OVEREXPOSED IN THE OR? I don’t know about you, but the idea of having a camera filming away as I undergo surgery is disconcerting to say the least. A bill introduced in the Wisconsin state legislature would require just that — cameras in every operating room in the state. According to Tom Jackman’s report in the Washington Post, advocates contend the cameras, as well as audio recordings, would capture what happened if an adverse event occurs and would “deter inept or simply bad behavior by medical personnel.” However, experts say the concept raises “fantastic privacy issues,” and, moreover, the equipment would be extremely costly to install and maintain. You also have to wonder how intimidating the devices would be to even the most skillful physicians and nurses and how that could affect their work. Then there’s the issue of who would be allowed to watch and listen to the recordings and make a judgment about whether an action that resulted in something bad was due to a clinician simply trying to make the best call under dire circumstances.
WHO KNEW MEDICAL ACADEMIA COULD BE SO CUTTHROAT? An editorial in the New York Times notes that at least 11 states across the country are spending millions of dollars in public funds “to help their medical schools recruit scientific stars from other states and to prevent their own stars from being lured away by lucrative offers.” Texas, for instance, has offered nearly $40 million in research grants to tempt scientists from New York, and more bucks on top of that to attract researchers from other locales. These include leading researchers in pediatrics and oncology from places like Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the University of Michigan. New York’s medical schools want the state to invest $100 million over a decade to go after other states’ biomedical stars. The Chronicle of Higher Education calls it a “boom in academic poaching.”
IS YOUR HEART OLDER THAN YOU ARE? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says three out of four U.S. adults have a predicted heart age that’s older than their actual age. That puts them at higher risk for heart attacks and strokes. Heart age is based on an individual’s risk factors, which include high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes and body mass index. The average heart age for men is eight years older than their chronological age; it's five years older for women. The CDC recommends health care providers use cardiovascular risk assessment calculators to inform treatment decisions and work with patients on healthy habits.
DEMENTIA IS ONE TOPIC MANY BABY BOOMERS would prefer to avoid, and the reality is harsh both as more of us become caregivers to loved ones and as we age and become vulnerable ourselves. A RAND study found that 15 percent of Americans older than 70 already have dementia; that’s about 3.8 million people, a number that will grow to 9.1 million by 2040. Even if we somehow manage to slow the dementia rate, one researcher’s best-case scenario is that the cost of care for the affliction will hit $305 billion by 2040 in this country — four times the current medical cost of cancer. An article in the September/October issue of the RAND Review illustrates the emotional, physical and financial burden on family members and other unpaid caregivers and offers a 5-step blueprint of reforms and policy options to improve services and support. They include reducing the stigma, promoting earlier detection and expanding long-term care insurance programs, among other things. Of course, this isn’t just a boomer issue. By 2040, today’s millennials will be middle-aged themselves, with older loved ones. And their own senior citizenhood will be closing in faster than they can now imagine.
A NICELY PRODUCED VIDEO from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center shows how people who need organ transplants are using uncommon outlets such as social media to reach potential donors. One guy posted on Facebook that he had end-stage renal disease and within a week he’d found a kidney donor. He and his wife are now the parents of 3-month-old twins. Another woman has a common blood type that means there’s a high demand for compatible kidneys. She drives around in a car with pleas for a donor plastered across the sides and rear window. “We hope their efforts not only pay off for them, but draw attention to the tremendous shortage we face in organ donation overall,” says Todd Pesavento, director of the medical center’s Comprehensive Transplant Center. By the way, if you or anybody you know still hasn’t signed up to become an organ, eye or tissue donor, go to http://www.organdonor.gov/becomingdonor/.