King County teen e-cigarette use is on the rise, but fewer smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol

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Map of SeattleFrom Public Health – Seattle & King County

Most King County youth are heeding public health prevention warnings about cigarette smoking and drinking and driving, according to new, preliminary results from the Healthy Youth Survey.

However, e-cigarettes use among youth is increasing.

One in five King County high school seniors reports vaping or e-cigarette use, which is double the number that smokes cigarettes. Continue reading

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Teaching doctors to empathize

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empathy-770By Sandra G Boodman
KHN

The patient was dying and she knew it. In her mid-50s, she had been battling breast cancer for years, but it had spread to her bones, causing unrelenting pain that required hospitalization.

Jeremy Force, a first-year oncology fellow at Duke University Medical Center who had never met the woman, was assigned to stop by her room last November to discuss her decision to enter hospice.

Employing the skills he had just learned in a day-long course, Force sat at the end of her bed and listened intently. The woman wept, telling him she was exhausted and worried about the impact her death would have on her two daughters.

“I acknowledged how hard what she was going through was,” Force said of their 15-minute conversation, “and told her I had two children, too” and that hospice was designed to provide her additional support.

Unlike sympathy, which is defined as feeling sorry for another person, clinical empathy is the ability to stand in a patient’s shoes.

A few days later, he ran into the woman in the hall. “You’re the best physician I’ve ever worked with,” Force remembers her telling him. “I was blown away,” he says. “It was such an honor.”

Force credits “Oncotalk,” a course required of Duke’s oncology fellows, for the unexpected accolade.

Developed by medical faculty at Duke, the University of Pittsburgh and several other medical schools, “Oncotalk” is part of a burgeoning effort to teach doctors an essential but often overlooked skill: clinical empathy.

Unlike sympathy, which is defined as feeling sorry for another person, clinical empathy is the ability to stand in a patient’s shoes and to convey an understanding of the patient’s situation as well as the desire to help. Continue reading

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Stop the Clot, Spread the Word

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By W. Craig Cooper, PhD,
Acting Director, Division of Blood Disorders, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Even though the risk for blood clots may not concern you yet, they are serious and they occur frequently. Estimates are about 900,000 people a year get serious blood clots and of those, about 100,000 people die from them. On average, that’s one person dying from a blood clot about every 6 minutes.

Blood clots occur most often in the legs, but can occur in the arms as well. If the clot breaks off and travels to  your lungs, this is serious. Most blood clots are preventable. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working with the National Blood Clot Alliance to make sure that the warning signs, risk factors, and what to do if this happens to you or a loved one are well known. Continue reading

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Online offers of personalized cancer medicine may not be trustworthy | Reuters

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ChromosomeTumor tests, genetic risk analyses and other products or services sold online as personalized cancer medicine are often not backed by evidence, according to a new U.S. study.

Researchers say the websites touting products or advice also tend to promote the benefits of their services far more often than they note the limitations.

via Online offers of personalized cancer medicine may not be trustworthy | Reuters.

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Specialty drugs save lives, come with daunting price tags – AP

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$100-dollar bill inside a capsuleDoctors hail many of these therapies as breakthroughs, since they can conquer or control diseases that were once almost untreatable.

But they can cost more than $80,000 for a single course of treatment and bury patients in debt, even those with insurance.

Patient advocates expect the problem to worsen as insurance coverage shrinks and use of specialty treatments grows.

via News from The Associated Press.

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New Guidance Aims to Reduce Risks From Animals in Hospitals

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For animal-assisted activities, such as pet therapy, the guidance recommends that only dogs be used. It specifically excludes cats, “because they cannot be trained to reliably provide safe interactions with patients in the healthcare setting.”

Animals and their handlers should be formally trained and evaluated, and they should be screened prior to being accepted into pet therapy programs.

via New Guidance Aims to Reduce Risks From Animals in Hospitals.

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Recruiting retired physicians to help solve a looming doctor shortage – The Washington Post

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doctors-300An online program created in collaboration with the UC San Diego School of Medicine faculty aims to help address the nation’s shortage of primary care physicians, a critical health-care issue highlighted by the Association of American Medical Colleges on Tuesday.

Created by educators at the medical school and primary care physicians who are renowned experts in physician training and assessment, Physician Retraining and Reentry (PRR) provides physicians of all backgrounds, retired and otherwise, the tools needed to offer adult outpatient primary care in their current practices or at understaffed clinics across the country.

via Recruiting retired physicians to help solve a looming doctor shortage – The Washington Post.

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Washington Center for Nursing picks new executive director

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Sofia_AragonFrom the Washington Center for Nursing

The Washington Center for Nursing, the statewide nonprofit nursing workforce center, has selected Sofia Aragon JD, BSN, RN to be its new executive director. Aragon, who was hired after a nationwide search, will begin at WCN on April 1.

As the executive director, Aragon will lead Centers work that focuses on promoting nursing as a desirable career; developing and managing data about the nursing workforce; identifying and disseminating information on best practices in nursing recruitment and retention; and increasing access to all levels of nursing education.

WCN collaborates with stakeholders in workforce development, education and practice in Washington and across the United States to address nursing workforce issues.

Aragon brings a background in health care policy and nursing education and practice, having earned: a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from the University of Washington in 1994; a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Seattle University in 1997; and her Juris Doctor degree from Loyola University-Chicago School of Law in 2002. Continue reading

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FDA heads into uncharted territory of ‘biosimiliar’ drugs

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zarxio-86242357By Elana Gordon, WHYY

Mark McCamish spent more than five years preparing for a presentation he gave at the Food and Drug Administration’s headquarters this winter.

McCamish is in charge of biopharmaceutical drug development at the Sandoz division of Switzerland’s Novartis. He and his colleagues made the case to a panel of 14 cancer specialists and a group of regulators that a company drug code-named EP2006 should be approved for sale in the U.S.

The drug, brand name Zarxio, is similar to but not quite identical to Amgen’s Neupogen, a medicine approved by the FDA back in 1991 to fight infections in cancer patients.

Industry representatives, patient advocates and investors paid close attention to the evidence under review. Some came in for the day from Europe, their suitcases propped against the wall. That’s because Novartis’ drug application represented uncharted territory.

Biosimilars are a little like the generic drugs. The key difference is that they’re copycats of more complex medicines called biologics, made with living cells

.The FDA approved Zarxio on Friday, and it’s the first time the agency has approved a so-called biosimilar, or close copy of an existing biotech medicine.

Dr. Jay Siegel, chief biotechnology officer at Johnson & Johnson and a former FDA regulator, says biosimilars are a little like the generic drugs we’re used to. The key difference is that they’re copycats of more complex medicines called biologics, made with living cells.

“In a simplistic sense, biologics are typically much larger molecules, usually made by living organisms,” Siegel says. “They can be antibodies whereas most drugs are smaller chemical entities that can be synthesized in the laboratory,” he explains.

It is difficult to make exact copies of biotech drugs because they are manufactured differently than tablets or syrups. Continue reading

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Blinding Cases Of Syphilis On The West Coast Prompt Health Alert In LA County

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Treponema_pallidum_01The Los Angeles County Department of Health has warned doctors and public health officials to be on the alert for symptoms associated with ocular syphilis — a sexually-transmitted disease that can cause blindness — after two potential cases were reported in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

So far, 14 confirmed cases of the disease have been reported across the West Coast since December, including eight in San Francisco and six in Washington state, according to local media reports.

via Blinding Cases Of Syphilis On The West Coast Prompt Health Alert In LA County.

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86 Percent of Health Law Enrollees Receive Subsidies, White House Says – NYTimes.com

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Barack Obama signature on the health reform law

Barack Obama signature on the health reform law

The Obama administration said Tuesday that 11.7 million Americans now have private health insurance through federal and state marketplaces, with 86 percent of them receiving financial assistance from the federal government to help pay premiums.

via 86 Percent of Health Law Enrollees Receive Subsidies, White House Says – NYTimes.com.

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