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Morning Report

The Morning Report provides a quick look at today’s medical news, research and features.  









Despite Warnings, Antibiotics Still Overprescribed For Kids
Despite warnings from public health experts that overprescribing antibiotics could lead to difficult-to-treat “superbugs,” doctors are prescribing antibiotics to children about twice as often as they are actually needed, a new study found.

Researchers at Seattle Children’s Hospital examined past studies between 2001 and 2011 to see how doctors treated common childhood respiratory infections, conditions including sore throats, ear infections and sinusitis. They found that although only 27.4 percent of the infections were caused by bacteria and could therefore be treated with an antibiotic, a whopping 57 percent of them were actually treated with antibiotics.

That amounts to 11.4 million unnecessary prescriptions for antibiotics per year, researchers say. Antibiotics are no good against viral infections and have only been shown to work against bacterial infections.

Lead study author Dr. Matthew Kronman, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Seattle Children’s Hospital, said the results are disheartening, particularly because his team found no appreciable change in prescribing rates over 10 years. (ABC)

How Docs, Patients Will Use Apple’s HealthKit in Medical Trials
Apple’s plan to move into the healthcare market became a little clearer today. Reuters reported that Stanford and Duke will host medical trials using HealthKit, which Apple describes as the “beginning of a health revolution” that brings together health and fitness data that can be shared with doctors for more efficient managed care.

The trial at Stanford University Hospital will focus on children with diabetes.  Patients with Type I, or juvenile, diabetes will receive an iPod Touch to take home and monitor their blood sugar levels.  Duke University will conduct a trial to measure blood pressure, weight and other vital signs of cancer and heart disease patients.

The potential of HealthKit also extends to medical device manufacturers.  DexCom Inc., makers of blood sugar monitoring equipment, is talking to Apple and Sanford about how it might participate in the trials. DexCom makes a tiny sensor that can be implanted under the skin, measure blood sugar and transmit the data to an app on the iPhone. That data can then be viewed by the physician through an EMR. (Physicians News)

Plastic Surgery-Obsessed Venezuelans Face Shortage of Prized Breast Implants
Beauty-obsessed Venezuelans face a scarcity of brand-name breast implants, and women are so desperate that they and their doctors are turning to devices that are the wrong size or made in China, with less rigorous quality standards.

Venezuelans once had easy access to implants approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. But doctors say they are now all-but impossible to find because restrictive currency controls have deprived local businesses of the cash to import foreign goods. It may not be the gravest shortfall facing the socialist South American country, but surgeons say the issue cuts to the psyche of the image-conscious Venezuelan woman.

Venezuela is thought to have one of the world’s highest plastic surgery rates, and the breast implant is the seminal procedure. Doctors performed 85,000 implants here last year, according to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Only the U.S., Brazil, Mexico and Germany – all with significantly larger populations – saw more procedures.

In the absence of U.S. brands, plastic surgery has become an area dominated by Venezuela’s chief trading partner, China, whose goods are often given priority for import over those from other countries. They’re also a lot cheaper. While a pair of implants approved by European regulators can cost as much as $600 – about the same as the annual minimum wage here – the Chinese equivalent goes for a third of that. Some Venezuelan doctors refuse to use the Chinese devices, which are not subjected to random government inspections or clinical studies.  (Physicians News)


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