Archive for: August 2012

C. diff Infections: Worse Than We Thought

Aug 21, 2012, 1:20 PM, Posted by Ramanan Laxminarayan

Ramanan Laxminarayan Ramanan Laxminarayan

Infections caused by the dangerous microbe Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, are much more prevalent in hospitals and health care facilities than previously reported, according to an investigative front page story in last week’s USA Today. This bug is most often seen in hospitals, nursing homes, and other medical facilities. It causes severe diarrhea and intestinal problems that can worsen and even be fatal. The story cites a scientist from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who says annual fatalities may be as high as 30,000 per year, more than twice as high as some recent estimates.

The article accurately points to many reasons for this problem. Many hospital infection control programs aren’t stringent enough and C. diff reporting rates are poor. Hospitals need to be more prudent in their antibiotic use. C. diff thrives when healthy bacteria usually present in the intestines are wiped out by certain antibiotics patients take. In the absence of these healthy bacteria, C. diff can take over.

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Health Games Research Grantees Report Research Discoveries in the July 2012 Issue of Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology

Aug 20, 2012, 8:30 AM, Posted by Debra Lieberman

In July, five grantees of the Health Games Research national program have published peer-reviewed research articles in the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology, in a special issue symposium called “Serious Games for Diabetes, Obesity, and Healthy Lifestyle.”  Their research has discovered innovative ways to improve the design and effectiveness of active video games that require physical exertion in order to play.

The studies have identified, for example, evidence-based game design strategies that motivate college students to increase their physical activity; insights into the benefits of cooperative game play that can motivate overweight and obese adolescents to put more effort into active games; and new approaches to using teamwork in active games to increase player effort and exertion.  The studies used Wii Active and Wii Fit games, stationary bikes with video screens enabling virtual tours and racing games, a motion sensor game, and an alternate reality game.  I served as a guest co-editor of the special issue symposium along with guest co-editor Deborah Thompson, PhD, an associate professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine and a USDA/ARS scientist/nutritionist. 

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Meet the Pioneer Advisory Group

Aug 10, 2012, 1:58 PM, Posted by Brian C. Quinn

Brian Quinn / RWJF Brian Quinn

Luke had Yoda. Sherlock Holmes had Watson. Franklin had Eleanor.

Advisers can play an important role in innovation. They offer knowledge and vision. They bring an outside perspective. And, they often have networks of colleagues with additional experience and expertise.

RWJF’s Pioneer Portfolio is in the business of identifying and exploring new ideas and approaches that help shape the future of health and health care and accelerating those that have the potential to create breakthroughs.

We recognize that the kind of innovation that can create transformative change in health and health care can come from many places. To be successful, we need to operate at the forefront of new ideas and trends—from science and technology to education and management. And we need to continually explore unconventional ideas, new fields, and new ways of approaching problems. This is a tall order.

That is why I am happy to announce that we now have our own esteemed group of advisers from diverse fields to help us along the way. The Pioneer Advisory Group, a team of six thought leaders, will work with us throughout the coming year to accelerate our efforts to identify and connect with leading innovators and new ideas. They’ll also provide that crucial outside perspective and critical review that is so important as we work to improve the health and health care of all Americans.

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Keeping Pace with the Knowledge Explosion

Aug 9, 2012, 12:17 PM, Posted by Sanjeev Arora

Sanjeev Arora Sanjeev Arora

Originally posted on the Wing of Zock, an AAMC-powered blog for conversation and new thinking about health care through the lens of academic medicine.

Knowledge and expertise are at the center of medical care — without them, we are working in the dark. Fortunately, there is plenty of knowledge to be had: More medical knowledge has been created in the past one hundred years than in the previous five thousand, and more knowledge will be created in the next 50 years than ever before. Yet we have a serious shortage of expertise, in the form of access to clinicians with the latest knowledge and best practices, especially for the care of underserved populations.

Why? This explosion in medical knowledge has not yet been accompanied by a similar transformation in our approach to medical education. In short, we’re not able to keep up.

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Flu Season Dangers: Spikes in Antibiotic Resistance

Aug 7, 2012, 4:45 PM, Posted by Pioneer Blog Team

An op-ed published Monday in Modern Healthcare describes how the overuse of antibiotics during flu season makes the growing problem of antibiotic resistance worse, even in the short-term.  This research--from a new study last month in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases--found that spikes in prescription sales for two popular groups of antibiotics during flu season led to a rapid increase, one month later, in resistant Escherichia coli (E. coli) in hospitals. It also found a rise in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureas (MRSA) linked to increases in prescriptions of other antibiotics.  

The research was conducted by Extending the Cure, a project funded by the Pioneer Portfolio that researches and examines solutions to address antibiotic resistance.

It is well-known that exposure to antibiotics leads disease-causing microbes to become resistant to these powerful drugs.  This study showing seasonal fluctuations in resistance adds a new urgency to public health efforts to combat the problem of resistance.

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