Public Health News Roundup: November 20
Study: Medicare Patients More Likely to Have Repeated Tests
Older adults on Medicare are more likely to have heart, lung, stomach or bladder tests repeated within three years, according to a new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine. "What we were struck by is just how commonly these tests are being repeated," said H. Gilbert Welch, MD, from the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice in Hanover, New Hampshire. "Either these patients continually develop new problems or there are doctors who routinely repeat tests." Excessive testing can lead to unnecessary costs and treatments, Welch said. Read more on access to health care.
Use of Discontinued Meds Shows Need for Electronic Updates to Pharmacies
Even though the treatments are complete, some pharmacists continue to fill prescriptions for patients, which can unintentionally cause health issues ranging from nausea or lightheadedness to low blood pressure or allergic reactions, according to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Researchers found that about 12 percent of discontinued medications caused harm, which demonstrates the need to electronically alert pharmacies when a medication is prescription is discontinued, said Adrienne Allen, MD, associate medical director of quality, safety and risk at the Boston-area North Shore Physicians Group."Future research should focus on evaluating methods of improving communication between providers and pharmacies to better reconcile medication lists, as well as explore strategies to improve patient knowledge and awareness of their medication regimen." Read more on prescription drugs.
Link Between Antibiotic Use During Pregnancy, Asthma in Children
Antibiotic use during pregnancy increases the chance that a child will have asthma, according to a new study in The Journal of Pediatrics. Researchers concluded the children were 17 percent more likely to be hospitalized for the breathing disorder. "We speculate that mothers' use of antibiotics changes the balance of natural bacteria, which is transmitted to the newborn, and that such unbalanced bacteria in early life impact on the immune maturation in the newborn," said Hans Bisgaard, MD, a professor at the University of Copenhagen. The findings support previous research linking antibiotics to asthma. Read more on maternal and infant health.