Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Reblog] Nuts and death – journal animated video explanation

From the 22 November post at HealthNewsReview.blog

You probably saw, read, or heard about news of an observational study in the New England Journal of Medicine pointing to a statistical association between nut consumption and lower death rate.  Larry Husten did a good job explaining the study on Forbes.com.

The NEJM itself posted a YouTube video that had journal editor Jeffrey Drazen’s voice over an animated explanation.  I hadn’t seen such NEJM videos before.  Take a look. Drazen ends:  “I would be nuts to think that eating nuts alone would add years to my life.”

I wish I had that kind of budget. Frankly, I wish I had any budget.

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Comments

Ellen Goldbaum posted on November 22, 2013 at 11:37 am

Thank you for posting this wonderful video! It was everything a press release should be but so much more enjoyable! To your point about budgets, even those of us who work for large institutions are wondering, how did NEJM make that video, how much personpower and money does it take? curious.

Reply

Brad F posted on November 22, 2013 at 8:26 pm

they ript off Blank on Blank
http://blankonblank.org/pbs/

 

December 8, 2013 Posted by | Nutrition, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Researchers identify 146 contemporary medical practices offering no net benefits

From the 22 July 2013 EurekAlert article
[Please note that I added emphasis to some sentences!]

Study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings documents reversal of established medical practices in last decade

Rochester, MN — While there is an expectation that newer medical practices improve the standard of care, the history of medicine reveals many instances in which this has not been the case. Reversal of established medical practice occurs when new studies contradict current practice. Reporters may remember hormone replacement therapy as an example of medical reversal. A new analysis published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings documents 146 contemporary medical practices that have subsequently been reversed.

A team of researchers led by Vinay Prasad, MD, Medical Oncology Branch, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, reviewed ten years of original articles published in the New England Journal of Medicine testing standard of care.

“The purpose of our investigation was to outline broad trends in medical practice and identify a large number of practices that don’t work,” says Dr. Prasad. “Identifying medical practices that don’t work is necessary because the continued use of such practices wastes resources, jeopardizes patient health, and undermines trust in medicine.”

Dr. Prasad and his investigative team evaluated 1,344 original articles published in the New England Journal of Medicine between 2001 and 2010 that examined a new medical practice or tested an established one. This included assessment of a screening, stratifying, or diagnostic test, a medication, a procedure or surgery, or any change in health care provision systems.

Dr. Prasad and colleagues made several interesting findings. First, only a minority of studies over the last 10 years even tested current medical practices. Dr. Prasad found that only 27% (363/1344) of articles that tested a practice tested an established one. Instead, the vast majority of such studies, 73% (981/1344), tested a new medical practice. Dr. Prasad says, “While the next breakthrough is surely worth pursuing, knowing whether what we are currently doing is right or wrong is equally crucial for sound patient care.”

Dr. Prasad’s major conclusion concerns the 363 articles that test current medical practice — things doctors are doing today. His group determined that 146 (40.2%) found these practices to be ineffective, or medical reversals. Another 138 (38%) reaffirmed the value of current practice, and 79 (21.8%) were inconclusive — unable to render a firm verdict regarding the practice.

Dr. Prasad comments, “A large proportion of current medical practice, 40%, was found to offer no benefits in our survey of 10 years of the New England Journal of Medicine. These 146 practices are medical reversals. They weren’t just practices that once worked, and have now been improved upon; rather, they never worked. They were instituted in error, never helped patients, and have eroded trust in medicine.”

Dr. Prasad adds, “Health care costs now threaten the entire economy. Our investigation suggests that much of what we are doing today simply doesn’t help patients. Eliminating medical reversal may help address the most pressing problem in health care today.”

Key examples of medical reversal include the following:

Stenting for stable coronary artery disease was a multibillion dollar a year industry when it was found to be no better than medical management for most patients with stable coronary artery disease. Hormone therapy for postmenopausal women intended to improve cardiovascular outcomes was found to be worse than no intervention. The routine use of the pulmonary artery catheter in patients in shock was found to be inferior to less invasive management strategies.

Other instances pertain to the use of the drug aprotinin in cardiac surgery, use of a primary rhythm control strategy for patients with atrial fibrillation, use of cyclooxygenase 2 inhibitors, early myringotomy procedures, and application of recommended glycemic targets for patients with diabetes.

Says Dr. Prasad, “To our knowledge, this is the largest and most comprehensive study of medical reversal. The reversals we have identified by no means represent the final word for any of these practices. But, the reversals we have identified, at the very least, call these practices into question.”

In an accompanying editorial, John P. A. Ioannidis, MD, DSc, of the Stanford Prevention Research Center, Department of Medicine and the Department of Health Research and Policy at Stanford University School of Medicine, comments on the work of Prasad and his team and evaluates it within a broader context.

“The 146 medical reversals that they have assembled are, in a sense, examples of success stories that can inspire the astute clinician and clinical investigator to challenge the status quo and realize that doing less is more,” notes Dr. Ioannidis. “If we learn from them, these seemingly disappointing results may be extremely helpful in curtailing harms to patients and cost to the health care system.”

According to Dr. Ioannidis, it is just as important to promote and disseminate knowledge about ineffective practices that should be reversed and abandoned. Given the widespread attention that practice guidelines typically receive, particularly when published by authoritative individuals or groups, he questions whether a generally higher level of evidence should be required before these guidelines are recommended and can impact clinical practice.

“Finally, are there incentives and anything else we can do to promote testing of seemingly established practices and identification of more practices that need to be abandoned? Obviously, such an undertaking will require commitment to a rigorous clinical research agenda in a time of restricted budgets,” concludes Dr. Ioannidis. “However, it is clear that carefully designed trials on expensive practices may have a very favorable value of information, and they would be excellent investments toward curtailing the irrational cost of ineffective health care.”

July 22, 2013 Posted by | health care | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NLM Director’s Comments Transcript Force Feeding Guantanamo Detainees Criticized

The NLM Director showed some courage in commenting on the force feeding of prisoners in Guantanamo.
This is indeed a health issue, because we are indeed responsible for the health (including mental health) of these detainees.

Some excerpts from the comments, full text may be found here.

A candid and stimulating editorial, recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, strongly suggests physicians at the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp in Cuba should not force feed detainees who are on a hunger strike. The editorial’s three authors argue the force feeding of some Guantanamo prisoners is medically unethical — and the practice warrants more criticism from health care professionals.

A news story about the editorial published in the U.K. Guardian reports the Guantanamo Bay camp currently houses about 166 prisoners (most of whom are held for alleged terrorist activities). Many of these detainees or prisoners have been held at Guantanamo Bay (a U.S. military base in Cuba) in an era that began with the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001. At the time the editorial was published, the Guardian reported 104 prisoners were on a hunger strike and 43 detainees received forced feeding.

The editorial’s authors (who are highly respected senior faculty at Boston University’s Schools of Public Health and Medicine) write [and we quote]: ‘Guantanamo is not just going to fade away, and neither is the stain on medical ethics it represents’ (end of quote).

The editorial’s authors explain the ethical principle to not force feed prisoners initially was advanced by the World Medical Association’s Declaration of Helsinki after World War II. The authors cite the declaration that says (and we quote): ‘forcible feeding (of mentally competent hunger strikers) is never ethically acceptable’ (end of quote). The authors add forced feeding (and we quote): ‘is a form of inhumane and degrading treatment’ (end of quote).

The editorial’s authors note a U.S. Department of Defense’s 2006 directive on force feeding detainees says (and we quote): ‘In the case of a hunger strike, attempted suicide, or other attempted serious self-harm, medical treatment or intervention may be directed without the consent of the detainee to prevent death or serious harm’ (end of quote).

However, the authors explain a hunger strike is not an attempt to commit suicide. They discern the goal of the hunger strikers (and we quote): ‘is not to die but to have perceived injustices addressed’ (end of quote).

In addition, the authors suggest physicians abdicate their professional responsibilities to make individual and independent medical assessments when they participate in penological decisions that maintain prison order by force feeding detainees. The authors write (and we quote): ‘physicians who participate in this nonmedical practice become weapons for maintaining prison order’ (end of quote).

The editorial’s authors also imply a sense of frustration with the dearth of criticism among physicians regarding Guantanamo’s forced feeding efforts.

The authors conclude (and we quote): ‘As (Guantanamo) increasingly becomes a medical ethics-free zone, we believe it’s time for the medical profession to take constructive political action to try to heal the damage and ensure that civilian and military physicians follow the same medical ethics principles’ (end of quote).

We should add it is rare to see such a frank and critical editorial in one of the world’s leading medical journals. The editorial is a reminder of the field of medical ethics’ capacity to illuminate health and social issues.

Meanwhile, a helpful overview of the legal and ethical issues in health care (provided by Merck and Co. Inc) is provided in the ‘overviews’ section of MedlinePlus.gov’s medical ethics health topic page.

A link to information about the nutritional needs of end-of-life patients is available within the introduction of MedlinePlus.gov’s medical ethics health topic page. MedlinePlus.gov’s medical ethics health topic page also provides updated, comprehensive, evidence-based information about diverse healthcare ethics issues such as: genetic and prenatal testing, birth control, organ donation, and patient rights.

MedlinePlus.gov’s medical ethics health topic page additionally contains links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the ‘journal articles’ section. From the medical ethics health topic page, you can sign up to receive email updates with links to new information as it becomes available on MedlinePlus.

To find MedlinePlus.gov’s medical ethics health topic page, just type ‘medical ethics’ in the search box at the top of MedlinePlus.gov’s home page. Then, click on ‘Medical ethics (National Library of Medicine).’ MedlinePlus.gov also has a health topic page devoted to nutrition and health.

 

July 22, 2013 Posted by | health care, Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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