Health

Serious Medical Errors Rose After Private Equity Firms Bought Hospitals
Health

Serious Medical Errors Rose After Private Equity Firms Bought Hospitals

The rate of serious medical complications increased in hospitals after they were purchased by private equity investment firms, according to a major study of the effects of such acquisitions on patient care in recent years.The study, published in JAMA on Tuesday, found that, in the three years after a private equity fund bought a hospital, adverse events including surgical infections and bed sores rose by 25 percent among Medicare patients when compared with similar hospitals that were not bought by such investors. The researchers reported a nearly 38 percent increase in central line infections, a dangerous kind of infection that medical authorities say should never happen, and a 27 percent increase in falls by patients while staying in the hospital.“We were not surprised there was a signal...
This Gorilla’s Caregivers Face Familiar Questions About Aging
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This Gorilla’s Caregivers Face Familiar Questions About Aging

This month, as the patient lay anesthetized on a table, a cardiologist made a half-inch incision through the skin of his chest. She removed a small implanted heart monitor with failing batteries and inserted a new one.The patient, like many older males, had been diagnosed with cardiac disease; the monitor would provide continuing data on heart rate and rhythm, alerting his doctors to irregularities.Closing the incision required four neat stitches. In a few hours, the patient, a gorilla named Winston, would rejoin his family in their habitat at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.“Winston, at 51, is a very old male gorilla,” said Dr. Matt Kinney, a senior veterinarian at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance who led the medical team through the procedure. With improved health care, new technology a...
Bristol Myers to Acquire the Drugmaker Karuna for $14 Billion
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Bristol Myers to Acquire the Drugmaker Karuna for $14 Billion

Bristol Myers Squibb, the global pharmaceutical giant, said on Friday that it would acquire Karuna Therapeutics, which makes drugs to treat schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s, in an all-cash deal valued at $14 billion as it looks to strengthen its pipeline of neuroscience drugs.Bristol Myers said in a statement that it would pay $330 per share in cash, a premium of roughly 53 percent to Karuna’s share price on Thursday.An increasing prevalence of schizophrenia, driven in part by an aging population, has led to a push to make more drugs to treat it. The market for such therapies is estimated to grow to $12.6 billion by 2032, according to the research firm Market.Us. Earlier this month, the biomedical company AbbVie bought Cerevel Therapeutics, which develops drugs to treat psychiatric and neurol...
Bellevue Hospital Bariatric Surgery Program Is Under NY State Scrutiny
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Bellevue Hospital Bariatric Surgery Program Is Under NY State Scrutiny

The New York State Department of Health is scrutinizing Bellevue Hospital’s use of unlicensed technicians to assist doctors in weight-loss surgeries.Bellevue, a large public hospital in Manhattan, churns thousands of low-income patients through bariatric surgery every year, The New York Times reported this month. Doctors are paid in part based on the volume of surgeries.In their push for speed, bariatric surgeons have at times asked equipment technicians to scrub in and participate in surgeries because the surgeons were short on assistants, two Bellevue doctors told The Times. Those technicians, who worked for an outside vendor called Surgical Solutions, were not licensed to treat patients.The state health agency has begun an inquiry into the allegations, which could lead to a formal inves...
Behind the Shortage Keeping Cancer Patients From Chemo
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Behind the Shortage Keeping Cancer Patients From Chemo

Stephanie Scanlan learned about the shortages of basic chemotherapy drugs this spring in the most frightening way. Two of the three drugs typically used to treat her rare bone cancer were too scarce. She would have to go forward without them.Ms. Scanlan, 56, the manager of a busy state office in Tallahassee, Fla., had sought the drugs for months as the cancer spread from her wrist to her rib to her spine. By summer it was clear that her left wrist and hand would need to be amputated.“I’m scared to death,” she said as she faced the surgery. “This is America. Why are we having to choose who we save?”The disruption this year in supplies of key chemotherapy drugs has realized the worst fears of patients — and of the broader health system — because some people with aggressive cancers have been ...
Tongue-Tie Releases: What Parents Should Know
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Tongue-Tie Releases: What Parents Should Know

It’s an increasingly common scenario faced by new mothers across the country: A lactation consultant examines their newborn and suggests that cutting a “tongue-tie” may ease their difficulty breastfeeding.The quick procedure, known as a tongue-tie release, involves a dentist or doctor snipping a tight band of tissue connecting the tongue to the bottom of the mouth. In recent years, lactation consultants and dentists have aggressively promoted the procedures, even for babies with no signs of real tongue-ties and despite a modest risk of complications, a New York Times investigation recently found.Many parents, anxious and exhausted, agonize over whether to go through with the procedure, which is often done with a dental laser. Dentists, lactation consultants and pediatricians often disagree...
What to Know About the Effects of Ketamine
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What to Know About the Effects of Ketamine

An autopsy report released by the Los Angeles County medical examiner on Friday said the death of “Friends” actor Matthew Perry, who was found face down and unresponsive in a hot tub at his home on Oct. 28, resulted from the “acute effects” of ketamine, an anesthetic with psychedelic properties.Ketamine has become increasingly popular as a therapy for treatment-resistant depression and other mental health issues. It is also used recreationally.Mr. Perry had publicly acknowledged his long struggle with alcohol and drug use, but the report said he had been sober for 19 months and little was known about his relationship to ketamine.What is ketamine, and is it legal?Ketamine is an injectable, short-acting dissociative anesthetic that can have hallucinogenic effects at certain doses. It distort...
Morning Person? You Might Have Neanderthal Genes to Thank.
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Morning Person? You Might Have Neanderthal Genes to Thank.

Neanderthals were morning people, a new study suggests. And some humans today who like getting up early might credit genes they inherited from their Neanderthal ancestors.The new study compared DNA in living humans with genetic material retrieved from Neanderthal fossils. It turns out that Neanderthals carried some of the same clock-related genetic variants as do people who report being early risers.Since the 1990s, studies of Neanderthal DNA have exposed our species’ intertwined history. About 700,000 years ago, our lineages split apart, most likely in Africa. While the ancestors of modern humans largely stayed in Africa, the Neanderthal lineage migrated into Eurasia.About 400,000 years ago, the population split in two. The hominins who spread west became Neanderthals. Their cousins to th...
William P. Murphy Jr., Innovator of Life-Saving Medical Tools, Dies at 100
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William P. Murphy Jr., Innovator of Life-Saving Medical Tools, Dies at 100

Dr. William P. Murphy Jr., a biomedical engineer who was an inventor of the vinyl blood bag that replaced breakable bottles in the Korean War and made transfusions safe and reliable on battlefields, in hospitals and at scenes of natural disasters and accidents, died on Thursday at his home in Coral Gables, Fla. He was 100.His death was confirmed on Monday by Mike Tomás, the president and chief executive of U.S. Stem Cell, a Florida company for which Dr. Murphy had long served as chairman. He became chairman emeritus last year.Dr. Murphy, the son of a Nobel Prize-winning Boston physician, was also widely credited with early advances in the development of pacemakers to stabilize erratic heart rhythms, of artificial kidneys to cleanse the blood of impurities, and of many sterile devices, incl...
Sign Up for Well’s 6-Day Energy Challenge
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Sign Up for Well’s 6-Day Energy Challenge

Would you like more energy as you go about your day? We’ll bet the answer is yes. Whether you’re younger or older, working or retired, raising a family or living solo, most of us could use more vigor in our lives.There are lots of reasons we may feel sluggish or uninspired. Some factors, like medical conditions, are beyond our control. “But most of the time, there are very small, simple and achievable lifestyle habits that can raise our energy levels,” said Dr. Sue Varma, an assistant professor of psychiatry at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine and author of the upcoming book “Practical Optimism.”So we’ve crafted a six-day challenge to set you up for a more energetic year.Starting on Jan. 1, 2024, the Well desk will share a week of evidence-based tips and inspiration so you...