Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘Public Health’ Category

Prescription Pot Could Be a Real Bummer, UW Doc Argues

by November 5th, 2013

In a new editorial for the journal General Hospital Psychiatry, a University of Washington and Veterans Administration doctor argues the scientific literature shows that prescribing smoked marijuana for chronic pain isn’t smart because it can cause a range of harmful mental and physical effects or heighten risks. A Mayo Clinic doctor offers a counterpoint, arguing medical pot can make sense as part of a careful treatment program. Meanwhile, Washington is looking at tough new restrictions on medical weed, as legal recreational pot comes to market here.

Although medical and now recreational marijuana are legal in Washington that doesn’t mean it’s now smart for doctors to prescribe pot for pain relief, argues a University of Washington physician who heads the addiction psychiatry program there, and the Center of Excellence in Substance Abuse Treatment and Education for the U.S. Veteran’s Administration Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle. In the new editorial for General Hospital Psychiatry, titled “Marijuana Not Ready For Prime Time As An Analgesic,” Dr. Andrew J. Saxon argues that based on a review of the scientific literature, prescribing pot for chronic pain “is currently fraught with a number of concerns.”

State targets care quality problems at Central District facility

by October 21st, 2013

A 120-bed retirement home and assisted living facility in Seattle’s Central District named Cannon House is now dealing with its fifth state enforcement action this year for substandard care of paying residents. Operated since 2009 by the major regional health and social services non-profit Sea Mar, Cannon House was fined $9,200 in September by the Washington Department of Social and Health Services for 92 different patient care violations and earlier this year barred from admitting new residents until it straightens things out. Its administrator was ordered by the state to either retake training classes or hire a management mentor to help improve performance. The state also required Cannon House to hire a registered nurse to develop and implement a plan to better monitor resident health and ensure appropriate medication, care and planning are provided.

Washington State database tracks assisted living mishaps

by October 20th, 2013

It can be hard to know if you’re selecting the right assisted living facility for yourself or an aging relative or friend. A facility’s history may include failure to implement prescription drug regimens or individual medical care plans of residents; lax safety, sanitation, or health conditions; or even risk of financial fraud against residents. For Washingtonians though, choices are made easier thanks to a free online database provided by the state. The Assisted Living Facility Locator allows consumers to delve into public records of state enforcement actions for violations of proper care standards, and to see who’s clean as a whistle and who’s not, enforcement-wise. It includes facilities not listed in the helpful federal site Nursing Home Compare, which is limited only to those participating in Medicare and Medicaid.

Study: Pre-Pregnancy Drinking Boosts Breast Cancer Risks

by September 4th, 2013

A new study funded by the National Cancer Institute finds that between the onset of menstruation and first pregnancy the risk of breast cancer for women grows 11 percent for each 10 grams of alcohol consumed per day and 34 percent if average consumption equals 15 grams per day, or about 1.3 drinks. Even for non-drinking women, the longer the gap between start of menstruation and first pregnancy, the greater the breast cancer risk: the study said women who reported no alcohol consumption at all but waited more than 10 years between menstruation onset and first pregnancy, had a 26 percent increased risk of breast cancer. There are a range of other risk factors. These appear to include certain types of oral contraceptives, according to a report from Seattle-area researchers last year.

Risky Biz: Seattle HIV Patients May Be Hurting Care

by June 24th, 2013

HIV-infected patients getting primary treatment at University of Washington Harborview Medical Center in Seattle along with counterparts being treated in San Diego and Boston are at significant risk of undermining their care and treatment because of drug use, risky sex, non-adherence to medication regimes and other factors, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health by doctors from UW, Harvard, University of California-San Diego and the University of Alabama.

UW Expert: WA Legal Pot Requires Public Health Vigilance

by June 17th, 2013

Voter-approved legalization of marijuana last fall in Washington state via I-502 may well improve regulation, oversight, social justice outcomes and revenue collection around use of the drug, but at the same time will warrant ongoing scrutiny for potential public health problems, particularly among the young, according to a new paper published by a University of Washington drug addiction expert in the journal Frontiers of Psychiatry.

UW doc: here’s how a small clinic can divorce Big Pharma

by May 28th, 2013

In a new report published in the May-June 2013 edition of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, University of Washington-Seattle doctor David Evans and several co-authors from Oregon describe how an independent community medical practice can consciously adopt new policies to diminish the influence of big pharmaceutical firms on their drug prescribing policies and thus give patients and insurers opportunities to cut related costs. They say theirs appears to be the first report on how small private practices, in particular, can develop a clear process on how to do this.