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.
New York Is Ending Religious Exemptions for Vaccines Amid Measles Outbreak
Amid the ongoing measles outbreak, New York lawmakers approved a bill Thursday that will require all children attending school or daycare to receive vaccinations. Gov. Andrew Cuomo quickly signed the bill into law, to take effect immediately. The Senate voted 36–26 and the Assembly voted 77–53. The only exception to the new legislation is for children who cannot be safely vaccinated due to a medical condition. Religious exceptions will no longer be permitted. "The science is crystal clear: Vaccines are safe, effective and the best way to keep our children safe," Cuomo said in a statement. "This administration has taken aggressive action to contain the measles outbreak, but given its scale, additional steps are needed to end this public health crisis." Via CBS Health.
Opioid Overdose Now Provides 1 in 6 Donor Hearts
Hearts from overdose-death donors represent a growing proportion of transplants and appear to do as well as organs from other sources, a retrospective study found. Overdose-death donors have accounted for a rapidly growing proportion of cardiac allografts, with a 14-fold increase from about 1% in 2000 to now 16.9%, "consistent with the rising opioid epidemic," reported Nader Moazami, M.D., of New York University Langone Health in New York City, and colleagues in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery. Notably, in many states, overdose-death donors comprised over 25% of cardiac allograft donors in 2018, with a high of 50% in Delaware, they wrote. Via MedPage Today.
Why Air Ambulance Bills Are Still Sky-High
Air ambulances serve more than 550,000 patients a year, according to industry data, and in many rural areas, air ambulances are the only speedy way to get patients to trauma centers and burn units. As more than 100 rural hospitals have closed around the U.S. since 2010, the need has increased for air services. More than 80 million people can get to a Level 1 or 2 trauma center within an hour only if they're flown by helicopter, according to Sherlock. The service, though, comes at a cost. According to a recent report from the Government Accountability Office, two-thirds of the more than 34,000 air ambulance transports examined were not in the patients' insurance networks. That can leave patients on the hook for the charges that their insurers don't cover, a practice known as balance billing. Via NPR.
Mayo Clinic News
Public Needs to Help in Efforts to Thwart Ticks
Late last month, a Mayo Clinic physician writing in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal sounded the alarm after researchers documented the first human bite by an Asian long-horned tick in the U.S. (a 66-year-old man in Yonkers, N.Y.). Like the dog and blacklegged (deer) ticks that Minnesotans are well familiar with, this new tick could harbor germs that cause serious illness in people. “It is clear that this is invasive species is here to stay for the foreseeable future,’’ Mayo’s Dr. Bobbi S. Pritt wrote in the journal article. Pritt also called for public awareness campaigns about the tick’s spread and the risk for human contact in areas such as sunlit, closely mowed lawns vs. the shadier, brushy habitat that blacklegged ticks prefer. Pritt noted another feature: The female Asian long-horned tick doesn’t need a male to reproduce, with this leading to “massive infestations of a single host.’’ Via Star Tribune.
Hospitals Look to Cut Opioids from Surgery and Beyond
Dr. Candace Granberg, a pediatric urologic surgeon at the Mayo Clinic, said her department since at least 2012 has adopted an opioid-free pain management approach toward postoperative patients that has been successful enough for many patients to not require any pain medications while in recovery or after discharge. She said a key part of her approach has been the focus on anticipating the need for treatment before the patient actually experiences pain, with patients receiving doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen on an alternating schedule throughout their visit and having a nerve block applied to surgical areas prior to their procedure. Via Modern Healthcare.
Asia's Longhorned Tick Takes Its First Documented Bite In The U.S.
Health experts are keenly aware that in Asia, and in Australia and New Zealand, where the Asian long-horned tick is found as well, it is known to spread pathogens that can be lethal to humans and animals. One such pathogen is SFTS virus, a potentially fatal hemorrhagic fever. SFTS is not found in North America but is similar to the Heartland virus, which is present in North America and can be transmitted by ticks, according to Dr. Bobbi Pritt, director of the Clinical Parasitology Laboratory at the Mayo Clinic. So far there is no evidence that the longhorned tick carries this virus. Bobbi Pritt says it's a good thing that more attention is being paid to the longhorned tick. The USDA, for example, is issuing regular reports on which states are involved: so far, Arkansas, Connecticut, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Tennessee, and West Virginia. "A lot of people are interested, and a lot of projects are starting," she says. Via NPR.