(Nature) – Two scientists have rolled out a program that spots incorrect gene sequences reported in experiments — and have used it to identify flaws in more than 60 papers, almost all of them studies of cancer. Jennifer Byrne, a cancer researcher at the Kids Research Institute of the Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Sydney, Australia, and Cyril Labbé, a computer scientist at the University of Grenoble Alpes in Grenoble, France, made public an early version of the program, called Seek & Blastn, in October and now they want other researchers to test the program and help to improve it. They then plan to offer it to journal editors and publishers as an addition to the tools that most already use to check papers, such as software to detect plagiarism.
(The Guardian) – Patients are being put at risk because doctors are giving them drugs they do not need and sending them for unnecessary surgery to avoid a complaint being made against them, research has revealed. Medics are so scared of being complained about that they are also giving patients more tests than their symptoms merit and not performing procedures that involve more risk than usual.
(Reuters) – Policymakers and insurers have been pushing people addicted to opioids into abstinence-based detox programs, but a new study concludes that methadone and similar drug-maintenance treatments save lives and money. If the nearly 47,000 Californians who began treatment for opioid-use disorder in 2014 had received immediate access to methadone or another opioid-agonist treatment – instead of first being forced to completely withdraw from opioids – the healthcare and criminal-justice systems would have saved $3.8 billion, researchers estimate.
(Medscape) – Women who use hormonal contraceptives are at increased risk for suicide attempt and suicide. The highest relative risk is seen in adolescent women, a large Danish study indicates. “Women should be aware of this potential adverse effect of hormonal contraception so that they might consider alternatives if they develop depression after starting use of hormonal contraception,” Øjvind Lidegaard, MD, Department of Gynecology, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, and Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, told Medscape Medical News.
(USA Today) – A Tennessee judge who agreed to shave time off inmate’s sentences if they agreed to receive vasectomies or other forms of birth control was publicly reprimanded by Tennessee judicial regulators. In its Nov. 15 letter of reprimand, the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct suggested White County judge Sam Benningfield acted in a way that threatened public confidence in the judicial system.
(Reuters) – Many nursing home residents who might benefit from palliative care to make them more comfortable and improve their quality of life don’t receive it, a small U.S. study suggests. Researchers examined data on 228 residents of three northern California nursing homes and found that 157 of them, or 69 percent, were eligible for palliative care based on the types of health issues they had. But none of them were receiving palliative care, and only two were getting hospice services.
(CBS News) – Iron Man suits might not yet be commonplace, but companies from Ford (F) to Lowe’s (LOW) are testing new mechanical exoskeletons to enhance — and extend — human strength. Earlier this month, Ford said it was testing four models of exoskeletal arms to help ease fatigue for assembly line workers. Hyundai last year announced it was working on a wearable robot suit. And Germany’s Audi (VLKAY) began testing robotic assist technology for production plants in 2015. Universities from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to U.C. Berkeley are also developing technology, mostly inspired by potential medical use.
(New York Times) – But which of Attica’s nearly 2,400 prisoners, I wondered, was the subject of experiments relating to this crippling disease, without, as Dr. Brandriss admitted, adequate consent? Might it have been the 19-year-old who was at Attica because he had sliced the top of a neighbor’s convertible? Or a man imprisoned there for more serious offenses? Either way, no jury had sentenced them to being a guinea pig in any experiment relating to a disease as painful and disfiguring as leprosy.
(Kaiser Health News) – Three years before launching an offshore herpes vaccine trial, an American researcher vaccinated patients in U.S. hotel rooms in brazen violation of U.S. law, a Kaiser Health News investigation has found. Southern Illinois University associate professor William Halford administered the shots himself at a Holiday Inn Express and a Crowne Plaza Hotel that were a 15-minute drive from the researcher’s SIU lab. Halford injected at least eight herpes patients on four separate occasions in the summer and fall of 2013 with a virus that he created, according to emails from seven participants and interviews with one participant.
(Kaiser Health News) – As public health officials grapple with how to slow the growing opioid epidemic — which claims 91 lives each day, according to federal statistics — the over-prescription of narcotics after even minor surgery is coming under new scrutiny. While patients are today often given opioids to manage post-operative pain, a large supply of pills may open the door to opioid misuse, either by the patients themselves or others in the family or community who get access to the leftovers.
(STAT News) – Attempted suicides, drug overdoses, cutting, and other types of self-injury have increased substantially in U.S. girls, a 15-year study of emergency room visits found. It’s unclear why, but some mental health experts think cyberbullying, substance abuse and economic stress from the recent recession might be contributing.
(Reuters) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday approved the first two-drug regimen to treat HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, aimed at easing the side effects for long-term patients who are on the standard treatment involving three or more drugs. The treatment, called Juluca, is a fixed-dose tablet that combines two previously approved drugs, dolutegravir and rilpivirine, and is available to patients who have been on a stable regimen for at least six months.
(ProPublica) – Little known to the public, or to sick patients and their families, organs donated domestically are sometimes given to patients flying in from other countries, who often pay a premium. Some hospitals even seek out foreign patients in need of a transplant. A Saudi Arabian company, Ansaq Medical Co., whose stated aim is to “facilitate the procedures and mechanisms of ‘medical tourism,’” said it signed an agreement with Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans in 2015. The practice is legal, and foreign nationals must wait their turn for an organ in the same way as domestic patients. Transplant centers justify it on medical and humanitarian grounds.
(STAT News) – She is 84, and has become a symbol — if an eccentric one — for a kind of physician autonomy that is almost extinct in our era of highly regulated medical care. She works alone in a cottage next door to her house, with no receptionist, no practice administrator, no nurses, no N.P.s, no P.A.s, no hospital affiliations. She has a computer in her kitchen, but she doesn’t use it much. She keeps her files in a cabinet in her office, page upon handwritten page of careful, old-world lettering. She does not take insurance, instead charging patients $50 cash for each office visit.
(New York Times) – A new way of genetically altering a patient’s cells to fight cancer has helped desperately ill people with leukemia when every other treatment had failed, researchers reported on Monday in the journal Nature Medicine. The new approach, still experimental, could eventually be given by itself or, more likely, be used in combination treatments — analogous to antiviral “cocktails” for H.I.V. or multidrug regimens of chemotherapy for cancer — to increase the odds of shutting down the disease.