Week in Review: Oct. 12

The Week in Review provides an overview of the past week’s top health care content, including industry news and trends, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Medical Laboratories news, and upcoming events.


Industry News

Sloppy Science Bears Substantial Blame for Americans' Bad Eating Habits

A spectacular case of sloppy science came crashing to a close last month. Cornell University’s Brian Wansink, a world-renowned scientist who seized headlines with his research on American eating habits, had many of his papers retracted and resigned from his professorship. Wansink’s fall is not just the tale of a single scientist gone astray. It is, instead, an indictment of an entire type of nutrition science that has led to mistaken dietary advice dispensed to Americans for decades. Wansink’s misdeeds played out in Cornell classrooms and nutrition journals and, as crucially, around American dinner tables. He had a central role in all our diets. From 2007 to 2010, he served as executive director of the U.S. government’s Dietary Guidelines, which set the standard for healthy eating for the nation. Under Wansink, the guidelines shifted to be ever-more based on the same type of easily manipulated, weak observational data he produced in his lab. A new iteration of the guidelines, under a different director, was issued in 2015, yet the reliance on weak data has remained the same. Wansink’s research depended on observational studies, which can yield only associations, such as “coffee is associated with cancer.” These are at best suggestions of hypotheses, and they nearly always fall far short of demonstrating cause and effect. To show causation — that coffee causes cancer, for example — a real experiment, or clinical trial, is needed. For nutrition policy, however, we have rarely required that caliber of research. Via LA Times.

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Rate of New Ebola Cases Has Doubled since September

The rate of new Ebola cases has more than doubled since September after rebel violence in northeastern Congo caused response efforts to be briefly suspended, health officials said. In a statement, the International Rescue Committee said it was "alarmed" that there were 33 new cases between Oct. 1 and Tuesday, versus 41 cases during all of September. Most of the new cases have been in Beni, where experts had to suspend Ebola containment efforts for days after a deadly rebel attack. With multiple armed groups active in the region, health officials have said they are effectively operating in a war zone. "This is a sign not only that the outbreak is not under control, but that without full engagement from the community things could get a lot worse," said Dr. Michelle Gayer, the IRC's senior director of emergency health. Via NBC News.

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U.S. Immigrants Pay More for Health Insurance Than They Get in Benefits

The roughly 50% of immigrants in the U.S. who have private health insurance coverage contribute more to the risk pool than they receive in benefits, a new study suggests. As U.S. lawmakers continue to tackle immigration reform, knowing whether immigrants burden or subsidize the nation’s healthcare system could be helpful, researchers write in Health Affairs. Via Reuters.

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Rare Paralysis Cases in Children Are Investigated in Minnesota

Health authorities in the United States said this week that they were investigating an unusual spike in cases of a rare condition that causes limb paralysis and severe muscle weakness in children. Since mid-September, six cases of the condition, acute flaccid myelitis, in children younger than 10 years old have been reported to the Minnesota Department of Health, the agency said. Another two possible cases are pending confirmation, officials said. Via NY Times.

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Mayo Expands Use of Image-Guided Liver Treatment Platform

Mayo Clinic is expanding the use of an image-guided treatment solution to improve complicated liver procedures. The provider organization has installed the system, from EDDA Technology, at its facility in Jacksonville, Florida, after having installed it in its Minnesota main campus and Scottsdale, Arizizona, facility. The application, called IQQA, provides comprehensive three-dimensional image analysis, using magnetic resonance and computed tomography, to support in-depth quantitative volumetry of the liver in advance of procedures. Via Health Data Management.

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Mayo Clinic News

Should You Get a 3D Mammogram? What You Should Know about How the Screening Detects Breast Cancer

Mammogram recommendations can be confusing, and now more women are also being asked if they'd prefer a 3D screening as opposed to the traditional option. A 3D mammogram, also known as digital breast tomosynthesis, is a newer breast cancer screening option that takes more images than a 2D digital mammography and experts say it's more accurate. Should women opt for this newer test? Yes, Mayo Clinic radiologist Tara Henrichsen, M.D., told USA TODAY. "I don’t think there’s any reason not to do it," Henrichsen said. "It's an updated mammogram." Via USA Today.

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Mayo Clinic Gets $10M Donation to Support 5 Initiatives

Rochester, Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic received a $10 million donation from The Louis Gerstner Jr. Fund at Vanguard Charitable to support several initiatives across the health system. The grant will support five initiatives at Mayo Clinic's various care sites in Minnesota, Arizona, and Florida. Mayo said the money will be used to advance research into augmented human intelligence in cardiovascular care as well as regenerative medicine for spine care. In addition, the grant will support ongoing educational opportunities for nurse practitioners and physician assistants. “We are very appreciative to The Louis Gerstner Jr. Fund at Vanguard Charitable for their generous grant to Mayo Clinic that has provided us with the support needed to advance five focused initiatives across our three main locations," said Gianrico Farrugia, M.D., President and CEO-elect of Mayo Clinic in Rochester and CEO of Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. "We are grateful for the support and trust in Mayo Clinic to do what we do best. That is putting the needs of the patient first in all we do, including work in research and education." Via Becker's Hospital Review.

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New Diagnostic Criteria for Spontaneous Spinal Cord Infarction

New diagnostic criteria combining clinical history, cerebrospinal fluid analysis, and neuroimaging have been proposed to improve the diagnosis of spontaneous spinal cord infarction (SCI). "Misdiagnosis of spontaneous SCI happens very frequently, especially in the absence of an inciting event such as aortic surgery, with transverse myelitis being a common misdiagnosis," Nicholas Zalewski, M.D., Senior Associate Consultant, Division of MS and Autoimmune Neurology, at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, told Medscape Medical News. Via Medscape.

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Mayo Clinic Completes $1.5B Epic EHR Implementation Project

After years of preparation and work, Mayo Clinic has completed a $1.5 billion system-wide Epic EHR implementation project across all care sites. The health system announced the implementation project’s completion over the weekend after going live with the system at Mayo campuses in Jacksonville, Florida, and Scottsdale, Arizona. All Mayo Clinic locations now operate using a single, integrated EHR and revenue-cycle management system. Via EHR Intelligence.

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Mayo Clinic Researchers Identify Gene Types Driving Racial Disparities in Myeloma

Researchers at Mayo Clinic have identified three specific gene types that account for a known two-to-three-fold increase in myeloma diagnoses among African-Americans. Researchers also demonstrated the ability to study race and racial admixture more accurately using DNA analysis. The findings were published today in Blood Cancer Journal. Via Mayo Clinic News Network.

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Gina Chiri-Osmond

Gina Chiri-Osmond is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Medical Laboratories. She manages public relations and media outreach. Gina has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2011. Outside of work, Gina is going for gold in volleyball at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo . . . or at small-town summer festivals.