Week in Review: July 28

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

Hospitals Face Growing Cybersecurity Threats

In the neonatal intensive care unit of Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, a father is rocking a baby attached to a heart monitor. While doctors roam the halls trying to prevent infections, Chief Information Officer Theresa Meadows is worried about another kind of virus. "The last thing anybody wants to happen in their organization is have all their heart monitors disabled or all of their IV pumps that provide medication to a patient disabled," Meadows says. Meadows manages IT and cybersecurity for nearly 7,000 employees at more than 50 locations in Texas. After co-chairing an evaluation of hospital cybersecurity across the U.S., she says there's a lot to improve. Via NPR.

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First Editing of Human Embryos Carried out in United States

Technology that allows alteration of genes in a human embryo has been used for the first time in the United States, according to Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) in Portland, which carried out the research. The OHSU research is believed to have broken new ground both in the number of embryos experimented upon and by demonstrating it is possible to safely and efficiently correct defective genes that cause inherited diseases, according to Technology Review, which first reported the news. None of the embryos were allowed to develop for more than a few days, according to the report. Via Reuters.

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Which Metrics on Hospital Quality Should Patients Pay Attention to?

The relatively recent movements toward transparency and quality in health care have collided to produce dozens of publicly available hospital quality metrics. You might consider studying them in advance of your next hospital visit. But how do you know if the metrics actually mean anything? There are valid reasons to be suspicious of measurements of hospital quality. One longstanding concern is that some hospitals may disproportionately attract sicker patients, who are more likely to have worse health outcomes. That could cause those hospitals to appear less effective than they actually are. Statistical techniques can mitigate but not completely eliminate this bias. A related problem is that measurement of the quality of a hospital can be biased if it doesn’t take into account the socioeconomic status of the population it serves—and many such metrics do not. For example, a hospital in a wealthy region serves patients with more resources, relative to a hospital in a poorer region. If greater patient resources translate into better health—and a lot of research suggests they do—the hospital in the wealthy region may appear to be of higher quality. But that isn’t necessarily because of the care it delivers. Via NY Times.

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The Myth of Antibiotics: "Complete the Course" Won’t Stop Resistance, Researchers Say

Doctors have long urged patients to adhere strictly to antibiotic prescriptions, asserting that the entire course should be completed regardless of whether their symptoms have been resolved. Not doing so, conventional wisdom has held, brings the risk of increasing bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance is one of the most serious global threats to both human health and agriculture, and finding ways to avoid it is a priority. When it comes to treatment for our bacterial infections, it has long been thought that cutting a course short eradicates most but not all of the bacteria behind the illness, thus leaving the door open for the pathogens to develop the ability to evade attack by the drugs. Via Newsweek.

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Medscape Survey: U.S. Physicians' Top Hospital Picks for 2017

The hospital you go to for procedures or other medical care can make a huge difference in outcome. So where would U.S. doctors want to receive needed care? Medscape asked 8504 doctors across more than 25 specialties for their opinion of where they would want to be treated or where they'd send a family member for treatment of a complex or difficult condition, assuming no barriers to treatment at their preferred hospital. Among all physicians, their first choice for breast cancer treatment was Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (New York City), followed by MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston, Texas), Mayo Clinic Hospital Rochester (Minnesota), Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (Boston, Massachusetts), and the Cleveland Clinic (Ohio). Oncologists also chose these hospitals but picked University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers (Ann Arbor) over the Cleveland Clinic. Via Medscape.

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Mayo Clinic News

Is Inflammation Bad for You or Good for You?

Chronic, low-level inflammation seems to play a role in a host of diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer's, cancer, and even depression. And even though the science on inflammation and disease is far from settled, tests and treatments are being promoted that claim to reduce that risk. But the blood test for the hs-CRP marker isn't specific, which means it can tell you there's inflammation going on, but not why it's happening. It could be an infection, or an autoimmune disease, or that sprained ankle. So it's not terribly helpful on its own. "As we confront or deal with a specific medical issue, we usually end up being very focused and precise about the disease process," says James Li, M.D., Ph.D., an allergist-immunologist at Mayo Clinic. "We don't look at these conditions globally as inflammation in the body." Via NPR.

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Simple Urine Test Can Identify Potentially Fatal Preeclampsia up to Ten Weeks Earlier Than Current Method

Researchers have developed a new test for pregnant women to detect a deadly complication which affects 50,000 people a year. A simple urine test could flag preeclampsia up to 10 weeks earlier than current methods, according to doctors in the U.S. The study’s lead author Vesna Garovic, M.D.,  Ph.D., from Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, said: ‘This important test can tell a woman if she has preeclampsia or not within just two hours". Even though early delivery of the baby is the only current treatment for preeclampsia, an early diagnosis raises a flag so that a woman and baby can be monitored for their risk of complications. It is a more sensitive test than those which are currently available and should be available routinely within two years. Via Daily Mail.

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Healthier Living Could Reduce Worldwide Dementia by a Third, Report Says

That report, which was sponsored by the National Institute on Aging and used different methodologies than the Lancet Commission’s, found that just three types of intervention offered “encouraging but inconclusive” evidence: cognitive training, blood pressure management for hypertension, and increased physical exercise. Ronald Petersen, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging, presented the report at the conference and said large trials that are currently ongoing or forthcoming could provide more evidence to support the effects of lifestyle intervention. Via Washington Post.

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Genetics Tests to Improve Prenatal Screening

“It’s an exciting time in perinatal testing,” explains Myra Wick, M.D., Ph.D., from Mayo Clinic. “DNA sequencing and molecular technology have improved and become more cost effective. These tests are important for family planning before pregnancy as well as planning for the care of a baby who is found to have a genetic disorder during pregnancy. ”Researchers from Mayo Clinic and the Center for Individualized Medicine have helped implement several of these tests, which use a personalized medicine approach to perinatal screening. Three state-of-the-art perinatal genetic tests are becoming more widely available to expectant parents. Via HuffPost.

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Mayo Clinic Minute: How 3-D Imaging Helps Doctors and Patients

Three dimensional printers are becoming an increasingly important tool for surgeons and other doctors because they enable better planning for surgeries. Surgeons report feeling more confident in their methods when they are able to use a 3-D model as part of their planning, and studies show patients benefit from the 3-D models as well. 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.