News in Brief: Week of June 17-21

June 19, 2013 05:15 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

NIH Launches Database on Dietary Supplements

The NIH has announced(www.nih.gov) that it now is hosting a free dietary supplement label database(www.dsld.nlm.nih.gov) on its website.

The database, which lists ingredients from the labels of roughly 17,000 dietary supplements, was created to allow physicians and other medical professionals, as well as consumers, to get information on these products.

"This database will be of great value to many diverse groups of people, including nutrition researchers, health care providers, consumers, and others," said Paul Coates, Ph.D., director of the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements in the release. "For example, research scientists might use the dietary supplement label database to determine total nutrient intakes from food and supplements in populations they study."

The database offers

  • quick search capability for any ingredient or specific text on a label;
  • search capability for dietary ingredients and specific products, along with an alphabetical list of both;
  • a contact information list searchable by supplement manufacturer or distributor; and
  • the ability to search by a combination of options, including dietary ingredient, product/brand name, health-related claims and label statements.

Study Shows HPV Vaccine Helping Lower Infection Rates in Teen Girls

A recent study(jid.oxfordjournals.org) in the Journal of Infectious Diseases suggests that the prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV) infections in girls and women before and after the introduction of the HPV vaccine shows a significant reduction in vaccine-type HPV in U.S. teens.

According to the study authors, vaccine-type HPV prevalence has decreased 56 percent among female teenagers 14-19 years of age since its introduction in 2006. The study used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to compare prevalence before the start of the HPV vaccination program (2003-2006) with prevalence after vaccine introduction (2007-2010).

"This report shows that the HPV vaccine works well and should be a wake-up call to our nation to protect the next generation by increasing HPV vaccination rates," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., in a news release(www.cdc.gov). "Unfortunately only one-third of girls aged 13-17 have been fully vaccinated with HPV vaccine.

"Our low vaccination rates represent 50,000 preventable tragedies -- 50,000 girls alive today will develop cervical cancer over their lifetime that would have been prevented if we reach 80 percent vaccination rates. For every year we delay in doing so, another 4,400 girls will develop cervical cancer in their lifetimes."

According to the CDC, routine vaccination at age 11-12 for both boys and girls is recommended, but only about half of all girls in the United States -- and far fewer boys -- received the first dose of HPV vaccine. Vaccination also is recommended for older teens and young adults who were not vaccinated when younger.

Researchers Track Changes in End-of-Life Care for Medicare Patients

The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice recently released a new report with updated data(www.dartmouthatlas.org) regarding provision of health care to chronically ill Medicare patients who are nearing the end of life.

According to a June 12 press release(www.dartmouthatlas.org), medical spending for these patients increased more than 15 percent from 2007 to 2010, even though patients spent fewer days in the hospital and used hospice care more frequently in 2010 than in 2007.

Other notable findings across regions and hospitals show that in 2010, compared to 2007, during the last six months of life, patients were

  • less likely to die in the hospital,
  • more likely to see more than 10 physicians, and
  • just as likely to spend time in intensive care units.

Although researchers made note of the positive trends, they pointed out that improvements in end-of-life care varied across regions and hospitals.

AHRQ Guide Preps Primary Care Physicians for Health Information Exchange

A new publication developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) aims to help primary care practices connect to -- and make use of -- health information exchanges.

The guide, titled "Regional Health eDecisions: A Guide to Connecting Health Information Exchange in Primary Care(www.healthit.ahrq.gov)," will, among other things, help organizations assess their readiness for electronic health record connectivity to a regional health information organization, prepare physicians and staff for the electronic health information exchange, and address technical issues.

As a complement to the guide, AHRQ will host a webinar on August 6(healthit.ahrq.gov) from 2:30-4 p.m. EDT to help primary care physicians understand how using a health information exchange can improve patient care.

Enroll America Launches Campaign to Educate Uninsured About New Coverage Options

Enroll America(www.enrollamerica.org) has launched a Get Covered America(www.getcoveredamerica.org) campaign to educate millions of Americans about new insurance options that are available as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Open enrollment for state-based health insurance exchanges starts Oct. 1, and coverage begins in January. Enroll America plans to hold dozens of events throughout the country to familiarize the uninsured with their new insurance options and to encourage as many eligible individuals as possible to enroll in the new insurance plans.


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