Medicaid Patients Who Overdose Likely To Get More Opioids

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Julie M. Donohue, Ph.D. Associate professor in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Health Policy and  Management and Director of the Medicaid Research Center Pitt’s Health Policy Institute University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Donohue

Julie M. Donohue, Ph.D.
Associate professor in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Health Policy and
Management and Director of the Medicaid Research Center
Pitt’s Health Policy Institute
University of Pittsburgh 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Medicaid enrollees have three times higher risk of opioid overdose than non-enrollees, and for every fatal opioid overdose, there are about 30 nonfatal overdoses, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). My colleagues and I analyzed claims data from 2008 to 2013 for all Pennsylvania Medicaid enrollees aged 12 to 64 years with a medical record of a heroin or prescription opioid overdose and who had six months of continuous enrollment in Medicaid before and after the overdose claim. The 6,013 patients identified were divided into two groups—3,945 who overdosed on prescription opioids and 2,068 who overdosed on heroin, all of whom received treatment for overdose in a hospital or emergency department setting.

We found that Pennsylvania Medicaid recipients who suffer an opioid or heroin overdose continue to be prescribed opioids at high rates, with little change in their use of medication-assisted treatment programs after the overdose. Opioid prescriptions were filled after overdose by 39.7 percent of the patients who overdosed on heroin, a decrease of 3.5 percentage points from before the overdose; and by 59.6 percent of the patients who overdosed on prescription opioids, a decrease of 6.5 percentage points.

Medication-assisted treatment includes coupling prescriptions for buprenorphine, methadone or naltrexone—medications that can reduce opioid cravings—with behavioral therapy in an effort to treat the opioid use disorder. Our team found that such treatment increased modestly among the patients using heroin by 3.6 percentage points to 33 percent after the overdose, and by 1.6 percentage points to 15.1 percent for the prescription opioid overdose patients.

Continue reading

Even After Rebates, Use of PCSK9 Inhibitor Would Still Cost Over $5 Million To Prevent One Stroke

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Inmaculada Hernandez, PharmD, PhD Assistant Professor of Pharmacy and Therapeutics University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy Pittsburgh, PA 1526

Dr. Hernandez

Inmaculada Hernandez, PharmD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Pharmacy and Therapeutics
University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy
Pittsburgh, PA 1526

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: A few months ago, the results of the FOURIER trial were published. This trial was the first one to evaluate the efficacy of PCSK9 inhibitors in the prevention of cardiovascular events, since the approval of these agents was based on trials that evaluated their efficacy in reducing levels of LDL-C. The results of the FOURIER trial did not meet the expectations generated by prior studies that had simulated how much the risk of cardiovascular events should decrease based on the observed reduction in LDL-C levels. A few hours after the publication of the results of the FOURIER trial, Amgen (evolocumab´s manufacturer) announced that it would be willing to engage in contracts where the cost of evolocumab would be refunded for those patients who suffer a heart attack or a stroke while using the drug.

Continue reading

Cardiovascular Fat in Women at Midlife Varies By Race and Body Shape

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Samar R. El Khoudary, PhD, MPH, BPharm, FAHA Associate Professor, Epidemiology PITT Public Health Epidemiology Data Center University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA 15260 

Dr. El Khoudary

Samar REl KhoudaryPhDMPH, BPharm, FAHA
Associate Professor, Epidemiology
PITT Public Health
Epidemiology Data Center
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA 15260  

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Heart fat is associated with greater coronary heart disease risk. Postmenopausal women have greater heart fat volumes than premenopausal women, and the association between specific heart fat depots and calcification in the coronary arteries is more pronounced after menopause. Race, central adiposity, and visceral adiposity are important factors that could impact heart fat volumes.

We evaluated whether racial differences in heart fat volumes and in their associations with central (abdominal visceral fat) and general adiposity (as measured by body mass index [BMI]) exist in midlife women. Our study included 524 women from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) (mean age: 51 years; 62% White and 38% Black) who had data on heart fat volumes, abdominal visceral fat and BMI.

After accounting for the potential health effects of lifestyle and socioeconomic factors we found that midlife Black women had less heart fat volumes than white women and not surprisingly, the more fat a women carries overall, the higher her risk for a fatty heart. However, white women with higher BMI had significantly more heart fat, as measured by a CT scan, than black women with the same BMI. For black women, the levels of heart fat were greater if they carried more fat in their midsection, as measured by a cross-sectional CT scan, compared with white women with the same volume of fat in their midsection. The results echo the findings we have reported previously in midlife men and published at the International Journal of Obesity (2015) 39, 488–494.
Continue reading

Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners Are Increasingly Providing Specialty Care

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Kristin Ray, MD, MS</strong> Assistant Professor Health Policy Institute University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Dr. Ray

Kristin Ray, MD, MS
Assistant Professor
Health Policy Institute
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We were interested in understanding how nurse practitioners and physician assistants are working with specialist physicians to provide specialty care. Much has been described and studied about nurse practitioners and physician assistants providing primary care, but the literature about their role in specialty care is more sparse. There have been many concerns over time about the supply of specialist physicians, heightening our interest in the role of nurse practitioners and physician assistants in working with specialist physicians.

We focused on examining whether care to physician specialist’s patients by nurse practitioners and physician assistants has increased over time as well as examining characteristics of patients seen by nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

We found that visits with NPs and PAs for specialty care have increased over time, but remains a small fraction of specialty care overall.

Continue reading

Rory’s Regulations: Faster Is Better When It Comes To Sepsis Care

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Christopher W. Seymour, M.D., M.Sc. Assistant professor of Critical Care Medicine and Emergency Medicine, and member of Clinical Research Investigation and Systems Modeling of Acute Illness University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Seymour

Christopher W. Seymour, M.D., M.Sc.
Assistant professor of Critical Care Medicine and Emergency Medicine, and member of Clinical Research Investigation and Systems Modeling of Acute Illness
University of Pittsburgh

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Following the tragic and widely publicized death of Rory Staunton, 12, from undiagnosed sepsis in 2012, New York became the first state to require that hospitals follow a protocol to quickly identify and treat the condition. The mandate led to widespread controversy in the medical community as to whether such steps would have saved Rory or anyone else’s life.

Rory’s Regulations require hospitals to follow protocols for early identification and treatment of sepsis, and submit data on compliance and outcomes. The hospitals can tailor how they implement the protocols, but must include a blood culture to test for infection, measurement of blood lactate (a sign of tissue stress) and administration of antibiotics within three hours of diagnosis—collectively known as the “three-hour bundle.”

We analyzed data from nearly 50,000 patients from 149 New York hospitals to scientifically determine if  Rory’s Regulations worked. We found that they did – 83 percent of the hospitals completed the bundle within the required three hours, overall averaging 1.3 hours for completion. For every hour that it took clinicians to complete the bundle, the odds of the patient dying increased by 4 percent.

Continue reading

Paracardial Fat Linked To Postmenopausal Coronary Artery Calcification

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Samar R. El Khoudary, Ph.D., M.P.H. Assistant professor Department of Epidemiology University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

Dr. El Khoudary,

Samar R. El Khoudary, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Assistant professor
Department of Epidemiology
University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Our study revealed a previously unknown, menopause-specific indicator of heart disease risk. For the first time, we’ve pinpointed the type of heart fat, linked it to a risk factor for heart disease and shown that menopausal status and estrogen levels are critical modifying factors of its associated risk in women.

My team evaluated clinical data, including blood samples and heart CT scans, on 478 women from Pittsburgh and Chicago enrolled in the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN). The women were in varying stages of menopause, averaged 51 years old and were not on hormone replacement therapy.

In a previous study, we showed that a greater volume of paracardial fat, but not epicardial fat, after menopause is associated with a decline in the sex hormone estradiol—the most potent estrogen—in women. The higher volume of epicardial fat was tied to other risk factors, such as obesity.

In the new study, we built on those findings to discover that not only is a greater paracardial fat volume specific to menopause, but—in postmenopausal women and women with lower levels of estradiol—it’s also associated with a greater risk of coronary artery calcification, an early sign of heart disease that is measured with a heart CT scan.

Continue reading

Poor Kids More Likely To Have More Than One Chronic Health Condition

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Christian D. Pulcini, MD, MEd, MPH Pediatric Resident, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Chair, Section on Pediatric Trainees (SOPT) American Academy of Pediatrics

Dr. Christian Pulcini

Christian D. Pulcini, MD, MEd, MPH
Pediatric Resident
Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC
Chair, Section on Pediatric Trainees (SOPT)
American Academy of Pediatrics

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Poverty influences the well-being of children and adolescents in a negative way. Poor children are often exposed to toxic health stressors, including violence, environmental toxins, and inadequate nutrition. Children in poverty with chronic health conditions also are more likely to have higher rates of secondary disorders and worse outcomes. We studied children with asthma, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), to describe the how much disease and if the children had multiple (comorbid) conditons and how these vary by poverty status.

Parents reported through the National Survey of Children’s Health that asthma and ADHD rose 18% and 44% from 2003-2011/2012, respectively, whereas the lifetime prevalence of ASD rose 32% from 2007-2011/2012 in all income levels. For asthma, the rise was most among the poor at 25.8%. For ADHD, the percent change among the poor was similar, however the rise in autism spectrum disorder was associated with being non-poor. Publicly insured children with asthma, ADHD, and ASD also had a significant higher chance (1.9×, 1.6×, 3.0×, respectively) of having higher more than one chronic condition. In addition, kids who were poor with asthma and ADHD.
Continue reading

Majority of Neurologists Report Symptoms of Burnout

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Neil A. Busis, M.D. University of Pittsburgh Physicians Department of Neurology Chief of Neurology, UPMC Shadyside Director of Community Neurology

Dr. Neil A. Busis

Neil A. Busis, M.D.
University of Pittsburgh Physicians
Department of Neurology
Chief of Neurology, UPMC Shadyside
Director of Community Neurology

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Previous studies showed that neurologists have both one of the highest rates of burnout and the lowest rates of satisfaction with work-life balance, compared to other physicians.

The mission of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) is to promote the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care and enhance member career satisfaction. This is why AAN President Dr. Terrence Cascino initiated this research, to better define the issue. Our findings can guide current and future programs to prevent and mitigate neurologist burnout, promote neurologist career satisfaction and well-being, and direct efforts to advocate on behalf of neurologists and their patients.

Continue reading

Sepsis Linked To High Rate of Hospital Readmissions

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Sachin Yende, M.D., M.S., Associate professor University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s departments of Critical Care Medicine and Clinical and Translational and Vice president of Critical Care at the VA Pittsburgh.

Dr. Yende

Sachin Yende, M.D., M.S., Associate professor
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s departments of
Critical Care Medicine and Clinical and Translational and
Vice president of Critical Care at the VA Pittsburgh.

Florian B. Mayr, M.D., M.P.H. Faculty member in University of Pittsburgh Department of Critical Care Medicine and the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion

Dr. Mayr

Florian B. Mayr, M.D., M.P.H.
Faculty member in University of Pittsburgh
Department of Critical Care Medicine and the
Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Veteran Health Administration currently track readmission rates for pneumonia, acute heart attacks, heart failure and chronic obstructive lung disease for quality purposes and pay for performance. In our study, we were able to demonstrate that unplanned readmissions after sepsis (defined as life threatening organ failure due to the body’s response to an overwhelming infection) are more common than readmission for these other conditions stated above and associated with significant excess costs.

Continue reading

How Do Tattoo Artists Handle Moles?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Westley Mori, fourth-year medical student (MSIV) University of Pittsburgh Medical School

Westley Mori

Westley Mori, fourth-year medical student (MSIV)
University of Pittsburgh Medical School

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Tattooed skin represents an important diagnostic challenge for the dermatologist performing a skin cancer screening. Several case reports have described melanoma being hidden in tattoos.

To our knowledge, our study is the first of its kind investigating the approach of the tattoo artist to skin with melanocytic nevi (moles) or other skin lesions. We found that the approach to tattooing skin spots is highly variable, with some artists tattooing around moles and others simply tattooing over them.

The final cosmetic outcome—not the potential for skin cancer—is often the paramount concern for artists. Those artists with a personal or family history of skin cancer were more likely to refuse inking over a skin spot and recommend the client see a dermatologist.

Continue reading