Articles Posted in Research Studies

demeter-300x261It’s not an invitation to pile on the ice cream, cake, and candy. But older adults may get to say pshaw to the finger-wagging they may have endured from doctors and loved ones about their raised blood sugar levels and the condition that specialists ginned up to caution them about it: prediabetes.

As the New York Times reported, a newly published study by researchers at Johns Hopkins and elsewhere looked at data over six years on almost 3,500 older patients with elevated blood sugar measurements and found they “were far more likely to have their blood sugar levels return to normal than to progress to diabetes. And they were no more likely to die during the follow-up period than their peers with normal blood sugar.”

This is an important finding, the newspaper reported, quoting Elizabeth Selvin, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore and the senior author on the study:

declinenhomedeathsnytfeb21-300x189Just as good news expands about vaccines and declining coronavirus cases and deaths in the nation’s nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, grim information also is developing on how the facilities’ ownership, particularly by wealthy investors, can be lethal to residents.

The positive effects of early efforts to get vulnerable long-term care residents and staff vaccinated can be seen in the accompanying graphic (courtesy of the New York Times). The newspaper reported this:

“Throughout the pandemic, there has been perhaps nowhere more dangerous than a nursing home. The coronavirus has raced through some 31,000 long-term care facilities in the United States, killing more than 163,000 residents and employees and accounting for more than a third of all virus deaths since the late spring. But for the first time since the American outbreak began roughly a year ago — at a nursing care center in Kirkland, Wash. — the threat inside nursing homes may have finally reached a turning point. Since the arrival of vaccines, which were prioritized to long-term care facilities starting in late December, new cases and deaths in nursing homes, a large subset of long-term care facilities, have fallen steeply, outpacing national declines, according to a New York Times analysis of federal data. The turnaround is an encouraging sign for vaccine effectiveness and offers an early glimpse at what may be in store for the rest of the country, as more and more people get vaccinated.

corridorhospital-300x200Although politicians have obsessed for a decade about affordable health insurance, frustrated patients have seen little or no relief on another crucial concern — the skyrocketing costs of medical services. What policy paths could best offer dollars-and-cents help to struggling people with health care prices?

New research from the independent, nonpartisan RAND Corporation offers intriguing clues about billions of dollars in annual savings, based on complex modeling of actual options confronting the public and policy makers.

These choices, the experts say, may come to the political fore with new force due to the economic shocks the U.S. health system has been hit with due to the coronavirus pandemic.

autonomouscrash-300x173The race to deal with the existential threat of climate change by making millions of vehicles smarter, more efficient, and environmentally friendly may be on a collision course with safety concerns.

As the Los Angeles Times reported, concerns are rising among consumer advocates that makers have zoomed ahead with entrepreneurial and engineering advancements in vehicles, even as expert regulators went AWOL in the era of the business-enthralled 45th president.

Whither the future of road- and product-safety in an era of autonomous or self-driving and all electric vehicles?

cmsjan2021nhomedeaths-300x156The campaign to vaccinate millions of residents and staff in the nation’s thousands of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities against the coronavirus is gaining momentum and showing early, positive effects.

At the same time, however, information is emerging on shabby treatment of the vulnerable, including their exposure to illness exported into their facilities from hospitals, explaining the increasing number of civil lawsuits that owners and operators face.

Good news has been so rare with the pandemic that it may be worth considering first the coast-to-coast drive for long-term care facility vaccinations.

After months of giving chaotic and counter-factual guidance — or none at all — on the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government now under President Biden has weighed in on vital concerns: individuals redoubling their self-protection, notably by wearing better or two face masks, and safely reopening schools for younger kids.

The new counsel from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may rile parts of the public, notably teachers’ unions and those who have fought health restrictions with cavalier and extreme claims that they somehow infringe on their personal rights.

candidacdcauris-300x135Patients long have dreaded the possibility that — when already seriously ill or hurt — they also would be hit with debilitating or deadly hospital- or health care-associated infections, aka HAIs. The most nightmarish of these cases involve bacteria or fungi difficult to subdue, even with powerful treatments.

Now, with care institutions overwhelmed by coronavirus pandemic cases, drug-resistant HAIs are increasing — and in worrisome fashion because they are so difficult on their own for patients, doctors, and hospitals to deal with, the New York Times reported:

“’Seeing the world as a one-pathogen world is really problematic,’ said Dr. Susan S. Huang, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California at Irvine Medical School, noting that the nearly singular focus on the pandemic appears to have led to more spread of drug-resistant infection. ‘We have every reason to believe the problem has gotten worse.’ A few data points reinforce her fears, including isolated outbreaks of various drug-resistant infections in Florida, New Jersey, and California, as well as in India, Italy, Peru, and France. Overall figures have been hard to track because many nursing homes and hospitals simply stopped screening for the germs as resources were diverted to Covid-19. When even modest screening picked up again early in the summer, the results suggested that certain drug-resistant organisms had taken root and spread. Particularly troublesome have been growing case counts of a fungus called Candida auris [shown in CDC photo, above], which authorities had tried to fight before the pandemic with increased screening, isolation of infected patients and better hygiene.”

boxing-300x199Although corporate titans insist that Big Business can show more responsibility and not put profit ahead of all else, consumers are getting tough displays of how loath companies can be to owning up to dealing with harms their enterprises can cause or the rapacious pricing of their goods.

The most recent sketchy signals on product liability and costs came from a spectrum of enterprises and their executives, including nursing home owners and operators, a giant furniture maker, and, of course, Big Pharma.

Caveat emptor? Maybe. Or does the corporate ducking, bobbing, and weaving that would make a champion boxer proud also underscore that there are sound reasons for rigorous corporate oversight and regulation by governments, as well as a need for individuals, in keeping with their constitutional rights, to seek justice with medical malpractice and other safety and liability lawsuits in the civil system?

bbaby-300x200A recent study of deaths among  black infants may provide another conscience jab to medical leaders who are confronted with mounting evidence of racial health care disparities in the United States.

As the Washington Post reported, researchers examined records of 1.8 million Florida hospital births between 1992 and 2015, finding in their published study these stark results:

“Although black newborns are three times as likely to die as white newborns, when black babies were cared for by black doctors after birth — primarily pediatricians, neonatologists and family practitioners — their mortality rate was cut in half. They found an association, not a cause and effect, and the researchers said more studies are needed to understand what effect, if any, a doctor’s race might have on infant mortality. ‘Strikingly, these effects appear to manifest more strongly in more complicated cases,’ the researchers wrote, ‘and when hospitals deliver more black newborns.’ They found no similar relationship between white doctors and white births. Nor did they find a difference in maternal death rates when the race of the doctor, usually an obstetrician, was the same as the mother’s.”

gofundme-300x130Modern medicine may be providing patients with significant improvements in key treatment areas, but the cost of care has become so crushing that online campaigns for charitable medical aid have become heartbreakingly common in the United States.

A team of researchers from institutions across the country reported that the well-known GoFundMe website, between May 2010 and December 2018, had provided a platform for more than 1 million aid appeals — with 281,881 of these (26.7%) created to cover individuals’ health care–related costs.

Most of the fund-raising sought to assist cancer patients, with individuals suffering trauma and injuries, or neurological disorders trailing in number of campaigns. As the authors observed in their published study of these pitches:

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