The medical headlines this week focused on major themes appearing in healthcare, including how doctors perceive women’s pain, food insecurity among children, and utilizing social workers in the emergency department. Read on to learn more.
New Breast Cancer Guidelines: Screen Later, Less Often – CNN
The American Cancer Society has released new guidelines for breast cancer screening. The outline pushes the year of first mammogram back from 40 to 45 years old, and suggests that the annual breast exam, that has typically been a standard routine, no longer be considered a component of women’s annual treatment. According to the organization, the guidelines have been issued as a result of extensive medical literature reviews, which demonstrate that the measures previously followed are simply an ineffective methodology, and earlier, consistent mammograms may infact be more problematic than beneficial. While the decision is based on empirical medical findings, it has caused an uproar among the Breast Cancer Survivor community, and other organizations who support early screening. Read more here.
How Doctors Take Women’s Pain Less Seriously – The Atlantic
This personal story of a journalist’s wife’s treatment in an emergency department went viral this week. In the piece, the authors describes the experience, which included a wait “longer than a standard office shift”, a misdiagnosis from a physician who did not conduct an exam or review the results of an imaging text, and the eventual emergency surgery that was required to save his wife’s life. In the end, the author’s wife survived, however it initiated a quest to determine if his wife’s treatment represented a trend within the medical landscape. Among statistical findings and literature review, the end result is the author’s conclusion, which quite blatantly attests that until women can prove they are as sick as male patients, they are less likely to be treated in any aggressive manner. Read more here.
This Startup Will Tell You How Much Experience Your Doctor Has – The Verge
A new website has launched that claims it can provide a patient with insight on a physician’s level of experience working with a certain condition. The company, called Amino, works differently than the majority of other physician ranking websites currently available. The existing sites typically utilize first hand patient reviews, such as websites like Zodoc or Healthgrades. Instead, Amino analyzes health insurance claims. The information is sourced from 3.9 billion health insurance claims, and the company is partnered with thousands of insurance agencies, health IT companies, employers, and large health care providers. Read more here.
A Hospital Reduces Repeat ER Visits By Providing Social Workers – NPR
An urban Milwaukee hospital is taking a new approach to reducing unnecessary emergency department visits. A full time staff of social workers have been implemented into the ED, and focus on addressing several hundred “frequent fliers”, patients who are recently insured, and use the ED as their primary source of medical treatment. In this pilot project, each of the nearly 40 participants in the project had visited the ED at least five times in a four month period. The social workers provided personalized treatment plans for each patient to address the complications that prevented them from accessing a primary medical care provider, along with the psychosocial consequences of the high risk, high acuity lifestyle practiced by the average patients. In the first four months of the project the level of recurring visits fell by 68%, dropping the mostly cost of running the ED from 1.5 million to $440,000. Read more here.
Pediatricians Are Asked to Join Fight Against Childhood Hunger – NY Times
When a child meets with his or her pediatrician, they will now be asked a question that until this week was not a normal part of a typical check-up: “Are you hungry?”. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a report stressing the importance of screening for food insecurity, providing the opportunity for families to receive referrals and recommendations for local food services that they might not otherwise receive. In the United States there are over sixteen million children who live with daily food shortages, and report being hungry on a daily basis. This lack of nutrition, along with the psychosocial correlations of living in a home with food insecurity, is linked with both emotional and behavioral problems from preschool through adolescence. Read more here.
See you next week for another edition of BoardVitals’ weekly medical news roundup.