A Weekly Compilation of Clinical Laboratory and Related Information
from The Division of Laboratory Science and Standards
April 25, 2013
View Previous Issues - Healthcare News Archive
Supreme Court Weighs 'Loyalty Oaths' for Groups Fighting AIDS
The Supreme Court was asked whether Congress violated the 1st Amendment when it required global groups fighting AIDS to explicitly oppose prostitution and sexual trafficking as a condition of receiving federal grants. Several of the groups, including the Alliance for Open Society International, objected to the requirement, not because they favored prostitution. They said it would interfere with their work. They seek to encourage women, including prostitutes, to come to their clinics for testing and treatment. The Supreme Court took up the issue on appeal from the U.S. appeals court in New York, which said the "compelled speech" rule violated free-speech protections.
GOP Senators Rip Federal Health IT Programs
Six Republican senators have produced a 28-page white paper that is sharply critical of the Obama administration's handling of the federal health information technology programs under the 2009 stimulus law, saying they need to be “recalibrated to be effective.” The paper alleged five “key implementation deficiencies”: a lack of a clear path toward interoperability; concerns about health IT increasing healthcare costs and not helping to control costs as previously estimated; a general lack of HIT program oversight, citing an HHS inspector general's report from last December; patient privacy and security risks; and concerns about whether providers can afford to maintain their federally incentivized healthcare technology long term. In addition, the six have asked HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to “provide a detailed written plan to address the concerns” raised in the document, “REBOOT: Re-examining the Strategies Needed to Successfully Adopt Health IT.”
Hagel Takes Personal Responsibility for Electronic Heath Records
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has said he is personally taking responsibility for resolving problems that have plagued the exchange of electronic health records between Defense and the Veterans Affairs Department. President Obama in April 2009 called for a “unified lifetime electronic health record” to be shared by Defense and VA; an apologetic Hagel told a hearing of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee that he could not justify the lack of progress since then. “I can’t sit here and defend what we have done,” Hagel said in response to a series of questions from Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., about the integrated electronic health record that was all but scrapped by the two departments in February in favor of interoperable but separate systems. “I am going to acknowledge we are way behind,” he said.
CMS, in a Switch, Starts Prepayment Meaningful Use Audits
In March, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services started conducting prepayment audits of physicians and other eligible professionals who have attested to meeting requirements of the meaningful use incentive program. The audits are in addition to postpayment audits the department began conducting in the summer of 2012. The addition of prepayment audits comes after the Dept. of Health and Human Services' Office of the Inspector General published a report in November 2012 that criticized CMS for not doing enough to prevent improper payments.
CMS Fines Lakeway Regional Medical Center for Lab Deficiencies
State inspectors have cited the hospital’s failures to assure that equipment was regularly calibrated or maintained. Several patients underwent procedures based on inaccurate lab results. One had an unnecessary blood transfusion, and two underwent cardiac catheterizations — done to diagnose or repair a heart problem — based on incorrect results, say inspection reports provided last month by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Further, emergency room patients and others sometimes waited up to five hours for test results. The inspectors found ill-trained lab staff and a lack of policies and procedures. Similar failings caused problems in nursing and the emergency room, which lacked policies and procedures for handling stroke and heart attack patients, the documents say. Twelve of the 13 deficiencies Medicare cited at the hospital involved the clinical laboratory, which plays a critical role in diagnosing and treating patients. Hospital officials say they took the findings seriously and responded quickly, including replacing some personnel and bringing in an experienced lab director.
Since the beginning of the year, most Medicare contractors and private health insurers have not paid clinical laboratories and anatomic pathology practices for molecular diagnostic test claims coded to the 114 new molecular test CPT codes. This unprecedented situation of labs going unpaid for more than three months has created financial turmoil and uncertainty across the medical laboratory profession.
Clinical Laboratories Hope Molecular Test Payments Commence Soon
Once Medicare contractors issue prices for these molecular CPT codes, clinical laboratory billing and coding experts said checks could be mailed. These checks could go out by the end of this month. But, according to Gottlieb, there is uncertainty about even that scenario.
Building a Better Network
NIH Director Francis Collins and colleagues announce plans to create a health-care research network to connect patients, doctors, and clinical researchers. A national research network, aimed at making use of the volumes of clinical data obtained from routine doctors’ visits, is in the works. The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) is teaming up with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to create networks of clinical data and patients to drive clinical research. Specifically, the plan includes the widespread sharing of clinical data and the involvement of motivated patients in research.
CDC: U.S. Hospitals Should Be Vigilant for Bird Flu
U.S. hospitals have been urged to be on the lookout for symptoms of bird flu among patients who have recently traveled to China. The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines advising that "Clinicians should consider the possibility of avian influenza A (H7N9) virus infection in persons presenting with acute febrile respiratory illness and an appropriate recent travel or exposure history." The guidelines say the current lack of an H7N9 vaccine, the virus' "substantial mortality to date" and the potential for "increased [human-to-human] transmission in the future" as cause for concern. They say that although there is no vaccine, the CDC stressed the need to catch patients in the early stages of infection, saying that randomized trials had demonstrated that anti-virals (such as Tamiflu) given in the first few days could speed recovery in "otherwise healthy persons with acute uncomplicated influenza caused by circulating seasonal influenza strains."
Why the CDC Wants to Modernize its Pathogen, Sequencing Informatics
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is requesting $40 million in its fiscal year 2014 budget to build advanced molecular detection and informatics systems for tracking infectious disease outbreaks. The CDC says it currently lacks the molecular sequencing tools and bioinformatics capacity to keep up with emerging threats like the antibiotic-resistant bacteria strains plaguing U.S. hospitals and the H7N9 influenza that recently evolved in China. “CDC needs next generation diagnostics to find and stop killer microbes before they spread,” said CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, in a briefing on the proposal. “It used to take weeks to months to sequence a genome of a bacteria or virus.” Today’s technology — cousins of the same high-throughput sequencing tools bringing down the cost of humane genome analysis — “can do that in just a few hours,” he said, helping researchers identify pathogens and determine the scope of their resistance.
CDC to Study Use of Mobile Tech in Surveys
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will pilot test the efficacy of using basic text messages via mobile phones and Web-based messages via smartphones in public health surveillance for programs such as smoking cessation, according to a notice published in the Federal Register. The pilot will compare results of the mobile phone survey with those from an older survey method, computer-assisted telephone (call center) interviewing, the CDC announcement said.
Delaware Eliminates Racial Disparities in Colorectal Cancer
A comprehensive colorectal cancer screening and treatment program that targeted all residents of the state of Delaware eliminated disparities in screening and produced a "near elimination" of mortality differences between African Americans and whites. The innovative program also equalized incidence rates and reduced the percentage of African Americans with regional and distant disease at diagnosis from 79% to 40%. The results of Delaware's cancer control program are published ahead of print in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. "The federalist model operates partly on the premise that the states are the laboratories for the rest of the country," write Stephen S. Grubbs, MD, a practicing oncologist with Christiana Care Health System's Helen F. Graham Cancer Center, Newark, Delaware, and colleagues. "This model is only helpful if we take the lessons from those laboratories to our own states and work with determined effort to fit them into our particular populations."
Main Reason for Success Is an Enlightened Government
The program began in 2001, when Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner established the Delaware Cancer Advisory Council to reduce the state's high rates of cancer incidence and mortality. In an interview with Medscape Medical News, Dr. Grubbs said he believes the main reason for the success of the program was an enlightened government.
Cancer Centers Racing to Map Patients’ Genes
Major academic medical centers in New York and around the country are spending and recruiting heavily in what has become an arms race within the war on cancer. The investments are based on the belief that the medical establishment is moving toward the routine sequencing of every patient’s genome in the quest for “precision medicine,” a course for prevention and treatment based on the special, even unique characteristics of the patient’s genes. “There will be a moment in time when whole genome sequencing becomes ubiquitous throughout health care,” said Peter Tonellato, director of the Harvard personalized medicine lab and a clinical investigator in pathology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. “Let’s say we figure out all the individuals who might have a cancer, and we can predict that with a relatively high level of accuracy. Then presumably we can take steps to avoid those, let’s say, decades of treatment.”
Gene-testing Kits Promise a lot. But Does Your DNA say Much About Your Health?
What does your DNA really reveal about your health?
It sounded enticing: For just $99, I could spit into a tube, mail it off to a company called 23andMe, and, six to eight weeks later, I’d receive a report explaining what my DNA reveals about my risk for 120 diseases — everything from breast cancer to gout to sudden cardiac arrest. The notion that these tests can help you calculate your risk of disease are based on studies that compare SNPs in people with a particular condition to the SNPs of those without the disease. If a particular SNP is more common among people who have the condition or trait, this suggests that the condition and the variation may be related, but it’s not proof of a cause-and-effect relationship, says David Kaufman, director of research and statistics at the Genetics and Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins University.
While it’s clear that many diseases do have a genetic component, very few medical conditions come down to a single gene or to genetics alone, says Jeffrey Murray, a geneticist at the University of Iowa School of Medicine and president of the American Society of Human Genetics. Identical twins, who share the same DNA, rarely end up with exactly the same medical conditions, and that tells us that genes alone cannot predict a person’s medical future, Murray says. “What you look like is almost 100 percent genetic, but what you’re going to get isn’t. There are lots of other things — random chance, environmental exposure and all kinds of stuff that we can’t control.”
New Diabetes Guidelines Have It Both Ways
A new guideline calls for a tailored approach to treating type 2 diabetes while maintaining the use of an algorithm-based model, researchers said. The new recommendations from the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) offer an algorithm that involves every FDA approved class of medications for managing hyperglycemia, while still suggesting consideration of individual patient characteristics such as age and comorbidities, Alan Garber, MD, PhD, of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and colleagues reported in Endocrine Practice.
Three PSA Tests Over Lifetime Sufficient for Many Men
Instead of routine prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening — which has come under criticism in recent years amid concerns that it leads to overdiagnosis and overtreatment — just 3 PSA tests over the course of a lifetime is sufficient for many men. This premise comes from a team led by Andrew Vickers, PhD, from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, in collaboration with teams at the University of Washington in Seattle and Skåne University Hospital in Malmö, Sweden. In 2010, Dr. Vickers' team reported that a single PSA test at the 60 years of age is all that is needed for many men. That conclusion was criticized as being rather simplistic, because a single PSA test is just a "snapshot in time," whereas PSA is a "continuous variable" and it is important to have a number of data points, Brantley Thrasher, MD, FACS, professor of urology at the University of Kansas in Kansas City, said at the time.
Cytokine-producing activity of immune cells of fibromyalgia (FM) patients has led to the development of a commercial blood test. The very real biological condition of FM takes an average of three to five years for someone with the illness to get an accurate diagnosis as hitherto there was no diagnostic blood test to definitively confirm the disorder. Scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC; IL USA) measured plasma cytokine levels in a group of 110 patients with a diagnosis of FM and determined responses to mitogen challenges of their peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). The cytokine levels of these patients were then compared with those in a group of 91 matched healthy controls. A custom panel of antibody-conjugated beads for measuring eight human cytokines (BioRad Laboratories; Hercules, CA, USA) was used in the assay.
Leptin Levels Predict Progression to Alzheimer's Disease
Add leptin, a hormone related to the regulation of appetite and energy balance, to the growing list of biomarker predictors of Alzheimer's disease (AD). In a presentation at the Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI) 28th International Conference, researchers led by Leung-Wing Chu, MD, honorary clinical professor of medicine at Queen Mary Hospital of the University of Hong Kong, report that a lower serum leptin level predicted progression of amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) to AD among older Chinese adults.
Sensitive Test Detects Alzheimer's Biomarkers in Plasma
New plasma biomarker tests for amyloid-β (Aβ) and tau protein may hold promise for a more convenient, safer, and less expensive method for detecting risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD), new research suggests. The new tests are based on immunomagnetic reduction, in which magnetic particles are coated with antibodies to the biomarkers and the reduction in the spin of the particles correlates with the amount of ligand bound to them, Charles Shieh-Yueh Yang, PhD, reported at the Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI) 28th International Conference.
Single Allergen Sensitization Tests may Miss Cases in Children
There is significant discordance between the results of allergen-specific skin prick tests (SPT) and allergen-specific serum immunoglobulin E (sIgE) levels for identifying aeroallergen sensitization in children under the age of 4 years, a study finds. The researchers say their findings indicate that both tests should be performed when diagnosing allergic sensitization in young children at high risk for asthma, in order to avoid missing cases. As reported in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, 80% of children with one or more allergen sensitizations would have been missed if only SPT had been administered, while in 38% of children one or more sensitizations would have been overlooked with sIgE alone.
Your Autoantibody 'Profile' Might Someday Help Spot Illness
Human blood contains thousands of autoantibodies that could serve as signals for certain diseases, according to a new study. Researchers found that every person has a unique autoantibody profile, which remains consistent over time. People with Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis and breast cancer all had much lower numbers of autoantibodies than their peers, the study showed.
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have identified a previously unknown biological mechanism involved in the regulation of pancreatic islet beta cells, whose role is to produce and release insulin. The discovery suggests a new therapeutic target for treating dysfunctional beta cells and type 2 diabetes, a disease affecting more than 25 million Americans. Writing in the journal Cell, Jerrold M. Olefsky, MD, associate dean for scientific affairs and distinguished professor of medicine, and colleagues say a transmembrane binding protein called fractalkine, which typically mediates cell-to-cell adhesion though its receptor, CX3CR1, can also be released from cells to circulate in the blood and stimulate insulin secretion. "Our discovery of fractalkine's role in beta cells is novel and has never been talked about in prior literature," said Olefsky
Heart Rate as a Measure of Life Span
A new study, published in Heart, suggests that a higher resting heart rate is an independent predictor of mortality — even in healthy people in good physical condition. Danish researchers gave physical exams to 5,249 healthy middle-aged and elderly men beginning in 1971. In 1985 and 1986, they tracked survivors, of whom there were 3,354. Of these, 2,798 had sufficient data on heart rate and oxygen consumption for the analysis. Researchers followed them through 2011.
After controlling for physical fitness and many other health and behavioral factors, they found that the higher the resting heart rate, the greater the risk for death. Compared with men with rates of 50 beats a minute or less, those at 71 to 80 beats had a 51 percent greater risk. At 81 to 90 beats, the rate of death was doubled, and over 90 it was tripled.
U of Utah Lab Develops Sub-30-second PCR; Working With Canon to Implement Method in MDx Platform
Carl Wittwer, the University of Utah scientist who helped invent 15-minute PCR and many other commonly used PCR techniques and instrumentation, is back at the drawing board, whittling the time it takes to perform PCR to less than 30 seconds. By employing high surface area-to-volume capillary tubes and up to 25-fold higher primer and polymerase concentrations than standard PCR, Wittwer and colleagues have used the method to successfully amplify a 49-bp fragment of human genomic DNA in less than 30 seconds and 102-bp fragments in less than a minute. Wittwer said that the method still has to overcome several significant challenges and concerns before it could be practically implemented. The higher primer concentration is an issue, but not as much as it used to be since "primers are cheap" nowadays, Wittwer said.
Affymetrix and BioDiscovery Announce Software for Analysis of Whole Genome Copy Number Data
Affymetrix, Inc. and BioDiscovery announce the availability of the Nexus for OncoScan® Software for analysis of whole genome copy number data generated from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) solid tumor samples using the OncoScan® FFPE Express 2.0 Service. Through a joint arrangement, this software, based on BioDiscovery’s flagship Nexus Copy Number™, is available to customers who are analyzing data generated using this service.
Labs Change Owners; Workers Await Fate
A deal has been reached calling for Dignity Health to sell its lab-related outreach service line that includes Stockton's large HealthCare Clinical Laboratories operation to Quest Diagnostics. The definitive agreement expected to be completed in June means that Madison, N.J.-based Quest, the nation's largest operator of medical testing labs, will acquire Dignity's nonhospital labs and patient service centers, also known as draw stations, used by patients outside the hospital setting in Stockton, as well as Glendale, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oxnard, Redding, Sacramento, San Bernardino, Ventura and Woodland. Quest Diagnostics said in a statement that it will perform testing from the acquired operations through its clinical laboratories in Las Vegas, Sacramento and West Hills. It did not elaborate.
MITA and other members of the medical technology industry met with senior U.S. and E.U. officials to urge them to bring regulatory convergence to the industry, a step they said will help the industry create jobs and encourage innovation. Representatives from AdvaMed, COCIR, Eucomed, EDMA and MITA met on April 10 to urge the officials to consider regulatory convergence for medical technology in upcoming negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). As it stands now, there are several regulatory inconsistencies between the U.S. and the E.U. For example, the two do not accept reports of each other's audits, and Unique Device Identification labeling differs between the U.S. and E.U.
Gene Changes Up Risk of Fatal Prostate Cancer
Localized prostate cancer with two types of genetic abnormalities had a 50 times greater risk of fatal recurrence after prostatectomy than did tumors without the alterations, a multicenter research group reported. Chromosomal copy number alterations (CNAs) in phosphate and tensin homolog (PTEN) and myelocytomatosis viral oncogene homolog (MYC) were associated with an odds ratio of 53 (95% CI 6.92 to 405) for prostate cancer-specific mortality, reported Jianfeng Xu, MD, DrPh, of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., and colleagues online in Cancer.
New Way Discovered to Clear Cholesterol From the Blood
Researchers at the University of Michigan have identified a new potential therapeutic target for lowering cholesterol that could be an alternative or complementary therapy to statins. Scientists in the lab of David Ginsburg at the Life Sciences Institute inhibited the action of a gene responsible for transporting a protein that interferes with the ability of the liver to remove cholesterol from the blood in mice. Trapping the destructive protein where it couldn't harm receptors responsible for removing cholesterol preserved the liver cells' capacity to clear plasma cholesterol from the blood, but did not appear to otherwise affect the health of the mice.
Scientists Develop an Antibiotic With Reduced Resistance
A new broad range antibiotic, developed jointly by scientists at The Rockefeller University and Astex Pharmaceuticals, has been found to kill a wide range of bacteria, including drug-resistant Staphylococcus (MRSA) bacteria that do not respond to traditional drugs, in mice. The antibiotic, Epimerox, targets weaknesses in bacteria that have long been exploited by viruses that attack them, known as phage, and has even been shown to protect animals from fatal infection by Bacillus anthracis, the bacteria that causes anthrax. Target selection is critical for the development of new antimicrobial agents. To date, most approaches for target selection have focused on the importance of bacterial survival. However, in addition to survival, the Rockefeller scientists believe that molecular targets should be identified by determining which cellular pathways have a low probability for developing resistance.
Tumors Fall to Radioactive Bacteria
Researchers use bacteria to deliver radiation to shrink pancreatic tumors in mice.
A weakened strain of bacteria can deliver radiation to mouse pancreatic tumors while leaving normal tissue unscathed, according to new research published (April 22) in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers found that treating mice with radioactively labeled, attenuated Listeria monocytogenes drastically reduced the number of metastases, suggesting that the strategy holds promise as a targeted anti-cancer therapy with limited side effects.
A Prosthetic Arm, Controlled by Your Thoughts
Researchers have shown how brain-computer interfaces could allow the disabled to move objects using nothing more than thoughts. By placing a small sensor in the brain’s motor cortex, interfaces can pick up on electrical activity, and translate it into commands that control a robotic arm. The person simply needs to think she/he is doing something for the arm to move. Now scientists have gone a step further. Instead of a wired brain-arm link, they have now developed a wireless connection powerful enough to work at a distance of three feet. The technology has been tested on two pairs of pigs and monkeys, and the signal has remained constant for more than a year.
Caffeine Key to Future Cancer Treatments
Researchers from the Univ. of Alberta are abuzz after using fruit flies to find new ways of taking advantage of caffeine’s lethal effects on cancer cells — results that could one day be used to advance cancer therapies for people. Previous research has established that caffeine interferes with processes in cancer cells that control DNA repair, a finding that has generated interest in using the stimulant as a chemotherapy treatment. But given the toxic nature of caffeine at high doses, researchers from the faculties of medicine and dentistry and science instead opted to use it to identify genes and pathways responsible for DNA repair.
Foodborne Illness Still Big Problem, CDC Says
The incidence of Vibrio infections in 2012 was up 43% over the period from 2006 to 2008 and incidence of Campylobacter infection increased by 14%, according to data from the multi-agency FoodNet surveillance network. The disease surveillance data also showed that rates of infection with a dangerous Escherichia coli strain known as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157 were back up to the rates seen in the 2006-to-2008 period, the CDC reported online and in the April 19 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Scientists Fight Deadly New Coronavirus
The SARS-like coronavirus was first diagnosed in a patient from Qatar, and researchers may have found a treatment. Scientists may have found a treatment for a deadly new coronavirus — which causes severe, acute respiratory symptoms — first diagnosed in a patient from Qatar in September. The treatment, a combination of two already-approved antiviral drugs, has been tested so far only in cells in lab dishes, according to the study in Scientific Reports.
Central-line Infections Drop, but Teaching Hospitals Remain Area of Concern
Despite "substantial progress" in reducing central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) rates in critical care patients over the past 20 years, there's room for improvement at medium and large teaching hospitals, according to a study in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology. The researchers found that 70 percent of CLABSIs in critical care patients occurred at medium and large teaching hospitals, suggesting those academic facilities may need targeted approaches to hold down infection rates.
Dozens of Oklahoma dental patients have been diagnosed with hepatitis C and at least one case of HIV, state health officials said, four weeks after finding a multitude of health code violations, including rusty tools, at a dental practice in Tulsa. Authorities said they were still determining whether the infections were connected with unsanitary practices at W. Scott Harrington’s two offices in Tulsa and a Tulsa suburb, which prompted officials to notify 7,000 of the dentist's patients. Of the 3,122 patients tested thus far, 57 tested positive for hepatitis C, three tested positive for hepatitis B, and at least one person tested positive for HIV, officials said. (State health rules prohibit reporting specific HIV cases that number fewer than three, but officials confirmed that patients had tested positive.)
Six Health IT Companies Join Forces to Develop Interoperable EHR Systems to Better Compete Against Epic’s EHR Product
CommonWell is the name of the new organization formed to create the interoperability that would enable universal access to each patient’s health care records It was big news in the healthcare IT world when six major healthcare IT companies joined together on March 4 and announced a collaboration intended to develop electronic health record (EHR) systems that are interoperable. That is a goal that can come none too soon for clinical laboratories and anatomic pathology groups.
The collaboration will take the form of an independent nonprofit organization to be called CommonWell Health Alliance. The six companies contributing to the formation of CommonWell are:
- Cerner Corporation
- McKesson Corporation
- Allscripts Healthcare Solutions, Inc.
- Athenahealth, Inc.
- Greenway Medical Technologies, Inc.
Defense-VA Agreed to E-Health Record Plan in December
The Defense and Veterans Affairs departments reached an agreement with the White House last December to develop an integrated electronic health record as well a Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record that would include personnel records and benefits information, according to an Office of Management and Budget memo provided to Nextgov. The document focused on open standards and interoperability and was sent on Dec. 6 by White House Chief Information Officer Steve VanRoekel and Todd Park, White House chief technology officer.
Movie Screening Highlights Atlanta Role in War on Malaria
In 1946, the federal government established a new public health center in Atlanta to fight malaria. The disease was still a problem in the United States, and the South had the highest rate in the nation. The new organization, the Communicable Disease Center, helped eliminate the malaria threat in the United States. But the center continued its disease-fighting work – and eventually became the current CDC. Atlanta remains pivotal in the fight against malaria. The CDC is still working on the disease, tracking 1,500 cases each year in the United States, mostly in returning travelers and immigrants. The agency collaborates with foreign governments and other partners to fight malaria overseas, and conducts research.
The film “Mary and Martha” underscores the importance of funding for mosquito nets, which cost $10 each. That’s not a lot of money by U.S. standards, but it’s a substantial sum in many of the poor areas where malaria is widespread. The Atlanta premiere was presented by HBO and advocacy group Malaria No More, in partnership with the Carter Center’s malaria control program and the Emory Institute for Developing Nations. The institute, a partnership between Emory University and the Carter Center, is co-hosting a conference this month in Atlanta on disease elimination and eradication. Malaria is a new focus for the institute.
50 Most Influential Physician Executives – 2013
The honorees were chosen by readers and the senior editors of Modern Healthcare and Modern Physician for their leadership in the varied sectors of the industry, whether provider organizations, government agencies, associations, insurers or supplier companies. This year's program is sponsored by Cejka Executive Search.
Among those are
- John Kitzhaber
Governor of Oregon, Salem
- John Noseworthy
President and CEO, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.
- Thomas Frieden
Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta
Hospitals Profit From Surgical Errors, Study Finds
Hospitals make money from their own mistakes because insurers pay them for the longer stays and extra care that patients need to treat surgical complications that could have been prevented, a new study finds. Changing the payment system, to stop rewarding poor care, may help to bring down surgical complication rates, the researchers say. If the system does not change, hospitals have little incentive to improve: in fact, some will wind up losing money if they take better care of patients.
Boston Hospital Divulges Medical Errors in Staff Newsletter
Boston hospital divulges medical errors in staff newsletter. In an effort to improve care and avoid errors, Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston is revealing its mistakes in a newsletter called “Safety Matters.” The e-mail newsletter is sent to the hospital's 16,000 employees in the hopes of encouraging staff members to speak openly about mistakes to determine possible solutions. Although some hospitals post information about infection rates and falls, medical errors are rarely discussed publicly or candidly. In marked contrast, the Brigham newsletter recounts stories of health care gone wrong via interviews with patients and caregivers, and then describes the hospital's response. To protect privacy neither patients' nor practitioners' real names are used, as the hospital does not want to discourage staff from reporting issues.
UK Campaign Urges High-Risk Individuals to Test for HIV at Least Every 12 Months
The spread of HIV in England can be stopped within a generation, according to a new prevention campaign funded by the Department of Health. There are around 90,000 people living with HIV in England. One person in four does not know they have it. Gay and bisexual men and people in African communities make up three-quarters of cases. Focused screening and information for high-risk groups could end the epidemic, experts say. The new It Starts With Me campaign, created by the Terrence Higgins Trust, urges people in high-risk groups to get tested for HIV at least every 12 months, and more frequently if they have symptoms or have put themselves at risk by having unprotected sex, for example.
CMC Pathology Lab Goes Hi-tech
The Norman Institute of Pathology (NIP) attached to the Christian Medical College hospital has acquired the country’s first state-of-the-art, fully automated, paperless pathology diagnostic equipment. The equipment will help improve quality, reduce defects in workflow, save time and improve the final output to patients and doctors. It comprises a pathology grossing station, integrated image analyser and data reporting system, and costs around Rs 2.2 crore. In the cytology domain, the integrated image analyser helped in the screening of cervical smears (pap smears) directly, thus reducing the time by 1 to 2 minutes per case as against the manual screening that consumed 15 minutes. A voice recognition software integrated into the system enables better and faster reporting of cases. Another software- mTutive xPert- creates standardised structured data reporting for cancer cases, explicit reports for surgeons, oncologists while collating vital data on cancer patients.
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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