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FDA Takes Step To Preserve The Effectiveness Of Cephalosporin Drugs For Treating Disease In Humans

Image by the USDA Agricultural Research Service

Cephalosporins will be used in livestock only for very specific exceptions, after years of debate about the role of antibiotic resistance in farming and how it leads to new strains of microbes with the potential to shift into humans.

The FDA took this step to preserve the effectiveness of cephalosporin drugs for treating disease in humans, the agency announced in a press release.

In 2008, the FDA issued and then revoked an order that prohibited cephalosporins in food-producing animals with no exceptions. Three years later, the agency’s ban includes several exceptions:
–It doesn’t limit cephapirin, which the FDA doesn’t think contributes to antimicrobial resistance;
–Veterinarians will still be able to Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

The Not-So-New Problem Of Drug Shortages

Crucial drugs are running in short supply and patients are dying as a result.

Much of the problem stem from manufacturing problems that interrupt production. There may be only one or two companies making a drug, and when something happens such as contamination, it creates huge gaps. As a result, there’s been 213 drug shortages so far this year, or two more than all of the previous year.

The shortages have forced hospitals to resort to gray market purchases. These involved third parties that may corner the market on some drugs, and resell them at exorbitant mark-ups. The practice then fuels further shortages.

And this “new” crisis has been occurring for a decade. ACP Internist ran an article 10 years ago that could run in its pages today. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Diverticulitis Expected To Become More Prevalent In An Aging Population

Diverticula are small outpouchings that develop at weak points along the wall of the colon (large bowel), probably because of high pressures associated with muscle contractions during the passage of stool. When these sacs become obstructed and/or inflamed (most frequently in middle-aged or elderly individuals), they enlarge and create pain and fever. Usually, the left lower quadrant is involved, because diverticula tend to form in the left-side portion of the colon (descending colon) more frequently than in the right-side portion (ascending colon) or horizontal connecting section (transverse colon). A ruptured diverticulum can cause a clinical picture much like that of a ruptured appendix, with pain in the left side of the abdomen instead of the right side. The victim should seek medical attention, and his diet be limited to clear fluids. Antibiotics (metronidazole, metronidazole combined with doxycycline, amoxicillin-clavulanate, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, cefixime, ciprofloxacin, or cefpodoxime) should be administered if help is more than 24 hours away.

As the population ages, diverticulitis is expected to become more prevalent. In a recent article Read more »

This post, Diverticulitis Expected To Become More Prevalent In An Aging Population, was originally published on by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

Reducing Mortality From Sepsis

I spent the day today with 60 physicians and nurses at a symposium focused on quality improvement and reducing mortality from sepsis.  Sepsis (overwhelming infection) is the number 1 cause of hospital deaths and the mortality rate can be as high as 60% if the patient goes into shock from infection.  Survival depends upon thousands of independent pieces coming together in an organized way.  A patient doesn’t come to the emergency department and say “I have sepsis”.  He may arrive by ambulance or be brought in by a relative and simply feel weak, or confused or have a fever.

To make the diagnosis, the doctor or nurse has to be thinking sepsis is a possibility and it is critical to get the right tests and treatments within a very short time frame.  There are complicated steps that must be taken quickly and the entire hospital team (lab, pharmacy, transport, doctors and nurses) must act Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

Why Are Antibiotics Prescribed So Casually And So Frequently?

A good friend of mine and Whistleblower reader contracted the sniffles and received a prescription for antibiotics at a local urgent care center. Nothing newsworthy here. So far this quotidian event sounds like a ‘dog bites man’ story. Had antibiotics been denied, this would have been ‘man bites dog’, as this denial would be a radical departure of standard medical practice, particularly in the urgent care universe.

No doubt, my friend was not assigned the dismissive diagnosis of ‘the sniffles’, but was likely given a more ominous diagnosis of ‘acute upper respiratory infection’, a term that sounds so serious that he might have feared that a 911 call had already been made.

Why are antibiotics prescribed so casually and so frequently? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at MD Whistleblower*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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