Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Using Your Smartphone to Lose Weight (and other interesting things you can do with a smartphone)

Texting on a keyboard phone

Image via Wikipedia

From the May 5, 2011  Cornflower blog item (The Blog of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine Greater Midwest Region)

Today in Chicago, it is currently 48 degrees at 10:00 am.  Not exactly beach weather.  However, it will be soon time to take off those winter jackets and replace it with t-shirts and suntan lotion.  So, did you know you can use your smartphone to help you lose weight? (Not saying you need it! You look marvelous!) Duke University researchers are using Android smartphones and wireless weight scales for a weight loss study.  It’s not just that you connect with a scale wirelessly and it adds your weight to a chart on your phone; the app on your smartphone will keep track of your weight and depending how it is trending, send you messages.  Hopefully they aren’t messages like “lay off the cookies, Max!” Because I love cookies too much.  Anyway.  This article came out a few days ago and you may find it interesting: http://www.imedicalapps.com/2011/04/duke-researchers-android-phones-bluetooth-weight-scale/.

Sort of on the same wavelength about getting messages from your phone – there are a growing number of services that will communicate with you to remind you of appointments, to take medicines, or in the case above, maybe even give encouragement.  Some examples:

There is a Health Literacy Out Loud Podcast on this topic: http://www.healthliteracyoutloud.com/2011/04/26/health-literacy-out-loud-57-texting-important-health-messages/

Other developments:

  • In Denver, Co, the hospital group Denver Health has teamed up with Microsoft and EMC on a project to send patients text message reminders about upcoming appointments in a diabetes program that aimed to help patients better self manage their condition.  They ask patients to text in their daily glucose readings.  They hope that this will improve condition management, reduce admission rates and reduce costs.  Read more about this project.
  • Getting teens and tweens to be more complaint with eczema treatments with texting: http://www.skincarephysicians.com/eczemanet/texting.html

For more clinical research see the following:

There’s more where these came from in PubMed.

What is your organization doing with mobile technologies? Does your hospital have ER wait times available via a mobile device? What about appointment reminders?

P.S. Don’t forget about the NLM “Show Off Your Apps” Contest! http://challenge.gov/NIH/132-nlm-show-off-your-apps-innovative-uses-of-nlm-information

P.P.S. (or is it P.S.S.?) Don’t forget about all of the mobile sites and apps available already from the NLM: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/mobile/

May 4, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Librarian Resources, Public Health | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

AHRQ News And Numbers: Medication Side Effects, Injuries, Up Dramatically

From the 13 April 2011 Medical News Today article

The number of people treated in U.S. hospitals for illnesses and injuries from taking medicines jumped 52 percent between 2004 and 2008 – from 1.2 million to 1.9 million — according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. These medication side effects and injuries resulted from taking or being given the wrong medicine or dosage.

The federal agency also found that in 2008:

– The top 5 medicines that had more than 838,000 people treated and released from emergency departments were: unspecified medicines (261,600); pain killers (118,100), antibiotics (95,100), tranquilizers and antidepressants (79,300), corticosteroids and other hormones (71,400).

– For patients admitted to the hospital, the top five medicines causing side effects and injuries were corticosteroids (used for such illnesses as asthmaarthritis, ulcerative colitis, and other conditions–283,700 cases), painkillers (269,400), blood-thinners (218,800), drugs to treat cancer and immune system disorders (234,300), and heart and blood pressure medicines (191,300).

– More than half (53 percent) of hospitalized patients treated for side effects or other medication-related injuries were age 65 or older, 30 percent were 45 to 64, 14 percent between 18 and 44, and 3 percent under age 18. Children and teenagers accounted for 22 percent of emergency cases.

– About 57 percent of the hospitalized patients and 61 percent of emergency department cases were female.

This AHRQ News and Numbers is based on data in Medication-related Adverse Outcomes in U.S. Hospitals and Emergency Departments, 2008. The report uses data from the agency’s 2008 Nationwide Inpatient Sample and 2008 Nationwide Emergency Department Sample. For information about these two AHRQ databases, go here.

April 14, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Adverse drug events costly to health care system: Vancouver Coastal Health-UBC research

Adverse drug events costly to health care system: Vancouver Coastal Health-UBC research
Emergency department physicians call for screening tools

From the February 25, 2011 Eureka news alert

Patients who suffer an adverse medical event arising from the use or misuse of medications are more costly to the health care system than other emergency department (ED) patients, say physicians and research scientists at Vancouver General Hospital and UBC. Their research, the first to examine the health outcomes and cost of patient care for patients presenting to the ED with adverse drug events, is published today in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.***

The research team, led by Dr. Corinne Hohl, emergency physician at Vancouver General Hospital and research scientist with the Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Evaluation at Vancouver Coastal Health and the University of British Columbia, studied the health outcomes of patients who had presented to the emergency department with an adverse drug event and compared them to patients who presented for other reasons.

An adverse drug event is an unwanted and unintended medical event related to the use of medications.

After adjustment for baseline differences between patient groups, researchers found no difference in the mortality rate of the patients they studied, but those presenting with an adverse drug event had a 50% greater risk of spending additional days in hospital, as well as a 20 % higher rate of outpatient health care needs. The team followed 1,000 emergency department patients from Vancouver General Hospital for six months.

This new research builds on a 2008 study, published in the Canadian Medical Journal, which showed more than one in nine emergency department visits are due to medication-related problems.

“What we are finding is that these incidents are common and costly, both in terms of patient health and utilization of health care dollars,” says Dr. Corinne Hohl. “We also know that these events are hard for physicians to recognize, and that nearly 70 percent of these incidents are preventable.”

In BC alone, hospital emergency departments treat an estimated 210,000 patients each year for adverse drug events. The most common reasons for them are adverse drug reactions or side effects to medication, non adherence, and the wrong or suboptimal use of medication. The research team estimates that the cost of treating these patients is 90% greater than the cost of treating other patients after adjustment for differences in baseline characteristics. The added cost could be as much as $49 million annually.

The research team has been developing screening tools to better assist health care providers in the emergency department in recognizing patients at high risk for adverse drug events, as well as developing an evaluation platform that will help inform prescribing practices for physicians in the community

“We anticipate the development of a screening tool will be able to increase the recognition rate of these adverse drug events from 60 to over 90 percent, and we will be able to treat the patient effectively and rapidly, improving his or her care,” says Dr. Hohl.

“Right now we spend a lot of time trying to diagnose what is wrong with the patient, yet often miss the fact that there is a medication-related problem. This means that patients often go home still on a medication which may be causing harm.” We are also using the data from this research project to help develop a new drug evaluation platform to inform prescribing practices for physicians in the community. The hope is to prevent many of these adverse events from even taking place.”

###

Funding support for this research is through Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, and the Department of Surgery at the University of British Columbia.

**Not at Web Site as of this posting

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February 25, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

Homeless people without enough to eat are more likely to be hospitalized

Homeless people without enough to eat are more likely to be hospitalized
Mass. General study is first to document association between food, use of health services

From the February 3, 2011 Eureka news release

Homeless people who do not get enough to eat use hospitals and emergency rooms at very high rates, according to a new study. One in four respondents to a nationwide survey reported not getting enough to eat, a proportion six times higher than in the general population, and more than two thirds of those had recently gone without eating for a whole day. The report will appear in the Journal of General Internal Medicine and has been released online.***

“The study is the first to highlight the association between food insufficiency and health care use in a national sample of homeless adults,” says lead author Travis P. Baggett, MD, MPH, of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) General Medicine Division. “Our results suggest a need to better understand and address the social determinants of health and health-care-seeking behavior,”

Baggett and a team of investigators at MGH and the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program analyzed survey data from 966 adult respondents to the 2003 nationwide Health Care for the Homeless User Survey. They found that homeless people who did not have enough to eat had a higher risk of being hospitalized in a medical or psychiatric unit than did those with enough to eat and also were more likely to be frequent users of emergency rooms. Neither relationship could be explained by individual differences in illness. Nearly half of the hungry homeless had been hospitalized in the preceding year and close to one-third had used an emergency room four or more times in the same year.

Baggett explains the study was sparked by his clinical experience caring for homeless individuals. “Homeless patients with inadequate food may have difficulty managing their health conditions or taking their medications. They may postpone routine health care until the need is urgent and may even use emergency rooms as a source of food. Whether expanding food services for the very poor would ameliorate this problem is uncertain, but it begs further study.” Baggett is an instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

 

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February 4, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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