PAs Do More Biopsies, Find Less Early Melanoma than Dermatologists

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Laura Korb Ferris, MD, PhD Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh Clinical and Translational Science Institute Director of Clinical Trials, Department of Dermatology University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

Dr. Laura K. Ferris

Laura K. Ferris MD, PhD
Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh Clinical and Translational Science Institute
Director of Clinical Trials, UPMC Department of Dermatology
University of Pittsburgh

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

Response: Dermatology is one of the greatest utilizers of physician extenders, including physician assistants (PAs) in medicine. The scope of practice of PAs has also expanded over time from a role in assisting the dermatologist to taking a more independent role and many PAs now do skin cancer screening examinations and make independent decisions about which lesions are suspicious for skin cancer and need to be biopsied.

Our main findings were that, overall, in comparison to board-certified dermatologists, PAs were more likely to perform biopsies of benign lesions. For every melanoma that they found, PAs biopsied 39 benign lesions whereas dermatologists biopsied 25.

In addition, PAs were less likely than dermatologists to diagnose melanoma in situ, the earliest and most curable, but also hardest to identify and diagnose, form of melanoma. However, PAs had a similar rate of diagnosing the more clinically-obvious forms of skin cancer, including invasive melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.

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Should Blood Pressure Measurement Be Repeated During Primary Care Visit?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Doctors” by Tele Jane is licensed under CC BY 2.0Doug Einstadter, MD, MPH

Center for Health Care Research and Policy
MetroHealth System and Case Western Reserve University 

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

Response: Despite the recognized importance of blood pressure (BP) control for those with hypertension, based on national surveys only 54% of patients with hypertension seen in primary care have their BP controlled to less than 140/90 mm Hg.

Blood pressure measurement error is a major cause of poor BP control. Reducing measurement error has the potential to avoid overtreatment, including side effects from medications which would be intensified or started due to a falsely elevated blood pressure. One way to reduce measurement error is to repeat the BP measurement during an office visit. The American Heart Association recommends repeating a blood pressure at the same clinic visit with at least 1 minute separating BP readings, but due to time constraints or lack of evidence for the value of repeat measurement, busy primary care practices often measure BP only once. Repeating the BP at the same office visit when the initial blood pressure measurement is high has the potential to improve clinical decision-making regarding BP treatment. Several studies have described the effect of a repeat BP measurement in the inpatient setting, but there are little data available to characterize the effect of repeating blood pressure measurement in an outpatient primary care setting.

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PCPs Need More Training In Assessing and Treating Irritability in Children

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Anna Scandinaro
Medical student
Penn State College of Medicine

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

Response: Dr. Usman Hameed, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, and Dr. Dellasega wrote a previous paper called “What is irritability?” which examined the idea and concept of what irritability in school aged children can encompass. After considering possible definitions of irritability, we wanted to see how the concept manifested in clinical practice, especially with the controversy around the new diagnosis of Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD) in the DSM 5.

The main findings of this study are that primary care providers (PCP)​identified a need for more training and education in how to assess irritability in pediatric and adolescent populations.

In contrast, the child and adolescent psychiatrists we interviewed thought more triage from PCPs who care for school aged children with irritability would be helpful.  Continue reading

Study Suggests Tamiflu Does Not Increase Risk of Suicide

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

James W. Antoon, MD, PhD, FAAP Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics University of Illinois at Chicago Associate Medical Director, Pediatric Inpatient Unit Children's Hospital, University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System Chicago, IL 60612 

Dr. Antoon

James W. Antoon, MD, PhD, FAAP
Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics
University of Illinois at Chicago
Associate Medical Director, Pediatric Inpatient Unit
Children’s Hospital, University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System
Chicago, IL 60612 

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

Response: Oseltamivir, commonly known as Tamiflu, is the only commercially available medication FDA approved to treat the flu.  Since the 2009 H1N1 flu epidemic pediatric prescriptions for Tamiflu have soared.  In the United States, about 40% of Tamiflu prescriptions are given to children less than 16 years of age.  Following reports of abnormal behavior, such as hallucinations, self-injury and suicide attempts in adolescents on Tamiflu, the FDA placed a new warning about these neuropsychiatric symptoms on the drug label.  Whenever the FDA puts out label warning about a drug, doctors and the public take notice. Whether Tamiflu truly causes these side effects is unclear.  For this study we chose to focus on the most consequential of those reports: suicide.

The potential link between a drug and suicide is a particularly difficult topic to study for a number of reasons. There are things that happen together or at the same time that can influence someone to attempt suicide and it is very difficult to know which thing is actually having an affect. In our study, other things that can influence suicide are socioeconomic status, mental health, trauma, abuse, among others.  Separating the effects of these confounders can be difficult. It is also possible that the disease itself, which in this case is the flu, causes the effect of suicide. Finally, and luckily, suicide is rare. Our database had 12 million children per year and over five year 21,000 attempted suicide. Of those, only 251 were taking Tamiflu.

To get past these issues, we took advantage of a growing drug safety research collaboration between the Departments of Pediatrics and Pharmacy at our institution.  Previous studies have compared those on Tamiflu to those not on Tamiflu to see if there are more side effects in the Tamiflu group.  Our team utilized a novel study method called a case-crossover design. What’s different about this study is that we used each patient as their own comparison.  In other words, we compared each patient to themselves rather than a different group of people.  We essentially studied how patients behaved when the Tamiflu was in their system compared to other l periods where they were not on Tamiflu.  This allowed use to account for the personal differences noted above like mental health and socioeconomic status.   We also compared those children with flu who got Tamiflu and those with flu who did not get Tamiflu to see if the infection itself could be associated with increased suicide.

After accounting for all these variables, we did not find any an association between Tamiflu exposure and suicide. Our findings suggest that Tamiflu does NOT increase the risk of suicide in children or teenagers.

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Are Routine Digital Rectal Exams Helpful In Detecting Asymptomatic Prostate Cancer?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Jason Profetto, MD, CCFP Family and Academic Medicine Chair, Clinical Skills Undergraduate Medical Education McMaster University

Dr. Jason Profetto

Dr. Jason Profetto, MD, CCFP
Family and Academic Medicine
Chair, Clinical Skills
Undergraduate Medical Education
McMaster University

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

 Response: The main reason that prompted me to investigate the issue of digital rectal exams in primary care for prostate screening was that it appeared to be rather dogmatic practice (continually practiced by many despite updated data suggesting a lack of benefit).  I was very curious to see if there was any data that suggested the digital rectal exams was indeed a useful indicator in primary practice (ie. Family Medicine) in detecting prostate cancer in asymptomatic men.  Intuitively, I didn’t believe the DRE was accurate mainly because in medical school it’s generally under-represented in clinical skills teaching and poorly taught and assessed (not just in Ontario, but also Canada).  As a result, it seemed bizarre to me that this specific clinical skills was being used as a routine measure in family medicine to screen for prostate cancer.  Also, for me this was a big issue as many men in my practice were used to having yearly “rectal exams” done and I thought it was time to really take a closer look at the research to see whether or not we can support this practice.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: The main findings suggest that the digital rectal exam is not helpful/accurate in detecting prostate cancer in asymptomatic men in family practice or primary care.

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UK Study Finds Pulmonary Rehab for COPD Underutilized

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr Jennifer K Quint MSc PhD FHEA FRCP Clinical Senior Lecturer Respiratory Epidemiology Respiratory Epidemiology, Occupational Medicine and Public Health National Heart and Lung Institute Imperial College London

Dr. Quint

Dr Jennifer K Quint MSc PhD FHEA FRCP
Clinical Senior Lecturer Respiratory Epidemiology
Respiratory Epidemiology, Occupational Medicine and Public Health
National Heart and Lung Institute
Imperial College
London 

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

Response: We were commissioned by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy in the UK to undertake a piece of work to show the value of pulmonary rehabilitation in reducing exacerbations in COPD patients so that they could create a web based tool that would show cost savings if GPs actually referred people for pulmonary rehabilitation.

Previous systematic reviews have found that pulmonary rehab can reduce hospital admissions but those groups are often small and not very generalizable so we decided to look at what happens in a primary care COPD population. Our main finding is that people who are eligible for referral are not being referred  – less than 10% eligible were actually referred.

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Declining Medicaid Fees Translates To Fewer Available Primary Care Appointments

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Molly Candon, PhD Postdoctoral Fellow, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Candon

Molly Candon, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics
Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research
University of Pennsylvania

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

Response: We conducted a secret shopper study in 2012, 2014, and 2016 in which simulated Medicaid patients called primary care practices and attempted to schedule an appointment. When Medicaid fees were increased to Medicare levels in 2013 and 2014, primary care appointment availability increased. Once the federally-funded program ended in 2015, most states returned to lower fees. As expected, provider participation in Medicaid declined as well.

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Coordination Program Reduced ER Visits and Readmissions in Medicaid Population

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Roberta Capp MD Assistant Professor Director for Care Transitions in the Department of Emergency Medicine University of Colorado School of Medicine Medical Director of Colorado Access Medicaid Aurora Colorado

Dr. Capp

Roberta Capp MD
Assistant Professor
Director for Care Transitions in the Department of Emergency Medicine
University of Colorado School of Medicine
Medical Director of Colorado Access Medicaid
Aurora Colorado

 

 

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

Response: Medicaid clients are at highest risk for utilizing the hospital system due to barriers in accessing outpatient services and social determinants.

We have found that providing care management services improves primary care utilization, which leads to better chronic disease management and reductions in emergency department use and hospital admissions.

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Diabetes In Elderly May Be Overtreated Leading To Hypoglycemia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Matthew L. Maciejewski, PhD Professor in Medicine Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine Center for Health Services Research Primary Care Durham VA Medical Center Duke University

Dr. Maciejewski

Matthew L. Maciejewski, PhD
Professor in Medicine
Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine
Center for Health Services Research Primary Care
Durham VA Medical Center
Duke University

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

Response: Treating diabetes requires balancing the risks of long-term harm from under-treatment with the short-term and long-term harm from potential over-treatment. Randomized trials have shown that the benefits of aggressive glycemic control only begin after at least 8 years of treatment. Yet, the harms of aggressive glycemic control –  hypoglycemia, cardiovascular events, cognitive impairment, fractures, and death – can happen at any time.

In some older people, “deintensification” of diabetes treatment may be the safer route, because of the risks that come with too-low blood sugar. The American Geriatrics Society (AGS) specifically states that medications other than metformin should be avoided when an older patient’s hemoglobin A1c is less than 7.5%, because the risks of hypoglycemia are larger and the potential benefits of treatment are smaller for older adults with diabetes.  Most attention in prior work has focused on undertreatment of diabetes and there has been only limited investigation of patient characteristics associated with overtreatment of diabetes or severe hypoglycemia.

Since the elderly are therefore at greatest risk of overtreatment and Medicare is the primary source of care of the elderly, we examined rates of overtreatment and deintensification of therapy for Medicare beneficiaries, and whether there were any disparities in these rates.  We found that almost 11 percent of Medicare participants with diabetes had very low blood sugar levels that suggested they were being over-treated. But only 14 percent of these patients had a reduction in blood sugar medication refills in the next six months.

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USPSTF: Behavioral Counseling to Promote a Healthful Diet and Physical Activity for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention in Adults Without Cardiovascular Risk Factors

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Carol M. Mangione, MD, MSPH, FACP Barbara A. Levey, MD, and Gerald S. Levey, MD Endowed chair in medicine David Geffen School of Medicine University of California, Los Angeles Professor of public health at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

Dr. Mangione

Carol M. Mangione, MD, MSPH, FACP
Barbara A. Levey, MD, and Gerald S. Levey, MD
Endowed chair in medicine
David Geffen School of Medicine
University of California, Los Angeles
Professor of public health at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

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

Response: Americans can experience several health benefits from consuming healthy foods and engaging in physical activity. The Task Force recommends that primary care professionals work together with their patients when making the decision to offer or refer adults who are not obese and do not have hypertension, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, or diabetes to behavior counseling to promote healthful diet and physical activity. Our focus was on the impact of a healthful diet and physical activity on cardiovascular risk because this condition is the leading cause of premature morbidity and mortality. The Task Force evaluates what the science tells us surrounding the potential benefits and harms of a particular preventive service. In this case, the Task Force found high quality evidence focusing on the impact a healthful diet and physical activity can have on a patient’s risk of cardiovascular disease. Relying on this evidence, the Task Force was able to conclude that there is a positive but small benefit of behavioral counseling to prevent cardiovascular disease.

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