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Health Updates 17 January 2012

  • Surgeons in mid-career have fewest complications: “Surgeons aged 35 to 50 provide the safest care for patients, a new study suggests.  The findings raise concerns about ongoing training and motivation of surgeons during their careers, according to researchers at the University of Lyons in France.  They analyzed data from 3,574 thyroidectomies (removal of the thyroid gland) by 28 surgeons at five French hospitals over a  one-year period.  The average age of the surgeons was 41 and they had an average of 10 years of experience….The results shows that patients had a higher risk of permanent complications when their procedure was performed by inexperienced surgeons or those with 20 or more years of experience.  Surgeons aged 35 to 50 with five to 20 years of experience had better outcomes than those who were younger or older….their findings suggest that surgeons’ performance can vary over the course of  a career and that surgeons cannot achieve or maintain optimal performance simply by accumulating experience.” (BMJ/HealthDay)
  • US to force drug firms to report money paid to doctors: “To head off medical conflicts of interest, the Obama administration is poised to require drug companies to disclose the payments they make to doctors for research, consulting, speaking, travel and entertainment.  Many researchers have found evidence that such payments can influence doctors’ treatment decisions and contribute to higher costs by encouraging the use of more expensive drugs and medical devices.” (Robert Pear, NY Times)
  • Loud hospital rooms linked to poor patient sleep: Hospitals are too loud, and patients’ sleep could be suffering because of it, suggests a new study.  According to World Health Organization recommendations, noise in hospital rooms generally shouldn’t get above 30 to 40 decibels.  But researchers at one hospital reported that the average noise level in patients’ rooms was close to 50 decibels, and sometimes spiked as high as 80 decibels – almost as loud as a chainsaw…noise levels in patients’ rooms at night tended to be lower than during the day, but almost always exceeded recommendations for average and maximum noise level.  Much of that extra noise was due to talking between doctors and nurses, but the loudest interruptions were likely from alarms and intercoms…”. (Reuters/MedlinePlus)
  • The Claim: drinking water can help  lower the risk of diabetes: “There are many reasons to stay properly hydrated, but only recently have scientists begun to consider diabetes prevention one of them.  The amount of water you drink can play a role in how your body regulates blood sugar, researchers have found.  The reason: a hormone called vasopressin, which helps regulate water retention.  When a body is dehydrated, vasopressin levels rise, prompting the kidneys to hold onto water.  At the same time, the hormone pushes the liver to produce blood sugar, which over time may strain the ability to produce or respond to insulin….  The bottom line: There is some evidence that proper hydration can help protect against high blood sugar, though more research is needed.” (Anahad O’Connor, NY Times)
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