medicine

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Two new laws will give terminally ill patients in Michigan a right to try experimental medicines.

The bills signed by the governor today don’t guarantee dying Michiganders will get access to experimental drugs, but they are intended to remove some barriers.

“Allowing Michiganders dealing with extremely difficult medical situations to try alternative treatment options could extend or save their lives,” says Gov. Rick Snyder. 

If a patient has exhausted all other options, the right-to-try laws would allow them access to unproven drugs and medical devices.

User apoxapox / Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - The Detroit and Flint areas are getting nearly $9 million to help train new primary care providers.

Most of the money announced Monday goes to the Detroit Wayne County Health Authority for training in family medicine, internal medicine, psychiatry, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology. Flint's Hamilton Community Health Network is getting $900,000 for family medicine training.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says the money is part of $83.4 million in Affordable Care Act funding to support primary care residency programs nationwide. Overall, it will help train more than 550 doctors during the 2014-2015 academic year.

Wayne State University medical school / via flickr

A former Wayne State University medical professor is suing the school over alleged “system-wide” fraud.

In a federal lawsuit, former assistant professor Christian Kreipke alleges the university scammed the US government out of $169 million through fraudulent research proposals.

Kreipke filed the lawsuit in 2012, but court documents were only unsealed recently.

They lay out Kreipke’s claims that Wayne State and its physician group made fraudulent claims to get more government grant money.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

In one month, more than 300,000 people are expected to begin signing up for expanded Medicaid coverage in Michigan. The Medicaid expansion is part of the federal Affordable Care Act.

"Healthy Michigan" would cover nearly everyone, under the age of 65, with an income up to 133% of the federal poverty limit. That translates to individuals making about $15,000 and families of four making less than $32,000.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

State lawmakers will discuss making it more difficult to sue emergency room doctors, nurses and technicians for malpractice on Thursday.

Livonia state representative John Walsh is the sponsor of HB 4354.   He says emergency room staffers should not have to worry about malpractice lawsuits while they provide potentially lifesaving treatment.

Drugsonline.com

University of Michigan researchers say more than forty percent of parents are making a serious mistake when they try to treat their toddlers for a cough or cold.

In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration issued an advisory that over-the-counter cough and cold medicines should not be used in children under age of four. The drugs have not been proven effective for young children and may cause serious side effects.

But a new poll by U of M researchers says more than 40% of parents are using the medicine to treat their toddlers.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

There’s a bill making its way through the state legislature that would require Michigan hospitals to reveal when they will withhold treatment from severely ill patients.

Many hospitals have ‘futility’ policies.   The policies outline when the hospitals will withhold treatment from a patient on the grounds that further care would be futile and would simply waste hospital resources.

The policies are mainly for internal use and not widely disclosed.

The University of Michigan is researching an ultrasound scalpel that can detach a single cancer cell from surrounding tissue.

The team found a way to change laser light into sound energy with a beam smaller than a human hair.

The beam blasts and cuts with pressure, rather than heat.  

It may make nearly painless surgery possible since the beam is small enough to avoid nerve fibers.

Hyoung Won Baac worked on the project as a doctoral student.   He says it may allow a surgeon to be extremely delicate.

user clarita / morguefile

Many Republicans in the Michigan Legislature want to allow health care providers, or insurers to deny service to patients based on religious, moral or ethical objections.

The "Religious Liberty and Conscience Protection Act" passed the state Senate last Thursday during the tumultuous 'right-to-work' debate.

Now a House Committee has approved the bill, which will allow it to go before the full House. The Michigan House could vote on the measure today, which would send it to Gov. Snyder's desk.

More from the Detroit Free Press:

On a straight party-line vote, the state House insurance committee voted Wednesday to approve a bill that would allow health care providers and facilities to refuse service based on a moral objection, religious reasons or matters of conscience.
The bill now moves to the full House, where it could be considered as early as this afternoon and, if approved, would move to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature.

Christy Barnes / University of Michigan

University of Michigan researchers are developing a new use for an old drug.

Small doses of medicine already used to treat cancer may reduce inflammation in patients after a bone marrow transplant.

These transplants can save a cancer patient's life, but many recipients suffer from a life-threatening side effect called Graft-versus-host disease. It occurs when the donated cells attack their new host's tissues.

The drug Vorinostat could help reduce that risk. For the first time, researchers at U-of-M's Comprehensive Cancer Center are testing that possibility on human patients.

User: mconnors / MorgueFile.com

A federal grant will put more primary care providers in medically-underserved areas of southeast Michigan.

The $21 million grant will help train medical residents in five federally-qualified health centers.

The program is a partnership between Michigan State University’s medical school and the Detroit-Wayne County Health Authority.

Chris Allen is CEO of the Health Authority. He says it will add much-needed primary care doctors to the medical safety net.

“And it ultimately will provide medical homes for the people who live in these areas, and thus not a reliance on the emergency room for their care," he said.

Allen says residents who participate in the program will be eligible for medical school loan forgiveness.

The plan is to train 85 residents over three years, starting next summer. Allen says after learning the practice in southeast Michigan residencies, the new doctors will stay in the area.

Gabriela Camerotti / Flikr

Patients with heart disease should ask their doctors more questions before undergoing elective heart procedures.

That's according to a study by the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation at the University of Michigan and Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
 
Marianne Udow-Phillips is Director of the Center and lead author of the study.   

She says whether or not Blue Cross/Blue Shield patients in the study underwent elective heart procedures depended more on where they received their care compared to whether or not it may have been the best option.

"We do believe that most of the use of these services is really more driven by physician preferences than patient preferences," said Udow-Phillips. "Patients do need to be more involved; they need to ask more questions of their physicians before they have a catheterization procedure.  There does need to be a better dialogue between physicians and patients."

The overall rate of these procedures have declined by 19-percent between 1997 and 2008.

user mconnors / morgueFile

Washington, Montana and other states are experiencing pertussis outbreaks.

The respiratory disease, also known as whooping cough, is highly contagious. If infants catch it, they often end up in the hospital.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

AARP is out with a proposal this week that calls for targeting state Medicaid dollars to fund at-home care. The senior citizen advocacy group says the state could care for three people at home for the cost of one patient in a nursing home. 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan is making little progress toward creating a statewide health exchange required by federal law, held up by House Republicans who want to wait until the U.S. Supreme
Court decides if the law is constitutional.

The high court will hear arguments over the Affordable Care Act starting Monday.

Justices could uphold the law, strike it down completely or get rid of some provisions. House Republicans say the state shouldn't spend $9.8 million in federal funds on planning the exchange until
the court rules this summer.

But state and federal officials say Michigan could run out of time to put a state-run health exchange in place by Jan. 1.

They warn the federal government then would install its own exchange where consumers could compare private health insurance plans online.

Last week, we brought you a series on cancer and the environment.

I put together this visual representation of some of the statistics we learned about cancer and our lives.

courtesy of Corinna Borden

According to the latest numbers from the National Cancer Institute, roughly 41 percent of us will be diagnosed with some type of cancer in our lifetimes.

But “cancer” is not just one type of disease.

There are more than 100 different kinds with different personalities and causes. And the causes are not all that well understood.

This week, we’re taking a closer look at cancer and environmental pollutants.

It’s a subject researchers are trying to learn more about, but the picture of how the chemicals in our everyday lives interact with our bodies’ cells is far from clear.

The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

Lyme disease is spread through blacklegged tick bites, and its prevalence has most notably been in the eastern U.S. and southeastern Canada.

The CDC reports that if the disease is left untreated, the "infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system."

Researchers say incidence rates of the disease have steadily increased as the ticks, and the bacterium they can carry which causes the disease, expand their range.

Now researchers from Michigan State University, the Yale School of Public Health, and many other institutions have mapped the risk areas for Lyme disease.

The researchers say their map provides a baseline for tracking the spread of Lyme disease:

This risk map can assist in surveillance and control programs by identifying regions where human cases are expected and may assist treatment decisions such as the use of antimicrobial prophylaxis following a tick bite.

The map show high risk areas in the northeast, and Wisconsin and Minnesota - and a potential emerging risk spot in southwest Michigan.

More from the Associated Press:

Researchers who dragged sheets of fabric through the woods to snag ticks have created a detailed map pinpointing the highest-risk areas for Lyme disease.

The map shows a clear risk across much of the Northeast, from Maine to northern Virginia. Researchers at Yale University also identified a high-risk region across most of Wisconsin, northern Minnesota and a sliver of northern Illinois. Areas highlighted as "emerging risk" regions include the Illinois-Indiana border, the New York-Vermont border, southwestern Michigan and eastern North Dakota.

The map was published this week based on data from 2004-2007. Researchers say the picture might have changed since then in the emerging areas, but the map is still useful because it highlights areas where tick surveillance should be increased and can serve as a baseline for future research.

Richard Keidan is one of this state’s most accomplished physicians.  A native Detroiter, he is a highly respected surgical oncologist at William Beaumont Hospital, and directs the hospital’s multidisciplinary melanoma clinic. He lives in Bloomfield Hills with his wife Betsy and his two kids, when they are home from college. He is widely published, is also a professor of surgery at Wayne State, and probably has no money worries of the kind most of us face.

The University of Michigan's Taubman Medical Research Institute will reward a $100,000 prize to the top "translational science" practitioner each year starting in 2012.

Translational science is the practice of moving scientific research from a "bench" in a lab, to the "bedside" of a patient - or developing ways to move "laboratory discoveries to clinical applications."

From a Taubman Medical Research Institute press release:

The $100,000 award will be presented at the institute’s annual symposium, held each fall, to the clinician-scientist making the most significant contribution to translating basic research findings into medical practice. The winner will be asked to serve as keynote speaker for the event...

Nominations will be judged on their contribution to translating basic research findings into clinical applications and by the manner in which their clinical practice connects to their research. All clinician-scientists, regardless of country, are eligible, excluding U-M researchers.

A panel of scientists will choose the winner each year. The deadline for the first year's nominations is April 1, 2012.

The initial announcement of the contest came last October in an event with A. Alfred Taubman and Governor Rick Snyder. From AnnArbor.com's Juliana Keeping:

Billionaire A. Alfred Taubman will fund a $100,000 science prize — a carrot meant to lure the most talented “clinician-scientists” in the world to the University of Michigan, the university announced today.

Eva Feldman, the director of the 4-year-old A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute at the University of Michigan Health System, said Taubman wants “a 100,000 gift given to the best clinician scientists in the world.” We anticipate this person will come speak at our annual symposium each year; and anticipate it will bring exceptional clinician scientists to the University of Michigan.”

A state Senate panel has approved a measure designed to make it more difficult for a pregnant minor to have an abortion. The proposal would prevent young women from so-called “judge-shopping” if one court denies her request to have an abortion without parental consent.

Mary Pollock is with the National Organization for Women. She says the proposal works against pregnant teens who don’t want to have a baby.

"Some teens fear that if their parents are told of their pregnancy, they will take actions to prevent the procedure and force them to complete the pregnancy," says Pollock.

Pollock says some teens will hurt themselves as they try to end pregnancies on their own.

The Legislature is also expected to send a ban on a controversial later-term abortion procedure to Governor Rick Snyder for his approval.

Gov. Rick Snyder wants people to adopt healthier lifestyles  

Snyder says people need to take more responsibility for their own health if Michigan is going to reverse some dismal trends and save money on health care. That was part of a health care message he delivered at a Grand Rapids clinic.

Snyder says too many Michiganders smoke, are overweight, and don’t exercise.

Michigan ranks 10th in the country in people who are overweight or obese. Nearly two in 10 people still smoke.

John Chevier / Flickr

This morning we posted Mark Brush's story about giving blood, including why some people are disallowed from giving.

The story started with a post to Facebook about giving blood, and the comments you posted about the rules for giving.

Now that the final story has been posted, people are still reacting.

Anita Weber says, "Here's one way they can start...by using different sized needles! I've been turned away three times because they only use one size of needle. I avidly exercise so I'm not buying them telling me to lift weights more! My veins are the size they are! Their loss! I wanted and still want to donate!"

Carrie Paps responds, saying, "I give all the time, 2 gallons so far, but I understand the issues. Sometimes my iron is too low and sometimes they can't find a vein."

Craig Hennigan still objects to rules for giving blood. He says, "The lifetime ban for gay men is still stupid, homophobic, and wrong."

redcrossofnci.org

  The American Red Cross says they're facing a critical shortage to the nation's blood supply. And blood donations often drop in the summer when people are busy or traveling.

So they want you to give.

When we posted information about the appeal on our Facebook page, it sparked a debate about blood donor screening.

Not everyone can give blood. Only about 37%  of us can. Donors are pre-screened for potential exposure to diseases to keep the blood supply safe.

But many people feel some healthy donors are needlessly kept from donating blood.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The federal health care law is scheduled to take effect in 2014.  Health care leaders in Washtenaw County say they are not ready. 

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

State health officials are putting a 140 bed emergency field hospital to the test today just south of Lansing.      They're preparing for the kind of medical needs that may follow a catastrophic natural or man-made disaster.  

“Never had a seizure before?" 

Doctors and nurses scramble to try to understand why a child suffered a seizure during an earthquake that rattled southwest Michigan.      They are real doctors and nurses, but their patient is actually a dummy, and the earthquake is just a scenario. 

starnewsonline.com

Norovirus is the buzz killer that can bring a cruise ship home.

And now, it looks like the little bug is postponing the fun at Spring Arbor University in Spring Arbor, MI.

The university has postponed its graduation ceremony for one week while it tries to contain a norovirus outbreak. Instead of being held this Saturday, the commencement will be held Saturday, May 21.

The university says more than 170 students are reporting an illness.

University officials are working to contain the outbreak and are consulting with the Jackson County Health Department and the State Health Department.

From Spring Arbor University:

All non-academic related activities have been cancelled from Wednesday, May 11, through Sunday, May 15, 2011. These activities include alumni events, National Christian College Athletic Association baseball regional tournament, and other public-related events. The fitness room, pool and other facilities are closed to the public through Sunday, May 15.

“These decisions are preventative and consistent with the medical advice received. Of utmost concern for all of us is the safety and health of our campus community and the families and friends planning on participating in the various academic year-end activities. Spring Arbor University has a responsibility of doing what is in the best interest of our students, faculty, staff and visitors to campus,” says University President Charles Webb.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, people become infected with the virus by:

  • Eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus,
  • Touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus, and then placing their hand in their mouth, and
  • Having direct contact with another person who is infected and showing symptoms (for example, when caring for someone with illness, or sharing foods or eating utensils with someone who is ill).

Food and drinks can easily become contaminated with norovirus because the virus is very small and because it takes a very small amount (fewer than 100 norovirus particles) to make a person sick. Although the virus cannot multiply outside a human body, billions of norovirus particles are shed by infected people. These shed particles can cause illness if they get into food or water.

For the first time, Michigan will hold a disaster drill involving the state's complete mobile field hospital.

The drill will take place May 18 at The Summit at Capitol Centre in Dimondale, just southwest of Lansing.

It will be the first time that both a 100-bed mobile field hospital housed in southeast Michigan and a 40-bed mobile field hospital housed in southwest Michigan will be brought together in the same disaster drill.

The drill is intended to let emergency volunteer health professionals practice deploying the mobile field hospital, which can be set up virtually anywhere to treat patients.

The mobile hospital would be deployed if a disaster overwhelmed medical resources such as traditional hospitals and health clinics.

User apoxapox / Flickr

There is concern among healthcare professionals about potential bias in commercially-funded Continuing Medical Education (CME), according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

CME refers to specific activities--including live events, conferences and online programs--that healthcare professionals participate in for the purposes of professional development.

user the consumerist / Flickr

Governor Rick Snyder has signed a law that protects doctors from lawsuits if they express sympathy for the death of a patient.

Snyder says health care providers are often prohibited from saying “I’m sorry” when a medical procedure fails because it can be considered an admission of guilt in court.

Snyder said the new law will allow doctors to be more supportive, "and the opportunity for health care professionals to have a dialogue with families that have had some traumatic experiences," said Snyder. "So it’s great to have an opportunity to have that be done in a safe and thoughtful fashion so people can have good communication and good dialogue."

Snyder says studies show that when a doctor is allowed to say “I’m sorry,” people who are grieving are better able to heal.

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