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Long-Term Shift Work May Drain the Brain

Posted on Sun, Nov 16, 2014
Long-Term Shift Work May Drain the Brain

Rotating shifts for more than 10 years seem to have the biggest impact, researchers say

TUESDAY, Nov. 4, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Working non-standard hours -- "shift work" -- for many years is not only hard on the body, but may also dull the mind, new research suggests. According to the study, published online Nov. 3 in Occupational & Environmental Medicine, those who do shift work for more than 10 years seem to have the equivalent of an extra 6.5 years of age-related decline in memory and thinking skills.

Jean-Claude Marquie, Ph.D., of the National Center for Scientific Research at the University of Toulouse in France, and colleagues tracked the mental abilities of 3,232 people from different regions in France who were employed in a wide range of sectors or who had retired. The researchers evaluated the study participants in 1996, 2001, and 2006. The men and women were aged 32, 42, 52, and 62 when they took the first set of tests to gauge memory, processing speed, and overall thinking ability. About half of the study participants (1,484) had done shift work at least 50 days of the year. More than 1,000 current and retired employees worked a rotating shift pattern that switched back and forth among morning, afternoons, and nights.

Overall, shift workers had lower memory, thinking, and processing speed scores than those who had worked only standard hours, the investigators found. Those who worked a rotating shift had lower overall memory and thinking ability scores compared to those who never did shift work. Those who had done rotating shift work for 10 years or more had even lower scores. The differences weren't dramatic, but they were evident, the authors noted. For instance, on the global cognitive performance score, those who never did shift work scored 56 points out of a possible 100, while those who worked rotating shifts for more than 10 years scored 51.8. It took at least five years for workers to recover mental skills, except for processing speed.

"Our work suggests that shift work is associated with impaired cognition, that the association is stronger and especially significant for exposure durations exceeding 10 years, and finally, and maybe most importantly, that the effect persists after having ceased any form of shift-work schedule," Marquie told HealthDay.

Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


AMA: New Mapping Tool IDs Areas in Need of Physicians

Posted on Mon, Nov 10, 2014
AMA: New Mapping Tool IDs Areas in Need of Physicians

Tool helps identify areas for practice expansion, establishment; create physician-to-population ratios

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 5, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A new interactive mapping tool can help physicians and their staff determine locations to establish or expand their practice, according to a report published by the American Medical Association (AMA).

The AMA Health Workforce Mapper provides a map view of layered geographic information, health data, and practice locations of physicians and other health care providers. The map shows areas of greatest need, based on the ratio of patients to health care professionals. Non-AMA members can access a reduced view of the tool which does not include physician data.

The tool can be used to identify areas for practice establishment or expansion; create and display ratios of physicians to population; map the practice locations of physicians and other health care providers; compare across multiple physician specialty types; identify areas of shortages; and view geographic features.

"The tool helps AMA members make wise practice decisions and meet pressing patient access needs by giving a map view of layered geographic information, health data, and practice locations of physicians and other health care providers -- down to medical specialty and practice type," according to the report.

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Better Physician Communication at Shift Change Reduces Errors

Posted on Sun, Nov 09, 2014
Better Physician Communication at Shift Change Reduces Errors

Detailed 'handoff package' helps remind physicians about patient needs

FRIDAY, Nov. 7, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Changing how doctors communicate during shift changes in hospitals reduces the risk of adverse events in patients by 30 percent, according to a study published in the Nov. 6 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

In a study of 10,740 patients, Amy Starmer, M.D., M.P.H., of the Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues found that a better method of communication reduced the rate of medical errors by 23 percent and the rate of preventable adverse events by 30 percent. To improve communication between doctors caring for patients, Starmer's team instituted a "handoff" program at nine hospitals. The study authors measured how effective the program was in reducing medical errors and adverse events in patients. They also looked to see if the program interfered with workflow.

Specifically, they developed a method of communication dubbed the "I-PASS Handoff Bundle." For each patient in the doctor's charge, both oral and written data are required to describe: I; Illness severity (the patient's condition); P: Patient summary (what's wrong with the patient and history); A: Action list (what needs to be done); S: Situation awareness and contingency planning (planning for what might happen); S: Synthesis by receiver (asking questions, showing the material was understood).

Doctors were trained to use the system, as well as how to use it in conjunction with the electronic medical record system, Starmer told HealthDay. In addition to reducing medical errors, such as prescribing the wrong medications or procedures, the program didn't take a toll on the doctors' workflow. "We are really excited about the study," Starmer said. "Not only do we see a dramatic reduction in medical errors, but we found that this method is adaptable to other hospitals and to other health care workers, such as nurses and surgeons."

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Certain Beer Brands Tied to More ER Visits, Study Finds

Posted on Thu, Aug 22, 2013
Certain Beer Brands Tied to More ER Visits, Study Finds

Knowing which types of alcohol are linked to serious injuries may help guide new policies, researcher says

FRIDAY, Aug. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Five brands accounted for the largest amounts of beer consumed by people before they were treated for injuries at an emergency department in a large U.S. city, according to a new pilot study.

Of the five brands (Budweiser, Steel Reserve, Colt 45, Bud Ice and Bud Light), three are a type of "malt liquor," which has a higher alcohol content than regular beer.

Four brands of malt liquor (Steel Reserve, Colt 45, Bud Ice and King Cobra) accounted for 46 percent of the beer consumed by the patients, even though those four brands account for only 2.4 percent of beer consumed in the general population.

For the study, researchers interviewed patients at the Johns Hopkins Hospital emergency department in Baltimore on Friday and Saturday nights between April 2010 and June 2011. Of the 105 patients who admitted to drinking before they were injured, 69 percent were men.

The study, thought to be the first of its kind to assess injured ER patients' alcohol consumption by brand and type, was published online Aug. 1 in the journalSubstance Use and Misuse.

The researchers also found that the proportion of vodka, gin and brandy/cognac consumed by ER patients was higher than the proportion of those drinks consumed in the general population.

"Recent studies reveal that nearly a third of injury visits to Level I trauma centers were alcohol-related and frequently a result of heavy drinking," lead author David Jernigan, director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health, said in a Hopkins news release.

"Understanding the relationship between alcohol brands and their connection to injury may help guide policy makers in considering taxation and physical availability of different types of alcohol given the harms associated with them," he explained.

The next step in this line of research would be to conduct a larger study in multiple ERs and cities, the study authors suggested. They added that policy changes from this research could include: requirements for clear labeling of alcohol content on malt liquor beverages; limits on malt liquor availability and marketing; and graduated taxation of beer based on alcohol content to discourage people from drinking beer with higher alcohol levels.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism outlines the health effects of alcohol.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health, news release, Aug. 14, 2013

Last Updated: Aug. 16, 2013

Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


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