Testing It Up

Humor Article Exposes Dark Side of Addiction for Nurses

An article on the humor website Cracked.com sheds light on the terrifying reality of drug-addicted nurses.

Told from a first-person perspective by former registered nurse John Brooks from Monroe, LA, the article explains how it is surprisingly common for healthcare practitioners to be addicted to drugs and do them at work while they are responsible for the lives of patients.drug addiction in nurses

Brooks says in the article that nurses are surrounded by temptation everyday because they not only have access to drugs, but also clean paraphernalia for doing them. And since nurses know so much about the effects of the drugs they are taking, he says, they often believe that they can do them safely.

He talks about how he stole the drugs from patients and how the measures put in place to stop this from happening are undermined by the severe nursing shortage in the country.

It is a horrifying reminder that the temptation of drugs can be too difficult for even medical professionals to resist.

To read the article, click here.

July 21, 2014 at 7:49 am Comments (0)

WHO issues warning about HIV

Failure to provide adequate HIV services for key groups  of people will threaten the global progress on the HIV response, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned. WHO flag

The WHO identifies these key groups as:

  • men who have sex with men,
  • people in prison,
  • people who inject drugs,
  • sex workers, and
  • transgender people.

These particular groups of people are the most at risk of HIV infection, yet they are also the least likely to have access to HIV prevention, testing and treatment services. In many countries, they are left out of national HIV plans, and discriminatory laws and policies are also major barriers to access for them.

The WHO’s warning came with the release of the report “Consolidated guidelines on HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care for key populations”, in the lead-up to the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia, starting on July 20.

The guidelines outline steps for countries to reduce new HIV infections and increase access to HIV testing, treatment and care for these five aforementioned ‘key populations’.

They include a comprehensive range of clinical recommendations but, for these to be effective, WHO also recommends that countries remove the legal and social barriers that prevent many people from accessing services.

To read the entire WHO news release about the issuance of the report, click here.

July 18, 2014 at 10:56 am Comments (0)

New research explains how marijuana may fight tumor growth

New research published in in the Journal of Biological Chemistry shows how a compound derived from marijuana might be used to fight cancerous tumors. marijuana legalization

The research reveals two previously unknown “signaling platforms” in cells that allow THC to shrink some cancerous tumors.

“THC, the major active component of marijuana, has anti-cancer properties,” Dr. Peter McCormick, a researcher from University of East Anglia in England and co-author of the study, said in a statement. “This compound is known to act through a specific family of cell receptors called cannabinoid receptors. However, it was unclear which of these receptors were responsible for the anti-tumor effects of THC.”

When the researchers applied THC to tumors induced in mice using human breast cancer cells, the interaction between the CB2 and GPR55 cannabinoid cell receptors were responsible for THC’s anti-tumor benefits.

“Our findings help explain some of the well-known but still poorly understood effects of THC at low and high doses on tumor growth,” McCormick said. Dosage is critical, since the wrong protocol can sometimes increase tumor growth, he added.

“So, the ideal would be either the purified THC in an effective dose provided by a health care provider to reduce the known cognitive side effects and still deliver the appropriate reduction in tumor growth, or a synthetic homolog that provides the same effects,” McCormack said.

The research team didn’t screen all tumors and said that some types may not respond to this treatment if they do not have compatible receptors expressed.

July 18, 2014 at 10:38 am Comments (0)

Marijuana Causes Users To Be Paranoid

Pot users, beware: That next puff might cause you to worsen your fears.

marijuanaA team of researchers from the University of Oxford conducted a study to assess the effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, on a person’s paranoid tendencies. While previous studies have shown that THC brings forth paranoia, the new study confirmed the earlier findings through a series of tests.

The study was conducted by injecting THC into more than 120 respondents who were between the ages of 21 and 50, with no diagnosed mental conditions, and who had used marijuana at least one time in their lives.

The result: about 50 percent of test subjects injected with THC expressed feelings of being paranoid, as compared to only 30% of those administered with a control placebo. According to the participants, paranoia exhibited in them through negative thoughts and feelings. “Paranoia is likely to occur when we are worried, think negatively about ourselves, and experience unsettling changes in our perceptions,” said study lead author Prof. Daniel Freeman in a news release.

Marijuana use seems to introduce alterations in how people perceive the world, thereby leading to a heightened sense of fear. “Just small differences in our perception can make us feel that something strange and even frightening is going on,” Freeman added.

July 16, 2014 at 9:54 pm Comment (1)

Physician calls for quicker process for approving epilepsy medication

The United States needs a faster process for approving medication, particularly epilepsy medication, Dr. Nathan Fountain said in a post for Kevin MD.medicine

Fountain said he sees about two patients per year die from complications due to epilepsy while new, potentially life-saving treatments are stalled in the long, arduous process of approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the two organizations that have to provide final regulatory approval of new medicines.

Fountain said  there is no time limit on the scheduling process, which is in place to help prevent drugs with the potential for abuse from getting into the wrong hands while ensuring patients who need them have access to them. But the time it takes for drugs to get approved by the DEA has progressively gotten longer after they receive approval by the FDA. The amount of time has gone from 49 days in the period of 1997-1999 to 237 days in the period 2009-2013 according to a published analysis. This is an average of nearly eight months; and sometimes it takes more than a year for approval.

Fountain has joined with the Epilepsy Foundation in support of the Improving Regulatory Transparency for New Medical Therapies Act (H.R. 4299), which would provide needed clarity and predictability to the DEA review process and help ensure innovative treatment options are made available to patients who need them by setting a 45-day deadline for the DEA to schedule new medicines as recommended by the FDA.

“This problem applies to all drugs reviewed by the DEA and particularly for conditions that are in urgent need of avoiding unnecessary delays,” Fountain said.

July 14, 2014 at 1:39 pm Comments (0)

Secure texting could save hospitals thousands

Secure text messaging could save the average U.S. hospital $358,598 a year in time savings, reveals a new report conducted by the Ponemon Institute.texting

The time savings would be gained by eliminating pagers and streamlining patient admitting processes, emergency response team efforts and patient transfer workflows. Inefficient communications in those three workflows, industry wide, costs $11 billion annually.

“The research reveals that providers believe there are more effective methods of communication that can improve patient care and reduce costs,” Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute, said.

Pagers — a technology that many people don’t even realize is still around — remain the hospital technology of choice.

“Paging is time consuming and error prone, and it takes clinicians away from their patients,” Lynne Dunbrack, research vice president for IDC Health Insights, said. “Secure text messaging can address these challenges by pushing communications, alerts and notifications to their mobile devices wherever they are.”

The move to saving time and being more efficient with communication is already underway, with healthcare institutions nationwide striving to boost communications and eliminate inefficiencies using mHealth tools.

A New Jersey medical center has tapped a smartphone application to improve communications and gain greater efficiencies in patient care and treatment time, as staff was losing about 15% of their daily work shift to time spent trying to reach physicians and 24-hour delays between a consult request and surgeon notification of the request. What’s more, a Harvard Innovation Lab startup developed an app featuring a messaging function that lets staff send and share HIPAA-compliant messages regarding patients.

Additionally, a large homecare agency is using tablets and gaining greater efficiency by clinicians to better communications and teamwork by mobile caregivers.

July 14, 2014 at 1:23 pm Comments (0)

Caribbean nation mulls marijuana reform

The Caribbean nation of Dominica is the latest country to take a long, hard look at its drug laws to see if it would be better to change them.marijuana legalization

Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit told a press conference earlier this month that the marijuana issue needs to be discussed on a wider scale, in light of calls for its decriminalization within the country.

“We believe the time has come for us to look at the laws relating to marijuana, for example someone with a very small quantity of marijuana, we will send him to prison, and the question is, if a man has five grams of marijuana should this person be sent to prison for that small amount and that person would have a criminal record for the rest of his life,” Skerrit said.

The Prime Minister said Dominica’s marijuana laws need to be reviewed because too many young people are being convicted for small amounts of marijuana.

“Imagine a 19 year old being arrested for this and for the rest of his life he won’t be able to advance in any significant way because of this charge”

“I believe the discussion we may have in Dominica is in respect to looking at our laws in respect to convictions for the possession of marijuana and to determine whether we would not allow our people to have a very small quantity for religious and other purposes obviously,” he said.

The Prime Minister added that certain conditions would have to be implemented to control the use of marijuana, particularly in public places.

July 14, 2014 at 1:05 pm Comments (0)

New post gives parents much needed information on Spice

Synthetic marijuana has been a scourge for years now and a recently published post gives parents the definitive information they need to know about this dangerous drug.Spice

The information contained in the article includes the effects of the drug, several statistics about its usage and tips about how parents can protect their children from abusing the drug.

The tips include:

  • Communicate with your teen.
  • Make your position clear.
  • Check in frequently.
  • Look for signs of use.
  • If necessary, seek help.

To read the full Parent’s Guide to Spice, click here.

July 11, 2014 at 11:54 am Comments (0)

Study Shows 1 in 5 High School Seniors Have Tried Hookah

About 18% of high school seniors, or one in five, have tried smoking tobacco through a hookah pipe, a new study has found.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Clare on Flickr

Photo courtesy of Ryan Clare on Flickr

The study, performed by New York University researchers, involved data from the Monitoring the Future nationwide study, which follows teens’ behaviors, values, and attitudes. Of the almost 15,000 kids aged 18 involved in the study, 5,540 were questioned about their hookah use between 2010 and 2012.

Researchers also found that “students of higher socioeconomic status appear to be more  likely to use hookah,” said Dr. Joseph Palamar, assistant professor of population health at NYU Langone Medical Center, in a press release. “Surprisingly, students with more educated parents or higher personal income are at high risk for use. We also found that hookah use is more common in cities, especially big cities. So hookah use is much different from cigarette use, which is more common in non-urban areas.”

Traditionally from the Middle East, hookah involves smoking flavored tobacco from a large water pipe. It’s become increasingly popular in North America and other parts of the world, in part, because it’s believed to be less harmful to the body — the tobacco is considered to be milder. However, that’s not entirely the case because hookah smokers tend to take more puffs in one session, resulting in similar, if not worse effects than smoking.

In New York City, hookahs have become popular, appearing in clubs, increasingly numerous hookah bars, and pretty much wherever someone with a hookah pipe wants to bring it. Among the general population, hookah use has increased by as much as 123%, co-author of the study Dr. Michael Weitzman said. But although they come with similar health risks — respiratory illness, herpes, heart disease, and some cancers — consistent use isn’t such an issue.

“Use tends to be much different from traditional cigarette smoking,” Palamar said in the release. “Right now it appears that a lot of hookah use is more ritualistic, used occasionally — for example, in hookah bars, and not everyone inhales.”

However, the researchers warned that people who begin using hookah may eventually turn to vape pens or e-cigarettes, which also sport a wide range of flavors while remaining mysterious in terms of health effects. Educating the public, and especially the youth, about how smoking hookah isn’t completely harmless may be the experts’ best bet.

July 7, 2014 at 11:16 am Comments (0)

Washington’s Weed Rollout Hampered by Lack of Supply

Because of the way Washington’s marijuana distribution system is set up, the state will likely see a shortage of marijuana to meet expected consumer demand. marijuana health and safety regulations

Unlike in Colorado, where sellers can grow their own supply on site, Washington sellers have to rely on third-party marijuana farms to supply them with stock and this is proving to be problematic. Only 80 of the 2,600 applicants who have applied to be able to legally grow marijuana have been granted licenses so far, meaning there isn’t enough legally grown marijuana to supply the 20 or so shops set to open for business. Thousands of more shops are also awaiting approval to begin selling.

Marijuana kitchens, where the drug is baked into edible treats, have also seen a holdup in the regulatory approval process in Washington, which is also holding up supply.

Meanwhile, Colorado’s Gov. John Hickenlooper predicts cannabis will generate $1 billion in revenue by the end of the next fiscal year, or just under $134 million in tax revenue alone.

July 7, 2014 at 8:22 am Comments (0)

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