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Healthcare Update — 03-07-2016

“VA suicide hotline. Your call is very important to us. Please leave a message after the beep.”  Data provided to USA Today shows that up to 1 in 5 calls to a VA suicide crisis hotline was dropped or sent to voice mail. One veteran from Illinois allegedly killed himself by laying on train tracks after being unable to reach someone on the hotline.

Want to get the munchies? Pull an all-nighter. Study shows that those with “restricted sleep” (4.5 hours per night) have higher levels of hormones that stimulate hunger and were less able to resist eating “palatable snacks.”

Study in Annals of Emergency Medicine shows that elderly patients are more likely to die after discharge when they met any of four criteria: the doctor planned to admit them and then changed the disposition to “discharge” (showing that doctor should follow their instincts), the patient had cognitive impairment, the patient’s blood pressure was less than 120 systolic, or the patient’s pulse was greater than 90. Seems odd that patients with abnormally high blood pressure are at less risk for discharge while those with potentially normal pulse rates are at higher risk for discharge. And how many nursing home patients don’t have some type of cognitive impairment?

Another study in Annals of Emergency Medicine shows that patients who overuse the emergency department one year are highly likely to overuse the emergency department in subsequent years. Younger age, Medicaid status, and mental illness were all predictors of frequent emergency department use.

I’m betting that Iraq doesn’t have patient satisfaction scores. Video shows Iraqi doctor slapping patient (twice) who yells out in pain when getting stitches. Dr. Toughguy isn’t using gloves, either.

Here’s a study showing that patient satisfaction scores are dependent upon location of care. Same doctors treated patients in both an emergency department and an urgent care center. The exact same doctors had courtesy scores that were 0.35 points lower on their Press Ganey ratings in the emergency department when compared to scores from the urgent care center. Those 0.35 points on a 1-5 scale can mean the difference between having a score in the 90th percentile and the 20th (or lower) percentile.
When is the hospital C-suite going to learn to understand grade school statistics and bias?

There’s an app for that … but it doesn’t work. Study shows that in 77% of cases, blood pressure measuring app from mHealth gave artificially low readings and hypertensive patients were falsely reassured that their blood pressure was normal. Then again, I’m sure that if you asked Press Ganey statisticians, they’d say that the app is an absolutely valid measure of blood pressure. Because they say so.

Fighting incurable MRSA infections with … viruses. Man had “raging infection” in leg after dozens of surgeries to repair damage from a car accident and antibiotics weren’t working. Doctors wanted to amputate at the hip. Patient took a trip to Georgia (the Eastern Europe country, not the US State) and underwent phage therapy. Came back cured. Why aren’t we doing more of this in the US?


  1. So now…. P-G is being graded on a curve?


    Just like all those weed-out college courses where the pre-meds always busted the curves while those of us getting real degrees waited for 60% of them to drop out or quit.

  2. So I know you hate the term ER but, I was thinking, no one minds calling the OR, OR, even though everyone knows it’s not an actual room. OD would be weird. Everyone knows what an ER is and most people would think I’m a Urologist if I told them I’m an ED doctor. Therefore, I will continue to call it ED.

  3. I think you know why phage therapy is not being researched. $

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