Sunday, September 26, 2010

To mammogram or not to mammogram?

From the New York Times article "Mammograms' Value in Cancer Fight at Issue":
Starting in their 40s or 50s, most women in this country faithfully get a mammogram every year, as recommended by health officials. But the study suggests that the decision about whether to have the screening test may now be a close call.
Previous studies of mammograms, done decades ago, found they reduced the breast cancer death rate by 15 to 25 percent, a meaningful amount. But that was when treatment was much less effective.
The study, published Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine, looked at what happened in Norway before and after 1996, when the country began rolling out mammograms for women ages 50 to 69 along with special breast cancer teams to treat all women with breast cancer.
Click here to access the NYT article. Click here to access the NEJM article.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

NCHS data on prescription drug use

Key findings from this report:
  • Over the last 10 years, the percentage of Americans who took at least one prescription drug in the past month increased from 44% to 48%. The use of two or more drugs increased from 25% to 31%. The use of five or more drugs increased from 6% to 11%.
  • In 2007–2008, 1 out of every 5 children and 9 out of 10 older Americans reported using at least one prescription drug in the past month.
  • Those who were without a regular place for health care, health insurance, or prescription drug benefit had less prescription drug use compared with those who had these benefits.
  • The most commonly used types of drugs included: asthma medicines for children, central nervous system stimulants for adolescents, antidepressants for middle-aged adults, and cholesterol lowering drugs for older Americans.
Click here to access the report. Click here to access Pharmalot's take on this report.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Board certification and quality of care

From the ABMS news release:
A new study on the quality of physician care provides evidence of the benefit of specialty board certification and suggests the necessity of continuous professional development programs, such as the American Board of Medical Specialties Maintenance of Certification® (ABMS MOC®) program.
The study also found two other important quality distinctions relevant to the general population of physicians in the United States:

•Specialty board certification was associated with lower mortality and shorter stays.
•Physician performance declined over time, with mortality rates and length of stays increasing with the number of years since graduation from medical school. The study was authored by John Norcini, CEO of Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research, a Philadelphia-based not-for-profit.
Click here to access the ABMS news release. Click here to access the Health Affairs article published on the aforementioned study (subscription required).