Hepatitis C: Testing Recommendations Ensure Patient Treatment

Today, the Hepatitis C virus is the most common blood borne chronic viral infection in the United States. An estimated 5.2million persons are chronically infected with the Hepatitis C virus (HCV)and 75 percent of patients are unaware of their infection.1Experiencing a lack of symptoms that a chronically ill patient would typically encounter is one reason the infection has been referred to as “the silent killer.” Prior to 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended HCV screening for only individuals with a previous history of certain behaviors or health indicators that are associated with HCV infection, such as injection drug use, hemodialysis, or abnormal liver function tests1,2. But in August 2012, the CDC published “Recommendations for the Identification of Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Infection Among Persons Born During 1945–1965” recommending an important expansion of the target groups to include the baby boomer generation. The new recommendation c...

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MDescapes: Introducing Physician Exclusive Rewards

As the President of Physicians Office Resource (POR), I am fortunate to have the opportunity to talk regularly with physicians, administrators and other healthcare providers about the business of running a practice. Today's environment is unlike anything that has preceded it and one refrain I hear repeatedly is it's not as fun as it used to be. The other is what happened to the rewards? It is precisely with that sentiment in mind that I am proud to announce the launch of MDescapes, a new service from POR.  MDescapes will feature luxury travel discounts exclusively for our readers and our website visitors. These discounts are substantial and very often are above and beyond any offers provided by the resort, hotel or airline. Our goal with MDescapes is to reward you for your work and to bring back a little bit of the fun of being a physician and being in healthcare. Our first featured resort is the Four Seasons Nevis West Indies. I personally selected this resort because...

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Seniors in the Office: A Tailored Approach

In their day to day work, Physicians see a variety of patients from all walks of life trundling through their doors. Young, old, rich, poor and every in-between, health is often the common unifier that brings citizens together under a singular banner. It knows no recession, price-range or tax bracket, and it's a necessary amenity for everyone. However, new research suggests that physicians will soon see a very specific demographic in larger numbers than ever before: the elderly. An Amednews article cites a recent gerontological survey which suggests that in the next two decades, the population of seniors will increase drastically, accounting for nearly 1/5 (20%) of the American population. What's prevalent to physicians here is the fact that senior citizens are, on average, twice as likely to make a visit to the doctor's office than are younger citizens. In fact, The National Center for Health Statistics posits that seniors are among the most heavy users of doctors offices, averaging roughly 7.4 ann...

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Affordable Care Act: Reforming the Reform

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With a historical and heated Presidential Election on the horizon, one of the more decisive campaign issues playing on voter's sympathies (besides the economy of course) is health care reform in the United States. The passage of President Obama's Affordable Care Act (Informally called "Obamacare"), one of the most controversial hunks of legislation in recent history, has many outspoken members of the medical sector fearing the stability and function of their own professions, as a move into socialized health care becomes a reality. As a quick recap, the Affordable Care Act angles to shrink the population of uninsured Americans and to reduce the overall expenses of health care. The novel legislation offers numerous incentives (including subsidies and tax credits) to employers and individuals as means to enlarge the overall insurance coverage swath. The law also encompasses other reforms aimed at improving the healthcare machine by streamlining the health care delivery method, and by requiring that all...

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Hand-Hygiene Among Healthcare Workers: Upping the Odds

A major three-year trial led by researchers at UCL, in partnership with the Health Protection Agency, has shown that giving one-on-one feedback to healthcare workers makes them twice as likely to clean their hands with soap. The Feedback Intervention Trial (FIT) is the first such trial to be done in a large number of hospitals anywhere in the world. It was carried out across 60 wards in 16 different hospitals that were already trying to implement a "clean your hands" campaign. The study showed that an intervention that tailored feedback to personalized action planning improved hand-hygiene compliance by up to 18% on Intensive Therapy Units (ITUs) and 13% on Acute Care of the Elderly (ACE) wards. It was also found that soap use increased by 30% The study has been published in PLOS ONE, and the main findings will be presented at a national hand hygiene summit held by GovToday on Wednesday 24th October to address national hand hygiene strategy, following the discontinuation of the Clean Your Hands cam...

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Monitoring Deadly Infections in Nursing Homes

The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have both produced some tools and information that can help track deadly healthcare-associated infections in nursing homes and other long-term care settings. These infections are known to strike volumes of nursing home residents each year, and reports suggest that up to 2.8 million infections can occur in this population on an annual basis. Published this week in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of SHEA, an expert panel published updated infection definitions and guidance that establishes a standardized set of criteria for nursing home and other long-term care facilities to track and monitor healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). These revamped surveillance definitions, coordinated by SHEA's Long-Term Care Special Interest Group, incorporate evidence published over the past two decades, with definitions for norovirus gastroenteritis and Clostridium difficile infect...

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Stop n' Go: New 'Traffic Light' Test for Early Liver Disease Detection

A new "traffic light" test, developed by Dr Nick Sheron and colleagues at University of Southampton and Southampton General Hospital could find its way into primary care to diagnose liver fibrosis and cirrhosis in high risk populations, in a more effective way. Liver disease typically develops silently, and without many discernible symptoms. Many people have no idea they are experiencing liver failure until it is too late. Roughly one third of those admitted to the hospital with end-stage liver disease die within a few months. This simple test could diagnose the disease much earlier, empowering those at risk to change their behavior and ultimately, save their lives. The Southampton Traffic Light (STL) test, details of which are published in the September 2012 issue of the British Journal of General Practice (BJGP), combines several tests and clinical markers which are then scored and indicate a patient's likelihood of developing liver fibrosis and liver cirrhosis. The test results manifest in thre...

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Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy: A Safe Alternative for Athletes

For injured athletes with torn cartilage, Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy is a safe and effective treatment, per research provided by the American Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) Annual Meeting in Baltimore. Though the process is still mildly experimental, studies show that it's safe and offers substantial improvements in function and quality of life for recipients. According to Elizaveta Kon, MD, lead author of the study and Director of Nano-Biotechnology Laboratory at the Rizzoli Orthopaedic Institute in Bologna Italy, "None of the patients treated experienced complications like infection, deep vein thrombosis or fever." For the study, 180 patients were treated for chronic pain using either PRP therapy or viscosupplementation (a common hyaluronic acid-based treatment for cartilage damage). 109 of these patients (with an average age of 56) reached a final evaluation. Both groups displayed notable improvement. Kon notes that long term follow ups for recipients of PRP therapy are required...

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Hotel TV Remotes : A Public Health Risk?

Researchers from the University of Houston report that television remotes carry the most bacteria in a hotel room, and items on housekeeping carts may be the cross-contaminating culprit.Katie Hirsch, a University of Houston undergraduate and presenter of the study says that the problem lies in the fact that hotel housekeeping practices "vary across brands and properties with little or no standardization industry wide." Currently, the barometer for hotel cleanliness is a simple visual assessment, a wholly ineffective practice when measuring sanitation. With a public becoming more and more concerned with public health, hotel room sanitation becomes a real factor for traveling consumers. Hirsch reports that "housekeepers clean 14-16 rooms per 8-hour shift, spending approximately 30 minutes on each room." By identifying "high risk items" housekeepers could strategically craft their cleaning routines to efficiently minimize public health risks and microbial contamination. Ultimately, the information o...

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Hepatitis C: A New Look at the Affected Population

    It is estimated that over 5 million people in the US are living with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) 1 and up to 75% are not aware they are infected2 . As of 2007, more people in the US die from chronic hepatitis C infection (15,106 deaths) than HIV (12,734 deaths). Hepatitis C is a curable disease, and HCV-related deaths are potentially preventable if people are identified and receive appropriate care before they develop liver failure or liver cancer. 3         HCV is unusual in that it disproportionately affects baby boomers -- 82% of people infected with HCV were born from 1945 through 19654,5 (Figure). A majority of these people acquired HCV in the 1960s through 1980s, so they have lived with HCV for 20 to 40 years. The risk of cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer increases with longer duration of infection. In fact, HCV-related cirrhosis is projected to increase from 25% to 37% over the next decade, peaking at over 1 million cases by 202...

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