Patient safety in hospitals is not improving

Efforts to make hospitals safer for patients are falling short, researchers report in the first large study in a decade to analyze harm from medical care and to track it over time.

The study, conducted from 2002 to 2007 in 10 North Carolina hospitals, found that harm to patients was common and that the number of incidents did not decrease over time. The most common problems were complications from procedures or drugs and hospital-acquired infections.

“It is unlikely that other regions of the country have fared better,” said Dr. Christopher P. Landrigan, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. The study is being published on Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine.

It is one of the most rigorous efforts to collect data about patient safety since a landmark report in 1999 found that medical mistakes caused as many as 98,000 deaths and more than one million injuries a year in the United States. That report, by the Institute of Medicine, an independent group that advises the government on health matters, led to a national movement to reduce errors and make hospital stays less hazardous to patients’ health…

Dr. Landrigan’s team focused on North Carolina because its hospitals, compared with those in most states, have been more involved in programs to improve patient safety.

But instead of improvements, the researchers found a high rate of problems. About 18 percent of patients were harmed by medical care, some more than once, and 63.1 percent of the injuries were judged to be preventable. Most of the problems were temporary and treatable, but some were serious, and a few — 2.4 percent — caused or contributed to a patient’s death…

RTFA. Disappointing? Yes. Surprising? No. Liable to support further improvements in healthcare beyond the tentative steps taken by the Obama administration? Don’t hold your breath.

Cowards who are called Democrats, reactionaries in the employ of insurance companies – called Republicans, guarantee that little improvement in cost, efficiency or safety of medical care in the United States has a chance for at least another couple of years.

The ignoranuses who just voted in a flock of less-than-useless Republicans may yet have a chance to join folks who voted out the least competent Blue Dog papier-mache Democrats – in 2012.

Tory snob claims welfare encourages poor to breed

A new Conservative peer has claimed that Coalition changes to the welfare system will encourage “breeding” among those on benefits.

Howard Flight, a former Tory MP, made the comments just days after being given a peerage by David Cameron. Downing Street moved swiftly to distance itself from the remarks.

Mr Flight, who has yet to be ennobled, was asked in an interview about changes to the child benefit system which will see top rate taxpayers no longer receiving the state-hand-out.

The father of three told the Evening Standard: “We’re going to have a system where the middle classes are discouraged from breeding because it’s jolly expensive…But for those on benefits, there is every incentive. Well, that’s not very sensible.”

His comments come a week after David Cameron was infuriated by comments from Lord Young in an interview with the Daily Telegraph. The peer was forced to resign as a Downing Street adviser after referring to the “so-called recession” and people never having it “so good.”

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “Howard Flight has shown himself to be an insensitive throwback to the worst of 1980s politics within days of being made a peer by the Prime Minister.

“This is exactly the kind of remark that leads to political parties being thought of as nasty, and shows just how shockingly out of touch with the lives of ordinary low and middle-income people some supporters of this Government can be.”

See. Sarah Palin and thugs like Jim Dement aren’t alone in the world. There’s no shortage of class-based 19th Century ideologues across the pond. Though we tend to specialize more in the populist phonies.

Texas preparing to drag religion back into politics

State Rep. Dan Flynn hopes to ensure that any Texas teacher who wants to can display the Ten Commandments in a classroom. Flynn, R-Van, in East Texas, recently filed a bill that says school board trustees may not stop copies of the commandments from being posted in “prominent” locations in classrooms.

Calling it a “patriotic exercise,” Flynn said the bill is geared to teach youths about history and principles…

“And anything that helps build the morals of our young people would be helpful,” Flynn said. “For too long, we’ve forsaken what our Judeo-Christian heritage has been. Our rights do come from God, not from government…”

“If the bill became law and if a court looked at that law and determined that its primary purpose was to promote religion … a federal court probably would rule that it violates the First Amendment establishment clause,” which prevents government from making laws respecting establishment of religion, said David Masci, a senior researcher at the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life…

Masci said courts are especially sensitive to religious materials in schools.

“Children are a captive audience,” Masci said. “They have to be there a certain amount of time every day. They also don’t fully have the capacity to understand what is necessarily a requirement and what is a gesture.

“If a teacher puts a Ten Commandments poster in the classroom, a child might say, ‘This is something I need to learn and understand.'”

Masci said government institutions, such as schools, may acknowledge religion but cannot promote it. “We’ve been fighting about this for years,” he said…

I wonder if Texas will ever realize they are part of the United States? But, then, I wonder if and when Texas politicians will ever decide it’s in the best interest of the electorate to join the 21st Century?

Modern, knowledge, information and practices would already have set that state apart if it weren’t for the 19th Century political practices which have funneled federal money into the state as payoff for votes and union-busting. It’s been standard practice since just after WW2 with the relocation of the Chance-Vought Aero industries down there.

Ex-con dies trying to stop Chicago robbery

Heroin addict Bobby Butler had vowed to turn his life around before. But this time — at the ripe age of 55 — it seemed finally to have stuck.

Just five months out of prison, where he had spent much of the last 20 years for a series of drug offenses, the fast-talking father of four was drug-free and church-going, proudly working as a telemarketer downtown and saving up to move into a new apartment with his mom.

His days on the street were done, he had told family and friends.

But as he walked home from the Central Park L stop in Lawndale at 6 p.m. Monday, the street claimed him anyway.

Gunned down by a robber as he ran to the aid of a young woman whose purse had been snatched, Butler died not a criminal, but a hero.


Chicago police search the alley where Bobby Butler died

“When he got out of prison we had a big long talk,” his brother, Jeffrey Butler, said Tuesday as detectives hunted for the killer. “He regretted that he wasn’t there when his other brother died of cancer, and he really wanted to make a difference — but he’d have helped this woman even when he wasn’t in his right frame of mind, before he got clean. It’s just how he was.”

Butler died of a gunshot wound in his chest during surgery Tuesday at Mount Sinai Hospital…

“There was one shot, and as the shooter ran away down the alley he was lying in the middle of the street, saying, ‘I can’t feel my legs!’ ” said a witness who spoke with police but asked not to be named for fear of reprisal.

Regular readers know I haven’t much respect for cons doing time for robbery and violent crime. And my tolerance for junkies is even lower. I spent too much hard time with both growing up in a factory town in decline.

But, yes, there’s always the exception, someone who deserves a chance to do better – and doesn’t deserve to die at the hand of some creep still stuck into a life of crime.

When they catch the thug who did in Brother Butler, they should throw away the key.

Ex demands money back for breast implants or he’ll repo boobs

A German woman who splashed out on breast implants with a loan from her then boyfriend now fears her assets could be re-possessed after she failed to fully reimburse him, the 20-year-old woman told Bild newspaper.

Her ex-boyfriend is demanding that she return the 4,379 euros he gave her to pay for her breast enlargement surgery in 2009 or he’ll call the police and get the repossessors involved, Bild reported on Wednesday.

“It’s true that Carsten signed a loan agreement shortly before the operation,” the woman named only as Anastasia is quoted saying. “The condition was that I wouldn’t have to pay him back if I stayed with him for a year.”

But the pair split shortly after she underwent the plastic surgery. The woman said she had transferred 3,000 euros into her ex-boyfriend’s account last week.

Does that mean he only gets to repossess one boob?

Eeoough! Half of one boob?

Flying snakes – WTF?

Five related species of tree-dwelling snakes found in Southeast and South Asia may just be the worst nightmares of ophidiophobes (people who have abnormal fears of snakes). Not only are they snakes, but they can “fly” — flinging themselves off their perches, flattening their bodies, and gliding from tree to tree or to the ground.

To Virginia Tech biologist Jake Socha, these curious reptiles are something of a biomechanical wonder. In order to understand how they do what they do, Socha and his colleagues recently studied Chrysopelea paradisi snakes as they launched themselves off a branch at the top of a 15-meter-tall tower.

Four cameras recorded the curious snakes as they glided. This allowed them to create and analyze 3-D reconstructions of the animals’ body positions during flight — work that Socha recently presented at the American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics (DFD) meeting in Long Beach, CA.

The reconstructions were coupled with an analytical model [.pdf] of gliding dynamics and the forces acting on the snakes’ bodies. The analyses revealed that the reptiles, despite traveling up to 24 meters from the launch platform, never achieved an “equilibrium gliding” state — one in which the forces generated by their undulating bodies exactly counteract the force pulling the animals down, causing them to move with constant velocity, at a constant angle from the horizon. Nor did the snakes simply drop to the ground.

Instead, Socha says, “the snake is pushed upward — even though it is moving downward — because the upward component of the aerodynamic force is greater than the snake’s weight.”

“Hypothetically, this means that if the snake continued on like this, it would eventually be moving upward in the air — quite an impressive feat for a snake,” he says. But our modeling suggests that the effect is only temporary, and eventually “the snake hits the ground to end the glide.”

Scaring the crap out of any ordinary human being who happens to be standing nearby!

Is America on the path to ‘permanent war’?

When the president decided to send more troops to a distant country during an unpopular war, one powerful senator had enough. He warned that the U.S. military could not create stability in a country “where there is chaos … democracy where there is no tradition of it, and honest government where corruption is almost a way of life.”

“It’s unnatural and unhealthy for a nation to be engaged in global crusades for some principle or idea while neglecting the needs of its own people,” said Sen. J. William Fulbright, then chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in 1966 as the Vietnam War escalated.

Fulbright’s warning is being applied by some to Afghanistan today. The U.S. is still fighting dubious wars abroad while ignoring needs at home, says Andrew J. Bacevich, who tells Fulbright’s story in his new book, “Washington Rules: America’s Path To Permanent War.”

As the Afghanistan war enters its ninth year, Bacevich and other commentators are asking: When does it end?

They say the nation’s national security leaders have put the U.S. on an unsustainable path to perpetual war and that President Obama is doing little to stop them…

Bacevich has become a leading voice among anti-war critics. He is a retired colonel in the U.S. Army, a former West Point instructor and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

He’s also a Boston University international relations professor who offers a historical perspective with his criticism. He says Obama has been ensnared by the “Washington Rules,” a set of assumptions that have guided presidents since Harry Truman.

The rules say that the U.S. should act as a global policeman. “Fixing Iraq or Afghanistan ends up taking precedence over fixing Cleveland or Detroit,” Bacevich writes.

His solution: The U.S. should stop deploying a “global occupation force” and focus on nation-building at home.

RTFA. He offers an understanding of history similar to what I grew up with. Especially my studies in military history with veterans of WW2. I was “lucky” – I got to follow it as it happened, not just read about it.

Detail, analysis, and that old American bugaboo – history for people who neither wish to study history or learn from history.