(STAT News) – Roughly half of all adults in the U.S. have one or more chronic illnesses, with 25 percent suffering from two or more such conditions. These people navigate a medical system of widely variable quality, an ever-shifting insurance landscape, and real-world considerations like broken cars, broken marriages, and bad jobs that can shape the patient journey as much as the latest medical discoveries. Can we get any better at treating chronic illness, particularly when those illnesses become life-threatening? We spoke to some experts in the field on ways to make that happen in 2018 and beyond.
(Kaiser Health News) – Basic steps to prevent infections — such as washing hands, isolating contagious patients and keeping ill nurses and aides from coming to work — are routinely ignored in the nation’s nursing homes, endangering residents and spreading hazardous germs. A Kaiser Health News analysis of four years of federal inspection records shows 74 percent of nursing homes have been cited for lapses in infection control — more than for any other type of health violation. In California, health inspectors have cited all but 133 of the state’s 1,251 homes.
(ProPublica) – Judged by one of the most life-altering impacts — a hysterectomy — the U.S. is an outlier in the industrialized world. U.S. women are about five times more likely than their British and Swedish counterparts to undergo a hysterectomy, according to Elena Kuklina, a CDC health scientist. They’re also three times more likely to need a breathing tube during and immediately after childbirth than women in the United Kingdom. The U.K. has improved maternity care by requiring every doctor to follow the same treatment protocols, and by examining every death to see what mistakes may have occurred.
(STAT News) – Facing a barrage of lawsuits for its alleged role in seeding the opioid crisis, Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, is countering with a public outreach campaign meant to show it is doing its part to stem the epidemic. The company last week launched an advertising campaign in national newspapers, Washington publications, and local papers in its home state of Connecticut. In a statement, Purdue said the ads were part of a broader “long-term initiative,” but declined to provide details about what else would be included beyond the advertisements.
(Quartz) – In August 2017, researchers at Ohio State College of Engineering announced an exciting new technology. “Tissue nanotransfection” (TNT for short) which enables injured or aging tissue to be repaired or restored, including blood vessels, nerve cells and entire organs. TNT technology has two major components: First is a nanotechnology-based chip designed to deliver cargo to adult cells in a live body. Second is the design of specific biological cargo for cell conversion. TNT doesn’t require any laboratory-based procedures and is also non-invasive.
(Washington Post) – Recent revelations that a U.S. researcher injected Americans with his experimental herpes vaccine without routine safety oversight raised an uproar among scientists and ethicists. Not only did Southern Illinois University researcher William Halford vaccinate Americans offshore, he injected other participants in U.S. hotel rooms without Food and Drug Administration oversight or even a medical license. Since then, several participants have complained of side effects. But don’t expect the disclosures after Halford’s death in June to trigger significant institutional changes or government response, research experts say.
(The Guardian) – Deafness has been prevented in mice using gene editing for the first time, in an advance that could transform future treatment of genetic hearing loss. The study found that a single injection of a gene editing cocktail prevented progressive deafness in baby animals that were destined to lose their hearing. “We hope that the work will one day inform the development of a cure for certain forms of genetic deafness in people,” said Prof David Liu, who led the work at Harvard University and MIT.
JAMA (vol. 318, no. 13, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Digital Phenotyping Technology for a New Science of Behavior” by Thomas R. Insel
- “Talking to Machines About Personal Mental Health Problems” by Adam S. Miner, Arnold Milstein, and Jefferey T. Hancock
Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities (vol. 30, no. 6, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Intellectual Disabilities and Decision Making at End of Life: A Literature Review” by Abbie Kirkendall, Kristen Linton, and Saritha Farris
- “Direct Care Workers’ Experiences of Grief and Needs for Support” by Jennifer A. Gray and Jinsook Kim
- “The Experiences of Staff Who Support People with Intellectual Disability on Issues about Death, Dying and Bereavement: A metasynthesis” by Ailsa J. Lord, Stephen Field, and Ian C. Smith
- “Supporting End of Life Decision Making: Case Studies of Relational Closeness in Supported Decision Making for People with Severe or Profound Intellectual Disability” by Joanne Watson, Erin Wilson, and Nick Hagiliassis
- “Making Sense of Bereavement in People with Profound Intellectual and Multiple Disabilities: Carer Perspectives” by Hannah Young, James Hogg, and Brenda Garrard
- “Agency, Social and Healthcare Supports for Adults with Intellectual Disability at the End of Life in Out-of-Home, Non-Institutional Community Residences in Western Nations: A Literature Review” by Teresa T. Moro, Teresa A. Savage, and Sarah Gehlert
- “Emergency Medical Services Providers’ Perspective of End-of-Life Decision Making for People with Intellectual Disabilities” by Jacqueline McGinley, Deborah P Waldrop, and Brian Clemency
- “An Exploration of Clinical Psychology’s Response to Parental Bereavement in Adults with Intellectual Disability” by Lynn Irwin, Grace O’Malley, Shazia Neelofur, and Suzanne Guerin
- “Assessing Knowledge and Attitudes about End of Life: Evaluation of Three Instruments Designed for Adults with Intellectual Disability” by R. J. Stancliffe, M. Y. Wiese, S. Read, G. Jeltes, and J. M. Clayton
- “‘I’m Still Here’: Exploring what Matters to People with Intellectual Disability During Advance Care Planning” by Nicola McKenzie, Brigit Mirfin-Veitch, Jennifer Conder, and Sharon Brandford
- “Communicating about Death and Dying: Developing Training for Staff Working in Services for People with Intellectual Disabilities” by Irene Tuffrey-Wijne, Tracey Rose, Robert Grant, and Astrid Wijne
- “Paediatric Palliative Care and Intellectual Disability—A Unique Context” by Jacqueline K Duc, Anthony Robert Herbert, and Helen S Heussler
- “Providing End-of-Life Care in Disability Community Living Services: An Organizational Capacity-Building Model Using a Public Health Approach” by Andrea Grindrod and Bruce Rumbold
- “People with Intellectual Disabilities at the End of Their Lives: The Case for Specialist Care?” by Rachel Forrester-Jones et al.
- “Challenges in Providing End-of-Life Care for People with Intellectual Disability: Health Services Access” by Stuart Wark, Rafat Hussain, Arne Müller, Peta Ryan, and Trevor Parmenter
AI & Society (vol. 32, no. 4, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Nudging for Good: Robots and the Ethical Appropriateness of Nurturing Empathy and Charitable Behavior” by Jason Borenstein and Ronald C. Arkin
The New England Journal of Medicine (vol. 377, no. 19, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “The View from Puerto Rico — Hurricane Maria and Its Aftermath” by C.D. Zorrilla
- “Preparing for the Next Harvey, Irma, or Maria — Addressing Research Gaps” by J.M. Shultz and S. Galea
- “Creating Healthy Communities after Disasters” by R.V. Tuckson, V.J. Dzau, and N. Lurie
JAMA (vol. 318, no. 14, 2017) is available online by subscription only.
- “Flawed Theories to Explain Child Physical Abuse: What Are the Medical-Legal Consequences?” by John M. Leventhal and George A. Edwards
- “Cybersecurity—A Serious Patient Care Concern” by Mark P. Jarrett
- “Advancing the Research Mission in a Time of Mergers and Acquisitions” by Paul J. Hauptman, Richard J. Bookman, and Stephen Heinig
- “Global Health: What’s in It for Us?” by Satish Gopal
(The Atlantic) – For the first time since the early 1960s, life expectancy in the United States has declined for the second year in a row, according to a CDC report released Thursday. American men can now expect to live 76.1 years, a decrease of two-tenths of a year from 2015. American women’s life expectancy remained at 81.1 years. The change was driven largely by a rising death rate among younger Americans. The death rate of people between the ages of 25 and 34 increased by 10 percent between 2015 and 2016, while the death rate continued to decrease for people over the age of 65.
(Reuters) – Yemen’s cholera epidemic has reached one million suspected cases, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Thursday, with war leaving more than 80 percent of the population short of food, fuel, clean water and access to healthcare. Yemen, one of the Arab world’s poorest countries, is embroiled in a proxy war between the Houthi armed movement, allied with Iran, and a U.S.-backed military coalition headed by Saudi Arabia.
(MIT Technology Review) – The clinical trial, which begins in April and will run for about four years, will be the largest effort in the U.S. to test a hormonal form of birth control for men. Currently, men’s only options for birth control are condoms or a vasectomy. In the last major study of a hormonal male contraceptive, which took place in Europe from 2008 to 2012, participants received injections of hormones every two months. The shots suppressed sperm production and prevented the men’s female partners from getting pregnant, but they also gave men severe mood swings and other serious side effects.
(CNN) – Rainy seasons in Nigeria bring out venomous snakes, which emerge from their shelters to hunt and breed. This is always a hazardous time, particularly for agricultural workers tending their fields, and this autumn proved especially cruel. Around 250 people were reportedly killed over a three-week period in the central states of Gombe and Plateau, in a crisis that overwhelmed local doctors and prompted a national outcry. The case was extreme, but not unique. Nigeria is among the countries worst affected by what some public health experts are calling an epidemic.
(Nature) – Open Phil, based in San Francisco, California, acknowledges the high odds of failure of the basic research it funds and, for a private funder, publishes brutally honest assessments of its projects. These range from developing lab-made meat alternatives to a controversial genetic-engineering technology called gene drive. For its latest funding round, it asked scientists whose grant applications had been rejected by an NIH competition for risky research to dust off their proposals. Some 120 researchers resubmitted their requests, and the project awarded $10.8 million to four teams.
(PhysOrg) – A new study in Nature Genetics identifies a specific population of pluripotent embryonic stem cells that can reprogram to totipotent-like cells in culture. Moreover, the scientists of Helmholtz Zentrum München and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU) have identified bottlenecks and drivers of this reprogramming.
(Kaiser Health News) – Complaints about allegedly improper evictions and discharges from nursing homes are on the rise in California, Illinois and other states, according to government data. These concerns are echoed in lawsuits and by ombudsmen and consumer advocates. In California alone, such complaints have jumped 70 percent in five years, reaching 1,504 last year, said Joseph Rodrigues, the state-employed Long-Term Care Ombudsman, who for 15 years has overseen local ombudsman programs, which are responsible for resolving consumer complaints.
(The Atlantic) – Now, a new National Bureau of Economic Research paper explores how Americans also perceive and report pain differently from people in other countries. In other words, not only are our doctors more trigger-happy when it comes to treating pain; we seem to find ourselves covered in Bengay and sitting on the exam table more than most. The paper, which is fittingly titled “Unhappiness and Pain in Modern America,” featured a question from a 2011 survey that asked people across 30 countries the following: During the past four weeks, how often have you had bodily aches or pains? Never; seldom; sometimes; often; or very often?