Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hospital Linked Infections Down

Based on a report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, health care associated infections are down.

According to an article from Medpage Today, there were 13,812 bloodstream infections associated with central lines that were reported in 2010, compared to an estimated number of 20,185 that was based off of what was seen between 2006-2008.

This represents a 32 percent decrease in infection rates.

Other infection rates that were reduced:

  • Catheter-associated infections had 9,995 cases reported in 2010, with an estimated 10,657 to be expected. This had a six percent decrease.

  • Surgical site infections had 5,170 expected cases to be counted for, with only 4,737 reported. This shows an eight percent national decrease.

  • Urinary tract infections in critical care units had a three percent reduction rate.

Only two states, Arizona and Delaware, had reported increases in hospital linked infections.

Snyder and Wenner, P.C.

C. diff

Clostridium difficile (C. diff) is a type of bacteria that can cause serious problems if not treated. The first signs of C. diff are fever, stomach cramps and diarrhea.

Unfortunately, the number of C. diff cases are increasing in hospitals across the country. The main cause of this is the fact that patients are consuming more antibiotics, which kill helpful germs in the intestine.

These good germs from the intestine would normally keep the bacteria from growing and making people sick.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, C. diff causes diarrhea linked to 14,000 deaths in the United States alone.

Wash hands with soap and water to help get rid of C. diff
C. diff is being spread by contaminated surfaces. When you enter a hospital to visit someone, it's a good idea to bring antibacterial wipes with you. While wearing gloves, wipe down anything in the room, such as the bed rails, the tray table, TV remote, door knobs, the sink and the call bell.

The best way to get rid of C. diff is to wash your hands with soap and water, using good friction between your hands.

To avoid spreading C. diff, only use antibiotics when needed.

Snyder and Wenner, P.C.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Xenex Disinfection System

Ellis Medicine is the second hospital in the state of New York to begin using Xenex’s innovative germ-zapping technology, ultimately keeping patients safer from acquiring hospital infections. 

Xenex Portable
Disinfection System
According to a press release from Market Watch, Xenex Healthcare Services has a new machine that can disinfect patient rooms in hospitals. The portable device pulses blue ultraviolet light throughout the room, destroying bacteria, bacteria spores and viruses in 5-10 minutes.

Studies have shown that using the Xenex room disinfection system is 20 times more effective than the usual chemical cleaning practices. 

The Xenex system was first deployed in late 2010, and has helped Clostridium difficile (C. diff) rates drop significantly in hospitals across the county.  

The C. diff germ is a type of bacteria that causes inflammation of the colon and can live in an environment, such as a patient’s room, for months. This stubborn germ has been showing up more often in hospitals across the country in recent years.  

This system is the only one to result in a facility-wide decrease in C. diff rates.

Snyder and Wenner, P.C.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Avoiding Mistakes in your Surgery

The Joint Commission has a program called "Speak Up" which encourages patients to become more involved in their health care.

Part of the program focuses on how to help avoid mistakes in your surgery. Mistakes can easily happen during all types of surgeries; surgeons can operate on the wrong part of your body, they can perform the wrong surgery, or they can operate on the wrong patient.

When it comes to preparing for your surgery, keep these in mind:
  • Ask your doctor questions:
    • Will you be able to eat or drink after your surgery?
    • Are there any medications you should stop taking before your surgery?
    • What should I expect after surgery?
  • Ask someone you trust to:
    • Take you to and from the surgery facility.
    • Stay with you before, during, and after the surgery. They can make sure you get the right care you need.
  • Before you head to the surgery facility:
    • Leave valuables at home.
    • Shower and wash your hair. Also, do not wear any makeup so caregivers can check your blood circulation easily.
When you get to the surgery facility:
  • Make sure the consent form you sign has all of the right information.
  • The staff may ask you many questions (such as "What surgery are you having today?" and "Who are you?") multiple times to reduce the chance of a mistake happening.
  • If you don't understand any of the questions or are confused on what is on the consent form, speak up.
Before you have the surgery:
  • Make sure the mark that a health care professional puts on your body is on the correct place that will be operated on.
  • Ask you surgeon to have a "time out" before the surgery takes place. This will help them double check that they will be doing the right surgery on the right body part on the right patient.
After the surgery is finished:
  • Tell the health care staff if you are in any type of pain so they can relieve it.
  • Ask questions about the new medication you will be taking: What is it? What are the side effects? How often should I take it?
  • Make sure you ask when you can go back to your normal routine. Ask when you can go back to work, exercise or travel.

Snyder and Wenner, P.C.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Having a Health Advocate

When your doctor sits you down to explain a serious diagnosis or your test results, you may be frightened.  

The important thing to do at this time is pay close attention to what your doctor says; they can answer your questions, suggest what actions to take next, and offer ways for you to get better health care with your condition. At this time, however, you may be in shock of what you are hearing and the news you just received.  

This is the time when a health advocate can step in and help understand what the doctor is telling you.  

According to an article from AARP, research has shown that quality health care requires being active in making decisions based on what is presently taking place. Bringing someone along with you to doctor’s appointments can help you focus on your care when you might be going through a confusing time.

A health advocate can be anyone you’re close to or someone you trust. This person can be a family member, a friend, a coworker or even a hired professional to accompany you to the doctor’s office.

The advocate should not only listen to what is being said, but also ask questions, speak up for you, and write down important information. It’s crucial to understand what is currently happening and how to get the right care you need, and a health advocate can help you with it.  

Snyder and Wenner, P.C.
2200 E. Camelback Road
Suite 213
Phoenix, AZ 85016

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Medical Checklists

Did you know that U.S. surgeons operate on the wrong side of a patient as often as 40 times a week?

In the health care field, mistakes happen a lot. A nurse can mistakenly give a wrong and toxic dose of medication, a surgeon can nick a healthy blood vessel and a patient room can be improperly disinfected, potentially giving the next occupier a “superbug.”  

In an article from AARP, the number of patients who die each year from preventable hospital errors and mistakes is equal to four full jumbo jets crashing each week.  

However, progress is beginning to take place. 

Safety innovators around the country are introducing ways to minimize hospital errors, including the use of checklists and reporting to state websites about the number of hospital infection rates.  

Watch the AARP video below to learn about these checklists.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Treatments That Shouldn't Be Automatic

The old checklist for doctors includes them writing prescriptions and ordering tests. Now, the new checklist should consist of this: does the patient really need this?

Nearly 375,000 physicians being represented by nine medical societies are challenging the idea that more health care is better. Together they released a list of tests and treatments that health care workers should no longer automatically order.

The list has 45 items, including early imaging for most back pain, brain scans for patients who fainted but did not have seizures, repeat colonoscopies within 10 years of a first test, and antibiotics for mild to moderate sinus distress.

The goal of the list is to reduce wasteful spending without harming patients, such as patients being exposed to radiation while undergoing certain medical tests.

To read the full article, click here.
Snyder and Wenner, P.C.

Anemia Drug

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new anemia drug, which will help increase red blood cell levels in patients receiving kidney dialysis.  

The drug, named Omontys, will be an alternative to another company called Amgen that makes drugs for anemia patients. It was made by a small company called Affymax and will work the same way as Amgen’s drugs do.  

According to the article from the New York Times, the new drug may also provide an inexpensive alternative for Medicare and dialysis providers, which pays for most dialysis. 

With its contract negotiations with dialysis providers, Affymax plans to make its drug less expensive with rebates and discounts.  

However, safety could be another issue. In clinical trials, it was discovered that patients with kidney disease who were not undergoing dialysis had a higher rate of some cardiovascular problems while on Omontys, compared to those taking Amgen’s drug called Aranesp.  

Snyder and Wenner, P.C.
2200 E. Camelback Road
Suite 213
Phoenix, AZ 85016

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Diabetes Drug Helps Patients with Cancer

According to an article from Medical News Today, a popular diabetes drug appears to help patients with different types of cancer.

In two different studies performed, the drug metformin (brand name Glucophage) was shown to prolong life expectancy for patients with early-stage pancreatic cancer, help prevent primary liver cancer, and slow down prostate growth.

Researchers have revealed the findings to the American Association for Cancer Research at the conference held in Chicago this past week.

Other research shows that metformin may also benefit those with oral cancer and possibly help with some types of melanoma.

Snyder and Wenner, P.V.