Cancer drug shortages mean higher costs and greater risk for patients
A national survey of health professionals showed that drug shortages are taking a heavy toll on cancer patients, forcing treatment changes and delays that for some patients meant worse outcomes, more therapy-related complications and higher costs. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital investigators played an important role in the study.
The survey queried oncology pharmacists and others involved in managing cancer drug shortages for academic medical centers, community hospitals and other cancer treatment facilities nationwide. Of the 243 individuals who completed the survey, 98 percent reported having dealt with a shortage of at least one chemotherapy agent or other essential cancer-related drug in the previous 12 months. Ninety-three percent reported that shortages forced delays in chemotherapy administration or other changes in cancer drug therapy.
Researchers found the shortages also disrupted cancer research and added to the cost and risks associated with cancer treatment. One institution linked a patient's death to a shortage-related medication mistake. Overall, 16 percent of respondents tied shortages to adverse patient outcomes, including disease progression or more treatment-related complications.
The survey is the first to focus specifically on the impact of cancer-related drug shortages. It was conducted by the Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association and focused on a 12-month period ending in October 2011. The results appear in the April 1 edition of the American
Journal of Health-System Pharmacy.
Electronic tool speeds up diagnosis of pneumonia in ED patients
Researchers at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah, have developed and implemented the first real-time electronic screening tool to identify patients with pneumonia to speed up diagnosis and treatment and improve outcomes.
Pneumonia is the most common infectious cause of death in developed countries. It kills more than 60,000 Americans each year, and results in nearly 1.1 million hospitalizations.
The new tool works seamlessly with the hospital's computerized medical screening and diagnosis technology that physicians are already using at Intermountain Healthcare. It monitors patient data, extracts relevant clinical features, calculates patient pneumonia probability and then alerts caregivers when patients are likely to have pneumonia.
A study of the development and initial test of the new electronic tool is published in the March 18 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine.
Diagnosing pneumonia can be problematic for emergency department physicians due to the many factors — nearly 40 — involved in making a diagnosis.Ã¢â‚¬Â¨Ã¢â‚¬Â¨ "Our goal is to have the tool standardize what we do to ensure that we are all doing the same things consistently for all patients," says Caroline Vines, M.D., an emergency medicine physician at Intermountain Medical Center and co-investigator. "The best thing about the tool is that it's easy to use and reminds you to order the appropriate tests and proper antibiotics for the patient."