Health Updates 25 July 2011

  • Prescription drug prices expected to plummet as patents on name brands begin to expire: “Top drugs getting generic competition by September 2012 are taken by millions every day: Lipitor alone is taken by about 4.3 million Americans and Plavix by 1.4 million.  Generic versions of big-selling drugs for blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, depression, high triglycerides, HIV and bipolar disorder also are coming by then.  The flood of generics will continue for the next decade or so, as about 120 brand-name prescription drug lose market exclusivity, according to prescription benefit manager Medco Health Solutions, Inc.” (Associated Press)
  • Number of wrong surgeries are down but close calls are up at VA hospitals: “Medical procedures and surgeries on the wrong patient and wrong body part have declined substantially at Veterans Affairs hospitals nationwide, while reports of close calls have increased, according to a study that credits ongoing quality improvement efforts.” (Associated Press)
  • Patients fare better with well-mannered surgeons: “In an operating room, stress and animosity can combine to promote incivility”, wrote study physicians, but “the medical literature is starting to catch up with the perceptions that outcomes are better when the surgical team is acquainted with each other and works together well”.  Further, “studies show that a lack of a supportive work environment is linked to several poor health outcomes such as obesity and increased sick time off.”  At least one study ties severe, ongoing incivility to heart disease and depression. “When it comes to the OR, health outcomes are also associated with workplace culture and respect.  One study of 300 surgeries concluded that ‘high-risk’ uncivil behavior by the surgical team increased the risk of postoperative death and complications”.  (Kristina Fiore, MedPage Today)
  • Chicken pox vaccine has nearly eliminated the risk of death from the disease: “That’s an impressive achievement, considering the study measured the effect of only one dose of vaccine, which was first recommended in 1995, Seward says.  When the vaccine was introduced, the CDC recommended a single shot for babies at age 1 to 1-1/2, which prevents 85% of infections.  In 2006, the CDC recommended a second dose at age 4 to 6, hoping to protect even more kids.” (USA Today)

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