Articles Posted in Research Studies

UM-Cap-Region-Medical-Center-300x225Poorer communities of color in the region around the nation’s capital are inching toward getting more equitable hospital care — with new facilities slowly coming online to replace decrepit and risky institutions.

Politicians and public leaders in Maryland celebrated a decade-long fight to see the opening in Largo of a new hospital,  a “620,000-square-foot, glass-paneled facility [that] will replace the 75-year-old Prince George’s Hospital Center in Cheverly,” the Washington Post reported.

The new University of Maryland Capital Region Medical Center, near the Largo Town Center Metro station, had been stalled for years in political and regulatory battles over its size and funding. It will be part of the University of Maryland Medical System’s network of 13 hospitals, and officials hope it will anchor major development in Largo.

aduhelm-150x150The federal Food and Drug Administration has created an instant medical and regulatory morass by giving an accelerated approval to Biogen’s costly prescription medication targeted at patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

This is the first drug to win the precious official nod from the FDA in almost two decades.

But the agency’s OK to market aducanumab (pronounced “add-yoo-CAN-yoo-mab”), which will go by the brand name Aduhelm, may go in the books as one of the sketchiest and most ferociously contested in recent times. The drug somehow overcame Everest-sized reasons why, at best, it needed further study — which it is supposed to get. And it faces Himalayan-sized criticisms that it will raise false hopes for those afflicted with a condition that is spiking in a fast-graying nation, and for which no effective medical remedy has been found.

bauchner-150x150Racial inequities roiled an array of health-related situations in recent days, showing how far the nation still must go to deal with pervasive injustices in medical systems nationwide.

The reported matters include:

  • The editor-in-chief departed a leading medical journal after one of his chief deputies, in a purported “education” session for which practitioners could earn professional credit, sought to deny the existence of racism in modern U.S. medicine and baldly asserted that no doctors are racist. The deputy already was forced out. The top editor, who served for a decade in his post, said he was sorry that the incident occurred on his watch, and his defenders praised his accomplishments at the Journal of the American Medical Association.

primary-care-300x199The U.S. health system is in dire need of dramatic reforms to put patients first, most notably by ensuring that everyone in this country has a formally designated primary care physician to help monitor, navigate, and oversee their medical treatment.

That is the latest recommendation of yet another blue-chip experts’ group: the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, a self-described collective of “private, nonprofit institutions that provide expert advice on some of the most pressing challenges facing the nation and the world.”

An expert panel from the academies, after deep research and in issuing a 448-page report, has expressed disappointment that policy makers seemingly ignored the 1996 recommendations of its independent, nonpartisan sister group, the respected Institute of Medicine. The institute offered a blueprint for moving Americans into an approach, built on primary care, that has shown major benefits elsewhere in the world.

cdcvax7may2021-300x165The campaign to quell the coronavirus pandemic is a lot like a Herculean tug of war now, with the prospect tantalizingly near of  pulling a big measure of success over the line.

The Biden Administration, to its credit, is not easing a bit in conveying the urgency of its task in dealing with a disease that has infected more than 32 million in this country and killed at least 576,000 — roughly equivalent to the population of Baltimore.

At the same time, more than 148 million Americans older than 18 have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, roughly 57% of the adult population. Those statistics, as shown in the chart above from federal experts, were reported as of May 7.

dopelady-300x200Although most states, including most recently Virginia, have eased restrictions on the recreational or medical use of marijuana, expectant moms should take note of serious studies that show pot, especially in heavy consumption, isn’t great for the health of unborn babies.

Researchers at the University of California San Diego examined a decade of medical records of 5 million or so women in the Golden State, carefully comparing those who used marijuana heavily versus those who did not. Their results, published in a scientific journal, offered a warning, as NBC News reported:

“Babies born to women who were heavy cannabis users during pregnancy are more likely to have health problems, including premature birth and death within a year of birth, compared to babies born to women who did not use cannabis during pregnancy.”

devicemakerpaymentsHA-300x257Although Big Pharma has taken deserved heat for selling its drugs by slathering doctors with cheesy tchotchkes, lavish or even cheap meals, and pricey trips, as well as lucrative consulting and speaking opportunities, medical device-makers’ physician-payment programs also should get a tougher, deeper look.

That’s because device manufacturers paid doctors $3.62 billion in the years 2014–17 — 1.7% of the revenue in their business sector and more than seven times the percentage of drug industry revenue spent on payments to MDs, according to a new study published in the respected medical journal Health Affairs.

The payments have come under increasing fire, as even the smallest sums — yes, even for a slice of pizza and a beer or a few sodas — may sway doctors in prescribing drugs or favoring treatments, notably with certain medical devices. The sketchy product-promotion spending may not benefit patients and may boost health care costs, a growing body of evidence from studies is showing.

bauchner-150x150dredlivingston-150x150While the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared racism a serious threat to the nation’s health, establishment medicine finds itself mired in an angry scandal over doctors’ inability to recognize the term, much less its existence, or its considerable harms.

An uproar at a leading medical journal might seem a tempest in an ivy-covered tower. But patients will want to track even a little the professional furor falling on the leaders of the respected Journal of the American Medical Association.

Its website recently featured a podcast, for which doctors could get continuing professional education credit, in which host Ed Livingston (photo above left), JAMA’s deputy editor for clinical content and “a white editor and physician, questioned whether racism even exists in medicine,” Usha McFarling, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist reported for Stat, the medical-science news site.

waitingroom-2-300x202Patients packed in their doctors’ waiting rooms in pre-pandemic times may have looked around and wondered: Why are there so many seniors here receiving medical care?

It isn’t just age that gets older Americans in numbers to treatment for illness or injury or preventive care — it’s also, of course, their qualification at 65 for government-supported medical insurance, aka Medicare. That, perhaps, unsurprising conclusion has been affirmed by Stanford doctors and researchers in newly published research. The study also offers important insights on delayed treatment and the crucial role played by health insurance.

The work involved running down a hunch of Dr. Joseph Shrager, a cardiothoracic surgeon who wondered why so many older patients he saw were diagnosed with lung cancer at age 65 — and not, say, at 61, or 64? He discussed the observation with colleagues who concurred in their curiosity about Medicare eligibility and its role in disease diagnosis. As the university news service reported of the insurance hypothesis:

cte-300x157With coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths falling from scary winter highs, the easing of public health measures may see young athletes returning fast to what are supposed to be the fun and educational benefits of organized sports.

But will players, and more importantly grownups, ensure that appropriate practices are followed to ensure kids not only are safe from coronavirus infection but also don’t suffer serious and lasting head injuries?

The Washington Post has posted articles that could provide important reminders about the risks of chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE — the degenerative brain disease associated with the repeated blows to the head.

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