viernes, 23 de mayo de 2014



Healthcare News

A Weekly Compilation of Clinical Laboratory and Related Information 
from The Division Of Laboratory Programs, Standards And Services


May 22, 2014


View Previous Issues - Healthcare News Archive


Sin of Omissions: When Tests Fly Under the Radar

How often do clinicians fail to order the tests that would improve diagnosis, prognosis, or management? And how can pathologists and their colleagues in the laboratory take action to improve test ordering if they lack the complete patient picture that would allow them to help clinicians spot the instances in which ordering more tests is the right answer?  Anand S. Dighe, MD, PhD, directs the core laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital, where efforts to tackle overuse are well known. He succinctly states the problem many labs face in detecting and addressing underuse. “You’re looking for something that’s not there,” he says. Barbara A. Zehnbauer, PhD, fleshes out the point. She is chief of the Laboratory Research and Evaluation Branch in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Laboratory Programs, Standards, and Services. “It’s like the old saying, ‘If you don’t get this letter, tell me and I’ll send you another one.’ It’s hard for labs to know what’s not being done. It’s a big obstacle,” she says. Meanwhile, the inherent limitation of studies on lab test underuse is that they’re based on clinical encounters that don’t consider in the denominator those without access to specific health care services, says Shahram Shahangian, PhD, a supervisory health scientist who works at the CDC with Dr. Zehnbauer. For their part, physicians admit to challenges when ordering lab tests, as reported in a survey sponsored by the CDC’s Clinical Laboratory Integration into Healthcare Collaborative, led by Julie R. Taylor, PhD (Hickner J, et al. J Am Board Fam Med. 2014; 27[2]:268–274).  Nearly 1,800 primary care physicians told researchers they felt uncertainty about lab orders 14.7 percent of the time. 

U.S. Health Agency to Erase Sex Bias in Biomedical Studies

The U.S. government's medical research agency is taking steps to erase sex bias in pivotal biomedical studies that pave the way for human clinical trials, saying scientists too often favor male over female laboratory animals and cells. A new requirement announced by the National Institutes of Health for researchers applying for NIH funding is likely to have a big influence because the agency is one of the world's top financial backers of biomedical studies, spending about $30 billion annually. Beginning Oct. 1, researchers seeking NIH grants must report their plans for balancing male and female cells and animals in preclinical studies, with only "rigorously defined exceptions." The NIH also plans to train grant recipients and its own staff on designing studies without sex bias. "Our goal is to transform how science is done," wrote NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins and Dr. Janine Clayton, director of the NIH Office of Research on Women's Health, in the scientific journal Nature.

Hospital Labs go Under the Microscope

Medicare and insurer payment pressures prompt improvements in medical testing, blood management and health IT Framing the Issue:
  • Demand for medical and clinical laboratory techs is expected to grow in coming years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts.
  • The aging population will drive increased demand as more people need to have medical conditions, such as cancer or type 2 diabetes, diagnosed through laboratory procedures.
  • The number of medical and clinical lab jobs is expected to grow 22 percent, from 325,800 in 2012 to 396,400 in 2022, the BLS states.
  • Hospital lab officials worry that the supply of workers will not keep up with demand.
  • Lab personnel vacancy rates ranged, by department, from 4 percent in cytogenetics, lab safety, histology and immunology to 8 percent in phlebotomy, found a 2012 American Society for Clinical Pathology survey.
  • The retirement rate among lab personnel ranges from 4 percent in cytogenetics and phlebotomy to 10 percent in chemistry/toxicology and immunology, the survey found.
Hospital clinical labs are getting hit on two fronts. On the inpatient side, Medicare payment pressures are forcing labs to cut expenses. The outpatient side is confronting clinical laboratory fee schedule reductions, a new bundled payment system and uncertainty about Medicare pricing revisions.

Cervical Cancer Screening: Docs Unconvinced on HPV DNA Test

The US Food and Drug Administration recently approved the use of a human papillomavirus (HPV) test as a primary cervical cancer screening test in women as young as 25 years, yet physicians are unlikely to ditch the Papanicolaou (Pap) test soon, experts say. Roche's cobas test is 1 of 4 HPV tests on the market, but thus far it is the only one approved for primary screening, rather than for use in conjunction with Pap tests. The US Food and Drug Administration recently approved the use of a human papillomavirus (HPV) test as a primary cervical cancer screening test in women as young as 25 years, yet physicians are unlikely to ditch the Papanicolaou (Pap) test soon, experts say. "I don't know that we're going to see an immediate change in how patients are screened for cervical cancer," Levi Downs, MD, a spokesman for the Society of Gynecologic Oncology and an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine, Minneapolis, said to Medscape Medical News.

Urine Test May Help Spot Dangerous Blood Clots

Researchers say they've created a simple urine test that detects the presence of dangerous blood clots in the lungs more accurately than the current blood test. The clot typically forms in the leg, where it is called a deep vein thrombosis, but it can break loose and travel to an artery in the lungs. Once lodged there, the clot, now called a pulmonary embolism, can be life-threatening, the researchers noted. "The main advantage of our test is that it is noninvasive and can be developed into a urine dipstick test that could have a rapid turnaround time," said lead researcher Dr. Timothy Fernandes, from the division of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine at the University of California, San Diego. "This would be a tremendous boon to patients from the emergency department to the intensive care unit and even to outpatients," he added. The test measures the levels of fibrinopeptide B (FPB), which is released when a clot forms.

Detection of Mycobacterium avium Complex DNA Directly in Clinical Respiratory Specimens: Opportunities for Improved Turn-around Time and Cost Savings

This paper describes the evaluation of a multiplex real-time PCR assay for the simultaneous identification of MAC and MTBC directly on clinical specimens. We found that the real-time PCR assay can accurately identify both MAC and MTBC members in 2.5 h and can be introduced in the molecular diagnosis of mycobacteria. This assay, which targets the IS6110 element and ITS region, provides added value over current methods for MAC identification such as MAC AccuProbe, sequence analysis, and other real-time PCR methods that utilize either SYBR green technology with melt curve analysis or the less specific region of 16S rRNA. The MTBC-MAC real-time PCR assay is highly specific, has a short TAT, is cost-effective, and performs well on clinical specimens. Although this test lacks in sensitivity for detecting MAC in primary specimens, it is an alternative to the utilization of AccuProbe on positive cultures. The use of this multiplex real-time PCR can reduce cost and TAT, allowing physicians to accurately and efficiently guide appropriate therapy and infection control.

Breakthrough Microchip Method Boosts Single-Cell Analysis

Scientists at Duke University and Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST) in Korea say they have developed a chip-like device that could be scaled up to sort and store hundreds of thousands of individual living cells in a matter of minutes. The team expects that the cell-sorting system will revolutionize research by allowing the fast, efficient control and separation of individual cells that could then be studied in vast numbers.

A Lab in Your Pocket

These labs-on-a-chip would not only be quick - results are available in minutes - but also inexpensive and portable. Generally, a lab-on-a-chip (LOC) can run no more than a test or two. That's because the chips are designed manually, says Hu. If the LOC were made using computer-aided design, you could run dozens of tests with a single drop of blood. "In a very short time, you could test for many conditions," he said. "This really would be an entire lab on a chip." With PhD student Chen Liao, Hu has taken the first step. "We have developed software to design the hardware," he said. "It has taken us four years to do the software, but to manufacture the LOC would be inexpensive," Hu said. "The materials are very cheap, and the results are more accurate than a conventional lab's."

Euclid Study Reveals More Than 39,000 Cases of Clostridium difficileInfection May Be Missed Each Year

The full set of data from EUCLID, the largest ever prevalence study of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) across Europe, were presented at the 24th European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID). Data from 482 European hospitals reveal that in a single day, an average of 109 cases of CDI are missed due to a lack of clinical suspicion or inadequate laboratory testing, potentially leading to more than 39,000 missed cases in Europe each year. "Guidelines recommend that hospitals test for CDI on all unformed stools when the cause of diarrhoea is not clear. However we are still seeing an issue with both a lack of clinical suspicion and lack of testing for CDI", commented Professor Mark Wilcox. 

A New Tool to Measure the Speed of Aging

A physical test for measuring age shows wide differences between the rates of aging among different population groups, according to new research by IIASA demographers. A strong handshake can say a lot about a person—it can indicate power, confidence, health, or aggression. Now scientists say that the strength of a person’s grasp may also be one of the most useful ways to measure people’s true age. In a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE, IIASA researchers Serguei Scherbov and Warren Sanderson (also at Stony Brook University) show that hand grip corresponds to other markers of aging such as people’s future mortality, disability, cognitive decline, and ability to recover from hospital stays.

Detecting Fetal Chromosomal Defects Without Risk

Chromosomal abnormalities that result in birth defects and genetic disorders like Down syndrome remain a significant health burden in the United States and throughout the world, with some current prenatal screening procedures invasive and a potential risk to mother and unborn child. In a paper published online in the Early Edition of PNAS, a team of scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and in China describe a new benchtop semiconductor sequencing procedure and newly developed bioinformatics software tools that are fast, accurate, portable, less expensive and can be completed without harm to mother or fetus "We believe this approach could become the standard of care for screening of prenatal chromosomal abnormalities," said Kang Zhang, MD, PhD, professor of ophthalmology, founding director of the Institute for Genomic Medicine at UC San Diego and a staff physician at the San Diego VA Healthcare System.

Quidel Gets De Novo FDA Clearance for Combined HSV, VZV Assay

Quidel said after the close of the market that it has received de novo clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration to market its Lyra Direct HSV 1+2/VZV multiplex real-time assay. Quidel's assay detects and differentiates herpes simplex viruses 1 and 2 and varicella-zoster virus nucleic acids isolated and purified from swab specimens taken from cutaneous or mucocutaneous lesions on symptomatic patients.

Thermo Fisher Inks E. coli Test Development Deal With USDA

Thermo Fisher Scientific said that it has entered into a collaboration with the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service and Pennsylvania State University to develop molecular tests to detect E. coli in food. The collaboration will leverage the extensive collections of E. coli strains housed at USDA-ARS and Penn State and the molecular technologies of Thermo Fisher's Life Technologies business. The partners said DNA from around 200 strains will be sequenced on the Ion Personal Genome Machine, and subsequent tests will be developed on multiple Life Tech platforms, including next-gen sequencing based systems and PCR-based platforms.

Siemens and ASCP Award 173 Scholarships to Medical Laboratory Students in 2014

Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics and the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) have awarded a combined $180,000 in scholarships to the nation's top undergraduate and graduate medical laboratory students for the 2013 -- 2014 academic year. Since 2003, more than $1.5 million in scholarships have been awarded through the Siemens--ASCP Scholarship Program pursuing bachelor's or master's degrees in medical laboratory science or other areas of laboratory medicine.  The Siemens--ASCP Scholarship Program was established to address the nation's shortage of qualified medical laboratory personnel, defray education costs, and promote the profession. Medical laboratory diagnostics--tests performed on the body's blood, urine, or tissue samples to obtain critical data used for disease detection, diagnosis and monitoring--is a key healthcare value driver. Spending on laboratory diagnostic tests is only 2 percent of total healthcare costs, yet 70 percent of medical decision making is influenced by medical laboratory test results.

New ‘LINK West’ Meeting Dives Deep Into Education to Benefit Cytotechnologists

The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) is joining forces with the American Society of Cytopathology (ASC), the California Society of Pathologists (CSP), and California Association of Cytotechnologists (CAC) to present LINK West, a new, live regional meeting on June 26-28 in San Diego. LINK stands for Laboratory Innovations and Networking for Knowledge, which highlights the goal of this innovative meeting format. The sessions are designed to provide timely education for cytotechnologists, pathologists, cytopathologists, pathology residents, and other laboratory professionals to build their professional knowledge base.

COLA Leadership Summit Concludes With a Path Forward

More than 30 healthcare thought leaders convened in San Francisco recently for the COLA 2014 Leadership Summit, to discuss the future of laboratory medicine in the context of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Inspiration for this year’s summit was drawn from the Institute of Medicine’s 2012 study report, Best Care at Lower Cost, a comprehensive vision produced by the IOM committee on the learning healthcare system in America.

DNA Analysis Exposes Flaws in an Inexact Forensic Science

A 2009 report by a committee of the National Academy of Sciences found “serious problems” with an assortment of methods routinely relied on by prosecutors and the police. They included fingerprinting, blood typing, weapons identification, shoe print comparisons, handwriting, bite marks and — yes — hair testing. DNA was the game changer. The 2009 report said that, with the exception of nuclear DNA analysis, “no forensic method has been rigorously shown to have the capacity to consistently, and with a high degree of certainty, demonstrate a connection between evidence and a specific individual or source.” This is not to say that these techniques are no good at all. Indeed, the F.B.I. still affirms its faith in microscopic hair analysis, particularly as a first look. But it now tries to follow that procedure with a deeper and more certain investigation that uses DNA sampling, and it has done so for 18 years. 
The Innocence Project, a nonprofit group based in New York that uses DNA testing to help clear people wrongly convicted of crimes, has played a notable role in casting doubt on how forensic science is applied. Nationwide over the past 25 years, the project says, 316 people sent to prison have been exonerated through DNA analysis; 18 of them served time on death row. Hair comparisons performed by crime labs were factors in nearly one-fourth of those cases. Even the F.B.I., while asserting the validity of hair analysis, has effectively acknowledged past problems.

Myth Busted: Urine Isn't Sterile

Bacteria live in the bladders of healthy women, discrediting the common belief that normal urine is sterile. This finding was presented by researchers from Loyola Univ. Chicago at the 114th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Boston. “Doctors have been trained to believe that urine is germ-free,” says Linda Brubaker, co-investigator and dean, Loyola Univ. Chicago Stritch School of Medicine (SSOM). “These findings challenge this notion, so this research opens the door to exciting new possibilities for patient treatment.” This study also revealed that bladder bacteria in healthy women differ from the bladder bacteria in women affected by overactive bladder (OAB), which causes a sudden need to urinate.

Virus Discovery: Are we Scientists or Genome Collectors?

Some scientists now proclaim that future pandemics can be successfully forecasted, allowing the planning of useful intervention strategies for pandemic preparedness. We underline the fundamental importance of performing dedicated investigations when viruses are discovered, to guarantee public health authorities the availability of nonerroneous information about potential upcoming threats. All viruses are equal before human knowledge. No single discovery is more important than another, but we have to go beyond the comprehension of all the viral diversity and acquire a deeper understanding about the biological properties of viruses because the lack of information or, even worse, the diffusion of erroneous information might hamper future research. It is the willingness to go beyond the sole random sequencing of a clinical sample, the willingness to perform proper research, which makes us scientists and distinguishes us from genome collectors.

Prostate Cancer 'May be a Sexually Transmitted Disease'

Prostate cancer may be a sexually transmitted disease caused by a common yet often silent infection passed on during intercourse, scientists say - but experts say proof is still lacking. Although several cancers are caused by infections, Cancer Research UK says it is too early to add prostate cancer to this list. The University of California scientists tested human prostate cells in the lab. They found a sex infection called trichomoniasis aided cancer growth. More research is now needed to confirm the link, they say in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

New Brain Cells Could be Blanking out old Memories, Research on Rodents Suggests

Have you ever been told about an incident that happened when you were little that you cannot recall? Perhaps the time you had an unstoppable crying fit at the mall, ate your first piece of pizza or hit your head on the coffee table and had to get stitches. This inability to remember specific events from the earliest years of our lives, called “infantile amnesia” by Sigmund Freud over a century ago, happens to us all. Now researchers have found what could be causing it: the birth of additional neurons — nerve cells — in the brain.

Married Couples Have More DNA in Common Than Random Pairs of People

A study of white married couples in the U.S. -- the majority of who were born in the 1930s -- concluded that spouses are more genetically similar to each other than they are to random individuals. In a paper published in the journal PNAS, a team of social and behavior scientists investigated the statistical likelihood that people will marry someone with a similar genotype.

Chronic Pain 'may be Inherited'

Four common chronic pain conditions share a genetic element, suggesting they could - at least in part - be inherited diseases, say UK researchers. The four include irritable bowel syndrome, musculoskeletal pain, pelvic pain and dry eye disease. The study of more than 8,000 sets of twins found the ailments were common in identical pairs sharing the same DNA. The King's College London team says the discovery could ultimately help with managing these debilitating diseases. While environmental factors probably still play a role in the four conditions, genes could account for as much as two-thirds of someone's chances of developing the disease, they believe.

Scientists Identify 'High-priority' Chemicals That May Cause Breast Cancer

An estimated 12.4% of women born in the US today will develop breast cancer at some point during their lives. Past research has indicated that exposure to some chemicals may increase the risk of breast cancer. Now, a new study has identified 17 "high-priority" chemicals women should avoid in order to reduce such risk and demonstrates how their presence can be detected. Scientists from the Silent Spring Institute in Massachusetts say their findings, recently published in Environmental Health Perspectives - a journal from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) - significantly advance breast cancer prevention efforts.  "The study provides a road map for breast cancer prevention by identifying high-priority chemicals that women are most commonly exposed to and demonstrates how to measure exposure," explains study author Ruthann Rudel, research director of the Silent Spring Institute. "This information will guide efforts to reduce exposure to chemicals linked to breast cancer, and help researchers study how women are being affected." According to the research team, only 5-10% of breast cancers are a result of high-risk inherited genes. Furthermore, they note that around 80% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are the first in their family to develop the disease. Such figures, the researchers say, are evidence that breast cancer is caused by additional factors.

Measles Virus Used to Put Woman's Cancer Into Remission

A woman with an incurable cancer is now in remission, thanks, doctors say, to a highly concentrated dose of the measles virus. For 10 years, Stacy Erholtz, 49, battled multiple myeloma, a deadly cancer of the blood. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic say she had received every type of chemotherapy drug available for her cancer and had undergone two stem cell transplants, only to relapse time and again. Then researchers gave her and five other multiple myeloma patients a dose of a highly concentrated, lab-engineered measles virus similar to the measles vaccine. In fact, the dose Erholtz received contained enough of the virus to vaccinate approximately 10 million people. "The idea here is that a virus can be trained to specifically damage a cancer and to leave other tissues in the body unharmed," said the lead study author, Dr. Stephen Russell.

New Cause of High Blood Pressure and Heart Disease Discovered

Why phosphate rich foods can increase blood pressure and promote vascular calcifications has been discovered by scientists at the Vetmeduni Vienna. The key is the hormone, FGF23 (Fibroblast Growth Factor 23). When the level of FGF23 is raised, as through a high phosphate diet, calcium and sodium accumulate, putting strain on the cardiovascular system. The study appears… in the journal, EMBO Molecular Medicine. Phosphate rich foods include processed cheese, Parmesan, cola, baking powder and most processed foods. Phosphates are widely used in the food industry as preservatives and pH stabilizers. When large quantities of phosphates are consumed, production of the FGF23 hormone is stimulated, which has a negative effect on the cardiovascular system. Reinhold Erben, the head of the Unit of Physiology, Pathophysiology and Biophysics at the Vetmeduni Vienna, warns that “our phosphate consumption is relevant for our state of health.”

Implantable Device to Beat High Blood Pressure

An implantable device that reduces blood pressure by sending electrical signals to the brain has been created by a group of researchers in Germany. The device has successfully reduced the blood pressure in rats by 40 per cent without any major side effects, and could offer hope for a significant proportion of patients worldwide who do not respond to existing medical treatment for the condition. The first results have been published …, 9 May, in IOP Publishing's Journal of Neural Engineering.

HIV Pill Urged for At-Risk Patients to Prevent Infection

Healthy people at risk of HIV are advised to take daily pills that cut the odds of infection by more than 90 percent, U.S. health officials said in the first formal recommendation on using the drugs as a preventative. The group urged to take the pills includes people with HIV-infected partners and those who inject illicit drugs and share equipment, or have been in treatment programs for injection medicine use, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement. Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD)’s anti-AIDS pill Truvada has been approved as a preventative medicine for the virus that causes AIDS.  Also advised to take the medicines are heterosexual men or women who don’t always use condoms with at-risk partners and gay or bisexual men who have sex without a condom or aren’t in mutually exclusive relationships with partners testing HIV-negative, the agency said.

BP Guidelines: No Simple Answers

Confusion about conflicting guidance on the management of high blood pressure continues, with some clinicians calling for a "guide to the guidelines" at the American Society of Hypertension meeting. Although there is much agreement among the several guideline documents from the U.S. and abroad, one conflict stands above the rest: the recommendation to loosen the threshold at which treatment is initiated in patients 60 and older without diabetes or chronic kidney disease -- to a systolic pressure of 150 mm Hg or higher or a diastolic pressure of 90 mm Hg or higher -- and to make the target blood pressure below that level.

Two Meals a Day 'Effective' to Treat Type 2 Diabetes

Only eating breakfast and lunch may be more effective at managing type 2 diabetes than eating smaller, more regular meals, scientists say. Researchers in Prague fed two groups of 27 people the same calorie diet spread over two or six meals a day. They found volunteers who ate two meals a day lost more weight than those who ate six, and their blood sugar dropped. Experts said the study supported "existing evidence" that fewer, larger meals were the way forward.
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Sepsis Contributes to Half of Hospital Deaths

Sepsis contributes to as many as 50 percent of all U.S. hospital deaths, despite only being present in one in 10 patients, research presented at the American Thoracic Society's (ATS) annual conference found, according to a statement from the ATS. Despite extensive research on sepsis incidence and mortality, the medical community has a poor understanding of the condition's broader impact on overall hospital mortality rates, according to lead author Vincent Liu, M.D., of the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research, and his team. Liu and his team analyzed 6.5 million hospital discharge records from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Nationwide Inpatient Sample in 2010. They found that mortality rates among sepsis patients were 10.4 percent, compared to 1.1 percent among non-sepsis patients.

Mayo Clinic: Reduce Readmissions With Complex, Patient-empowering Interventions

Several strategies could potentially reduce 30-day hospital readmissions by nearly 20 percent, according to a Mayo Clinic review published in JAMA Internal Medicine. "Reducing early hospital readmissions is a policy priority aimed at improving quality of care and lowering costs," lead author Aaron Leppin, M.D., told Mayo Clinic News Network. "Most importantly, we need to address this issue because hospital readmissions have a big impact on our patients' lives." "Effective approaches often are multifaceted and proactively seek to understand the complete patient context, often including in-person visits to the patient's home after discharge," Leppin told Mayo Clinic News Network. "This helps us assess the patients' living environment, their level of support, their resources, and their psychological and physical limitations."

Antibiotic Resistance Initiative Requests $30M in Federal Budget

The Centers for Disease Control and Protection have developed a federal initiative aimed at reducing the growing threat of antibiotic resistance. The Detect and Protect Against Antibiotic Resistance Initiative requests $30 million in annual funding for the next five years to successfully implement a strategy to cut antibiotic resistance and healthcare-associated infections. The AR Initiative plans to target four core areas: detecting and tracking antibiotic resistance, responding to outbreaks involving antibiotic-resistant bacteria, preventing infections from occurring and spreading and discovering new antibiotics and diagnostic tests for resistant bacteria.

CDC: First Case of MERS Infection Transmitted Inside the U.S.

The first case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome believed to be transmitted within the United States has been identified in an Illinois man who was infected and is no longer sick, a doctor with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The unidentified Illinois man had "extended face-to-face contact" during a 40-minute business meeting with an Indiana man who was diagnosed with MERS after traveling from Saudi Arabia, Dr. David Swerdlow told reporters during a telephone briefing. A blood test confirmed the Illinois man had been previously infected, and he reported suffering only mild cold-like symptoms and did not seek or require medical care, Swerdlow said. "We think that this patient was likely infected with MERS. But technically he doesn't count as an official case of MERS," he said. The case does not meet the World Health Organization definition of an active case, which requires evidence of a live virus, according to Swordlow. Even so, U.S. health officials appear to be treating it as one.

Bird Flu Experiments Pose Threat, Researchers Warn

Harvard and Yale researchers called for an end to animal research into bird flu, worrying that the virus could escape and trigger a global epidemic. Marc Lipsitch, a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, said he doesn't think the rewards of creating a novel strain of avian flu in ferrets – as a few labs around the world do – justify the risk that the virus might escape and wreak havoc. "There really are a lot of things we can and are doing that are much more likely to yield benefits and also don't put anyone at risk," he said. "We should support safe and effective research rather than risky research." Mistakes have happened before, said Lipsitch, who co-wrote an opinion piece in the journal PLOS Medicine with Alison P. Galvani, an epidemiologist at the Yale School of Public Health in Connecticut.

AMA: Let Docs Correct Released Claims Data

The American Medical Association (AMA) reasserted its opposition to the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services' release of raw Medicare claims data in a letter to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. When CMS released the data, it ignored AMA warnings about likely problems and limitations associated with the release, wrote James L. Madara, M.D., executive vice president and chief executive officer of the AMA, in the letter. For example, he said, physicians are not currently able to correct or clarify data in the Provider Enrollment Chain and Ownership System (PECOS) that relates to them. "We do not accept the argument that all errors in the database were put there by physicians," Madara wrote. "Nor do we agree that unintentional administrative errors by physicians justify the deliberate release of inaccurate information that misleads patients and reduces trust in their physician."

New HHS Data Show Quality Improvements Saved 15,000 Lives and $4 Billion in Health Spending

The Department of Health and Human Services announced that new preliminary data show an overall nine percent decrease in hospital acquired conditions nationally during 2011 and 2012.  National reductions in adverse drug events, falls, infections, and other forms of hospital-induced harm are estimated to have prevented nearly 15,000 deaths in hospitals, avoided 560,000 patient injuries, and approximately $4 billion in health spending over the same period.

CMS Rule Provides EHR Certification Flexibility for 2014

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT are giving the healthcare industry a reprieve, issuing a proposed rule that would allow providers to use 2011 edition of certification criteria in 2014. The new rule, released May 20 and slated to be published in the Federal Register May 23, would enable providers to use the 2011 edition of certified electronic health record technology for Stage 1 or Stage 2 in 2014. They would have the option to attest to the 2013 definition of Meaningful Use core and menu items and use the 2013 definition of clinical quality measures.

Feds Call for HIT Safety Center

What the U.S. government really needs now is a federal safety center for health IT. That was the consistent drumbeat during a three-day workshop of the FDA’s Safety and Innovation Act efforts, replete with a variety of industry stakeholders and the involvement of other agencies the FDA works with, among those the Federal Communications Commission and Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT. “This safety center needs to be in place as soon as possible,” said Michael Hodgkins, MD chief medical information officer at the American Medical Association, adding that it will be “where the rubber meets the road.” Indeed, the FDASIA HIT regulatory report came out April 1, and federal officials are synthesizing thought-leaders’ contributions on how to go about nailing this moving target. One thing is for certain: the HIT safety center will play a key role. “We are committed to the safety center,” said Jodi Daniel, director of ONC’s office of policy planning, who moderated a panel discussion on the issue at the FDASIA workshop. ONC put money into this year’s federal budget to fund the center, which, Daniel said, will provide “a venue for learning.”

Establish National Telehealth Definition, Standards, New Report Argues

A new report from a not-for-profit organization that promotes healthcare technology and innovation is calling for a national definition of telehealth and national standards that will foster its growth. The report comes only weeks after the Federation of State Medical Boards sought to establish its own model telehealth policy that state boards could emulate. That model policy ignited controversy because it emphasizes the use of video technology over telephone-based services. The new foundation's report outlines what it calls the benefits of telehealth including lowering costs and providing health services to rural populations.

Healthcare Security Stuck in Stone Age

Healthcare has a few things to do differently in the privacy and security arena -- one of them being: Start taking it seriously. This according to Verizon's annual breach report released. The new2014 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report highlights a concerning carelessness regarding privacy and security, specific to the healthcare industry. "They seem to be somewhat behind the curve as far as implementing the kinds of controls we see other industries already implemented," said Suzanne Widup, senior analyst on the Verizon RISK team, in an interview with Healthcare IT News discussing report findings.
 The industry's biggest misstep? Encryption, encryption, encryption

Researchers use Molecular Diagnostic Methods to Detect Cancer

The ABC Medical Center, located in Mexico City, implemented various molecular diagnostic methods that can detect the genetic alterations in several types of cancer, so they can select a personalized therapy for each patient and direct it against the mutated genes that cause disease.

New Test Will Allow Couples to Detect 300 Genetic Disorders

Dubai: Fertility clinics in the UAE will soon be able to offer a comprehensive pre-marital test covering about 300 genetic disorders. The tests were limited to only a few disorders earlier. “The new test will be a boon not only to couples who are planning on getting married, but also to married couples who have a family history of children born with genetic disorders,” Dr Ali Hellani, PGD lab director, Fakih Fertility Centre, Dubai, told XPRESS. “Once the new test is available, we will be able to rule out risks for over 300 genetic disorders.

Disclaimer- The information provided in this news digest is intended only to be general summary information. It does not represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is not intended to take the place of applicable laws or regulations.

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