A Weekly Compilation of Clinical Laboratory and Related Information
from The Division Of Laboratory Programs, Standards And Services
November 20, 2014
- OIR Head Alberto Gutierrez Discusses Draft LDT Framework at Federal Laboratory Advisory Committee Meeting; Provides Additional Insights on Agency Plans to Regulate LDTs
- Death of Second Ebola Patient in U.S. Shows Need for Early, Accurate Tests, Experts say
- Ebola Watch: California Adopts Toughest Regulations in US to Protect Hospital Workers
- Many U.S. Doctors Wary of Genetic Testing: Survey
- Alzheimer’s Test Detects Disease Decade Ahead of Onset
- Blood Test Could Reduce Antibiotic Use
- West Scientists' Prostate Cancer Breakthrough at the University of Bristol
- 'Inactivating' NPC1L1 Mutations Lower LDL Levels and Protect Against CHD
- Additive Found in Soap, Toothpaste and Shampoo is Linked to Cancer and Liver Disease
- Scientists Find Signs of Toxic Flame Retardants in Americans
- New Guidance on HIPAA Privacy During Emergencies
- EHR Analysis Can Flag Undiagnosed Diabetes
View Previous Issues - Healthcare News Archive
OIR Head Alberto Gutierrez Discusses Draft LDT Framework at Federal Laboratory Advisory Committee Meeting; Provides Additional Insights on Agency Plans to Regulate LDTs
On November 6, Alberto Gutierrez, the head of the office in charge of regulating in vitro diagnostics at FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH), discussed the two Laboratory-Developed Test (LDT) draft guidances with members of a federal advisory committee devoted to laboratory issues. Dr. Gutierrez fielded several questions from the advisory panel members, provided some additional insights on how the agency plans to regulate LDTs, although a plethora of questions remain to be answered. Dr. Gutierrez, Director, Office of In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health (OIR), at CDRH, discussed the draft guidances during the second day of the November 5-6 Clinical Laboratory Improvement Advisory Committee (CLIAC) meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. CLIAC, which is managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), provides scientific and technical advice and guidance to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) related to laboratory issues. The CLIAC discussion comes on the heels of an October 23 FDA webinar on the topic.
Lab Group Hires Lawyers to Parry FDA Regulation; AMA-led Groups Push for Rulemaking
The American Clinical Laboratory Association [ACLA] announced that it has retained Solicitor General Paul Clement, a partner at Bancroft PLLC, and Laurence Tribe, constitutional law professor at Harvard University, for "representation on matters relating to the FDA's recently issued draft guidance to regulate LDTs as medical devices. "The agency informed the US Congress in July of its intent to regulate LDTs, and issued two draft guidances for public comment in October. The documents describe a risk-based framework for bringing LDTs under its oversight over the next decade. ACLA has historically opposed FDA oversight of LDTs, arguing that the agency lacks statutory authority to regulate such tests that have for four decades been the province of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA). The group's main contention is that LDTs are lab services, not devices, and therefore don't fall under FDA's regulatory jurisdiction under the Medical Device Amendments of the Federal Food, Drug, & Cosmetic Act.
Alongside ACLA's announcement, the AMA also sent a letter to the FDA, asking the agency to abandon its efforts to advance regulations through guidances and instead utilize the more formal notice-and-comment rulemaking process. "The FDA's statutory authority to regulate laboratory-developed testing services and the scope of the proposed guidance remains a matter of significant legal controversy," the AMA's letter states.
Death of Second Ebola Patient in U.S. Shows Need for Early, Accurate Tests, Experts say
By the time Martin Salia arrived on a chartered medical jet at the Nebraska Medical Center over the weekend, his kidneys had failed, he didn’t respond to someone calling his name, and he was barely breathing. “As we have learned, early treatment with these patients is essential,” said Phil Smith, medical director of Nebraska’s biocontainment unit, where Salia was treated.
The Ebola virus typically can be detected in blood only after the onset of symptoms, usually a fever. It may even take several days after symptoms appear for the disease to show up in a commonly used blood test that looks for the genetic core of the virus. If an initial test is performed less than three days after symptoms appear and is negative, experts recommend a later test to rule out the virus, according to officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “In the early stages of the illness, the virus may not be present in the blood in sufficient quantity to detect,” said Amesh Adalja, a senior associate at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Center for Health Security. There is a “window period,” he said, in which a person has been infected but current tests do not yet detect the virus. There has been a big push in recent months to develop rapid tests that can more quickly provide a diagnosis. But even those tests wouldn’t necessarily be able to help doctors diagnose Ebola soon after a person is infected but before symptoms begin.
Ebola Watch: California Adopts Toughest Regulations in US to Protect Hospital Workers
California now has some of the toughest regulations in the country to protect healthcare workers who treat patients with Ebola. The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced new requirements for the state's acute care hospitals in regards to Ebola. Hospitals must provide workers with hazardous material suits, respirators and isolation rooms, and conduct extensive training to those working with patients suspected of having the virus. The rules are mandatory with civil penalties for hospitals that fail to comply. The regulations go further than the voluntary guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which California hospitals have followed up until now, according to SFGate. The new requirements were unveiled following a worldwide protest and a two-day strike by thousands of Kaiser Permanente nurses, who demanded hospitals provide stronger protections for healthcare workers treating Ebola patients.
Researchers to Test New Treatments in Countries Hit Hardest by Ebola
Researchers announced that they would soon begin the first clinical trials to test experimental treatments for Ebola in the West African countries most affected by the outbreak. Until now, such treatments have mainly been available to the small number of patients treated in the United States and Europe, not those in the epidemic’s epicenter. “This is an unprecedented international partnership which represents hope for patients to finally get a real treatment against a disease that today kills between 50 and 80 percent of those infected,” Dr. Annick Antierens of the aid group Doctors Without Borders said in a statement. The group said its treatment centers would be the sites of three clinical trials, to be run by European researchers. One study will test the drug Avigan, another will test the drug brincidofovir, and the third will test blood or plasma transfusions from Ebola survivors. The trials could begin in December, with results on whether the treatments work as early as February.
Many U.S. Doctors Wary of Genetic Testing: Survey
Many American doctors may not support genetic testing in patients without a major family history of certain illnesses, suggests a new survey of physicians. When presented with the hypothetical case of a middle-aged man with a family history of cancer in an aunt and uncle, more than a third of 180 U.S. doctors surveyed said they wouldn't recommend any genetic testing. Almost half would only recommend testing for cancer genes, and fewer than one in five would recommend whole-genome testing, according to the survey. The genome is the complete genetic "blueprint" for an individual.
Alzheimer’s Test Detects Disease Decade Ahead of Onset
A new blood test for Alzheimer’s appears to detect the disease as many as 10 years before clinical diagnosis is possible -- far sooner than other tests in development. “We will need replication and validation, but I’m very optimistic this work will hold,” Dimitrios Kapogiannis, the study’s lead author and a neuroscientist at the National Institute on Aging, said after a presentation at the Society for Neuroscience conference in Washington.
The researchers gathered blood samples from 70 individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, 20 cognitively normal elderly with diabetes, and 84 healthy adults. Of the participants, 22 of the Alzheimer’s patients provided samples taken one to 10 years before diagnosis. From the samples, the researchers isolated exosomes, little lipid sacs that bud off cell membranes and carry signals to other cells and tissues. From the resulting pool of exosomes, they identified just those originating in the brain, which contain IRS-1, and measured the levels of the protein. They found that patients with Alzheimer’s had higher amounts of the inactive form of the protein and lower amounts of the active form than healthy individuals.
Blood Test Could Reduce Antibiotic Use
A new blood biomarker test that indicates whether bacteria are the cause of a patient’s lung infection is now being studied at UPMC Presbyterian. The information could help doctors decide when to prescribe antibiotics and possibly reduce overuse of the drugs, which can lead to antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. “Doctors prescribe antibiotics more often than they would like to because it can be really hard to tell if a patient has a lung infection or a non-infectious disease,” he said. “Also, viral infections look very much like bacterial infections, and X-rays typically cannot distinguish between the two. This study will examine whether a novel biomarker can help doctors make more informed decisions about using antibiotics.”
Cancer, HIV and Heart Disease Detection in 15 Minutes
Screening for serious illnesses like cancer, HIV and heart disease could one day become part of routine checkups thanks to a handheld device called z-Lab, which can detect an array of ailments using only a single drop of urine or other bodily fluid. The new, potentially lifesaving technology, which uses sensors on biochips to detect early signs of disease, was developed by the Golden Gopher Magnetic Biosensing Team — a collaboration between University of Minnesota researchers and engineers, Mayo Clinic doctors and industry partners.
Gene Test May Spot Which Kidney Transplants More Likely to Fail
A preliminary gene test may help identify kidney transplant patients at risk of organ rejection, researchers report. Organ rejection occurs in 15 percent to 20 percent of kidney transplant patients, even when they are given drugs to suppress their immune system. Typically, an increase in serum creatinine -- a sign of kidney function -- warns of impending kidney rejection. A kidney biopsy is then performed to confirm whether a new kidney is being rejected by the body, according to background information in the study. The study was published Nov. 11 in the journal PLoS Medicine.
Age and Sex May Distort Biomarkers in Early RA
Age and sex are independently associated with levels of erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP) in early rheumatoid arthritis (RA). An examination of baseline data from the Dutch Rheumatoid Arthritis Monitoring (DREAM) registry revealed increases in the levels of both acute phase reactants with age, higher levels of ESR in women versus men across age groups, but higher levels of CRP in men. Dutch investigators, writing in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, concluded that, "Because the acute phase reactants tend to increase with age, independent of other core measures of disease activity, the disease activity of older-aged patients might be overestimated."
Blood Test Predicts TNF Inhibitor Response in RA Patients
A blood test that measures the ratio of interferon (IFN)-beta to IFN-alpha in patients with rheumatoid arthritis can help predict who will respond to tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors, according to a new study. A higher IFN-beta/IFN-alpha ratio was strongly associated with a nonresponse to TNF inhibitors at 12 to 14 weeks in the study cohort.
ARUP Laboratories and PierianDx Create Partnership to Produce More Efficient and Effective Diagnostic Genetic Tests
ARUP Laboratories and PierianDx announced a partnership that will result in faster and more efficient diagnostic genetic testing for thousands of patients across the U.S. ARUP Laboratories will use PierianDx’s proven workflow management tools and next-generation sequencing knowledgebase to more effectively and quickly access its own immense knowledgebase of variants and clinical outcomes, as well as benefit from the collective insights of other institutions in the PierianDx partner network.
Cepheid Receives $3.3M Grant to Develop Ebola MDx Assay
Cepheid said that it has been awarded a grant for up to $3.3 million to develop a molecular diagnostic test for Ebola. The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded the grant to the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based firm to develop Xpert Ebola, which will run on Cepheid's installed base of more than 3,500 GeneXpert Systems in developing countries, including more than 1,000 systems in Africa. The test is anticipated to be available on an emergency-use-only basis. For now, Cepheid said that it expects the test will use oral swabs or capillary whole-blood specimen.
West Scientists' Prostate Cancer Breakthrough at the University of Bristol
British scientists hailed a breakthrough which could halt the spread of prostate cancer tumours. They say that targeting a molecule called SRPK1, a protein-coding gene, will inhibit new blood vessels from forming, preventing cancer cells surviving and multiplying. It is hoped this will halt the spread of the disease, allowing doctors to treat cancerous cells that are already exist. Dr Sebastian Oltean, the study's co-author at the University of Bristol, said: "We reasoned that inhibition of SRPK1 activity could stop cancer progression. “Indeed, we show in this paper that if we decrease SRPK1 levels in prostate cancer cells, or in tumours grafted into mice, we are able to switch VEGF splicing and therefore inhibit tumour vasculature and growth." The research was carried out on mice by academics at the Universities of Bristol, Nottingham and the University of the West of England.
'Inactivating' NPC1L1 Mutations Lower LDL Levels and Protect Against CHD
Individuals who possess a mutation in the Niemann-Pick C1-like 1 gene (NPC1L1), the gene that encodes the NPC1L1 protein targeted by ezetimibe (Zetia, Merck/Schering-Plough), have lower levels of LDL cholesterol and a corresponding lower risk of coronary heart disease [CHD] compared with individuals who don't carry the mutation. In total, 15 distinct NPC1L1 inactivating mutations were identified, and approximately one in 650 individuals are heterozygous carriers for one of these mutations. For heterozygous carriers, LDL cholesterol levels were reduced by 12 mg/dL compared with noncarriers, and this translated into a 53% lower risk of coronary heart disease. "The project started with the general idea that, instead of mutations putting people at risk for disease, they actually might protect against disease," lead investigator Dr Sekar Kathiresan (Broad Institute/Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA) told heartwire . "We know ezetimibe targets this protein, NPC1L1, in the gut and blocks its function by about 50%. As a result, less cholesterol is absorbed from the gut into the bloodstream, leading to lower LDL-cholesterol levels. The unanswered question is whether this mechanism of lowering LDL reduces the risk of heart disease."
Study Finds Alternative to Anti-Cholesterol Drug
For the first time since statins have been regularly used, a large study has found that another type of cholesterol-lowering drug can protect people from heart attacks and strokes. The finding can help millions at high risk of heart attacks who cannot tolerate statins or do not respond to them sufficiently. And it helps clarify the role of LDL cholesterol, the dangerous form. Some had argued that statins reduced heart attack risk not just by lowering LDL levels but also by reducing inflammation. The new study indicates that the crucial factor is LDL, and the lower the levels, the better.
Researchers Prevent, Cure Rotavirus Infection Using Novel Method
Activation of the innate immune system with the bacterial protein flagellin could prevent and cure rotavirus infection, which is among the most common causes of severe diarrhea, says a Georgia State University research team that described the method as a novel means to prevent and treat viral infection. The team’s findings are to be published in Science on Nov. 14. The research, performed in mice, was led by Dr. Andrew Gewirtz and Dr. Benyue Zhang of the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State, and included collaborators at Emory University School of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Genentech Inc. and the Pennsylvania State University. “We’ve described a completely novel way to combat a viral infection by use of a bacterial-derived activator of the immune system,” Gewirtz said. “It’s analogous to equipping an NFL defense with baseball bats. Blatant violation of all the rules but yet, at least in this case, very effective.”
IU Researchers Identify Key Mechanism and Potential Target to Prevent Leukemia
Researchers have identified two proteins that appear crucial to the development -- and patient relapse -- of acute myeloid leukemia. They have also shown they can block the development of leukemia by targeting those proteins. In the Cell Reports paper, Dr. Kapur, first author Anindya Chatterjee, Ph.D., and their colleagues describe the mechanism that leads to the development of acute myeloid leukemia, identifying two proteins known as FAK and PAK1 as key to the process. In experiments with mice, the researchers showed that eliminating, or "knocking out," the genes that produce FAK and PAK1 prevented the development of leukemia in mice, even though their bone marrow stem cells contained the cancer-causing receptor mutations. Eliminating the FAK and PAK1 proteins did not prevent the mice from otherwise producing and maintaining a normal blood system, the researchers said.
Additive Found in Soap, Toothpaste and Shampoo is Linked to Cancer and Liver Disease
- The antimicrobial triclosan is found in hundreds of household products
- Has been linked with health problems and antibiotic resistance
- New study suggests it is linked with liver disease and cancer
An additive found in many liquid hand soaps and other common household products has been linked to cancer in a new study. Triclosan is an antimicrobial commonly found in soaps, shampoos, toothpastes and many other household items. Despite its widespread use, researchers have identified potentially serious consequences of long-term exposure to the chemical. Their study, published by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that triclosan causes liver fibrosis and cancer in lab mice. Liver fibrosis is where persistent inflammation causes fibrous scar tissue to form around the liver cells and blood vessels. Over time, it can cause cirrhosis which in turn can make the liver stop functioning. However the researchers stress the findings are also relevant in humans, due to the processes they observed while conducting the study. Triclosan is already under scrutiny by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States due recent reports that it can disrupt hormones and impair muscle contraction. Experts are concerned because triclosan is now so widely used in a variety of toiletries and household cosmetics. Studies in the U.S. have found traces in 97 per cent of breast milk samples from lactating women and in the urine of nearly 75 per cent of people tested. Triclosan is one of the seven most frequently detected compounds in streams across the United States.
While it seems common sense that antibacterial soap can protect against from illness caused by bacteria, this is not what the evidence shows. More than four decades of research by the U.S. government’s Food And Drug Administration, along with numerous independent studies, have produced no evidence that triclosan, the active ingredient in many antibacterial soaps, hand gels and wipes, has any health benefits over old-fashioned soap and water.
Scientists Find Signs of Toxic Flame Retardants in Americans
Scientists report that they found evidence of six kinds of toxic flame retardants in Americans. The researchers tested urine samples from California residents and found detectable levels of a rarely studied group of flame retardants known as phosphates, and one -- tris-(2-chloroethyl) phosphate (TCEP) -- has never been seen in Americans before. TCEP, a known carcinogen that can also damage people's nervous and reproductive systems, was detected in 75 percent of the people tested, the scientists said. This flame retardant is used in polyurethane foam, plastics, polyester resins and textiles. Another cancer-causing flame retardant detected in nearly all of the study participants was TDCIPP (chlorinated tris), which is similar to TCEP. This came as a surprise because TDCIPP was phased out of children's pajamas in the 1970s, the researchers noted. The findings were published online Nov. 12 in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Dementia Study Questions Advice on Taking Supplements
Taking vitamin B12 and folic acid supplements does not seem to cut the risk of developing dementia in healthy people, say Dutch researchers. In one of the largest studies to date, there was no difference in memory test scores between those who had taken the supplements for two years and those who were given a placebo. The research was published in the journal Neurology. Alzheimer's Research UK said longer trials were needed to be sure.
Scientists Unlock Crucial Mechanism Driving Colliding Epidemics of Smoking and Tuberculosis
TB is an infectious disease that kills 1.5 million people each year, and smoking is the biggest driver of the global TB epidemic. Medical scientists at Trinity College Dublin and St James’s Hospital have unlocked the mechanism underlying the connection between smoking and Tuberculosis (TB). This discovery will considerably strengthen anti-smoking efforts to control TB and uncovers new therapy and vaccine options for TB. Their research has just been published in the top respiratory Journal, the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
The Best Odds for a Colon Test
The fecal occult blood test is an inexpensive and effective screening tool for colorectal cancer, but it requires taking a smear of one’s own feces and mailing it to a laboratory, a procedure many are reluctant to follow. Now a new study, published online in The Annals of Internal Medicine, has found that more people will complete the test if the right financial incentive is offered.
Genetic Testing for Personalized Nutrition Leads to Better Outcomes
Researchers from the University of Toronto (U of T) report that personalized dietary advice based on a person's genetic makeup improves eating habits compared to current "one-size-fits-all" dietary recommendations. The findings were published online in the journal PLoS One. "We conducted the first randomized controlled trial to determine the impact of disclosing DNA-based dietary advice on eating habits," says Ahmed El-Sohemy, an Associate Professor in Nutritional Sciences at U of T and Canada Research Chair in Nutrigenomics. "We found that people who receive DNA-based advice improve their diet to a greater extent than those who receive the standard dietary advice. They're also the ones who need to change it the most."
Hand Washing is Key to Protecting U.S. Troops
Army medical officers marvel at what they say is one simple step keeping U.S. troops unusually healthy here in the midst of an Ebola contagion. "It would be washing their hands. It's the same thing our moms told us growing up," says Lt. Col. Matt Fandre, 101st Airborne Division command surgeon working here. Fandre wonders how illness-free Americans back home could be if they adopted what is now a West African ritual of rinsing hands regularly in a mix of water and chlorine bleach. Dispensers are posted across the U.S. base laid out here along the Atlantic Ocean on Liberian Defense Ministry grounds, and GIs are admonished to wash frequently.
"You'll see those chlorine buckets everywhere you go. That has been a significant help in keeping illnesses low," Fandre says.
Hand-hygiene Compliance Drops at the End of Shifts
Hospital workers are less likely to wash their hands toward the end of their shifts, according to new research that suggests the lack of compliance is due to fatigue from the demands of the job. Researchers, led by Hengchen Dai, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Pennsylvania, analyzed three years of hand-washing data from more than 4,000 caregivers in 35 hospitals across the U.S. Most of the caregivers were nurses (65 percent) and the others were patient care technicians, therapists or physicians. They discovered hand-washing compliance rates dropped an average of 8.7 percentage points from the beginning to the end of a typical 12-hour shift, according to the study, published by the American Psychological Association. Increased work intensity was also associated with the drop in compliance. But more time off between shifts restored workers' executive resources as they followed hand-washing protocol more carefully after the long breaks, researchers said.
New Guidance on HIPAA Privacy During Emergencies
In light of the treatment of Ebola patients and other events, the HHS Office for Civil Rights has issued new guidance on sharing patient information under the HIPAA Privacy rule during emergency situations. The guidance also is meant to “serve as a reminder that the protections of the Privacy Rule are not set aside during an emergency,” OCR cautions. The privacy rule enables covered entities to disclose without patient authorization protected information necessary to treat the patient or a different patient, the agency explains. “Treatment includes the coordination or management of healthcare and related services by one or more healthcare providers and others, consultation between providers, and the referral of patients for treatment.”
EHR Analysis Can Flag Undiagnosed Diabetes
In a paper urging the use of electronic diabetes registries, researchers illustrated that analysis of coding in electronic health records and the use of algorithms to sort through biochemical data can flag a significant number of people with undiagnosed diabetes. In the study, published at CMAJ Open, researchers analyzed 11.5 million primary care electronic records from at more than 9,000 primary care clinics across the United States. Of the 1,174,018 patients with diabetes found in that database, it had gone undetected in 63,620--5.4 percent of them. The Oxford University researchers found higher proportions of the population with undiagnosed diabetes in certain areas in Arizona, North Dakota, Minnesota, South Carolina and Indiana.
Improving Patient Use of Interactive Preventive Health Records
Primary care practices can encourage patients to use interactive preventive health records (IPHRs) by directly engaging patients, according to research supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Investigators conducted a mixed methods assessment of a proactive implementation strategy for an IPHR portal offered by eight primary care practices. Strategies included learning collaboratives with practice champions and redesigned workflow to integrate portal use into care. The study found that a customized implementation strategy designed by practices resulted in 25.6% of patients using the personal health portal. The study, “Engaging Primary Care Patients to Use a Patient-Centered Personal Health Record,” was published in the September/October issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.
Is Meaningful use Widening the Digital Divide?
The federal government's electronic health record incentive money appears to be working well for hospitals and physician practices, both of whom have seen double-digit growth in EHR adoption. But how are those care providers who didn't qualify for incentives faring with digital health? Not so great, it turns out. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' EHR Incentive Programs, which have paid out some $25.4 billion to hospitals and eligible providers as of September, have done great things for health IT, but they've also created a "digital divide" between those who qualify and those who don't, according to a new white paper. The study, published by interoperability software company Inofile, underscores the challenges most long-term and post-acute providers – think nursing homes, hospice, behavioral health and home care – are facing as they still predominantly lack the health IT infrastructure necessary for health information exchange. And there's a significant number of them: As of 2012, there were some 58,500 long-term care providers in the U.S., serving some 8 million people
AMA Backs Compact for Multistate Licensure to Ease Use of Telemedicine
The American Medical Association pledged its support for a compact developed by the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) to make it easier for physicians to obtain licenses in multiple states. The action, taken at its 2014 AMA Interim Meeting, comes amid a rising tide for telemedicine as a means to provide care remotely to rural areas and regions with a shortage of doctors.
IBM Provides Technology to Help Contain Ebola Outbreak
IBM has launched a number of humanitarian initiatives to help communities contain Ebola outbreak. As part of this, IBM has launched a citizen engagement and analytics system in Sierra Leone that enables communities affected by Ebola to communicate their issues and concerns directly to the government. IBM also offered IBM Connections technology in Nigeria to strengthen the Lagos State government’s preparedness for future disease outbreaks. Further, the technology company has launched global platform for sharing Ebola-related open data. For this, the company has partnered with a number of organizations including Sierra Leone’s Open Government Initiative, Cambridge University’s Africa’s Voices project, Airtel and Kenya’s Echo Mobile.
Ebola Watch: Michigan Health System Sets Policy to Pay Quarantined Nurses
Nurses who work for the University of Michigan Health System will receive pay for time off if they are put in quarantine as a result of treating Ebola patients, the Detroit Free Press reports. The policy may be the first nursing contract of its kind in the nation and a model for other hospitals to follow, according to the article. It states that quarantined nurses don't have to use sick time or vacation days and they must return to the same position they had once they are deemed free of the virus.
Doctors Charging Seniors for Unnecessary Drug Tests, According to Study
The Wall Street Journal has found that pain management doctors are reaping millions of dollars by charging Medicare for warrantless drug tests on senior patients for substances like PCP and cocaine. Analysis of payment data conducted in 2012 found that Medicare has spent $445 million on tests for such drugs, which marks an increase of 1,423% since 2007. The Journal report comes on the heels of similar findings by the New York Times this year, which showed that of the 880,000 doctors who accept Medicare coverage, only 2% account for about a quarter of all total payments, which is estimated at $15 billion. This does not include an additional $13.5 billion received by clinical laboratories and ambulance services.
How Low Health Literacy, Technology Leave Elderly Behind
The Internet is quickly becoming the go-to place for health information, but those who are not well-versed in understanding health matters, and especially those who are elderly, are being left behind, according to a recent study. The study, led by Helen Levy of the University of Michigan, examines elderly people's knowledge of health matters and how they use the Internet, according to an announcement. The findings are published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
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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