domingo, 17 de febrero de 2013



Healthcare News

A Weekly Compilation of Clinical Laboratory and Related Information
from The Division of Laboratory Science and Standards

February 14, 2013

View Previous Issues - Healthcare News Archive

CMS Publishes Proposed Changes to CLIA’s Proficiency Testing Regulations
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) filed a proposed rule (the Proposed Rule) that would make significant changes to existing regulations governing the proficiency testing (PT) process mandated by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA). Under current regulations, any laboratory that intentionally refers a PT sample to another laboratory for analysis will automatically lose its CLIA certificate for at least one year. CMS has always interpreted the term “intentional”very broadly to mean an intention to act and thus has not considered the circumstances surrounding the referral of a PT sample when imposing revocation.
As long as the PT referral is not a repeat referral (i.e., no other PT referral occurred during the two survey cycles prior to the time of the PT referral at issue), CMS would consider the referral to be “improper” rather than “intentional” and would impose alternative sanctions, rather than revoke a laboratory’s CLIA certificate.
The Proposed Rule also includes another, related amendment to existing regulations that would implement the recently enacted Taking Essential Steps for Testing Act of 2012 (TEST Act), which gives CMS the express authority to impose alternative sanctions in the event of a PT referral. Specifically, the word “will” would be replaced with “may” in the regulation. Adobe PDF file [PDF 427.51KB]External Web Site Icon
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Tavenner Nomination Could Face Resistance From ACA Foes
President Barack Obama's re-nomination of Marilyn Tavenner as administrator of the CMS on drew wide support from health industry leaders but an uncertain outlook on Capitol Hill. Tavenner, who leads the agency in an acting capacity, was first nominated in 2011 following the resignation of Dr. Donald Berwick, the previous acting administrator. Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, opted not to advance her initial nomination and it expired at the end of the last Congress.
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FDA Seeks Comment on Device Detention Rules
The FDA proposes to renew the inspection protocols for banned medical devices and is seeking more - make that any - comment from the public. Having pursued less than 1 device detention annually over the past several years, the FDA is proposing once again to extend and renew the program that collects information about medical devices, submitting the proposed changes to the Office of Management & Budget for approval. Last year, the FDA asked the public for more information about risky or harmful devices but didn't receive a single comment. The watchdog agency is now extending the information-gathering procedures for banning a device.
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FDA Convenes 'Message Fatigue' Panel
Eager to break through the "message fatigue" that has numbed the public response to food warnings and recalls, the FDA is bringing together food safety and communications experts. The agency said its Risk Communication Advisory Committee would explore how to develop a useful research agenda tailored to "communication challenges and solutions" about outbreaks, warnings, and recalls. Advances in detection through the national FoodNet and PulseNet systems, managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have increased the number of safety alerts and news of outbreaks, Hallman and Cuite explained in their 2009 paper. But there is concern that serial warnings may be ignored.
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Slower Growth of Health Costs Eases U.S. Deficit
A sharp and surprisingly persistent slowdown in the growth of health care costs is helping to narrow the federal deficit, leaving budget experts trying to figure out whether the trend will last and how much the slower growth could help alleviate the country’s long-term fiscal problems.
In figures released, the Congressional Budget Office said it had erased hundreds of billions of dollars in projected spending on Medicare and Medicaid. The budget office now projects that spending on those two programs in 2020 will be about $200 billion, or 15 percent, less than it projected three years ago. New data also show overall health care spending growth continuing at the lowest rate in decades for a fourth consecutive year.
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60 ACOs Form National Association
Out of the 258 accountable care organizations (ACOs) recognized by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 60 of them, across more than 15 states, have joined together to form the National Association of ACOs. Officials at the National Association of ACOs, or NAACOS, announced the formation of the non-profit organization, which allows ACOs to work together to increase quality of care, lower costs and improve the health of their communities. "It is phenomenal that this many ACOs could come together in a matter of eight weeks to form such an important organization," said Clif Gaus, president of NAACOS, in a press release
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Medical Laboratory Professionals 2012 Salary Survey
The results of the 2012 ADVANCE salary survey offer some good news in these difficult times, as salary increases were seen throughout the data. According to data from 875 respondents, the average laboratorian is a female certified bench technologist, aged 50-59, and works in a hospital laboratory.
Avg. Salary
Director/Manager $85,889
Section Supervisor $68,146
Chief Technologist $67,994
Bench Technologist $57,404
Medical Laboratory Technician $41,398
Phlebotomist $30,284
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Best Healthcare Jobs – Clinical Laboratory Technician
Overall Score: 6.5
Number of Jobs: 23,800
Median Salary: $36,950
Unemployment Rate: 4.3%
Don't expect to see clinical laboratory technicians playing a leading role on popular hospital TV dramas such as Grey's Anatomy or House anytime soon. Leave the spotlight to trauma doctors and snazzy surgeons because clinical lab technicians are content with working hard behind the scenes. Serving as an important cog in the elaborate framework that is the modern hospital or clinic, they conduct the crucial tests and analyses that physicians use to make their diagnoses. With steady population growth and the development of new lab tests, the job market for clinical laboratory technicians is expected to remain strong. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects clinical laboratory technician employment growth of 14.7 percent between 2010 and 2020, adding 23,800 more professionals to the 161,200 jobs currently in this field.
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Public Health Microbiology Certification
To address the chronic shortage of laboratory scientists certified to direct a high complexity public health laboratory, ABB and APHL have agreed to offer a board certification in public health microbiology. The certification will afford doctoral-level scientists and technical supervisors in public health laboratories a new means to qualify for certification under CLIA. The certification, the first of its kind, will afford doctoral-level scientists and technical supervisors in public health laboratories a new means to meet CLIA personnel requirements to be a certified laboratory director of a state or large municipal public health laboratory.
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ASCP and APF Collaborate to Launch Lab Management University
The collaboration between ASCP and the American Pathology Foundation (APF) is translating into substantial benefits for both Societies. The two Societies are supporting each other’s Annual Meetings and have developed a new initiative, Lab Management University (LMU). “There are a lot of synergies that come out of this alliance that benefit both sides,” says APF Board Member Lewis Hassell, MD, FASCP, APF Program Chair and a member of the LMU Committee. “Lab Management University and our joint activities of the two Annual Meetings are nice examples of that.”
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NIAID to Fund New Infectious Diseases Genome Centers
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has funded many efforts to generate genomic data about pathogenic microbes and now it wants to expand its microbial genomics programs by funding the creation of new Genomic Centers for Infectious Diseases. NIAID plans to use up to $14 million in 2014 to support the launch of two or three of these centers, which will use high-throughput sequencing approaches to study the biology of infectious diseases and will look into the interactions between pathogen and host, according to a new request for applicationsExternal Web Site Icon.
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Screening Tests for the Aging Male
Health screening tests greatly impact the public's health because they involve testing of asymptomatic populations for specific diseases or health conditions for which specific interventions may alter disease progression before appearance of clinical signs and symptoms. The following criteria characterize an effective screening program.

  • The screening test has acceptable performance specifications (positive and negative predictive values) for the disease in question

  • The disease is a significant condition with major health and societal implications

  • Acceptable, feasible and effective tests for presence of the disease and treatments are available

  • Following screening, strategy to decide which patients to treat; those treated must be more likely to do better than those treated later when signs and symptoms appear in the absence of screening

  • There must be a net benefit to the individual being screened for the disease while also considering the societal context

  • The screening test is available, cost-effective and acceptable for the target population

  • Informed consent and patient confidentiality must be ensured.

In this article by Shahram Shahangian, PhD, MS, DABCC, FACB, recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) for selected laboratory-based screening tests are described.
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Guidance on Informed Consent for In Vitro Diagnostic Device Studies Using Leftover Human Specimens
FDA's investigational device regulations are intended to encourage the development of new, useful devices in a manner that is consistent with public health, safety, and with ethical standards. Investigators should have freedom to pursue the least burdensome means of accomplishing this goal. However, to ensure that the balance is maintained between product development and the protection of public health, safety, and ethical standards, FDA has established human subject protection regulations addressing requirements for informed consent and institutional review board (IRB) review that apply to all FDA-regulated clinical investigations involving human subjects. In particular, informed consent requirements further both safety and ethical considerations by allowing potential subjects to consider both the physical and privacy risks they face if they agree to participate in a trial.
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New Sepsis Management Standards for New York Hospitals Will Put Greater Emphasis on Use of Clinical Laboratory Tests for Diagnosis and Treatment
There will be more focused lab testing and public reporting of sepsis results as New York State addresses growing problem following death of 12-year-old boy. New York State will implement tougher standards for the diagnosis and treatment of sepsis in hospitals. One consequence is expected to be more medical laboratory testing for patients suspected of having sepsis. It may also mean that clinical laboratory test results will get increased scrutiny by physicians who, under the new requirements, must become faster at making an accurate diagnosis of sepsis. These developments were announced by New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in his State of the State message on January 9. This will make New York the first state in the nation to require hospitals to take aggressive steps to manage patients suspected of having sepsis so that treatment can begin sooner
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New Medical Guidelines for Cervical Cancer Screening: Is There a Role for New Molecular Diagnostics?
Cervical cancer testing is one of the great success stories in the fight against cancer. In recent decades, the death rate from this cancer has dropped dramatically in the United States and other developed countries, largely due to cytology Pap testing. HPV testing has also evolved as a vital complement to Pap-based screening, by helping to identify the presence of the virus that causes most cervical cancers.
Last year, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) issued revised guidelines on screening. The ACOG guidelines, which generally align with the recent recommendations of the American Cancer Society (ACS) and other medical organizations, recommend a Pap test every three years for women of average risk ages 21 to 29. For women ages 30 to 65, the guidelines recommend Pap and HPV testing; if those results are normal, retesting is recommended every five years. Most previous medical guidelines recommended screening every one to three years for average-risk women, depending on age and other factors.
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Scripps Physicians Call for Shift in how Clinical Pathology Laboratories Process Cancer Tissue Samples
Pathologists and clinical laboratory managers should fundamentally change how cancer specimens are handled
Three physicians at Scripps Health are calling for pathologists to rethink how they collect and store cancer tissue samples in two significant ways. They say that pathologists need to: 1) move away from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue blocks and toward frozen samples; and, 2) start collecting larger samples. These doctors used the Journal of the American Medical Association as a platform to issue their call for a change in what has been a long-standing standard of practice in anatomic pathology. Given the progressive nature of these opinions, there will certainly be dissenting voices within the pathology profession who are likely to add their voices to this debate
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Urine Biomarkers Flag AKI in Critically Ill
Reviewed by Zalman S. Agus, MD; Emeritus Professor, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Dorothy Caputo, MA, BSN, RN, Nurse Planner
A urine test based on two cell cycle arrest biomarkers give an early sign of acute kidney injury in critically ill patients, a prospective study found. Levels of insulin-like growth factor-binding protein 7 (IGFBP7) and tissue inhibitor metalloproteinases-2 (TIMP-2) picked out impending moderate-to-severe acute kidney injury better than any previously-described marker, in the validation study appearing online in Critical Care. The two biomarkers together significantly improved risk stratification when added to a panel of nine clinical variables, reported John Kellum, MD, of the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues.
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High CRP Levels Predict Risk of Eye Disease
High levels of the proinflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP) predicted an increased risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), including neovascular AMD, data from five large prospective cohort studies showed. Comparison of patients with high versus low CRP demonstrated a 50% increase in the odds of AMD and almost doubled the risk of neovascular AMD. Separate analyses of the individual studies revealed AMD odds as high as 2.59 for patients with high versus low CRP, investigators reported online in JAMA Ophthalmology.
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Potential Blood Test Found to Detect Autism
A special blood marker has been found enabling further understanding of potential gut linked environmental factors to autism. The results could create blood tests for early screening of the condition. The findings came from a clinical study by researchers from Western University and the University of Arkansas, and were published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.
Led by Drs. Richard Frye and Stepan Melynk of Arkansas Children's Hospital Research Institute, the investigators found evidence of unusual energy metabolism among a subgroup of autistic kids.
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Turning Pap Test Into Sequencing-Based Gynecologic Cancer Assay Will Take Further Validation
Following last month's publication of a study that suggested the Papanicolaou test, or Pap smear, could potentially be repurposed as a sequencing-based screening test for endometrial and ovarian cancer, the authors are now working on validating the results, hoping to develop a routine clinical test for the early detection of cancer. The initial results, described in a proof-of-concept study published in Science Translational Medicine last month, were promising. Using DNA collected in routine Pap smears, the test detected all cases of endometrial cancer and some of ovarian cancer, and produced no false positive results.
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MicroRNA Molecule May Serve as Biomarker, Target for Brain Metastases in Breast Cancer Patients
MicroRNA molecule called miR-7 decreased in highly metastatic cancer stem-like cells. Researchers have identified two molecules that could potentially serve as biomarkers in predicting brain metastases in patients with breast cancer, according to data published in Cancer Research, a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research.
Few treatments currently exist for brain metastasis because few drugs can penetrate the blood-brain barrier, which prevents chemotherapy from reaching the brain. "Cancer cells find the brain to be a kind of sanctuary where they can survive longer," Watabe said. "It is possible that miR-7 and KLF4 may serve as diagnostic or prognostic markers, or therapeutic targets for the prediction of, or treatment of, brain metastasis."
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EU Approves Prostate Cancer Test From True Diagnostics
True Diagnostics has obtained CE mark for TrueDXPSA, a quantitative prostate specific hormone (PSA) test. TrueDXPSA test will enable doctors to rapidly determine the PSA level in a patient. True Diagnostics president and CEO Jerry Lee said, "With our TrueDX™PSA, the Company provides general practitioners, urologists, and oncologists with a simple point-of-care tool they can use to measure their patients' prostate health immediately."
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Aetna Throws Support Behind Non-invasive Prenatal Tests for Down Syndrome
Aetna issued a clinical policy bulletin suggesting that it may soon begin covering non-invasive prenatal DNA tests for Down syndrome. In its bulletin, the health insurer said that it "considers measurement of cell-free nucleic acids in maternal blood … medically necessary for testing for fetal aneuploidy in pregnant women with single gestations," who meet any one of a set of criteria. That set includes women at least 35 years of age at the time of the delivery; fetal ultrasonic findings of an increased risk of fetal aneuploidy; a prior pregnancy with an aneuploidy; positive screening for an aneuploidy, including first trimester, sequential, or integrated screen, or a positive quadruple screen; and parental balanced Robertsonian translocation with an increased risk for T13 or T21.
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New Weill Cornell Precision Medicine Institute Plans to Offer Genomically Guided Treatment after CLIA Approval
Through a newly created Institute for Precision Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College and New York Presbyterian Hospital plan to begin offering targeted, individualized treatment informed by patients' genomes. The institute first plans to guide treatment decisions for cancer patients using their genomic data, and then broaden the effort to those with common illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative disorders. The new institute is currently awaiting regulatory approval from CLIA and New York State, according to its leader, Mark Rubin, a professor of pathology at Weill Cornell. With that approval in hand, the center will begin using genome sequencing and other tools to inform treatment strategies for patients – first focusing on cancer, and then eventually broadening to other disease areas, he said.
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Bloody Good
Nobel-winning Blood Typing Game Puts Fun into Learning
Not every Nobel Prize goes to the greatest peacemakers or brainiest scientists on the face of the earth. Some prizes are awarded to unlikely candidates - like online game makers - for forging novel approaches to age-old concerns. In 2012, a Nobel Prize was presented to an online computer game, The Blood Typing Game, created by Swedish Learning Awards. The game, which can be accessed through the website (or by clicking hereExternal Web Site Icon) allows players to administer virtual blood transfusions to patients in an animated hospital setting. Through the course of the game a player will be able to identify:

  • the different blood groups in the ABO and Rh blood group systems

  • antibodies and antigens occurring in the blood of different blood types

  • how to find out to which blood type someone belongs

  • who can receive blood from whom in a blood transfusion

  • what happens if someone is given the wrong blood in a blood transfusion.

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Blue Light Destroys Skin, Soft Tissue Infections
Blue light can selectively eradicate Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections of the skin and soft tissues, while preserving the outermost layer of skin, according to a proof-of-principle study led by Michael R. Hamblin of the Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Harvard Medical School, Boston. The research is published online ahead of print in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy "Blue light is a potential non-toxic, non-antibiotic approach for treating skin and soft tissue infections, especially those caused by antibiotic resistant pathogens," says Hamblin. In the study, animal models were infected with P. aeruginosa. All of the animals in the group treated with blue light survived, while in the control, 82 percent (9 out of 11) of the animals died.
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Vitamin D Doses Often Don't Match Labels, Study SaysWhat's in your vitamin supplement? It could be more or less than you think, according to the latest study to show that what's on a supplement label is not necessarily what's in the bottle. Researchers who tested vitamin D pills sold in stores found they contained from 9% to 140% of the doses listed on labels, according to a research letter published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine. Though none of the pills was likely to be dangerous, some contained too little of the vitamin to effectively treat someone with a deficiency, the researchers say. "We found the potency of these vitamin D supplements varied widely," says Erin LeBlanc, an endocrinologist who led the study at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore.
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Mice Fall Short as Test Subjects for Humans’ Deadly IllsFor decades, mice have been the species of choice in the study of human diseases. But now, researchers report evidence that the mouse model has been totally misleading for at least three major killers — sepsis, burns and trauma. As a result, years and billions of dollars have been wasted following false leads, they say. The study’s findings do not mean that mice are useless models for all human diseases. But, its authors said, they do raise troubling questions about diseases like the ones in the study that involve the immune system, including cancer and heart disease.
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CDC Database Aims to Ensure Safety of Vaccines
To ensure that vaccines are as safe as possible, the CDC has managed a Vaccine Safety Datalink since 1990 designed to, “monitor immunization safety and address the gaps in scientific knowledge about rare and serious events following immunization.” After reaffirming that there is no scientific evidence to suggest that the current vaccination schedule is unsafe, the IOM report goes on to say that there is an increased need to communicate this safety to the public. So, talk to your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns about the vaccinations that are recommended for your child. They can give you information about the shots and about the diseases they are designed to stop to protect your child’s health.
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Designer Bacteria May Lead to Better Vaccines
Researchers have developed a menu of 61 new strains of genetically engineered bacteria that may improve the efficacy of vaccines for diseases such as flu, pertussis, cholera and HPV. The strains of E. coli, which were described in a paper published this month in the journal PNAS, are part of a new class of biological “adjuvants” that is poised to transform vaccine design. Adjuvants are substances added to vaccines to boost the human immune response. “For 70 years the only adjuvants being used were aluminum salts,” said Stephen Trent, associate professor of biology in the College of Natural Sciences. “They worked, but we didn’t fully understand why, and there were limitations
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Vaccine Seen to Help With Liver Tumors
A genetically modified smallpox vaccine shrunk tumors in liver cancer patients and extended survival more than a year, a study found. The therapy from closely held San Francisco biotech firm Jennerex Inc., called JX-594, or Pexa-Vec, is being tested in people with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma.
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Study: Blood Stem Cells Can Eliminate Leukemia Stem Cells
Maintaining a viable population of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) may be nearly sufficient to eradicate leukemia stem cells from the system, suggest the results of a new study.
HSCs, which are responsible for maintaining immune cells, red blood cells, and platelets throughout life, must be located in their ecological niche—the bone marrow—to regenerate themselves and their progeny, explained Adam L. MacLean of the Imperial College London, in London, United Kingdom, and colleagues in Journal of the Royal Society Interface. The progeny eventually exit the bone marrow and enter circulation.
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Research Offers New Hope for Multiple Sclerosis
Scientists have converted human skin cells into brain cells and used them to treat mice with myelin disorders, a family of diseases that includes multiple sclerosis. The research, reported Thursday, marks another promising advance for a technique known as cell reprogramming. The approach returns mature cells to an embryonic-like state, and then transforms them into various types of fresh, healthy tissue that could be used to treat diseases.
Multiple sclerosis is the most common myelin disorder. It strikes when the body's own immune system attacks myelin, the coating around nerve fibers. That disrupts communication between cells and can cause problems related to muscle movement, balance and vision. In the latest study, the reprogramming technique "led to the re-myelination of the complete nervous system" of diseased animals, improving their symptoms and prolonging their life, said Steven Goldman, lead author of the report and a neurologist at University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, N.Y.
The findings appear in the journal Cell Stem Cell.
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Immune System Protein in Semen Boosts HIV Spread in Female Genital Tissue
NIH study suggests virus uses protein to spread
An immune system protein normally found in semen appears to enhance the spread of HIV to tissue from the uterine cervix, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health. The protein interleukin 7 (IL-7) belongs to a family of proteins that regulate the immune response. IL-7 is present in normal semen, and occurs at especially high levels in the semen of men with HIV.
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Extra-Couple Relationships a Significant Driver of HIV Epidemic
Heterosexual couples in long-term relationships who have sexual encounters outside their established partnership (extra-couple relationships) are one of the main drivers of the HIV epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa, according to new research published in The Lancet journal. The researchers added that their mathematical model showed that transmission within cohabiting couples occurred largely from men to women. The findings of the mathematical modelling study indicate that current HIV-prevention efforts, which chiefly target couples where one partner is HIV-positive and the other is not (serodiscordant couples), will be insufficient to bring about major reductions in HIV incidence in the general population.
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Mutations in Pertussis May Account for Rise in Cases
The rising incidence of whooping cough in the U.S. and elsewhere may be a result of new mutations in Bordetella pertussis that may diminish vaccine efficacy, researchers reported. In 11 of 12 isolates of B. pertussis identified in children hospitalized in Philadelphia during 2011 and 2012, genetic analyses failed to detect pertactin, a virulence factor that is a component of the current acellular vaccine, according to Alan Evangelista, PhD, of St. Christopher's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, and colleagues.
"To our knowledge, this finding represents the first reported occurrence of pertactin-negative variants of B. pertussis in the U.S.," the researchers wrote in a letter published in the Feb. 7 New England Journal of Medicine.
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Smoking Among U.S. Adults With Mental Illness 70 Percent Higher Than for Adults With no Mental Illness
Studies show need for enhanced prevention and quitting efforts for people with mental illness
Adults with some form of mental illness have a smoking rate 70 percent higher than adults with no mental illness, according to a Vital Signs report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in collaboration with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The report finds that 36 percent of adults with a mental illness are cigarette smokers, compared with only 21 percent of adults who do not have a mental illness.
According to the report, nearly 1 in 5 adults in the United States – about 45.7 million Americans—have some type of mental illness. Among adults with mental illness, smoking prevalence is especially high among younger adults, American Indians and Alaska Natives, those living below the poverty line, and those with lower levels of education. Differences also exist across states, with prevalence ranging from 18.2 percent in Utah to 48.7 percent in West Virginia. “Smokers with mental illness, like other smokers, want to quit and can quit,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Stop-smoking treatments work-and it’s important to make them more available to all people who want to quit.”
To Cut Costs, Defense and VA Scrap Plans for New Electronic Health Record
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki announced they would forgo plans to build a new health records system to be used jointly by the departments and instead pursue less expensive technologies to make their respective systems more interoperable. The new approach will significantly cut costs and ultimately deliver better service to patients and medical professionals much sooner than originally planned, they said, although they didn’t provide any savings estimates. “As you know, our two departments have been moving toward a plan to build a single customized, integrated electronic health record system from the ground up to meet the president’s directive and modernize our legacy IT systems,” Panetta said. But cost concerns pushed the two secretaries to look for a solution “for much less money than had been budgeted,” he said.
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Haptics, Body Sensors, New Protocols to Bring Telemedicine up a Level
Judging by all the media coverage, telemedicine is surely a necessary part of our not too distant future. Yet the technology that powers today’s telemedicine continues to be essentially confined to something resembling Skype on wheels.
At University of Texas at Dallas researchers are working on bringing new technologies together, like haptics, body sensors, and real time data transmission protocols, to allow for more substantial capabilities than just audio and video communication. They envision, for example, a rehabilitation system that can help therapists remotely work with patients on exercise techniques, including being able to feel the motion and strength of their movements while providing real time feedback.
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Launch of Connect 4.0 – An HIE Advancement Driven by Federal Collaboration
CONNECT is a dynamic, open source platform for the secure exchange of health information. The health information exchange (HIE) open source platform is the result of an extensive collaboration effort between the Federal Health Architecture (FHA) and its federal partners – including the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, the Social Security Administration and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
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Hospitals in U.S. Cut Infection Rates in 2011, CDC Says
U.S. hospitals reduced some types of deadly and costly infections in 2011, three years after a government initiative to cut hospital-acquired illnesses. Infections stemming from catheters placed in a large vein in the neck, chest or groin to give medication or collect blood declined 41 percent from 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report. Infections following surgery decreased 17 percent since 2008, the CDC said.
The Department of Health and Human Services set a goal in 2008 of reducing the catheter or central line-associated bloodstream infections by 50 percent and surgical site infections by 25 percent, the CDC said in a statement. About 1 in 20 patients gets infected each year while receiving medical care, including 41,000 bloodstream infections that strike hospital patients with catheters, the Atlanta-based health agency said.
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Emory to Invest $312M in Clifton Road Hospital Expansion
Emory Healthcare will invest $312 million in expanding its flagship hospital on Clifton Road. The health system previously announced plans to build a new 9-story clinical tower, to accommodate an increase in patient volumes. The tower will include operating rooms, imaging services, a clinical laboratory. Construction on the tower will begin in July 2013.
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Physicians Entangled in Tainted Drugs Lawsuits
Doctors often are sued after medical product disasters, such as a recent meningitis outbreak linked to a compounding pharmacy. How can they reduce their risks? A deadly meningitis outbreak involving tainted steroid shots that has killed at least 45 people and sickened nearly 700 more has led to an explosion of lawsuits against the compounding pharmacy linked to the infections. But with the New England Compounding Center now in bankruptcy, patients and their families are searching for alternative legal relief — such as from the physicians who prescribed the injections.
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Team Detects Antibiotic Resistance Genes in Chinese Pig Farm Samples
American and Chinese researchers have used quantitative PCR arrays to begin documenting the presence of diverse antibiotic resistance genes in manure and soil samples from commercial swine farms in China.
The Michigan State University and Chinese Academy of Sciences-led team tested manure, compost, and soil samples from three large Chinese swine farms where antibiotics and heavy metals such as zinc, copper, and arsenic are used for animal food supplementation and therapeutics. The analysis, published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, revealed nearly 150 distinct antibiotic resistance genes in the swine farm samples.
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Health Service, Pride of Britain, Ravaged by Hospital Scandal
The deaths of hundreds of hospital patients, left without food or water in filthy conditions, exposed an urgent need to change the culture of Britain's National Health Service (NHS), a report said. Between 400 and 1,200 patients are estimated to have died needlessly at Stafford Hospital in central England between January 2005 and March 2009 in one of the worst scandals to hit the NHS since it was founded in 1948.
"There were patients so desperate for water that they were drinking from dirty flower vases," Prime Minister David Cameron told parliament in a statement on the report. Describing events at Stafford Hospital as "a despicable catalogue of clinical and managerial failures", Cameron apologized to all the families affected on behalf of the government and the country. The author of the 3,000-page report, lawyer Robert Francis, said: "This is a story of appalling and unnecessary suffering of hundreds of people."
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Disclaimer- The information provided in this news digest is intended only to be general summary information. It does not represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is not intended to take the place of applicable laws or regulations.

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