Medication Errors, Sleep and MS – This Week’s News Stories
Medication Errors at Hospital Continue to Rise
The number of people treated in hospitals in the U.S. for medication error related problems has increased by 50 percent in recent years. An article in the New York Times reports that 1.9 million people became ill or injured from medication side effects or because they took or were given the wrong type or dose of medication, compared with 1.2 million injured in 2004, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
The cost of medication mistakes is the most common cause of medical errors, resulting in an estimated $3.5 billion in added costs for lost wages, productivity and additional health care expenses, according to a 2006 report issued by the Institute of Medicine. The authors of the report outlined a series of recommendations for patients, healthcare organizations, government agencies and pharmaceutical companies to curtail medication errors. These actions including the creation of new, consumer-friendly resources for patients to receive drug information as well as the call to action for all prescriptions to be written electronically by 2010.
While there has been an increased awareness about the dangers of medication errors, these numbers illustrate that this continues to be a problem.
Are you a Short Sleeper?
As someone who gets grumpy when sleep-deprived and loves a good nap, my curiosity was piqued by the Wall Street Journal article, “The Sleepless Elite,” which examined why some people are totally fine after a few hours of sleep and seem to get so much done throughout the day. For this small group of people – estimated at just 1 to 3 percent of the population - and known as “short sleepers,” they typically go to bed way past midnight and get up a few hours later, without the need for naps or caffeine.
While there are not a lot of studies published about what makes someone a short sleeper, a gene variation common to two short sleepers was discovered in 2009. Scientists were able to replicate the gene variation in a strain of mice and found that these mice needed less sleep than usual, too.
Researchers are currently recruiting more candidates and hope to find more gene variations they have in common. Interestingly, the 20 short sleepers involved in the study share common characteristics. Their circadian rhythms are different from most people, are typically very upbeat and have high metabolism .They also seem to have a high tolerance for physical pain and psychological setbacks.
MS Study Looks at Blocked Veins
A study conducted by researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo looked at the whether vein blockages in the neck can cause multiple-sclerosis as traditionally thought. Many patients with MS turn to risky surgery to unblock the veins in their neck when they fail to respond to drug treatments. As reported in the Wall Street Journal, while the study found a relationship between MS and blocked veins, it concluded that this may be a consequence rather than a cause of MS.
The research is to be presented at the upcoming American Academy of Neurology meeting in Honolulu.
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