Week in Review: May 6

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The Week in Review provides an overview of the past week’s top health care content, including industry news and trends, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Medical Laboratories news, and upcoming events.


Industry News

Researchers: Medical Errors Now Third Leading Cause of Death in United States

Nightmare stories of nurses giving potent drugs to the wrong patient and surgeons removing the wrong body parts have dominated recent headlines about medical care. Lest you assume those cases are the exceptions, a new study by patient safety researchers provides some context. Their analysis, published in the BMJ, shows that "medical errors" in hospitals and other health care facilities are incredibly common and may now be the third leading cause of death in the United States—claiming 251,000 lives every year, more than respiratory disease, accidents, stroke, and Alzheimer's. Via Washington Post.

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Critical Drugs for Hospital ERs Remain in Short Supply

For this report, which was published in the May issue of Health Affairs, researchers analyzed drug shortage data between 2001 and 2014 from the University of Utah's Drug Information Service, which contains all confirmed national drug shortages, according to the study. Seventy percent of the drugs that were difficult to get were injectable drugs, which emergency departments rely on to a much greater degree than other types of providers. The most common acute-care drugs affected were those to fight infections, such as antibiotics; those that affect the central nervous system, including painkillers and sedatives; and the drugs that suppress or stimulate the autonomic nervous system, which controls heart and breathing rates. Via NPR. 

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The Link Between Mosquito Spraying and Autism

A new study finds a correlation between the aerial spraying of pesticides to kill mosquitoes and an increased risk of developmental delays and autism among kids. In the new findings, presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies 2016 meeting, researchers looked at the rates of autism and developmental delays from eight zip codes in a region of New York that is exposed to yearly airplane pesticide spraying to prevent mosquito-borne disease like eastern equine encephalitis virus. Via TIME.

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When the Patient Won’t Ever Get Better

There are about 100,000 chronically critically ill patients in the United States at any one time, and with an aging population and improving medical technologies, this number is only expected to grow. The outcomes of these patients are staggeringly poor. Half of the chronically critically ill will die within a year, and only around 10 percent will ever return to independent life at home. Via NY Times.

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Maps Predict Possible Zika Hot Spots

Parts of the U.S. could face a year-round threat from Zika, according to a map of potential hot spots for the virus. Researchers plotted the potential risk for Zika outbreaks in 50 large U.S. cities based on several factors, such as whether the locations are home to the Aedes aegypti mosquito that primarily spreads the virus. Researchers also considered temperature, rainfall, poverty, travel patterns, and a history of other disease outbreaks caused by the mosquitoes, according to the study, led by National Center for Atmospheric Research and NASA. Researchers estimated the overall risk of Zika, as well during each month of the year, finding that South Florida and Texas have moderate-to-high risks of the virus even in the winter, thanks to their warm temperatures, according to the study. Via USA Today.

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Mayo Clinic News

Mayo Clinic to Receive $7 Million Award to Research Migraine Treatment

At some point we've all fallen victim to migraines, and a lot of times it takes more than a dose of Tylenol to get rid of those pains. Pretty soon, researchers at Mayo Clinic will get to the bottom of how to treat the aches. A Mayo Clinic research team has been approved for $7 million in funding to study migraine treatment strategies. The 5-year study is the first of its kind and will compare two current strategies for treating patients who have chronic migraine, and medication overuse. Via KTTC-TV.

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Jury Still Out on Celiac Disease Screening, U.S. Doctors Say

While the blood test is simple, widely available, and inexpensive, an expensive and invasive intestinal biopsy is typically needed to confirm the diagnosis, said Joseph Murray, M.D., Director of the Celiac Disease Program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and an author of screening guidelines issued by the American College of Gastroenterology. “In my experience as a clinician, as well as some studies that have been undertaken, many of the individuals who are family members have symptoms, though they may not have complained of those symptoms to their doctors, sometimes because they did not realize they were an abnormality and sometimes because they were never asked,” said Murray, who wasn’t involved in drafting the USPSTF recommendations. Via Reuters.

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Ixazomib in First All-Oral Triplet for Multiple Myeloma

According to S. Vincent Rajkumar, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, "Three new drugs were approved in November 2015 for treating relapsed multiple myeloma. In that month, ixazomib was approved, as were elotozumab (Empliciti, Bristol-Myers Squibb), and daratumumab (Darzalex, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc); both latter drugs were granted priority review. "These combinations provide useful options when patients relapse on a given regimen," Dr. Rajkumar said. Via Medscape.

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New Strategies are Proposed for Ovarian Cancer Treatment

Jamie Bakkum-Gamez, M.D., a gynecologic oncologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, noted that these recommendations generally reflect the beliefs and current practices at her institution. A cure rate of 50%, she said, is “definitely achievable.” Although two recent clinical trials in Europe found that patients who underwent primary debulking surgery followed by chemtherapy showed no difference in overall survival compared with patients who got the treatments in the reverse order, Dr. Bakkum-Gamez noted that the surgeries performed were not nearly as aggressive or thorough as those done elsewhere, including at Mayo Clinic. “Not every surgeon is created equal,” she said. Via Clinical Oncology News.

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Resist Overuse of Antibiotics

A new study shows an estimated 30 percent of outpatient oral antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary. Penicillin and other antibiotics have played a leading role in treating bacterial infections, preventing the spread of disease, and minimizing serious complications of disease; however, overuse of the drugs has led to antibiotic resistance. Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist Pritish Tosh, M.D., says, "We are seeing across the country and the world worsening issues of antibiotic resistant bacteria, meaning that we have antibiotics that are sometimes not effective against bacteria that cause infections." Via Mayo Clinic News Network. 

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Gina Chiri-Osmond

Gina Chiri-Osmond is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Medical Laboratories. She manages public relations and media outreach. Gina has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2011. Outside of work, Gina is going for gold in volleyball at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo . . . or at small-town summer festivals.