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A New Way to Curb Harmful Medical Errors: Talk More to Patients and Families

December 7, 2018

(STAT News) – A new study suggests a simple idea could go a long way toward curbing dangerous medical errors: looping in patients and families about what’s happening with their care. It’s the latest evidence on the benefits of a long-running program to improve and streamline communications in hospitals. Called I-PASS, it was born at Boston Children’s Hospital and has since spread to dozens of hospitals around the country. Previous studies have shown that the intervention can reduce medical errors when one provider hands off a patient’s care to another provider at the end of a shift. Now, a study published Thursday in the BMJ finds that after that idea was extended to communication with patients and their families, harmful medical errors fell by 38 percent.

Ebola Detectives Race to Identify Hidden Sources of Infection as Outbreak Spreads

December 7, 2018

(Nature) – As the epicentre of the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) shifts into the war-weary city of Butembo, public-health workers are trying to stamp out new infections from an inadvertent source: unregulated health centres. Decades of political instability in the northeastern DRC, the site of the epidemic, have fostered the growth of informal clinics that offer traditional and modern medicine.

Sedative Addiction and Anxiety on the Rise Among Children, Report Shows

December 7, 2018

(CNN) – An apparent rise in anxiety among British children has prompted concern from mental health experts, as two reports reveal an alarming surge in medication addiction and the number of young people seeking counseling for the disorder. Childline, the phone counseling service run by UK children’s charity the NSPCC, took 21,297 calls about anxiety in the past year — a 55% increase on the previous year, when 13,746 children rang the hotline about the problem. Almost nine in 10 of those calls were made by girls, the charity said in its annual review for the service.

Canada’s Shameful History of Sterilizing Indigenous Women

December 7, 2018

(The Conversation) – Indigenous women are murdered, go missing or face abuse at much higher rates than non-Indigenous women in Canada. Recent news stories now report that birthing mothers have also been sterilized (given tubal ligations) without their full and informed consent, as recently as 2017. These shocking stories describe women being told that they cannot see their newborn babies until they undergo a sexual sterilization surgery.

Critics Say New Transplant Rules Will Benefit Big City Medical Centers

December 7, 2018

(The Washington Post) – The organization that controls the distribution of livers for transplant revised its controversial allocation policy for the second time in a year, further limiting transplant centers’ access to organs collected in their areas. The new plan eliminates geographical boundaries drawn years ago that had largely given transplant centers first shot at livers collected from brain-dead donors in hospitals nearby. It moves the liver transplant system farther toward a “sickest-first” model that would send organs to recipients more than 500 miles away if they demonstrate the greatest need.

Irish Lawmakers Vote to Allow Abortion, Part of Landmark Liberal Shift

December 7, 2018

(The New York Times) – Fighting off last-ditch resistance, Irish lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a bill introducing free and legal abortion to a nation that was long a bastion of staunchly conservative Catholicism, seven months after voters repealed a constitutional ban on abortion.

Cambodia Releases Surrogate Mothers Who Agree to Keep Children

December 6, 2018

(BBC) – Thirty-two surrogate mothers charged with human trafficking in Cambodia for carrying babies for Chinese clients have been released after agreeing to keep the children, officials say.  The women were arrested in June in a raid as part of a crackdown on the country’s commercial surrogacy trade. Surrogacy was banned in Cambodia in 2016, a year after neighbouring Thailand imposed limits on the service.

17 Women Sue Columbia University, Its Hospitals, Claim “Massive Coverup” of Doctor’s Sex Abuse

December 6, 2018

(CBS News) – Seventeen women filed suit Tuesday against Columbia University and its associated hospitals, claiming the institutions committed negligence and fraud as part of a “massive coverup” of an obstetrician’s sexual abuse of patients for more than 20 years. The women say the university and hospitals were first made aware of the former doctor’s behavior in the early 1990s, but “actively and deliberately — and inexplicably — concealed Robert Hadden’s sexual abuse for decades, and continued to grant Robert Hadden unfettered access to vulnerable, unsuspecting, pregnant and non-pregnant female patients.”

Surgeon General: Federal Drug Classification Needs Changes

December 6, 2018

(ABC News) – The nation’s drug classification system should be revisited but illegal drugs shouldn’t simply be decriminalized nationwide, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams told a gathering of police leaders focused on the opioids crisis Thursday in Boston. “Our scheduling system is functioning, but not as ideally as it could,” he said of the federal schedule for controlled substances maintained by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Food and Drug Administration. “Things aren’t static. We have to continue to evolve.”

Mechanism for Turning Skin Cells into Blood Stem Cells Uncovered

December 6, 2018

(PhysOrg) – Researchers have succeeded in converting human skin cells into blood stem cells in an international collaboration project. “This is a first step on the way to generating fully functional blood stem cells in a petri dish which, in the future, could be transplanted into patients with blood diseases,” says Filipe Pereira, the researcher from Lund University in Sweden who led the study now published in Cell Reports.

What Defines a Stem Cell? Scientists Rethink the Answer

December 6, 2018

(Quanta Magazine) – For the past three years, researchers at the Hubrecht Institute in the Netherlands have been painstakingly cataloging and mapping all the proliferating cells found in mouse hearts, looking for cardiac stem cells. The elusive cells should theoretically be able to repair damaged heart muscle, so the stakes in finding them have been high. Indeed, that search, involving many labs over decades, has been marked by heated debate and, recently, a call for the retraction of more than 30 papers for falsified data. This week, however, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is scheduled to announce the results of the Hubrecht team’s work: no evidence of cardiac stem cells at all.

Emergency Contraception Requests May Be Sign of Domestic Abuse

December 6, 2018

(Med Page Today) – Women who were victims of domestic violence were more than twice as likely to have a medical consultation for emergency contraception, British researchers found. Those women who were exposed to domestic violence or abuse within the last 12 months were more likely to have a consultation for emergency contraception (adjusted OR 2.06, 95% CI 1.64-2.61) than women with no exposure to domestic violence or abuse, reported Joni Jackson, of the University of Bristol in England, and colleagues, in the British Journal of General Practice.

Surrogacy Isn’t About Money. But the Law Must Change to Benefit Women

December 6, 2018

(The Guardian) – One of the UK’s most senior family judges, James Munby, has called for the UK to relax the rules against paying surrogates. His comments are spot-on: the law needs to catch up with the realities of modern surrogacy. For decades it has been customary in the UK for surrogates to be paid between £12,000 and £20,000. Having handled hundreds of UK surrogacy cases (not just complex and international surrogacy cases, but also routine, everyday UK cases), I have seen only a small minority where there has been no element of benefit or compensation.

‘CRISPR Babies’ Lab Asked U.S. Scientist for Help to Disable Cholesterol Gene in Human Embryos

December 6, 2018

(STAT News) – The birth announcement made Musunuru dig out his old emails — which he shared with STAT — and do some sleuthing. The University of Pennsylvania researcher quickly found that the student, Feifei Cheng, worked with He and presented a paper written with him at a meeting on genome editing this past April in China sponsored by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. That paper reported editing PCSK9 in human, monkey, and mouse embryos. Re-reading the emails, Musunuru said he thinks it’s possible that embryos with the edited cholesterol gene were used in the second pregnancy.

Children Born Through IVF Are More Likely to Suffer from Asthma ‘Because of the Fertility Drugs Their Mothers Used’

December 6, 2018

(Daily Mail) – Thousands of children born each year by IVF could be at risk of asthma, a study suggests. Researchers found IVF increases the risk of childhood asthma by 22 per cent. Scientists from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, who tracked more than 500,000 children, believe the drugs given to mothers during the IVF process might cause asthma in their children.

Surgery to Remove Wisdom Teeth Puts Some Teens and Young Adults on a Path

December 5, 2018

(Los Angeles Times) – For older teens and young adults, the extraction of so-called wisdom teeth is a painful rite of passage. A new study suggests it’s likely made more perilous by the package of narcotic pain pills that patients frequently carry home after undergoing the common surgical procedure. The study offers fresh evidence of how readily — and innocently — a potentially fatal addiction to opioids can take hold. It also underscores how important it is that dentists rethink their approach to treating their patients’ postoperative discomfort.

Sierra Leone Doctors Strike Over Conditions, Nurses May Follow

December 5, 2018

(Reuters) – Doctors in Sierra Leone’s public hospitals were on strike on Wednesday to protest against low wages and poor working conditions, and nurses said they may follow suit. Sierra Leone is one of Africa’s poorest countries and its public hospitals lack equipment. The 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic killed nearly 4000 people, including more than 250 medical staff.

From a Deceased Woman’s Transplanted Uterus, a Live Birth

December 5, 2018

(The New York Times) – A woman who received a uterus transplanted from a deceased donor has given birth to a healthy child, researchers in Brazil said on Tuesday. It is the first such birth to be reported. Uterine transplants from living donors have succeeded; at least 11 babies have been born this way since 2013. But a viable procedure to transplant uteri from deceased women could drastically increase the availability of the organs

Federal Officials Call Out FDA Over Lapses in Rare-Disease Drug Approval

December 5, 2018

(CNN) – The Food and Drug Administration has failed to ensure that drugs given prized rare-disease status meet the intent of a 35-year-old law, federal officials revealed in a report Friday. The Government Accountability Office, which spent more than a year investigating the FDA’s orphan drug program, said “challenges continue” in the program that was created to spur development of drugs for diseases afflicting fewer than 200,000 patients.

Pig Hearts Provide Long-Term Cardiac Function in Baboons

December 5, 2018

(The Scientist) – Hearts taken from pigs engineered so the organs won’t produce extreme immune reactions if transplanted into humans or other primates can support the life of recipient baboons for up to 195 days, according to a report in Nature today (December 5). The study, in which four baboons lived in good health for several months after surgery, brings xenotransplantation one step closer to the clinic, say researchers.

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