Health & Wellness Bloomberg News.

Medical errors are the third leading cause of death for Americans, claiming a quarter of a million lives a year, according to study results released by researchers at Johns Hopkins University.
If fatalities resulting from mistakes and safety lapses in medical care were counted as deaths, as are deaths from disease and injury, they would account for more fatalities than respiratory disease, and trail only heart disease and cancer as a cause of death, argues researchers in the report, published in the British Medical Journal.
To better track, research and avoid medical errors in the future, the authors of the BMJ study call for a space on death certificates where doctors can indicate that a medical error contributed to the death.

Perhaps because doctors and hospitals would worry that admitting errors might invite lawsuits, the Johns Hopkins authors alternatively suggest a system in which hospitals can investigate whether errors contributed to a death, assured that “data acquired for quality improvement is not discoverable” in a court of law.
The need for better data is clear, the authors note. “Measuring the consequences of medical care on patient outcomes is an important prerequisite to creating a culture of learning from our mistakes.”
Quality initiatives at healthcare organizations suggest that providers are interested in using process improvement to avoid future errors. At least one attempt to collect that information had high response rates and found that 5 percent of deaths may have been preventable. At Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, staff are even blogging about case studies of medical mistakes and the hospital’s attempts to prevent them from happening again.
Medical errors can include delivering the wrong drug, misreading a patient’s chart, or operating on the wrong organ. A report by the Institute of Medicine in 1999 alerted America to the toll, estimating that medical errors killed from 44,000 to 98,000 people a year.
The estimate draws on four studies of deaths due to errors that have come out since the 1999 report. The authors extrapolate from those findings to reach their estimate of 251,000 annual deaths. Even that figure, they say, probably underestimates the actual toll, because it includes only deaths in hospitals, not in outpatient surgery centers, nursing homes or other healthcare settings.

That doesn’t mean deaths from medical errors have increased since the 1990s. Because different methodologies were used to calculate the numbers, it’s hard to say what the trend looks like.
The American Hospital Association said in an emailed statement that while “one incident is too many,” the industry has made progress. The group cited federal data indicating that one type of patient harm, hospital-acquired infections, dropped by 17 percent between 2010 and 2014.

 

Tragic: Half of Women Who Get Chemo Don’t Need It

If you or someone you love has received chemotherapy for breast cancer, you know what a miserable experience it is.

You may have spent months too tired to move off the couch, doubled over the toilet, or watching your hair fall out in clumps. And you were promised all along that the chemo was saving your life.
Now imagine finding that you never needed to have those toxic drugs pumped into your body at all.

Believe it or not, that’s the exact situation that countless women are in right now. A frightening new study has found that half of chemo treatments for breast cancer are totally unnecessary.

Chemo drugs are being handed out based on little more than guesswork – and it’s all because the mainstream is turning its back on a simple test that could help you avoid needless misery.

The chemo con
You know by now that I’m no fan of chemotherapy. Aside from all of the sickening side effects, we know that chemo can trigger aggressive secondary cancers down the road.
So it’s an outrage that we’d ever expose anyone to chemo who couldn’t possibly benefit. But it’s happening all the time – especially to women with breast cancer. You see, the mainstream likes to pair breast cancer surgery (which is also often unnecessary) with chemo, supposedly to keep the cancer from coming back.

But for nearly a decade now, a genetic test called MammaPrint has been available that can tell patients with breast cancer the chances of that cancer returning and whether there’s any benefit to chemo.
You’d think no woman would ever be asked to endure chemo without getting a test like this first.

But many docs aren’t using it – and that’s needlessly putting countless women right in harm’s way. A major, nine-year study using the MammaPrint test has just been wrapped up, and it involved nearly 7,000 women with breast cancer from all over the world. And it found that nearly half of those women never needed chemo at all. These poor women went through untold amounts of suffering for absolutely no benefit. That’s not just wrong – it’s practically criminal. In fact, the outcomes were so similar (a 95 percent survival rate) between the chemo group, and the ones who didn’t undergo chemo based on the genetic test, one expert said they were practically identical. But instead of using tests like MammaPrint, lots of docs just look at cancer cells under a microscope and basically guess how aggressive a tumor might be. That’s a little like telling the weather by licking your finger and sticking it in the air.And if there’s one place where we shouldn’t be doing any guesswork, it’s in cancer care – especially when we’re asking women to submit to treatments that can wreck their quality of life.

Dr. Martine Piccart, lead investigator in this study, said that it’s clear that many women who get chemo don’t need the treatment, yet suffer all the side effects with no benefits.
And it’s important to make sure you’re not one of them.
Now, there are some doctors (but not enough) using genetic tests like Mamma Print or another called Blueprint. And it’s worth finding out if your doc is one of them.And it’s always a good idea to get a second or third opinion before you agree to any cancer treatment, and to make sure you research your alternatives.

Because fighting cancer is tough enough – and the last thing you need is to find out you got some sickening and dangerous treatment you never needed in the first place.

Sources:
“Many breast cancer patients get unneeded chemo” Newsmax, April 19, 2016, newsmax.com- See more at: http://hsionline.com/2016/04/21/study-finds-half-chemo-treatments-for-breast-cancer-unnecessary/#sthash.G0wdPi1l.dpuf

Heart Disease Risk Higher Among Shift Workers
A new study finds that shift work can disrupt social and biological rhythms, which may increase the risk of chronic disease.
Female registered nurses who work a rotating night shift for 5 years or more have a slightly higher risk of heart disease, according to a new study published in JAMA.

Nurses who work regular night shifts long term may be prone to heart disease.

Shift work can disrupt social and biological rhythms, which may increase the risk of chronic disease. The National Sleep Foundation list a number of conditions that people who work shifts are more likely to experience, including cancer, metabolic disease, ulcers, and obesity, not to mention depression and reduced performance due to disrupted circadian rhythms.

Previous studies have suggested an association between shift work and coronary heart disease (CHD), cancer, and metabolic disorders.
However, results from prospective studies linking shift work to CHD have been inconsistent, and they have been limited by short follow-up.

Celine Vetter, PhD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, and colleagues examined the incidence of CHD in 189,158 initially healthy women.The participants were followed up over 24 years in the Nurses’ Health Studies (NHS), carried out from 1988-2012 and 1989-2013.The researchers determined the lifetime history of rotating night shift work, defined as three night shifts or more per month in addition to day and evening shifts.

5 years or more of shifts may be hazardous

During follow-up, there were 7,303 incidents of CHD in the first NHS and 3,519 in the second.These included non-fatal heart attack, death from CHD, angiogram-confirmed angina pectoris, coronary artery bypass graft surgery, stents, and angioplasty.

Results suggested that the longer a nurse carried out rotating night shift work, the higher the chance of CHD. Less than 5 years of shift work does not appear to increase the chance of CHD, but working shifts for more than 5 years is linked with a statistically significant increase. However, the authors point out that since the risk only affected those who worked 5 years or more on rotating night shifts, and this was only 15% of all the participants, the absolute risk and public health impact of night work is relatively small.

There was evidence that the risk decreased after quitting shift work, and the longer the time lapse since quitting, the smaller the chance of CHD.
The authors also looked at whether shift work was associated with increased CHD risk in the absence of hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and diabetes. The first NHS suggested a link but the second did not, implying that shift work entails a risk even in those without prior susceptibility.

The authors conclude:
“Further research is needed to explore whether the association is related to specific work hours and individual characteristics.”