Week in Review: March 1

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 Clinic Laboratories news, and upcoming events.


Industry News

Greener Childhood Associated With Happier Adulthood
The experience of natural spaces, brimming with greenish light, the smells of soil, and the quiet fluttering of leaves in the breeze can calm our frenetic modern lives. It's as though our very cells can exhale when surrounded by nature, relaxing our bodies and minds. Some people seek to maximize the purported therapeutic effects of contact with the unbuilt environment by embarking on sessions of forest bathing, slowing down and becoming mindfully immersed in nature. But in a rapidly urbanizing world, green spaces are shrinking as our cities grow out and up. Scientists are working to understand how green spaces, or the lack of them, can affect our mental health. A study published Monday in the journal PNAS details what scientists say is the largest investigation of the association between green spaces and mental health. Via NPR.

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Double-Booked Surgeons: Study Raises Safety Questions for High-Risk Patients
Surgeons are known for their busy schedules—so busy that they don't just book surgeries back to back. Sometimes they'll double-book, so one operation overlaps the next. A lead surgeon will perform the key elements, then move to the next room—leaving other, often junior, surgeons to finish up the first procedure. A large study published Tuesday in JAMA suggests that this practice of overlapping surgeries is safe for most patients, with those undergoing overlapping surgeries faring the same as those who are the sole object of their surgeon's attention. But the study also identified a subset of vulnerable patients who might be bad candidates. Via NPR.

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Health Care Costs in Minn. Expected to Grow by 7.4% a Year for Years to Come
The overall cost of health care in Minnesota grew at a relatively low rate during 2016, according to a new state report, but the broader trend points toward a likely doubling of expenses over the next decade. Total health costs in 2016 came in at $47.1 billion, a 4 percent increase over the previous year, according to the annual study by the Minnesota Department of Health. The report cited relatively low payments to health insurers that manage care in state public health insurance programs as contributing to the low growth rate. Long-term projections, however, suggest annual health care spending over the next decade will double to $94.2 billion in 2026. That means Minnesota would be spending $1 out of every $6 generated by the state's economy on health care. Via StarTribune.

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Mayo Clinic News

Cancer Patient's Treatment Leaves Radiation Contamination in Crematory

Radioactivity was detected on the oven, vacuum filter, and bone crusher of an Arizona crematory where a deceased man who'd received radiation therapy was incinerated, according to a new case report. Worse still, a radioactive compound unrelated to the dead man was detected in the urine of an employee there. "It is plausible that the crematory operator was exposed while cremating other human remains," Dr. Nathan Yu of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix and his co-authors wrote in the case report, published Tuesday in JAMA. Via CNN.

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Mayo Clinic, MIT, Harvard Join Forces On Medical Genome Initiative
The initiative will work to expand access to clinical whole genome sequencing (cWGS) for the diagnosis of genetic diseases, with a focus on the publication of common laboratory and clinical best practices for the application of cWGS. Clinical whole genome sequencing is the laboratory process of sequencing all 3 billion base pairs in the human genome to identify a disease-causing mutation, and has the potential to reduce the number of unresolved pediatric rare genetic disease cases—especially when utilized as a first-tier clinical test. Via HealthcareITNews.

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Yoga Linked to Lowered Blood Pressure with Regular Practice
Adults who practice yoga with breathing and relaxation exercises at least three times a week may have lower blood pressure than people who don’t, a research review suggests. One limitation of the study is that researchers lacked data on the intensity of yoga practices, including how long people held poses and how rapidly participants transitioned from one position to the next, the study authors note in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. “In general, yoga improves balance, strength, and flexibility, but trying to be extremely flexible with fragile joints can cause problems,” said senior study author Dr. Mehrsheed Sinaki, a rehabilitation specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “Also, if a person is 70 or 80 and does too many hip-opening movements or hyper extensions, they may develop hip pain,” Sinaki said by email. While most people can practice yoga safely, older people with osteoporosis (thinning, brittle bones) should be careful, agreed Dr. Edward Laskowski, coauthor of an accompanying editorial and co-director of Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine. Via Reuters.

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Suzanne R. Ferguson

Suzanne Ferguson is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Clinic Laboratories and has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2014. Outside of work, Suzanne can be found traveling, reading and spending time with her family.