Doctors Frequently Make the Wrong Diagnosis



A new study finds that internists make the correct diagnosis in only 55 percent of simple illnesses, and in just 6 percent of complex cases.


 

DOCTORS FREQUENTLY MAKE THE WRONG DIAGNOSIS

When we see our doctor because we are sick, most of us expect that we will leave his or her office with a reasonably accurate diagnosis, and the appropriate treatment recommendations for our illness.  However, a newly published clinical research study suggests that these expectations might be rather unrealistic, particularly if we are suffering from an illness that requires a reasonably complex evaluation by our physician.  This new clinical study appears in the current issue of JAMA Internal Medicine.

In this study, 118 general internists were recruited from throughout the United States.  All of these physicians were asked to provide a diagnosis for 4 previously validated patient scenarios, including both straightforward and complex clinical cases.  These doctors were asked to provide their diagnoses after reading the histories, physical examination findings, general diagnostic testing results, and disease-specific testing results for each of these 4 cases.

The results of this clinical study were not exactly reassuring to prospective patients….   The 118 participating internists came up with the correct diagnosis for only 55 percent of the straightforward cases.  When it came to making the correct diagnosis for the more challenging patient scenarios, the physician-volunteers in this study correctly diagnosed only 6 percent of the more complex clinical cases!  Moreover, the doctors who participated in this web-based clinical study appeared to have little insight into their diagnostic shortcomings, as their very high level of confidence in their diagnoses was similar for both the straightforward cases and the more complex cases.   This latter finding led the study’s authors to question whether or not physicians who are dealing with complex patient cases realize how likely their diagnosis is to be wrong.  (If a physician is unaware that his or her diagnosis is very likely to be wrong, then they may miss an opportunity to perform a more in-depth evaluation of their patient.)

While this is a small pilot study, its findings are nonetheless quite disturbing.  It suggests a simultaneous lack of diagnostic accuracy and over-confidence on the part of at least some physicians when it comes to evaluating patients, arriving at a correct diagnosis, and (hence) prescribing the correct treatment.  Whether or not the findings of this small study can be generalized to all internists (or to all doctors in the United States) is not clear.  However, the disconcerting findings of this clinical study should serve as a red flag to physician residency training programs and physician certification boards.  Meanwhile, becoming an educated healthcare consumer, and asking your physician to explain his or her assessment to you, may be just what the doctor ordered!

 

For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.com Top 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.

 

Join Dr. Wascher on Facebook

 

Additional Links for Robert A. Wascher, MD, FACS

New Facebook Page for Doc Wascher Music

New Instrumental Rock by Dr. Wascher (Facebook)

Facebook Page for A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race

CNN Story on CTCA’s Organic Farm in the Phoenix Area

Dr. Wascher Discusses Signs & Symptoms of Skin Cancer

Profile of Dr. Wascher by Oncology Times

Bio of Dr. Wascher at Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Dr. Wascher Discusses Predictions of Decreased Cancer Risk on azfamily.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Environmental Risk Factors for Breast Cancer on Sharecare

Dr. Wascher Answers Questions About Cancer on talkabouthealth.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Cancer Prevention Strategies on LIVESTRONG

Dr. Wascher Discusses Cancer Prevention on Newsmax

Dr. Wascher Answers Questions About Cancer Risk & Cancer Prevention on The Doctors Radio Show

Dr. Wascher Discusses Lymphedema After Breast Surgery on cancerlynx.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Hormone Replacement Therapy & Breast Cancer Risk on cancerlynx.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Chronic Pain After Mastectomy for Breast Cancer on cancerlynx.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy for Cancer on cancersupportivecare.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses the Role of Exercise in Cancer Prevention on Open Salon

Dr. Wascher Discusses Aspirin as a Potential Preventive Agent for Pancreatic Cancer on eHealth Forum

Dr. Wascher Discusses Obesity & Cancer Risk on eHealth Forum

Dr. Wascher Discusses the Role of Radiation Therapy in the Treatment of Breast Cancer on Sharecare

Dr. Wascher Discusses the Treatment of Stomach Cancer on Sharecare

Dr. Wascher Discusses the Management of Metastatic Cancer of the Liver on Sharecare

Dr. Wascher Discusses Obesity & Cancer Risk on hopenavigators.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Hormone Replacement Therapy & Breast Cancer Risk on interactmd.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Thyroid Cancer on health2fit.com

 

Links to Other Breaking Health News

Music May Heal The Heart

Poor Oral Hygiene Increases Cancer Risk

Autism May Affect Female Brains Differently than Male Brains

Child Obesity Rates Fall for the First Time

New Teeth Grown from Urine

HPV Virus Newly Linked to One-Third of All Oral Cancer Cases

FDA Approves New Brain Scan to Assess for ADHD in Kids

Epidemic of Drug Overdose Deaths Among Middle-Aged Women

Man Loses 155 Pounds

Naked Mole Rat May Provide Important Cancer Prevention Clue

The Effects of Poverty on the Brain

Half of Us Will Develop Cancer in Our Lifetimes

Protein Critical for Long-Term Memory Identified

HPV Virus and Cancer Risk

Probiotics May Decrease Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea caused by C. difficile

3-D Printer Helps to Save Baby’s Life

Experimental Drug May Reduce Heart Damage after Heart Attack

Vitamin D May Improve Asthma Symptoms

Doctor Provides Patients with Own Feces for Fecal Transplants

Rising Arsenic Levels in Chicken

Dramatic Increase in Suicide Rate Among Middle Aged Americans Over the Past Decade

Cutting Umbilical Cord Too Soon May Cause Anemia in Newborns

Spiny New Bandage May Speed Healing of Skin Wounds

Study Confirms that Men Really Do Have Trouble Reading the Thoughts of Women

Deadly new Bird Flu Strain Cases Continue to Rise

Abdominal Fat Increases Kidney Disease Risk

Increasing Dietary Potassium & Decreasing Salt Intake Reduces Stroke Risk

A New Explanation for the Link Between Red Meat & Cardiovascular Disease

Deadly New Bird Flu Identified in China

Infection Risk: Keeping an Eye on Your Dentist

Couple Loses 500 Pounds in Two Years

Coffee May Reduce Crash Risk for Long-Distance Drivers

Tiny Implant Tells Your Smart Phone When You Are Having A Heart Attack

Transplanted Kidney Causes Death Due to Rabies

Eating While Distracted Increases Calorie Intake

Resistant Bacteria are on the Rise

High Levels of Stress Linked to an Increase in Heart Disease Risk

Small Snacks Cut Hunger as Well as Big Snacks

Poor Sleep May Increase the Risk of Heart Failure

Ancient Mummies Found to Have Heart Disease by CT Scan

Physically Fit Kids Do Better on Math & Reading Tests

How Melanoma Skin Cancer Evades the Immune System

Possible Link Between BPA and Asthma

Baby Boomers Appear Less Healthy Than Their Parents

The Biology of Love in the Brain

Millennials May be the Most Stressed-Out Generation

Even Modest Alcohol Intake Raises Cancer Risk

Why Do Boys Receive Lower Grades than Girls?

Negative Emotions and Feelings Can Damage Your Health

Canker Sore Drug Cures Obesity (At Least in Mice…)

How Technology is Changing the Practice of Medicine

New Salt Intake Guidelines for Children

High Levels of Distress in Childhood May Increase Risk of Heart Disease in Adulthood

Quitting Tobacco by Age 40 Restores a Normal Lifespan in Smokers

Cancer Death Rates Continue to Fall

Self-Help Books Improve Depression

Marines Try Mindfulness and Meditation to Reduce PTSD

Dying Nurse Volunteers Herself to Teach Nursing Students about the Dying

Regular Walks Cut Stroke Risk

Falling Asleep While Driving More Common than Previously Thought

Celebrity Health Fads Debunked

Obesity Among Young Children May Be Declining

Fresh Fruits & Vegetables May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Satisfaction with Life May Actually Increase with Age

Brain Changes in the Elderly May Increase Susceptibility to Being Scammed


Dr. Wascher’s Home Page



According to recent Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty between September 2001 and December 2011 is more than 12 percent.  A new website, Veterans in Healthcare, seeks to connect veterans with potential employers.  If you are a veteran who works in the healthcare field, or if you are an employer who is looking for physicians, advanced practice professionals, nurses, corpsmen/medics, or other healthcare professionals, then please take a look at Veterans in Healthcare. As a retired veteran of the U.S. Army, I would also like to personally urge you to hire a veteran whenever possible.


Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


 

I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  Over the past 12 months, 3.5 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious readers.  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 


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CT Scans Increase Cancer Risk in Children



A new study estimates that CT scans performed on children this year will result in almost 5,000 new cases of cancer.


 

CT SCANS INCREASE CANCER RISK IN CHILDREN

As I discuss in my book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, exposure to medical x-rays has only recently been linked to a significant increase in cancer risk, particularly with the use of CT scans that expose patients to relatively large radiation doses at one time.  In fact, the prestigious Institute of Medicine has estimated that as many as 2 percent of all cancer cases are caused by exposure to medical x-rays.

Although cancer is more common during late adulthood, children are also at risk of developing cancer.  Moreover, due to ongoing rapid growth, children are more sensitive to the cancer-causing effects of radiation exposure than adults.

A newly published study, in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, further raises concerns about the current use of CT scans in children.

In this study, the use of CT scans between 1996 and 2010 in children under the age of 15 was analyzed.  Additionally, actual radiation doses were calculated for 744 CT scans performed on children between 2001 and 2011.

Between 1996 and 2006, the use of CT scans doubled among children younger than 5 years of age, and tripled among children between 5 and 14 years of age.  Between 2006 and 2007, the number of CT scans remained stable, and then began to decline somewhat after 2007.

After calculating the radiation dose associated with individual CT scans, the authors of this study calculated that one new case of cancer would be induced in girls for every 300 to 390 CT scans of the abdomen performed, and for every 330 to 480 CT scans of the chest.

When considering the estimated 4 million CT scans performed on children every year in the United States, the authors of this research study estimated that 4,870 children will go on to develop cancer as a result of having undergone a CT scan.  At the same time, they also estimate that reducing the highest 25 percent of CT scan radiation doses to lower levels could prevent at least 43 percent of these radiation-induced cancers.

CT scans can provide enormously important information to treating physicians, but many CT scans performed (on both adults and children) are of questionable clinical value.  Therefore, as a first step in reducing radiation exposure, CT scans should only be ordered when necessary, and only when other types of scans (e.g., plain x-rays, ultrasound or MRI scans) will not suffice.  Secondly, as I have discussed previously, both in A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race and on my website, there is great variability between hospitals, and even within individual hospitals, in the amount of radiation that is used to perform otherwise identical CT scans; and as the authors of this study note, simply reducing excess radiation levels when performing CT scans may cut the number of cancers induced by CT scans nearly in half!

 

For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.com Top 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.

 

Join Dr. Wascher on Facebook

 

Additional Links for Robert A. Wascher, MD, FACS

New Facebook Page for Doc Wascher Music

New Instrumental Rock by Dr. Wascher (Facebook)

Facebook Page for A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race

CNN Story on CTCA’s Organic Farm in the Phoenix Area

Dr. Wascher Discusses Signs & Symptoms of Skin Cancer

Profile of Dr. Wascher by Oncology Times

Bio of Dr. Wascher at Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Dr. Wascher Discusses Predictions of Decreased Cancer Risk on azfamily.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Environmental Risk Factors for Breast Cancer on Sharecare

Dr. Wascher Answers Questions About Cancer on talkabouthealth.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Cancer Prevention Strategies on LIVESTRONG

Dr. Wascher Discusses Cancer Prevention on Newsmax

Dr. Wascher Answers Questions About Cancer Risk & Cancer Prevention on The Doctors Radio Show

Dr. Wascher Discusses Lymphedema After Breast Surgery on cancerlynx.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Hormone Replacement Therapy & Breast Cancer Risk on cancerlynx.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Chronic Pain After Mastectomy for Breast Cancer on cancerlynx.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy for Cancer on cancersupportivecare.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses the Role of Exercise in Cancer Prevention on Open Salon

Dr. Wascher Discusses Aspirin as a Potential Preventive Agent for Pancreatic Cancer on eHealth Forum

Dr. Wascher Discusses Obesity & Cancer Risk on eHealth Forum

Dr. Wascher Discusses the Role of Radiation Therapy in the Treatment of Breast Cancer on Sharecare

Dr. Wascher Discusses the Treatment of Stomach Cancer on Sharecare

Dr. Wascher Discusses the Management of Metastatic Cancer of the Liver on Sharecare

Dr. Wascher Discusses Obesity & Cancer Risk on hopenavigators.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Hormone Replacement Therapy & Breast Cancer Risk on interactmd.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Thyroid Cancer on health2fit.com

 

Links to Other Breaking Health News

Poor Oral Hygiene Increases Cancer Risk

Autism May Affect Female Brains Differently than Male Brains

Child Obesity Rates Fall for the First Time

New Teeth Grown from Urine

HPV Virus Newly Linked to One-Third of All Oral Cancer Cases

FDA Approves New Brain Scan to Assess for ADHD in Kids

Epidemic of Drug Overdose Deaths Among Middle-Aged Women

Man Loses 155 Pounds

Naked Mole Rat May Provide Important Cancer Prevention Clue

The Effects of Poverty on the Brain

Half of Us Will Develop Cancer in Our Lifetimes

Protein Critical for Long-Term Memory Identified

HPV Virus and Cancer Risk

Probiotics May Decrease Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea caused by C. difficile

3-D Printer Helps to Save Baby’s Life

Experimental Drug May Reduce Heart Damage after Heart Attack

Vitamin D May Improve Asthma Symptoms

Doctor Provides Patients with Own Feces for Fecal Transplants

Rising Arsenic Levels in Chicken

Dramatic Increase in Suicide Rate Among Middle Aged Americans Over the Past Decade

Cutting Umbilical Cord Too Soon May Cause Anemia in Newborns

Spiny New Bandage May Speed Healing of Skin Wounds

Study Confirms that Men Really Do Have Trouble Reading the Thoughts of Women

Deadly new Bird Flu Strain Cases Continue to Rise

Abdominal Fat Increases Kidney Disease Risk

Increasing Dietary Potassium & Decreasing Salt Intake Reduces Stroke Risk

A New Explanation for the Link Between Red Meat & Cardiovascular Disease

Deadly New Bird Flu Identified in China

Infection Risk: Keeping an Eye on Your Dentist

Couple Loses 500 Pounds in Two Years

Coffee May Reduce Crash Risk for Long-Distance Drivers

Tiny Implant Tells Your Smart Phone When You Are Having A Heart Attack

Transplanted Kidney Causes Death Due to Rabies

Eating While Distracted Increases Calorie Intake

Resistant Bacteria are on the Rise

High Levels of Stress Linked to an Increase in Heart Disease Risk

Small Snacks Cut Hunger as Well as Big Snacks

Poor Sleep May Increase the Risk of Heart Failure

Ancient Mummies Found to Have Heart Disease by CT Scan

Physically Fit Kids Do Better on Math & Reading Tests

How Melanoma Skin Cancer Evades the Immune System

Possible Link Between BPA and Asthma

Baby Boomers Appear Less Healthy Than Their Parents

The Biology of Love in the Brain

Millennials May be the Most Stressed-Out Generation

Even Modest Alcohol Intake Raises Cancer Risk

Why Do Boys Receive Lower Grades than Girls?

Negative Emotions and Feelings Can Damage Your Health

Canker Sore Drug Cures Obesity (At Least in Mice…)

How Technology is Changing the Practice of Medicine

New Salt Intake Guidelines for Children

High Levels of Distress in Childhood May Increase Risk of Heart Disease in Adulthood

Quitting Tobacco by Age 40 Restores a Normal Lifespan in Smokers

Cancer Death Rates Continue to Fall

Self-Help Books Improve Depression

Marines Try Mindfulness and Meditation to Reduce PTSD

Dying Nurse Volunteers Herself to Teach Nursing Students about the Dying

Regular Walks Cut Stroke Risk

Falling Asleep While Driving More Common than Previously Thought

Celebrity Health Fads Debunked

Obesity Among Young Children May Be Declining

Fresh Fruits & Vegetables May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Satisfaction with Life May Actually Increase with Age

Brain Changes in the Elderly May Increase Susceptibility to Being Scammed


Dr. Wascher’s Home Page



According to recent Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty between September 2001 and December 2011 is more than 12 percent.  A new website, Veterans in Healthcare, seeks to connect veterans with potential employers.  If you are a veteran who works in the healthcare field, or if you are an employer who is looking for physicians, advanced practice professionals, nurses, corpsmen/medics, or other healthcare professionals, then please take a look at Veterans in Healthcare. As a retired veteran of the U.S. Army, I would also like to personally urge you to hire a veteran whenever possible.


Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


 

I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  Over the past 12 months, 3.5 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious readers.  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 


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Weekend Surgery is More Risky than Weekday Surgery



A new study notes a much higher risk of death associated with surgery performed at the end of the week, compared with Monday surgeries.


 

WEEKEND SURGERY IS MORE RISKY THAN WEEKDAY SURGERY

Previous studies have suggested that surgeries performed after hours and on the weekends are associated with a greater risk of death when compared to surgeries performed earlier in the week.  This finding is not particularly surprising, as patients who undergo surgery after hours and on weekends are more likely to be undergoing surgery for emergency conditions, and are likely to be more severely ill, compared with patients who are undergoing elective scheduled surgery on weekdays.  However, a newly published research study shows that elective non-emergency surgeries are also associated with a much greater risk of death when performed at the end of the week or on weekends, when compared with elective surgeries performed early in the week.  This clinical research study appears in the current issue of the British Medical Journal.

A retrospective study reviewed hospital data between 2008 and 2010 for all public hospitals in England. In particular, the outcomes of patients undergoing elective surgery were analyzed. Altogether, 4,133,346 inpatient admissions for elective surgery were evaluated. These more than 4 million surgical cases were associated with 27,582 deaths within 30 days of surgery.

When compared to elective surgeries performed on Mondays, elective non-emergency surgeries performed on Fridays were associated with a 44 percent increase in the risk of death. The news for elective surgeries conducted over the weekend was even worse. Compared to Monday surgeries, elective surgeries conducted over the weekend were associated with an 82 percent increase in the risk of death!

English public hospitals, like most hospitals in the United States, sharply reduce their staffing levels on weekends. Given that life-threatening complications associated with major operations are most likely to occur during the first 72 hours following surgery, it is not surprising that major operations performed on Fridays or weekends, even elective non-emergency operations, are associated with a higher risk of complications and death, as the patient safety benefit associated with full weekday staffing in the hospital is lost on weekends (and holidays) in the vast majority of hospitals. In my own Surgical Oncology practice, I routinely schedule major elective surgeries at the beginning of the week, in recognition of what has been called the “weekend effect.” I and my Surgical Oncology colleague also personally see all of our surgical patients seven days a week, including weekends and holidays, in an effort to ensure that their ongoing care meets the highest standards, and to closely follow their postoperative recoveries.

Unfortunately, not all complications, and not all deaths, can be prevented following surgery. However, data from clinical research studies such as this study provide important opportunities to reduce postoperative complications, including the “ultimate complication,” to the lowest achievable levels.

 

For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.com Top 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.

 

Join Dr. Wascher on Facebook

 

Additional Links for Robert A. Wascher, MD, FACS

CNN Story on CTCA’s Organic Farm in the Phoenix Area

Dr. Wascher Discusses Signs & Symptoms of Skin Cancer

Profile of Dr. Wascher by Oncology Times

Bio of Dr. Wascher at Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Dr. Wascher Discusses Predictions of Decreased Cancer Risk on azfamily.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Environmental Risk Factors for Breast Cancer on Sharecare

Dr. Wascher Answers Questions About Cancer on talkabouthealth.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Cancer Prevention Strategies on LIVESTRONG

Dr. Wascher Discusses Cancer Prevention on Newsmax

Dr. Wascher Answers Questions About Cancer Risk & Cancer Prevention on The Doctors Radio Show

Dr. Wascher Discusses Lymphedema After Breast Surgery on cancerlynx.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Hormone Replacement Therapy & Breast Cancer Risk on cancerlynx.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Chronic Pain After Mastectomy for Breast Cancer on cancerlynx.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy for Cancer on cancersupportivecare.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses the Role of Exercise in Cancer Prevention on Open Salon

Dr. Wascher Discusses Aspirin as a Potential Preventive Agent for Pancreatic Cancer on eHealth Forum

Dr. Wascher Discusses Obesity & Cancer Risk on eHealth Forum

Dr. Wascher Discusses the Role of Radiation Therapy in the Treatment of Breast Cancer on Sharecare

Dr. Wascher Discusses the Treatment of Stomach Cancer on Sharecare

Dr. Wascher Discusses the Management of Metastatic Cancer of the Liver on Sharecare

Dr. Wascher Discusses Obesity & Cancer Risk on hopenavigators.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Hormone Replacement Therapy & Breast Cancer Risk on interactmd.com

Dr. Wascher Discusses Thyroid Cancer on health2fit.com

 

Links to Other Breaking Health News

The Effects of Poverty on the Brain

Half of Us Will Develop Cancer in Our Lifetimes

Protein Critical for Long-Term Memory Identified

HPV Virus and Cancer Risk

Probiotics May Decrease Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea caused by C. difficile

3-D Printer Helps to Save Baby’s Life

Experimental Drug May Reduce Heart Damage after Heart Attack

Vitamin D May Improve Asthma Symptoms

Doctor Provides Patients with Own Feces for Fecal Transplants

Rising Arsenic Levels in Chicken

Dramatic Increase in Suicide Rate Among Middle Aged Americans Over the Past Decade

Cutting Umbilical Cord Too Soon May Cause Anemia in Newborns

Spiny New Bandage May Speed Healing of Skin Wounds

Study Confirms that Men Really Do Have Trouble Reading the Thoughts of Women

Deadly new Bird Flu Strain Cases Continue to Rise

Abdominal Fat Increases Kidney Disease Risk

Increasing Dietary Potassium & Decreasing Salt Intake Reduces Stroke Risk

A New Explanation for the Link Between Red Meat & Cardiovascular Disease

Deadly New Bird Flu Identified in China

Infection Risk: Keeping an Eye on Your Dentist

Couple Loses 500 Pounds in Two Years

Coffee May Reduce Crash Risk for Long-Distance Drivers

Tiny Implant Tells Your Smart Phone When You Are Having A Heart Attack

Transplanted Kidney Causes Death Due to Rabies

Eating While Distracted Increases Calorie Intake

Resistant Bacteria are on the Rise

High Levels of Stress Linked to an Increase in Heart Disease Risk

Small Snacks Cut Hunger as Well as Big Snacks

Poor Sleep May Increase the Risk of Heart Failure

Ancient Mummies Found to Have Heart Disease by CT Scan

Physically Fit Kids Do Better on Math & Reading Tests

How Melanoma Skin Cancer Evades the Immune System

Possible Link Between BPA and Asthma

Baby Boomers Appear Less Healthy Than Their Parents

The Biology of Love in the Brain

Millennials May be the Most Stressed-Out Generation

Even Modest Alcohol Intake Raises Cancer Risk

Why Do Boys Receive Lower Grades than Girls?

Negative Emotions and Feelings Can Damage Your Health

Canker Sore Drug Cures Obesity (At Least in Mice…)

How Technology is Changing the Practice of Medicine

New Salt Intake Guidelines for Children

High Levels of Distress in Childhood May Increase Risk of Heart Disease in Adulthood

Quitting Tobacco by Age 40 Restores a Normal Lifespan in Smokers

Cancer Death Rates Continue to Fall

Self-Help Books Improve Depression

Marines Try Mindfulness and Meditation to Reduce PTSD

Dying Nurse Volunteers Herself to Teach Nursing Students about the Dying

Regular Walks Cut Stroke Risk

Falling Asleep While Driving More Common than Previously Thought

Celebrity Health Fads Debunked

Obesity Among Young Children May Be Declining

Fresh Fruits & Vegetables May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Satisfaction with Life May Actually Increase with Age

Brain Changes in the Elderly May Increase Susceptibility to Being Scammed

 


 


Dr. Wascher’s Home Page



According to recent Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty between September 2001 and December 2011 is more than 12 percent.  A new website, Veterans in Healthcare, seeks to connect veterans with potential employers.  If you are a veteran who works in the healthcare field, or if you are an employer who is looking for physicians, advanced practice professionals, nurses, corpsmen/medics, or other healthcare professionals, then please take a look at Veterans in Healthcare. As a retired veteran of the U.S. Army, I would also like to personally urge you to hire a veteran whenever possible.


Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


 

I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  Over the past 12 months, 3.2 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious readers.  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 


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Post to Twitter

New Study: Medication Errors Linked to Half of All Prescriptions








 

A new study shows that despite increased efforts by hospitals and pharmacists, half of all new prescriptions, on average, contain at least one error.


 

NEW STUDY: MEDICATION ERRORS LINKED TO HALF OF ALL PRESCRIPTIONS

The prestigious Institute of Medicine estimates that at least 1.5 million medication-related cases of injury or illness, also known as adverse drug events (ADEs), occur each year in the United States, and that, on average, hospitalized patients can expect to experience at least one medication error per day.  Because of this very large number of ADEs, and their potential to cause serious harm to patients, several strategies for reducing ADEs have been recommended, including improved communication between doctors, pharmacists and patients; the use of electronic medical records and “e-prescriptions” that incorporate medication screening software; and improved drug labeling and packaging practices.

Despite these recommended strategies for reducing ADEs, a newly published prospective, randomized, controlled clinical research study suggests that even more effective strategies need to be identified, and implemented, if we are to significantly reduce ADEs caused by medication errors.  This new clinical study appears in the current issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

In this new study, two large teaching hospitals in the United States randomized patients being discharged after admission for heart-related illnesses into one of two groups.  One group, the “control” group, had their discharge medications prescribed and monitored in the usual manner.  The other group, the “intervention” group, had their discharge medications managed using an enhanced approach to medication prescribing and monitoring, including having a pharmacist directly review patients’ preadmission and discharge medications, one-to-one patient counseling by a pharmacist regarding their medications while patients were still in the hospital, the provision of extra counseling and assistance for patients with literacy challenges, and individual patient follow-up by telephone after their discharge from the hospital.  All patients in the intervention group were provided these enhanced services for 30 days from the date of their discharge by these two well known academic medical centers.

The results of this important prospective clinical study were, unfortunately, rather discouraging.  Among the 851 volunteers who participated in this study, 432, or 51 percent, experienced one or more clinically significant medication-related errors, 23 percent of which were assessed to be serious errors, and 2 percent of which were considered to be life-threatening errors.  Regarding ADEs, specifically, 30 percent of the patients in this study were confirmed to have experienced an adverse physical reaction or complication associated with their medications, while another 30 percent experienced abnormal symptoms or side effects that were deemed to be “potential” ADEs.  When the researchers compared the two groups of patient volunteers in this study, they found that the intervention group patients, who had received extra medication prescribing and monitoring safeguards, had the same incidence of overall medication errors and confirmed ADEs as the control group patients, unfortunately.

The findings of this clinical study are, needless to say, very disappointing.  Despite the best efforts of these two large teaching hospitals in taking multiple extra measures to drive down the number of medication errors and ADEs, these enhanced efforts appeared to have had no significant beneficial effects.  Indeed, half of the patients participating in this clinical research study experienced one or more medication errors, and proactive health-literacy-directed and pharmacist-delivered interventions appeared to have no impact on this very high incidence of medication-related errors.  (You can also bet that the incidence of medication errors and ADEs are likely to be much higher in many hospitals and pharmacies that are not closely following their patients within a rigorous prospective clinical research study, such as this study.)

The findings of this important prospective clinical study strongly suggest that currently available recommendations for addressing the ongoing high rate of medication-related errors and ADEs are likely to be inadequate, particularly for patients who are transitioning from the hospital to home.  This study’s results also indicate that additional new strategies need to be quickly identified and implemented.  At this time, I urge all patients to proactively review both their current and new prescriptions with their health care providers, and with their pharmacists, in an effort to detect potentially serious medication-related errors before they can cause any ADEs.  Moreover, every one of us who take medications (including vitamins and supplements) should carry an updated list of all medications, and a list of any allergies or sensitivities to medications, with us at all times.



At this time, more than 8 percent of Americans are unemployed.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty between September 2001 and December 2011 is now more than 12 percent.  A new website, Veterans in Healthcare, seeks to connect veterans with potential employers.  If you are a veteran who works in the healthcare field, or if you are an employer who is looking for physicians, advanced practice professionals, nurses, corpsmen/medics, or other healthcare professionals, then please take a look at Veterans in Healthcare. As a retired veteran of the U.S. Army, I urge you to hire a veteran whenever possible.


For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.





Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


 

Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


 

I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  (More than 1.3 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious people who visited Weekly Health Update in 2011!)  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 













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Epidemic of Alcohol Abuse Among Surgeons





A new study indicates that chronic alcohol abuse among surgeons is far more common than among the general population.


 

 

EPIDEMIC OF ALCOHOL ABUSE AMONG SURGEONS

In a previous column (Surgeon Performance and Alcohol), I reviewed a clinical research study that revealed just how significantly alcohol intake degrades surgical skills among surgeons, even well into the day following alcohol intake.  In another recent column, I examined a study that revealed a disturbingly high rate of burnout and depression among American surgeons (Surgeon Burnout and Depression).  This week, I will present a newly published clinical study that, once again, raises serious concerns about the health and wellbeing of many surgeons in the United States.

In a study that appears in the current issue of the Archives of Surgery, more than 7,000 surgeons in the United States agreed to participate in a confidential assessment of alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence among members of the American College of Surgeons.  Validated surveys and tests were administered to these surgeon-volunteers, and the resulting data was analyzed.

Based upon the results of the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, 15 percent of the responding surgeons, overall, were identified as meeting the criteria for either chronic alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence.  Further evaluation of the data collected in this study revealed that 14 percent of the participating male surgeons met the criteria for chronic abuse of alcohol or alcohol dependency, while 26 percent of the corresponding female surgeons met these same worrisome criteria.  Moreover, surgeons who reported having committed a major medical or surgical error within the previous 3 months were 45 percent more likely to abuse alcohol, or to be dependent upon alcohol, when compared to surgeons who did not report any recent errors.  Similarly, surgeons who reported feeling burned out in their professional lives were 25 percent more likely to be problem drinkers when compared to surgeons who did not report professional burnout.  Finally, surgeons who reported symptoms consistent with depression were nearly 50 percent more likely to abuse alcohol than surgeons who did not report feeling depressed.

Interestingly, surgeons were less likely to have alcohol abuse and dependency problems if they were older, male, or had children.  (Approximately 11 percent of adult males in the general population are thought to have chronic alcohol abuse problems, while only about 5 percent of adult females in the general population appear to abuse alcohol on a regular basis.)

The findings of this study, once again, indicate a disturbingly high rate of substance abuse among American surgeons; and this is the first study to show that female surgeons, unlike women in the general population, are twice as likely as their male counterparts to regularly abuse alcohol.  Taken together with previous studies showing very high rates of depression and career burnout among surgeons in the United States, the findings of this latest study are rather worrisome.  (Previous studies have also linked an increased likelihood of medical and surgical errors to surgeons who are depressed, and who abuse alcohol and other drugs.)

I should also note that only 29 percent of the surgeons who were contacted agreed to participate in this confidential study.  Because this participation rate is much lower than what is typically seen in most survey-based research studies, it raises the important question as to whether or not the rate of alcohol abuse and alcohol dependency might actually be considerably higher among surgeons, in general, than what is reflected in this study.  Indeed, most statistics experts believe that a very common reason for nonparticipation in survey-based studies is a reluctance to divulge negative information about oneself.  Moreover, even people who elect to participate in survey-based studies often “fudge” their responses in ways that tend to underestimate their bad habits and other self-perceived shortcomings.  Therefore, it is entirely possible that the incidence of chronic alcohol abuse and alcohol dependency among surgeons may be even higher than what was reported in this study….

 

As I have observed in previous columns, surgeons who abuse alcohol, or other drugs, are more likely to be associated with medical errors and worse patient outcomes.  However, the stigma of reporting oneself as having an alcohol, or other drug, problem is so great in the medical profession that impaired surgeons (as with other physicians) are generally extremely reluctant to admit that they have an alcohol or drug problem.  Most medical boards still require physicians to indicate whether or not they have a history of drug or alcohol abuse on licensure applications, and the medical profession, in general, still seems to be in a state of denial regarding the unusually high incidence of drug and alcohol abuse among physicians when compared to the general public.  It also goes without saying that the potential consequences of being operated upon by an impaired surgeon can be catastrophic to both patients and their loved ones, and, therefore, the still prevailing “head in the sand” approach to identifying, and rehabilitating, impaired physicians would not appear to serve the public interest very well, in my view.

 

While the vast majority of surgeons are passionately devoted to providing the best possible care to their patients, and would therefore not engage in personal behaviors that might potentially endanger their patients, it is becoming increasingly clear that a sizable percentage of surgeons in the United States are seriously impaired by burnout, depression and other mental health illnesses, and by alcohol and drug abuse.  Therefore, a better system of screening out surgical trainees who are predisposed to these serious health problems should be considered, while, at the same time, medical authorities at the state and federal levels should make it easier, and less threatening, for currently impaired physicians and surgeons to reach out for help without fearing that they will be punished or professionally sanctioned as a result.  I, therefore, applaud the American College of Surgeons for sponsoring and publishing this important study as a preliminary step forward in this direction.


 

For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the Amazon.com “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.


Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


For a lighthearted perspective on Dr. Wascher, please click on the following YouTube link:

Texas Blues Jam


I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  (More than 1.3 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious people who visited Weekly Health Update in 2011!)  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


 








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