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The ethics of resuscitation (Sep-11)

Traditional ethical teaching suggests that a physician's assessment of a patient's best interest should guide the decision of whether to administer emergency life-sustaining therapy, absent guidance by the patient or family members.  In pediatric medicine, physicians may insist on life-saving therapy if they believe it is in a child's best interest to receive it, even if the parents seek to refuse it.  It is unclear exactly how physicians make such assessments, however, and whether/how these assessments influence decision-making in critical situations.  Consider the following scenario:

How Risky are "High Risk" Kidneys? (May-11)

The government requires that potential kidney transplant recipients be informed if an organ donor engaged in CDC categorized "high risk" behaviors. Are these "high risk" donor kidneys associated with worse survival rates following transplantation? Does this label "high risk" result in usable kidneys being discarded?

Do You Know Enough to Take That Medication? (Feb-11)

People in the U.S. make decisions about their health on a regular basis. For example,they are often asked to consider taking medication to treat common health problems, such as hypertension. But do patients have sufficient information to make these decisions? And what factors might influence the knowledge patients have, and their treatment decisions?

Consider this scenario:

Bob is a 52-year-old man who went to see his physician for a routine check-up. Bob’s doctor told him his cholesterol levels were slightly elevated and suggested cholesterol medication. Bob wondered how long he would have to take the medication, and whether there would be any side effects. Please answer the following two questions about cholesterol medications.

When people start taking cholesterol medications, how long is it usually recommended that they take them?

  • less than 6 months
  • 6-12 months
  • 1-3 years
  • for the rest of their lives

How do your answers compare?

Making an informed medical decision about whether to take cholesterol medications depends, at least in part, on understanding how long a medication should be taken and whether there are side effects. CBSSM investigators Angela Fagerlin, Mick Couper, and Brian Zikmund-Fisher recently published an article on patient knowledge from the DECISIONS study, a large survey of U.S. adults about common medical decisions. One main objective of the study was to determine adults’ knowledge about information relevant to common types of medication, screening, or surgery decisions they recently made. Data were collected from 2575 English-speaking adults aged 40 years and older who reported having discussed common medical decisions with a health care provider within the previous two years. Participants answered knowledge questions and rated the importance of their health care provider, family/friends, and the media as sources of information about common medical issues.

People taking cholesterol medications usually should take them for about 3 or more years, and perhaps even for the rest of their lives. A little more than 60% of the study respondents accurately identified the time to take cholesterol medications.

Many people have trouble with this question and do not know that muscle pain is the most commonly reported side effect of cholesterol medications. Only 17% of DECISIONS study respondents were able to answer this question correctly. About 1 in 5 respondents incorrectly identified liver problems as the most common side effect of cholesterol medications.

Overall, the investigators found that patient knowledge of key facts relevant to recently made medical decisions was often poor. In addition, knowledge varied widely across questions and decision contexts. For example, 78% of patients considering cataract surgery correctly estimated typical recovery time, compared to 29% of patients considering surgery for lower back pain or 39% of patients considering a knee or hip replacement. Similarly, in thinking about cancer screening tests, participants were more knowledgeable of facts about colorectal cancer screening than those who were asked about breast or prostate cancer. Respondents were consistently more knowledgeable on questions about blood pressure medication than cholesterol medication or antidepressants.

The impact of demographic characteristics and sources of information also varied substantially. For example, black respondents had lower knowledge than white respondents about cancer screening decisions and medication, even after controlling for other demographic factors. Researchers found no race differences for surgical decisions, however.

The authors concluded by noting that improving patient knowledge about risks, benefits, and characteristics of medical procedures is essential to support informed decision making.

For more information: 

Fagerlin A, Sepucha KR, Couper M, Levin CA, Singer E, Zikmund-Fisher BJ. Patients' knowledge about 9 common health conditions: The DECISIONS survey. Medical Decision Making 2010;30:35S-52S.

 

How old is too old for cancer screening? (Feb-11)

Cancer screening is generally recommended for people over the age of 50. Screening tests, such as colonoscopies, mammograms and PSAs (prostatespecific antigen), can help detect cancer at an early stage andprevent deaths. These screening tests, however, do have risks so,along with their doctor, people need to make a decision about howoften to get screened and when or if one should stop gettingscreened.

Consider the question:

Now, imagine that you were screened for cancer about a year ago and no cancer was found. You and your doctor are talking about when you should come back for screening in the future. Your doctor explains that cancer screening guidelines recommend that you do come back for more screening tests but as you get older, screening for cancer is no longer a good option. Your doctor states that you should follow this recommendation as you age. Now, imagine that you were screened for cancer about a year ago and no cancer was found. You and your doctor are talking about when you should come back for screening in the future. Your doctor explains that cancer screening guidelines recommend that you do come back for more screening tests but as you get older, screening for cancer is no longer a good option. Your doctor states that you should follow this recommendation as you age.

 
Would you plan to stop getting screening tests for cancer at a certain age?
  • Yes
  • No

How do your answers compare?

In a recent study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, CBSSM Investigators and Mick Couper and Brian J. Zikmund-Fisher, together with lead author Carmen Lewis (Department of Medicine, University of North Carolina) and several co-authors, explored decisions about stopping cancer screening tests. This study was part of the DECISIONS study, a large survey of U.S. adults about common medical decisions.
 
Recently, the US Preventive Services Task Force recommended against prostate screening for men aged 75 and older, and recommended against routine screening for CRC screening after age 75 and any CRC screening after age 85. Cancer screening for prostate cancer, CRC and breast cancer helps to detect cancer at an early stage when they are easier to treat. However, as a person gets older, the risks of these tests become larger than the benefits.
Data was collected from 1,237 individuals aged 50 and older who reported having made one or more cancer screening decisions in the past 2 years. Participants were asked about their plans of whether or not to stop cancer screening as well as characteristics of themselves and their health care provider.
 
Only 9.8% of people planned to stop getting screened for cancer when they reached a certain age. This percentage varied by type of cancer, age and race of the participant and how much the participant was responsible for the decision apart from their health care professional.
 
Of the 119 people who gave a specific age that they planned to stop getting cancer screening the average age they did or plan to stop was 74.8 for breast cancer, 76.8 for colon cancer and 82.9 for prostate cancer.
 
The study authors concluded that “plans to stop screening were uncommon among participants who had recently faced a screening decision”. They also concluded that further research is needed to understand how people think about the risks and benefits of screening when life expectancy is short and that education around this topic may be beneficial.
 

To learn more about this study, see:

 
Tue, October 31, 2017

In a recent US Department of Health and Human Services symposium, Kayte Spector-Bagdady discussed the need for consistent informed consent and disclosure regulations for biospecimens and health data.

CBSSM Seminar: Rana Awdish, MD

Thu, February 15, 2018, 3:00pm
Location: 
NCRC, Building 16, Room 266C

Dr. Rana Awdish is the author of In Shock, a memoir based on her own critical illness. She is also Director of the Pulmonary Hypertension Program at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and a practicing Critical Care Physician. She lectures to physicians, health care leaders and medical schools across the country on the necessity of compassionate care. She was recently named Medical Director of Care Experience for the Health System.

In Shock will describe Dr. Awdish's personal transformation from critical care physician to critically ill patient and describe how the events surrounding her near death changed her understanding of the culture of medicine and lead her to alter the course of her institution. Focusing on Physician communication training, narrative medicine and visual thinking strategies, and a culture of caring, she will illuminate the path towards creating a more resilient culture for everyone involved in health care.

 Objectives:

1. Describe the ecosystem of medical training and practice and the way it compromises empathy and compassion.

2. Illustrate how medical humanities and a purpose driven culture can be used to promote a culture of resilience.

3. Recognize the barriers to implementing institutional change and empowering individuals.

4. Identify practices that will engage providers and leaders in promoting development of resilient systems.

Rana Awdish, MD
Director, Pulmonary Hypertension Program, Henry Ford Hospital, and Medical Director, Care Experience, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, MI

Dr. Rana Awdish is the Director of the Pulmonary Hypertension Program at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and a Critical Care Physician. She also serves as Medical Director of Care Experience for the Henry Ford Health System. Dr. Awdish’s mandate as well as her passion is to improve the patient experience across the system. 

After suffering a sudden critical illness herself in 2008, she has become a tireless activist, refocusing her fellow providers on the patient experience and improving empathy through connection and communication. She lectures to physicians, hospital leadership and medical schools around the country. Her book, In Shock: My Journey from Death to Recovery and the Redemptive Power of Hope, has been featured in the Washington Post, NPR, The Today Show, The Times Literary Supplement, and is now an LA Times Bestseller.

Dr. Awdish received the Schwartz Center’s National Compassionate Caregiver of the Year Award in 2017. She was named Physician of the Year by Press Ganey in 2017 for her work on improving communication, and received the Critical Care Teaching Award in 2016. She, along with three others, began the CLEAR Conversations Project at Henry Ford, using improvisational actors to train physicians in patient-centered empathic communication. 

Prior to coming to Henry Ford, Dr. Awdish completed her training at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in Manhattan. She attended Wayne State University Medical School, and completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She is board-certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine.

Mon, January 06, 2014

Dr. Reshma Jagsi worked on a study detailing the decline of US research spending versus the increase in spending in Japan and China. In the UMHS article, she says, "The United States has long been a world leader in driving research and development in the biomedical science. It's important to maintain that leadership role because biomedical research has a number of long term downstream economic benefits, especially around job creation," 

Research Topics: 

CBSSM Seminar: Lisa Lehmann, MD, PhD, MSc

Fri, June 09, 2017, 3:00pm
Location: 
NCRC, Building 10, G065

Lisa Lehmann, MD, PhD, MSc
Executive Director, National Center for Ethics in Health Care
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

"Moral Distress in Health Care: The Role of Courage and Culture"

Working Group Meeting- Kayte Spector-Bagdady

Wed, September 20, 2017, 4:00pm
Location: 
NCRC Bldg 10 G065

Kayte is seeking feedback on the aims page of a grant she is submitting about informed consent to expanded carrier screening and the tension between the clinical and research value of genetic data.

Working Group Meeting- Jeff Dewitt

Tue, October 10, 2017, 4:00pm
Location: 
NCRC bldg 16 266C

Jeff will be seeking feedback on a survey looking for reactions to different pictographs that might be used as decision aids in communicating the risks/benefits of lung cancer screening.

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