Gershengorn et al retrospectively compared two MICUs at Beth Israel: one with “midlevels” (nurse practitioners and physician assistants during the day with attending coverage overnight) and one that was all house staff 24/7. There were no differences in important outcomes (mortality, MICU or hospital LOS), although the study was nonrandomized and subject to bias. CHEST [... read more]
The New York Times reported that hundreds of community hospitals frequently perform two chest CT scans back-to-back (one with, one without IV contrast), while academic centers almost never do. More than 70,000 patients were double-scanned; some hospitals did it >80% of the time on their Medicare chest patients. Defenders say they don’t do it to [... read more]
Free et al randomized 5,800 UK ready-to-quit smokers to get regular motivational text messages and help-line access, vs. placebo (texts thanking them for participating). At 6 months, those getting motivational text messages had biochemically-verified continuous abstinence of 11%, vs. 5% in the controls. Verification was by salivary cotinine at 6 months (& showed that 28% [... read more]
Sharma et al retrospectively observed >200,000 total patient-days for 9 months before and 27 months after implementation of a rapid response team at a single institution (U of Texas Galveston). Code rates and mortality did not change. CHEST 2011;139:1361-1367. Many cohort studies with historical controls over the past decade suggested benefits of RRTs, although others [... read more]
A brief historical and theoretical perspective on patient autonomy and medical decision making: Part II: the autonomy model. Will JF, CHEST 2011;139:1491-1497. ICU Ethics review.
Zinberg writes on predicted effects of the Affordable Care Act on reimbursements. As 30 million patients pour into the system, half onto Medicaid rolls, and cash-strapped state governments likely reduce payments for their visits (after federal prop-up payments shrink in 2016), Zinberg asks whether most physicians will see Medicaid patients at all, since many already [... read more]
Dyrbye & Shanafelt from Mayo sound a warning that the impending influx of 30 million newly insured patients into doctors’ offices after full implementation of health insurance reform, simultaneous with declining reimbursements, are likely to increase physician stress and burnout. They urge a lot of doctor-friendly policy measures (like a committee to set limits on [... read more]
Drug and device companies finance up to 60% of all CME in the U.S. Tabas et al surveyed 1,347 CME participants, 770 of whom responded. 88% felt that industry involvement biased their educational program…but only 42% said they’d be willing to pay higher CME fees to help reduce commercial influence. Participants almost universally (85-88%) underestimated the real [... read more]
Waters et al tested 136 meat and poultry samples in U.S. grocery stores, and found 77% of the turkey, 42% of pork, 41% of chicken, and 37% of beef were contaminated with S. aureus. 96% of the isolates were resistant to at least one drug, and 52% of isolates were resistant to 3 antibiotic classes. In the Netherlands, [... read more]
As part of their landmark Keystone MHA project in Michigan ICUs (that previously demonstrated a 0% catheter-related bloodstream infection rate with adherence to a central-line bundle), Sexton, Pronovost et al also implemented the CUSP intervention to create a climate of continuous quality improvement and safety. Based on surveys of the staff in 71 ICUs, mean safety scores rose from 42.5% in 2004 to [... read more]
Sleep medicine training across the spectrum, Strohl KP, CHEST 2011;139:1221-1231. Sleep review.
In a review of the charts of 3,138 patients who died in 15 ICUs, Muni et al report that the 21% nonwhite patients (incl. 9% Asians, 7% blacks, 3% Hispanics) had odds ratios of 0.41 for having a living will; 1.59 for having full life support at the time of death; 1.57 for having a physician recommend [... read more]
Dr. C.Goss takes the pro, Dr. J.Krishnan the con in this spirited Blue Journal soundoff. Both seem to agree that “comparative effectiveness research” is today so broad and undefined as to be either meaningless or all-encompassing, depending on your general attitude. But, maybe that’s to be expected at the onset of a potential paradigm shift… AJRCCM April 15 2011
Sacanella et al prospectively observed 230 generally healthy, cognitively intact, highly functional & independently living Spaniards 65 years or older (mean age 75) after urgent admission to a single MICU. About half received mechanical ventilation (54%). Seventy died in-hospital; 48 died within a year, for a one-year survival of 49%. But among the 112 survivors, [... read more]
Interviewing 100 patients or their surrogates in the ICU, 85% of whom were “full code,” Gehlbach et al found 16% of patients’ code status in the chart did not correlate with their expressed preferences during the interview (10 wanted less care, 6 wanted more). Respondents’ average prediction for their survival should they have a cardiac [... read more]
Remember when you were a third year medical student? Me neither. But that’s when you first started to build that tough & isolating carapace to protect you from all the overwhelming emotions flying through the hospital, & you, this essay suggests. A seasoned clinical educator and a third-year med student have a conversation about our [... read more]
Psychiatrist Aaron Lazare from U-Mass has been writing and thinking about humiliation in medical education and practice for years. This engrossing article exposes the destructiveness and persistence of this toxic emotion that he argues is sadly endemic in our profession. CHEST 2011;139:746-751.
An excess amount of the chaos and stress endemic to ICUs is due to poor systems engineering (think alarm fatigue); a rational, integrated approach to design & technology selection is needed to make ICUs more effective and safer for patients, argue Mathews & Pronovost. Academic health systems should fill the leadership vacuum, organize stakeholders and [... read more]
Arthur Kleinman, physician and ethnographer, challenges you to abandon comforting but simplistic value constructions and look unblinkingly at your divided medical soul, if you dare. Lancet 2011;377:804-805.
Efficient private systems like Geisinger and Kaiser outperform academic institutions on accepted measures of quality . Dhalla & Detsky say that’s because academic docs aren’t trying, because thanks to misguided incentives, their careers suffer if they do. They encourage hospitals and payers to take the lead to reward quality improvement, since universities are unlikely to. [... read more]