Public Health News Roundup: January 4
CDC: Women Following New Pap Test Guidelines
Two new reports in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report show most women ages 30 and younger are following the new national recommendations for Pap tests and about 60 percent of women continue having the tests after undergoing total hysterectomies. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and American Cancer Society recommend Pap tests every three years beginning at the age of 21, not annually, in part to minimize unnecessary procedures. “As we monitor Pap test use among U.S. women, we can make sure that women are being screened in accordance with guidelines, to best maximize the benefits of screening and minimize the harms,” said Meg Watson, MPH, an epidemiologist with CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, in a release. Read more on prevention.
Flu Season Could be Worst in Years
This year’s influenza season appears to have started early and could be one of the worst in years, according to reports from health care professionals across the country. In many areas the season was already going strong by November, although the normal peak for flu season is late January and early February. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 16 states and New York City are reporting high levels of flu activity. The CDC estimates about 36,000 people die each season from flu-related causes. Read more on influenza.
Improving Work Conditions for Nurses Can Cut Readmission Rates
Positive work conditions for nurses also seem to cut the readmission rates for patients, according to a new study in the journal Medical Care. For such hospitals, readmission for Medicare patients ages 65 and older within 30 days was down 7 percent for heart failure, 6 percent for heart attack and 10 percent for pneumonia. "Our results suggest that improving nurses' work environment and reducing nurses' workload are organization-wide reforms that could result in fewer readmissions for Medicare beneficiaries with common medical conditions," said study author Matthew McHugh in a release. "This is consistent with the evidence showing significant associations between the nurse work environment, staffing, and other patient outcomes." Read more on access to health care.