Sunday, September 28, 2008

A gap in empathy?

From the New York Times article "Taking Time for Empathy":
Listening to transcripts and recordings of 20 conversations between men with lung cancer and their doctors, Dr. Diane Morse of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and her colleagues identified 384 “empathic opportunities” in the discussions — moments when a doctor might respond with a few words to address patient concerns ranging from fear of illness and death, to mistrust about care and the health care system, to confusion about treatment.

They found that the physicians missed 90 percent of opportunities to respond empathetically to their patients.
Click here to access.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Eli Lilly and Merck to disclose payments to physicians

From the New York Times article:
Amid a national debate over the influence of industry money on medical research and practice, two pharmaceutical giants say they will begin publicly reporting payments they make to outside doctors.
Click here to access.

Joint Commission issues alert

"Preventing errors relating to commonly used anticoagulants"; click here to access.

Mobile Resource Centers on Epocrates

From Epocrates:

Recent study data from Manhattan Research, reported that nearly three-fourths of physicians say that they would like more specialty-specific drug references, clinical applications, and medical tools/alerts available to them on their PDA.

Epocrates is listening to our users and answering their call with the launch of Mobile Resource Centers! These new Epocrates Mobile Resource Centers (mRC) provide healthcare professionals with access to valuable information to stay up-to-date on diagnoses and treatments in selected clinical areas. The Centers provide practical and highly-relevant content, including breaking news, research findings, conference highlights and related continuing medical education courses.

If you'd like to learn more, email Lisa Wray at

Disclosure/disclaimer: I have no financial relationship with Epocrates and am not making a recommendation, just sharing news.

Senator Grassley sends letter to NIH Director

Click here to access.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Watch out for the tie!

From the New York Times article:

In 2004, a study from the New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens compared the ties of 40 doctors and medical students with those of 10 security guards. It found that about half the ties worn by medical personnel were a reservoir for germs, compared with just 1 in 10 of the ties taken from the security guards. The doctors’ ties harbored several pathogens, including those that can lead to staph infections or pneumonia.

Another study at a Connecticut hospital sought to gauge the role that clothing plays in the spread of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. The study found that if a worker entered a room where the patient had MRSA, the bacteria would end up on the worker’s clothes about 70 percent of the time, even if the person never actually touched the patient.

Click here to access the article.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"45 Ways to Use Technology to Green Meetings"

This article by Corbin Ball offers practical suggestions (and links to websites) for going green. Click here to access. Hat tip to Face2Face.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Is Internet education effective?

Check out the JAMA article "Internet-Based Learning in the Health Professions"; click here to access (sub. req.).

P4P...unintended consequences?

From the New York Times article written by Sandeep Jauhar, M.D.:
Under P4P, there is pressure to treat even when the diagnosis isn’t firm, as was the case with my patient with heart failure. So more and more antibiotics are being used in emergency rooms today, despite all-too-evident dangers like antibiotic-resistant bacteria and antibiotic-associated infections.

I recently spoke with Dr. Charles Stimler, a senior health care quality consultant, about this problem. “We’re in a difficult situation,” he said. “We’re introducing these things without thinking, without looking at the consequences. Doctors who wrote care guidelines never expected them to become performance measures.”

Click here to read this article.

Monday, September 08, 2008

National Health Plan Collaborative Publishes Online Toolkit

The National Health Plan Collaborative has created this toolkit of resources, lessons, best practices and case studies to help other health plans join the effort to reduce disparities. The toolkit shares what the Collaborative's members have done to develop and test new methods of measuring and addressing racial and ethnic disparities so that other health care decision-makers and leaders can learn from this work, implement these best practices and make the case for addressing the unacceptable differences in health care and health outcomes for health plan members throughout the country.

Useful resources featured in this toolkit include:

  • Health plan case studies;
  • Sample tools, forms, policies and resources for implementation;
  • Videos of experts talking about the importance of reducing disparities and about firsthand experiences in developing and implementing interventions; and
  • A compilation of resources in this field.
Click here to access.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

New TV talk show "The Doctors"

Apparently the brain child of Dr. Phil's child, there's a new talk show in town:

...The Doctors, four renowned physicians with different medical specialties – ER physician (and former ABC “Bachelor”) Dr. Travis Stork; OB/GYN Lisa Masterson; cosmetic surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon and pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears.

This groundbreaking new talk show does for health care what Dr. Phil has done for psychology – provides frank discussions in a fascinating, off-the-cuff manner.
Click here to access this new show's website (above excerpt from said website).

Friday, September 05, 2008

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Senate Finance Committee to continue hearings on health care reform

From the news release:
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) today announced the next three hearings in the panel’s year-long review of issues in heath care reform. Baucus said the September hearings will focus on health care quality, delivery system reform, and insurance market reform. Throughout 2008, Baucus has convened hearings, roundtables, and events to prepare for congressional action on health reform next year. Baucus said today that he intends for the panel’s comprehensive examination of health care reform to continue to be a top priority during the next session of Congress.
Click here to access.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The implementation buzz

There's a new journal that CME professionals might want to take a serious look at...Implementation Science. Oh, yeah, and it's open access...very cool...

Click here to check it out.

The fight against superbugs

From the Wall Street Journal article:
The efforts, known as antimicrobial stewardship programs, team top pharmacists, infectious-disease specialists and microbiologists. The groups monitor the use of a hospital's antibiotics and restrict prescriptions of specific drugs when they become less effective at fighting infections. The heightened vigilance comes as the federal Medicare program plans to begin refusing to pay hospitals to treat preventable infections that patients contract while under the facilities' care.
Some VHA member hospitals are working with the University of Florida in Gainesville, which offers a free program to analyze a hospital's patterns of drug resistance and compares these with regional, state or national benchmarks. The program has been used by about 400 hospitals, according to its developer, John Gums, a professor of pharmacy and medicine, who has financed the program with grants from pharmaceutical companies.
Click here to access (sub. req.)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Interesting JAMA commentaries

Check 'em out:

New Developments in Managing Physician-Industry Relationships
David J. Rothman; Susan Chimonas
JAMA. 2008;300(9):1067-1069.

Industry-Sponsored Clinical Research: A Broken System
Marcia Angell
JAMA. 2008;300(9):1069-1071.

Industry Support of Medical Education
Arnold S. Relman
JAMA. 2008;300(9):1071-1073.

Click here to access (sub. req.).

Monday, September 01, 2008

Operation Medical Libraries (OML)

OML is a grass roots efforts whose mission is providing medical texts and journals to medical schools and hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan. Originally founded as Books Without Borders, it started in April 2007 by Valerie Walker, Director of the UCLA Medical Alumni Association (MAA).
Click here to access the OML website.

Antipsychotics and risk of stroke

From the Washington Post article:
All antipsychotic drugs can increase the risk of stroke, but the risk is greatest among older patients with dementia, British researchers report.

Concerns about the risk of stroke and antipsychotics were first raised in 2002, especially in people with dementia. In 2004, Britain's Committee on Safety of Medicines recommended that antipsychotics not be used in people with dementia. And, in 2005, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered manufacturers of atypical antipsychotics to add a black box warning to their products about the increased risk for stroke.

Click here to access the WP article.

Thiazolidinediones and heart failure

From the Science Daily article:
A class of oral drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes may make heart failure worse, according to an editorial published online in Heart Wednesday by two Wake Forest University School of Medicine faculty members.

"We strongly recommend restrictions in the use of thiazolidinediones (the class of drugs) and question the rationale for leaving rosiglitazone on the market," write Sonal Singh, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of internal medicine, and Curt D. Furberg, M.D., Ph.D., professor of public health sciences. Rosiglitazone and pioglitazone are the two major thiazolidinediones.
Singh said in an interview, "Safer, cheaper and more effective treatment alternatives are available that do not carry these negative cardiovascular risks in patients with diabetes. The rationale for the use of the thiazolidinediones is unclear."
Click here to access the SD article.

Study results indicate bypass better than angioplasty least at the one year mark. From the AP article:
For heart patients with clogged arteries, the choice between bypass surgery or an angioplasty may come down to one question: How many procedures would you like to have?

In research presented Monday at the European Society of Cardiology meeting in Munich, experts concluded that while bypass surgery and angioplasty offer comparable results, patients who have angioplasties are twice as likely to require another procedure within a year.


Doctors cautioned that more data is still needed about the pros and cons of bypass surgery versus angioplasties, and that patients needed to be tracked for at least five years.

Click here to access.