Essential Updates: Comp Medical News for June

Welcome to this month’s edition of Comp Medical News. Traumatic injuries and social acuity, obesity and opioids, and doctor’s notes are your headlines for June 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Congress Eyes Rescheduling of Fentanyl Analogues

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham told reporters earlier this month that he is willing to address the possible rescheduling of illicit reformulations of the potent opioid fentanyl, in an effort to stem the tide of imports of such drugs. The DEA already issued a temporary ban on fentanyl analogues (most of which are imported from China) which is set to expire in February 2020. The temporary ban has already reduced the importation of fentanyl analogues by 40 percent.

 

Read more from Reuters here.

 

Traumatic Injuries Can Affect Social Functioning Later

Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School published research suggesting that nearly half of all patients with traumatic injuries, not just brain injuries, suffered social deficits later. The researchers followed 805 adults hospitalized for moderate to severe traumatic injuries. They checked in with the subjects six months and twelve months after their hospital stays. By the year’s end, 45 percent reported experiencing social dysfunction. The cohort that reported social dysfunction was 16 times more likely to experience PTSD and five and a half times more likely to have not returned to work at the one year mark.

 

Read more from Reuters here.

 

The Atlantic: Doctors Still Treat with Outdated Modalities Because Patients Demand It

The Atlantic published a piece analyzing why outdated treatments are still commonly used or prescribed, even when they are ineffective or even harmful to patients. Author David Epstein (also of ProPublica) cites a 2014 Brigham Young University study which found that Americans attribute 80 percent of increased life expectancy to modern medicine. The study notes:

“The public grossly overestimates how much of our increased life expectancy should be attributed to medical care, and is largely unaware of the critical role played by public health and improved social conditions determinants.”

 

Read more here.

 

Medical Marijuana’s Effect on Opioid Deaths has Flatlined

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences used the methodology of another 2014 study which found that increased access to medical marijuana curbed opioid deaths and found that the effect has apparently reached its saturation point. The new research attempted to see whether the trend was observable through a longer time period than the original. According to a Reuters analysis,

“the new study found a similar result for the same period covered in that 2014 study: about a 21 percent decrease in opioid overdose deaths for every 100,000 people in the population when states legalized medical marijuana. But when the new study looked over more time – from 1999 to 2017 – they found an almost 23 percent increase in opioid overdose deaths in states with medical marijuana laws.”

 

Read more here.

 

BU School of Public Health: Obesity is a Risk Factor for Opioid Use

Researchers from Boston University used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys and found that people who are clinically overweight or obese are at greater risk for long-term opioid use. This segment of the population was also more likely to use stronger opioids that are chemically closer to pure morphine. Seven percent of respondents used opioids in the 2013-14 survey and the 2015-16 survey. When compared to respondents with BMIs in the normal range, those in the overweight range were eleven percent more likely to use opioids than the normal weight population. Further, the likelihood of chronic opioid use increased with increasing severity of obesity (measured by BMI) in a range between 26 percent and 233 percent.

 

Read more from Reuters here.

 

The “Open Notes” Movement is Gaining Steam

A Kaiser Health News report indicates that patients are increasingly interested in reading their full doctor’s notes. Several organizations, including a Boston initiative called OpenNotes and a company called Atrium Health have taken steps to encourage doctors to release the notes they take for patient charts and encourage patients to ask for such notes. In rare cases, patients may take offense to what is written in their records, but some say reading the full picture helps them feel more in control of their care.

 

Read more here.

 

Image Credit: RadiologyInfo.org

 

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