Archive: February, 2010
After a huge earthquake hit Chile on Saturday it was difficult to avoid a feeling of déjà vu.
Just seven weeks ago similar scenes of destruction streamed out of Haiti. Following the Haitian quake Americans responded generously. In similar fashion medical aid and emergency response teams are now rushing to Chile.
Doctors, nurses and other medical personnel from the Philadelphia region were early responders in Haiti. Teams from Cooper University Hospital and the University of Pennsylvania quickly arrived to care for survivors. Individuals and ad hoc medical teams from South Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania dropped everything to help.
Does smoking pot over long periods of time increase the risk of hallucinations, delusions or psychosis? Or are people prone to such problems more likely to use marijuana? An Australian study looking into the complex relationship between psychosis and marijuana use was scheduled to appear in the Archives of General Psychiatry in May, but made public early yesterday by the medical journal.
Researchers from the University of Queensland and other Australian schools studied 3,801 young adults born between 1981 and 1984. The study was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia. At follow up interviews 21 years into the study, the participants were asked about their use of marijuana and assessed using several methods to measure psychosis including diagnostic interviews.
Overall, 65 of the participants had been diagnosed with schizophrenia or another form of “non-affective psychosis.” Among all the study participants longer term use of marijuana was associated with hallucinations, delusions or psychosis.
Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer contains the first in an occasional series of stories by my colleague Michael Vitez from inside Abington Memorial Hospital in Montgomery County. The stories will examine the issues confronting health care in America from the front lines, a large community hospital.
As health-care spending continues to spiral up past the $2 trillion a year mark, Democrats and Republicans in Washington have not found much common ground to address many of these significant problems. So the people who lead and work in hospitals like Abington are left to adapt to the ever changing realities of health care in America.
Here's what Michael said about his series:
Pennsylvania is getting a $17.1 million federal grant to help it develop the infrastructure to enable a statewide sharing of computerized health records. The grant comes on the heels of nearly $100 million in federal funding to a consortium of education and health groups to build a fiber optic network through much of the state for health systems to communicate quickly over the Internet.
The Pennsylvania Health Information Exchange, or PHIX, will use the $17 million federal stimulus grant to further develop a statewide network that will allow patients, doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and a host of other health providers share a medical records quickly and securely.
The PHIX “will support patient-centered health care and improve access, quality and efficiency of care,” said Ann Torregrossa, director of the Governor’s office of Health Care Reform.
After the day-long Obama health summit you’ve heard all the talking points and more from Democrats and Republicans. If you still really want to dig into all the different health proposals floating in Washington, the Kaiser Family Foundation provide you with a handy side-by-side comparison chart.
If you want to compare the proposals of House Minority Leader John Boehner (R., Ohio) to that of Rep. Pete Stark (D., Calif.), the foundation site lets you dig in. In fact it allows you to check as many as 17 aspects of each of 15 proposals from benefit design and individual mandates to the role of the states and financing.
And if that’s not enough the foundation provides links to detailed materials for each of the plans examined. Yes, it’s a little on the wonkish side, but if you spent even a couple hours tuned into the health summit, it could be right up your alley. After all why rely on the TV pundits when you can read it all for yourself.
As the snow falls in what could be the fourth major storm of the winter, hospitals across the region geared up their now-well practiced contingency plans.
The key element of preparation was making sure staff can get to work. While some hospitals cancel nonessential appointments and procedures when a big storm looms, urgent cases such as heart attacks, major accidents and births can’t be put off.
To ensure they have key personnel on hand, the hospitals take a variety of approaches. Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia asked employees with four-wheel-drive vehicles to volunteer to transport key staff in to work and back home. Lourdes Medical Center in South Jersey has a cadre of community volunteers to help doctors, nurses and others get there.
So I’m squarely in the vaccinate camp. On Saturday my youngest daughter turned 6 months old. On Monday at her 6-month doctor’s appointment she got five different vaccinations, four shots and one oral. That included shots for both seasonal flu and for the swine flu strain.
In fact, last year our household worked hard to get everyone their flu shots. My wife, our older daughter, who is three-and-a-half, and I went to the nearest city health center and got our swine flu shots. We wanted to protect our infant and ourselves from the second wave of the 2009 H1N1 flu that was sweeping across the country and the globe.
Honestly, I was mystified by friends and family in high-risk groups who refused to get vaccinated. They often cited concerns about the vaccine’s safety that had been dismissed by scientific, public health and medical experts.
On Sunday the obstetrics unit at Mercy Suburban Hospital in East Norriton, Pa. in Montgomery County will be shut down. The closure announced last year will take place four months earlier than originally planned due to dwindling resources and patients the hospital said.
As the sixteenth hospital to stop delivering babies in the Philadelphia region since 1999, Mercy Suburban could be exhibit A – really exhibit P – for advocates seeking to add limits on medical malpractice suits to the health legislation at the so-called bipartisan summit in Washington today.
The high cost of medical malpractice insurance for doctors and hospitals, particularly for obstetricians combined with low payments from insurers for delivering babies, is a prime cause of the closures of units such as the one at Mercy Suburban, Ken Braithwaite, regional executive of the Delaware Valley Healthcare Council of the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, which represents area hospitals said in a recent article.