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Take Note – December 2007


Previous pneumonia vaccination reduces ICU admissions
Among adults hospitalized for pneumonia, those who’ve been vaccinated against the disease are less likely than unvaccinated patients to require admission to an intensive care unit (ICU). A study found that patients with community-acquired pneumonia who’d received prior 23-valent polysaccharide pneumococcal vaccine (PPV) had about a 40% lower rate of ICU admission or death than those who hadn’t been vaccinated.

Virtual colonoscopy as effective as standard colonoscopy in detecting advanced cancer
Noninvasive colonoscopy using computed tomography detects advanced colon cancer as well as traditional optical colonoscopy does, according to an industry-supported study. Both techniques yielded similar detection rates for advanced neoplasia; virtual colon­oscopy resulted in considerably fewer polypectomies and fewer complications.

New guidelines for cardiac patients who undergo noncardiac surgery
The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association have updated their guidelines on perioperative cardiovascular evaluation and care of heart disease patients who undergo noncardiac surgery. According to the guidelines, patients shouldn’t stop taking statins before surgery, physicians shouldn’t perform prophylactic revascularization in patients with stable coronary artery disease before surgery, and patients scheduled for intermediate- or low-risk noncardiac surgery don’t need to undergo noninvasive stress testing.

Doctors’ panel lists top 10 medical innovations for 2008
A panel of Cleveland Clinic doctors predicts that robotic catheter technology will make the greatest impact on health care in 2008. Using a virtual reality–like station and viewfinder, the robotic system lets surgeons manipulate tiny tools in places where their hands don’t fit. The percutaneous aortic heart valve was named the second most important medical innovation; delivered via a catheter through a groin incision or small incisions in the chest wall, the valve expands inside the heart. The panel gave third place to RNA-based therapeutics; these gene-based therapies reduce a protein that carries cholesterol and triglycerides, and could help reduce cardiac disease.

States reduce red tape for healthcare workers seeking to aid disaster victims
Many states have passed or seek to pass legislation that would make it easier for healthcare workers to volunteer to help disaster victims. The impetus arose from the government red tape that prevented many volunteer healthcare workers from aiding Hurricane Katrina victims. The legislation would grant rapid authorization for nurses, doctors, and other clinicians not licensed in states struck by disaster to offer their help. Tennessee, Colorado, and Kentucky have approved such laws; in California, similar legislation awaits the governor’s signature. Next year, 20 more states are expected to consider such legislation.
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