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November 9, 2012
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News for physicians caring for the seriously ill

  Top Story 
  • Editorial: Seriously ill patients welcome end-of-life discussions
    Many seriously ill patients cling to an inaccurate belief that chemotherapy will cure them, Drs. Thomas Smith and Dan Longo write in a New England Journal of Medicine editorial. The piece accompanies a study showing many late-stage colon and lung cancer patients believe chemotherapy may be curative. "Truthful conversations that acknowledge death help patients understand their curability, are welcomed by patients, and do not squash hope or cause depression," the doctors wrote, but noted these are difficult conversations that occur over time. PLos Blogs/Work in Progress (11/7) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Palliative & Hospice Care Update  
  • Analysis: Quality of end-of-life care affects hospice integration
    A perspective on increases in Medicare hospice spending in the New England Journal of Medicine points out challenges in addressing longer lengths of stay and uncertain predictions when trying to reform the benefit and achieve budget neutrality. David Stevenson, Ph.D., from Harvard Medical School writes that quality of end-of-life care ultimately will affect how hospice is integrated more fully in the health care system. Pallimed blog (11/7) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • South African hospice workers meet "sister" staff at Fla. facility
    Three hospice workers from South Africa traveled to Florida to meet the Haven Hospice professionals who have worked with them as a sister hospice for 11 years, supporting their efforts to care for patients and families. "We are able to make a difference with the families, just by being a candle. I am a candle," said Sibongle Scholastica Matambo of the Grahamstown and Sunshine Coast Hospice in South Africa. The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville) (11/8) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Patient & Family Perspective  
  • U.K. seeks to train 1 million "dementia friends"
    The British government is seeking 1 million people to train as "dementia friends" so they can spot signs of the disease among family and friends and offer help. Japan has a similar program, with 3 million volunteers. Prime Minister David Cameron called the national awareness of dementia "shockingly low." BBC (11/7) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Medical Research  
  • Dual treatment controls agitation in one dose, study says
    Agitation control was achieved in 83% of advanced cancer patients with just the first dose of haloperidol plus midazolam without significant complications, according to a study in the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care. Portuguese researchers called the results encouraging because most patients "were controlled in 30 minutes or less." MedWire News (U.K.) (11/7) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
  Health Policy & Practice  
  • Analysis: Obama's win solidifies the Affordable Care Act
    President Barack Obama's re-election has secured the survival of the Affordable Care Act, but challenges to the law remain, experts say. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is expected to try to roll back the planned expansion of Medicaid benefits to more low-income adults, and Republican governors in some states have pledged not to implement the act's state health insurance exchanges. However, "there's sort of an immediate acceptance that this law will stay in place in some meaningful way," said Chris Jennings, who was an adviser to President Bill Clinton. Reuters (11/7), The Hill/Healthwatch blog (11/6) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Analysis finds low dependency rate for painkiller prescriptions
    An analysis of 17 studies involving more than 88,000 patients found that fewer than 5% of patients prescribed opioid treatments for chronic pain became addicted to the drugs. The finding shows that concerns about the risk of becoming addicted to prescription pain treatments might be exaggerated, said Northwestern University's Dr. Michael Fleming, who was not involved in the study, which was reported in the journal Addiction. Reuters (11/2) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Pfizer's arthritis drug Xeljanz wins FDA approval
    The FDA approved Pfizer's Xeljanz, or tofacitinib, to treat patients with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis who can't tolerate methotrexate or for whom it is ineffective. The approval makes Xeljanz the first rheumatoid arthritis drug from a new class of pain treatments known as JAK inhibitors. Yahoo/The Associated Press (11/6) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • A physician's lack of experience raises costs, study says
    Rand Corp. researchers who analyzed insurance claims for more than 1 million Massachusetts residents found costs were 13% higher when physicians had less than 10 years of experience, compared with doctors who had 40 or more years in the profession. The report was published in Health Affairs. HealthDay News (11/5) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Trends & Technology  
  • Effective EHR implementation hinges on data accuracy
    EHRs rely on unique patient identifiers to succeed in making medical information available across multiple medical settings and providers. But, ensuring accuracy is a major challenge, and mistakes can easily result from typos and patient life changes such as moving, marrying, having children or just forgetting important information, writes Jennifer Bresnick. Health information exchange vendors are exploring solutions to this problem, including biometrics and sophisticated algorithms. EHR Intelligence (11/5) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  AAHPM News  
  • Opioid REMS and Safe Use Practices: What Are the Implications Today?
    Learn about risk evaluation and mitigation strategies associated with long-acting and extended-release opioids. This online activity, developed by CO*RE, in partnership with Medscape, offers CME/CE credit for learners. No fee required. Learn more. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • How can you stay inspired and up to date on the latest advances in hospice and palliative care?
    Join the more than 2,400 hospice and palliative care professionals who meet once each year to gain knowledge directly from leaders in the field at the 2013 AAHPM & HPNA Annual Assembly. Learn the latest scientific advances. Share best practices. Build long-lasting relationships. Learn more. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
A man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them."
--Mark Twain,
American writer

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