Exclusive: Canada seeks warnings on prescription painkillers amid rising deaths

Reuters, 23 January 2017
Author: Anna Mehler Paperny
“As deaths from powerful painkillers continue to rise, Canada is pursuing unprecedented measures to curb their use, including requiring cigarette-style warning stickers on every prescription, Health Minister Jane Philpott told Reuters.”
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Letting Seriously Ill Patients Try Drugs Whose Safety, Efficacy Hasn’t Been Proven Could Be Deadly

Forbes, 20 January 2017
Author: Rita Rubin
“The new FDA report, released practically on the eve of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, challenges critics who want to make drugs available to patients as soon as possible. It includes several examples of drugs and vaccines that had a favorable effect on biomarkers–measurable indicators of health, such as blood cholesterol levels–but did not improve symptoms or reduce the risk of a disease.”
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Financial ties of principal investigators and randomized controlled trial outcomes: cross sectional study

BMJ 2017; 356:i6770
Authors: Rosa Ahn, Alexandra Woodbridge, Ann Abraham, Susan Saba et al
“Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are considered the most reliable form of evidence in evaluating the safety and efficacy of drugs. Because results of RCTs shape the evidence base, objectivity in the conduct of clinical trials has important implications for clinical practice and the health and safety of patients. However, critics worry that involvement of the pharmaceutical industry may bias the design and interpretation of RCTs.”
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Why don’t we know how many people die in our hospitals?

The Conversation, 19 January 2017
Authors: Philip Clarke, Peter Sivey
“About this time last year, Australia’s National Health Performance Authority (NHPA) decided not to release data on death rates across Australia’s hospitals. Information on hospital deaths hasn’t always been so hard to find. Comparisons of death rates across hospitals can be tricky, as you need to adjust for some hospitals treating sicker patients than others. However, other countries have been producing death statistics that make these adjustments for some time. Publishing such performance data not only gives patients more information, it can help improve quality and safety.”
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FDA issues draft guidance to better medical product labeling

Reuters, 18 Janauary 2017
Author: Divya Grover
“The U.S. health regulator issued draft guidance, recommending ways to communicate promotional materials and additional information that is not on the label of medical products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration typically determines what information goes on the labels of medical drugs and devices, after evaluating whether the product is safe and effective for the proposed indication. Drugmakers have long wanted to communicate supplementary information that isn’t on the label, but which concerns the cleared use of the product.”
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Medical Board seeks feedback on “at-risk” doctors

MJA Insight, Issue 1, 16 January 2017
Author: Cate Swannell
“The chair of the Medical Board of Australia (MBA), Dr Joanna Flynn, believes more needs to be done to protect patients from poorly-performing doctors and has called on the profession to “take responsibility” for the way in which those doctors are identified.”
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Stronger malpractice laws may not prevent surgical complications

Reuters, 13 January 2017
Author: Lisa Rapaport
“More aggressive malpractice climates don’t necessarily protect patients from surgical complications, a new study suggests. “It doesn’t really work – malpractice environment doesn’t influence doctors to provide better care,” Bilimoria said by email. “Rather, it may lead to defensive medicine practices where more tests and treatments are ordered unnecessarily just to try to minimize malpractice risk.”
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When Patients Leave ‘Against Medical Advice’

NYT, 12 January 2017
Author: Ersilia M. Defilippis
“Patients leaving A.M.A. account for 1 to 2 percent of all hospital discharges. Many are young men, often with concomitant psychiatric or substance abuse histories. They also tend to be poor. Many cite family problems, personal or financial worries or dissatisfaction with their treatment plans. A doctor must have a conversation documenting that the patient understands the risks of leaving and consequences of no longer receiving medical care, a way to help manage the risks.”
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Are our busy doctors and nurses losing empathy for patients?

The Conversation, 12 January 2017
Author: Sue Dean
“Every day, doctors, nurses and other health professionals are presented with situations that demand empathy and compassion. With more demand on doctors and nurses and a push for quicker consultations, clinical empathy is being dwarfed by the need for efficiency. But this doesn’t mean patients have stopped wanting to be treated in a caring and empathetic manner. And there is a growing body of evidence that this need is often not being met.”
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