for these claims is estimated to be between $60 million and $92 million. These claims contained identification numbers for an estimated 16,548 to 18,240 deceased physicians.”
Click here to access the NYT article.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Junk food at U.S. public schools

From the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation news release:
The foods and food policies in U.S. public schools become significantly less healthy as students progress from elementary to high school, according to new research published today in Pediatrics. More than 96 percent of high schools have vending machines, and 91 percent of them sell some unhealthy options, while only 17 percent of elementary schools have vending machines on campus. In addition, 93 percent of high schools and 92 percent of middle schools sell foods and beverages a la carte, and nearly 80 percent of these schools offer unhealthy options in their a la carte sales.
Click here to read the entire news release. Click here to access the journal abstract.

Pre-Publication Preview of Joint Commission 2009 Standards

Click here to access.

Wrong side surgery incident

From the Boston Globe article:

An experienced surgeon at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center operated on the wrong side of a patient this week, a serious medical mistake disclosed in an e-mail that hospital administrators sent to staff members yesterday.

State authorities are investigating the errant surgery, which happened Monday during an elective procedure. A hospital administrator declined to provide specifics about the operation but said it did not involve removal of organs and did not cause permanent damage to the middle-aged patient, who was expected to suffer short-term discomfort. A state health regulator described the operation as an orthopedic procedure.

Click here to access.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

New York Times "The Evidence Gap: A Series"

Encourage y'all to read the first two articles in this NYT series of articles. Click here to access.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Check out this Medical Meetings article

"Pfizer Cuts Off Funding for Medical Education Companies"; click here to read it!

A new trend in pharma support of CME?

From the CNNMoney.com article:
Pfizer Inc. (PFE), hoping to temper criticism that it's improperly influencing doctors, is eliminating direct financial support for medical-education courses that are offered by third-party companies.

The New York drug giant will continue to fund so-called continuing medical education, or CME, courses at academic institutions, teaching hospitals and those supported by medical societies. But it will no longer directly support CME courses offered by for-profit medical-education and communication companies.

Pfizer may continue indirect support for commercial CME companies as well. That's because the academic centers and medical associations that it supports may contract with CME companies, Clary said. "The distinction we're making is we're not directly paying them," she said.

Good news for academia and medical societies. What about the non-academic hospital systems? Click here to read the article. Hat tip to Pharmalot.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

New rapid diagnostic test for MDR-TB

From the WHO news release:
People in low-resource countries who are ill with multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) will get a faster diagnosis -- in two days, not the standard two to three months -- and appropriate treatment thanks to two new initiatives unveiled today by WHO, the Stop TB Partnership, UNITAID and the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND).
Click here to read more.