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.
More Dangerous Outbreaks Are Happening. Why Aren’t We Worried about the Next Epidemic
As the catastrophic Ebola outbreak killed 11,300 people and cost billions, the World Health Organization worked to lay the groundwork to make sure an outbreak never again reached that level of global health security threat. As part of its overhaul in 2015, the international body set about identifying which diseases had the highest risk for causing a widespread public health emergency and little to no countermeasures to prevent their spread in order to catalyze funding for their prevention. Three years later, six of the eight categories of disease highlighted in the WHO’s “Blueprint priority diseases” list were in the midst of outbreaks—at the same time. They include the worst of the worst: Ebola. MERS. Zika. Nipah virus. Lassa fever. Rift Valley fever. So far, the outbreaks of these high-fatality diseases and pathogens this year have caused at least 190 deaths and cost millions. But all of these diseases have the potential to strike again and grow, causing an epidemic that could kill thousands, devastate the world’s economy and wreak untold havoc—and all six were in active outbreak situations as of this June. That’s unprecedented, according to WHO’s Dr. Mike Ryan, the organization’s assistant director-general for emergency preparedness and response, in his 25 years on the frontlines of such outbreaks. Via HuffPost.
Liver Cancer Death Rate Rises, Even as Overall U.S. Cancer Death Rates Fall
U.S. death rates from liver cancer have risen steadily since 2000, resulting in the disease going from the ninth-leading cause of cancer death to the sixth, a new report finds. The change comes as U.S. cancer death rates overall—meaning rates for all combined cancers—have declined since 1990, according to the report, published today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But from 2000 to 2016, liver cancer death rates in adults ages 25 and up rose 43%, from 7.2 deaths per 100,000 people in 2000 to 10.3 deaths per 100,000 people in 2016, the report found. The rates increased for both men and women; however, the death rates for men were 2 to 2.5 times higher than the rates for women throughout the study period. Via CBS News.
More Screen Time for Teens Linked to ADHD Symptoms
Most teens today own a smartphone and go online every day, and about a quarter of them use the internet "almost constantly," according to a 2015 report by the Pew Research Center. Now a study published in JAMA suggests that such frequent use of digital media by adolescents might increase their odds of developing symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. "It's one of the first studies to look at modern digital media and ADHD risk," says psychologist Adam Leventhal, an associate professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California and an author of the study. When considered with previous research showing that greater social media use is associated with depression in teens, the new study suggests that "excessive digital media use doesn't seem to be great for [their] mental health," he adds. Via NPR.
HHS Kills Two Crucial Medical Databases
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will shut down this week renown databases on treatment guidelines and quality measures it has been operating for decades, and gave little notice it was doing so. The National Guideline Clearinghouse (NGC), and the National Quality Measures Clearinghouse (NQMC), which have been operated by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) since the late 1990s, will go dark July 17. Despite the operational longevity of the databases, the AHRQ announced it was shutting them down only in late spring, according to a report from the Web Integrity Project. The shutdowns deprive physicians and other clinicians who practice at hospitals and healthcare systems of what some say are essential and unbiased resources for establishing clinical guidelines for treating patients and ensuring the quality of care delivered. Not only are there no immediate plans for a private operator to take over the databases, but no archives of the databases will exist. Via Health System Specialist.
These Pills Could Be Next U.S. Drug Epidemic, Public Health Officials Say
Clonazepam (traded as Klonopin), diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax) are among the most sold drugs in a class of widely prescribed anti-anxiety medications known as benzodiazepines. Public health officials warn the pills should be used only in the short term and should never be mixed with opioids or alcohol. The growing use of anti-anxiety pills reminds some doctors of the early days of the opioid crisis. Considered relatively safe and non-addictive by the general public and many doctors, Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and Klonopin have been prescribed to millions of Americans for decades to calm jittery nerves and promote a good night’s sleep. But the number of people taking the sedatives and the average length of time they’re taking them have shot up since the 1990s, when doctors also started liberally prescribing opioid painkillers. Via Pew Trust.
Mayo Clinic News
Heart Attack Risk on the Rise for Pregnant Women
Expectant mothers, especially older ones, should watch for signs of heart trouble as their pregnancies progress and their babies arrive. A woman’s risk of having a heart attack while pregnant, giving birth or during the two months after delivery rose 25% from 2002 to 2014, a study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found. The rate of patients who died remained high but steady over that period at 4.5%. Via Today.
Mayo Clinic Simulation Center Receives Accreditation
The J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver Simulation Center, located on Mayo’s Jacksonville, Florida, campus, is one of only 100 such centers in the world to be accredited through the Society for Simulation in Healthcare. “The accreditation not only shows our commitment to education, it also elevates our platform for educating allied health staff and providers, so we continue to meet and exceed the needs of our patients,” said Kristin Rosenbush, the center's manager of operations. Opened in 2013, the center recently received the SSH accreditation after a peer-reviewed, customized evaluation of its teaching and education processes and outcomes. The 10,000-square-foot facility includes designated areas for procedural and surgical task training, an operating room, hospital and outpatient exam rooms, an emergency medicine suite and classroom, as well as debriefing space. Via Health Care Management.
Mayo Clinic Scores at the Top of Diversity Index
For the third year in a row, Mayo Clinic is one of the best places in the U.S. for disabled employees. The hospital ranked among the Disability Equality Index’s Best Places to Work for the third year in a row. Mayo and 94 other clinics scored 100 on the 2018 list. “Mayo Clinic is committed to inclusion for people of all abilities, and that is demonstrated by the actions taken to remove barriers for our patients and employees,” Dawn Kirchner, Chair of the Disability Mayo Employee Resource Group on Mayo Clinic’s Rochester campus, said in a press release. “This includes the continued conversations on integrating Universal Design into all aspects of Mayo Clinic, as well as departments’ hiring people of all abilities. We strive to create a climate and culture of belonging that supports people with disabilities.” Via Post-Bulletin.
They’re out in the Woods Picking up Ticks—on Purpose
It’s a picture-perfect summer day in the woods of central Minnesota: 71 degrees, humidity around 73%, sunshine dappling the trees and glinting off glimpses of the Mississippi River. But as five scientists pull on white painter suits and start duct-taping the cuffs to their hiking boots, no one is certain if the conditions will be ideal enough to complete their task for the day: catching about 300 ticks, both adults and 150 nymphs. These Minnesota Department of Health researchers are teaming up with scientists from the Mayo Clinic for this “tick drag,” gathering samples to bring back to their labs to add to surveillance records and test for disease pathogens, both of which help determine the risk that black-legged ticks pose to people. Via Washington Post.
The Rise of HPV-Related Throat Cancer
More than three quarters of Americans will get HPV at some point in their lives. Most will never know it because they'll show no symptoms. But Dr. Eric Moore, a Mayo Clinic head and neck surgeon, says a growing number of people are developing HPV-related throat cancer. And he fears the numbers are going to get much worse before they get better. Via Mayo Clinic News Network.