Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

JAMA Study Points To Patient Safety Risks Outside Hospital Walls

From the 15 June 2011 Medical News Today article


Ever since the Institute of Medicine issued its landmark report “To Err Is Human” in 1999, significant attention has been paid to improving patient safety in hospitals nationwide.

However, a high number of adverse events, including major injury and even death, occur in private physician offices and outpatient clinics as well. In a new study — the first of its kind — researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College found that the number and magnitude of events resulting from medical errors is surprisingly similar inside and outside hospital walls.

Published in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the study ***uses malpractice claims data to assess the prevalence of adverse events in the outpatient setting. The researchers compared malpractice claims paid on behalf of physicians in hospitals versus doctors’ offices, relying on data from the National Practitioner Data Bank from 2005 through 2009.

In 2009 alone, close to 11,000 malpractice payments were made on behalf of physicians. Analysis of the data showed that about half of these were for errors that occurred in the hospital setting and half for adverse outcomes resulting from errors at the doctor’s office.

The researchers also found that adverse events in hospitals largely have to do with unsuccessful surgery, while negative outcomes in the outpatient setting are most often related to errors in diagnosis.

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June 15, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

Reducing Climate Change Is Good For Your Health

From the 15 June 2011 Medical News Today article

Greener investments in transport, housing and household energy policies can help prevent significant cardiovascular and chronic respiratory disease, obesity-related conditions and cancers.

These are among the findings of a new global World Health Organization series that looks systematically, for the first time ever, at the health ‘co-benefits’ of investments in climate change mitigation reviewed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Overall, sustainable development policies in housing, transport, and household energy may benefit health right away – even if the broader climate gains are realized over years or decades.

The new WHO series, Health in the Green Economy, finds that the health sector needs to become stronger advocates for those green economic investments that prevent disease at the outset.

June 15, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , | Leave a comment

2009 H1N1 Pandemic As Model For Healthy Computer Power

From the 15 June 2011 Medical News Today article

An evaluation of the Public Health Grid (PHGrid) technology during the 2009H1N1 influenza pandemic could enhance the capabilities of epidemiologists and disease-control agencies when the next emergent disease appears, according to a study published in the International Journal of Grid and Utility Computing***. …

…During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, however, the Public Health Informatics and Technology Program Office at the CDC together with various partners used simulated data to explore how a decentralized information architecture run on the Public Health Grid (PHGrid) might be used to acquire relevant data quickly, securely and to effectively model the spread of disease. The main advantage of building the system on the PHGrid is that it allows for disparate, distributed data and services to be used by the public health community and so avoids the obstacles seen with repurposing specialized surveillance systems.

“The speed with which public health officials can identify, respond, and deploy interventions in response to public health events has the potential to change the course or impact of a disease,” the team explains. The PHGrid framework could be used to address specific surveillance needs such as those related to novel pandemic influenza in 2009. By using advances made by the “grid” community in health and other fields, PHGrid was able to focus on specific issues without having to re-invent and re-evaluate the information technology needed by using established data tools and formats. Such an approach also avoided the need to find ways to circumvent bugs and problems that would have arisen had new technology been developed at the time for the specific purpose. …

*** For suggestions on how to get this article for free or at low cost, click here

June 15, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Surgeon General: Health Care Discussions Need To Put Prevention First

From the 15 June 2011 Medical News Today article


U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin said Monday that health care in the United States must shift its primary focus to disease prevention rather than the treatment of illness.

Dr. Benjamin addressed the 2011 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Food Expo®, calling on food scientists and producers to help spread the message about preventive care, especially reducing obesity through healthy choices. …

June 15, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | | Leave a comment

Using Google Translate in medicine

Using Google Translate in medicine

From the MedPage Today Article by Graham Walker, MD

In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the Babel Fish was a fish you stuck in your ear that allowed you to understand any language spoken to you. We’re not far off.

Google recently released a new version of their (free!) Google Translate app for Android phones, featuring conversation mode, which allows you to have a back and forth conversation with someone who speaks another language (currently just English/Spanish is supported). Translation companies should be shaking in their boots.

I created a quick little demo below, on how you could actually use this (or a future version) in your clinical practice.

It’s pretty incredible. (Also, a quick shout out to the web version of Google Translate, which will allow to translate any text or website into your native language (not just English/Spanish). Very useful for typing up basic discharge instructions for languages with which you’re not familiar.)

June 15, 2011 Posted by | Professional Health Care Resources | , | Leave a comment

What’s inside a first aid kit?

A Boston City health blog item, What’s inside a first aid kit?  has a good summary of emergency items to have on hand.

Related Resouces

June 15, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | | Leave a comment

Bacteria Museum

Bacteria Museum


This virtual museum  brings together many links on bacteria, bacteriology, and related topics available on the web. It also provides crystal-clear information about many aspects of bacteria.

The Bacterial Species Tab has information on 40 different kinds of bacteria. Links include photographs, consumer guides, fact sheets, lectures, scientific papers, and scientific links.

The Main Exhibits tab has links providing basic information about bacteria as well as specific topics including pathogenic bateria, evolution, and food and water safety, and how good bacteria in food benefits us.


June 15, 2011 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College( | , | Leave a comment

Connect: Patients and the Power of Data

Source: Young Foundation (UK)

Information is the lifeblood of high quality healthcare. There have been huge technological advances about how it can be used and by whom, which have been under utilised by the NHS. It is now possible to give people control over their own data. If this were done, it would have the potential to revolutionise healthcare delivery for patients, their families and carers.

This discussion paper sets out seven practical ways and examples, each of which the Young Foundation believes would transform health care delivery. These could improve patient experiences, reduced errors and omissions, improve communication and make healthcare more efficient and effective.

Direct link to document (PDF; 2.4 MB)

June 15, 2011 Posted by | Professional Health Care Resources | , | Leave a comment

10 food pyramids from around the world

michelleobama Food Pyramid Changes to Food Plate

The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) unveiled My Plate recently as a replacement to the USDA food pyramid.

Other countries have their own versions of how to eat healthy on a daily basis.

This article from the Huffington Post includes China’s Food Pagoda, France’s Food Stairs, Japan’s spinning top, and 8 others.

June 15, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , | Leave a comment


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