Archive for February, 2011

Initiative Reduces Rates of Death in the ICU Due to Infection

Monday, February 28th, 2011

A recent study funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) followed Michigan state’s implementation of the Dept. of Health and Human Service’s Keystone Project, which promotes patient safety and improves practices in the ICU, and found that an ICU patient’s chance of dying significantly decreased after the program was initiated. The study was published in the British Medical Journal.

The Keystone Project’s approach includes promoting a culture of patient safety, improving communication among ICU staff teams, and implementing practices based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, such as checklists and hand washing, to reduce rates of catheter-related bloodstream infections and ventilator-associated pneumonia.

According to the CDC, hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) are one of the most common complications of hospital care, accounting for an estimated 1.7 million infections and 99,000 associated deaths in 2002. These infections are responsible for $28 to $34 billion in preventable health care expenses every year. Infectious agents, such as bacteria, found in health care settings can cause patients to develop HAIs when they have surgery or require central lines or urinary tract catheters.

Trauma Care is Cheaper at High-Quality Hospitals

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

A new study published in the Annals of Surgery finds that both rates of death for trauma patients and spending are less at high-quality hospitals than at average hospitals. The researchers find that mortality is 34% lower and costs are 22% less for trauma care at such facilities.

The study adds to the literature suggesting that high quality can coexist with lower cost, and fuels the argument for investment in research that can advance medical practices that, in turn, lower overall health care costs. “There is a growing recognition that, when it comes to healthcare, we have a quality problem in this country,” Laurent G. Glance, MD, lead study author and professor of Anesthesiology and Community and Preventive Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, is quoted as saying. “We all want better quality and outcomes, and one possible theory is that achieving better quality may be less expensive in the long run.”

Read more about the study’s methodology.

Texas Trauma Care Community Organizes to Advocate for Strong Network

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Noting that Texas has the highest rate of uninsured drivers in the United States, at 26.1%, W. Stephen Love, president of the Dallas/Fort Worth Hospital Council, urges the Texas legislature to retain the Driver Responsibility Program and to use the funds raised for their designated purpose: to support the state’s trauma system. “Trauma providers are strained to meet the needs for care,” Love says, “which affects all patients regardless of their ability to pay.”

The Coalition to Protect Trauma Care has organized to educate the legislature about how the $300 million brought in from the Driver Responsibility Program since it began in 2005 has enabled an additional 69 hospitals in the state to become designated trauma centers. Over the same period, trauma centers in the state reported more than $1 billion in uncompensated care costs.

Love’s editorial appears in the Feb/March 2011 edition of MD News.

Importance of Level 1 Trauma Centers Touted on the Today Show

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

In a Today Show segment this morning, Matt Lauer interviews two traumatic brain injury survivors and Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC’s chief medical editor. While the recovery of these and other brain injury victims, like Congresswoman Giffords, often are termed “miraculous,” the fact is that it is the availability of Level 1 Trauma Centers and then the experience of intensive rehabilitation that has meant the difference between life and death for these survivors.

Unfortunately, many states still do not have good trauma systems, people in many areas of the country do not have access to a Level 1 Trauma Center, and the trauma-related research needed to continue such medical advances is sorely under-funded.

As one of our Facebook followers noted this morning, it’s too bad there couldn’t have been a message on the screen during this newscast telling people to donate to the National Trauma Institute! Everyone is so thankful when lives are saved, yet tens of thousands still die and untold numbers are left with life-long disabilities because of huge gaps in our medical understanding of traumatic injuries.

NTI Awards $2.5 Million to Nine Important Studies

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Today, NTI released news of its awards to nine important trauma-related studies that will take place at institutions across the country. In total, NTI distributed $2.5 million in this round of funding.

Study subjects range from blood transfusion using fresh whole blood to delayed splenic rupture to hospital-acquired staph infection, to vitamin therapy for hemorrhaging patients and more. All were selected for their scientific merit, immediate relevance and potential to influence trauma care in the near term. The principal investigators are Suresh Agarwal, MD, Boston Medical Center; Mark Cipolle, MD, PhD, Christiana Care Health System, DE; Henry Cryer, MD, UCLA; Jay Doucet, MD, UC San Diego Medical Center; Robert Maxwell, MD, UT College of Medicine Chattanooga; Lena Napolitano, MD, UM Ann Arbor; Jean-Francois Pittet, MD, UA Birmingham; Marty Schreiber, MD, Oregon Health & Science University; and Ben Zarzaur, MD, MPH, UT Health Science Center Memphis.

To follow the progress of these and other studies funded by NTI, look for updates on our research page.

New Study Indicates Helmets Reduce Spine Injuries

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

New research published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons debunks a popular myth that motorcycle helmets, while proven to reduce brain injury in the event of a crash, lead to more spine injury. Based on a small study that suggested the added weight of a helmet caused greater torque on the neck and, thus, greater risk of spine injury, the argument against wearing helmets has long been posed by some groups opposing mandatory helmet laws.

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine say their new study is the strongest evidence to date that shows helmets not only reduce brain injury and death, but also significantly reduce cervical spine injury, which can lead to paralysis.

The 25-year-old study often cited by anti-helmet lobbyists has been criticized by many, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, because of flawed statistical reasoning. “Additionally, helmet technology has significantly improved since that time — now helmets are much lighter but even sturdier and more protective,” says Adil H. Haider, M.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor of surgery and the current study’s lead author.

Today, only 20 states, Puerto Rico and Washington DC require motorcyclists to wear helmets.