Well-child clinic visits = more than 700,000 subsequent illnesses

New research shows that well-child doctor appointments for annual exams and vaccinations are associated with an increased risk of flu-like illnesses in children and family members within two weeks of the visit. This risk translates to more than 700,000 potentially avoidable illnesses each year, costing more than $490 million annually…

“Well child visits are critically important. However, our results demonstrate that healthcare professionals should devote more attention to reducing the risk of spreading infections in waiting rooms and clinics. Infection control guidelines currently exist. To increase patient safety in outpatient settings, more attention should be paid to these guidelines by healthcare professionals, patients, and their families,” said Phil Polgreen, MD, MPH, lead author of the study.

Researchers from the University of Iowa used data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to examine the healthcare trends of 84,595 families collected from 1996-2008. Included in the analysis were demographic, office-based, emergency room, and outpatient cases records.

After controlling for factors, such as the presence of other children, insurance, and demographics, the authors found that well-child visits for children younger than six years old increased the probability of a flu-like illness in these children or their families during the subsequent two weeks by 3.2 percentage points.

This incremental risk could amount to more than 700,000 avoidable cases of flu-like illness each year and $492 million in direct and indirect costs, based on established estimates for outpatient influenza.

In a commentary accompanying the study, Lisa Saiman, MD, notes, “The true cost of flu-like illnesses are much higher since only a fraction result in ambulatory visits and many more cases are likely to result in missed work or school days. Furthermore, these flu-like illness visits are associated with inappropriate antimicrobial use.”

The authors stress the importance of infection prevention and control in ambulatory settings, suggesting pediatric clinics follow recommended guidelines that include improving environmental cleaning, cough etiquette, and hand hygiene compliance.

“Even with interventions, such as the restricted use of communal toys or separate sick and well-child waiting areas, if hand-hygiene compliance is poor, and potentially infectious patients are not wearing masks, preventable infections will continue to occur,” said Polgreen.

And every one of the kind of locations cited is managed by folks who know better. Think about that. Reflect on how a simple reordering of priorities may save a great deal of sick time, expense or worry for parents.

Belgium’s parliament legalizes child euthanasia

Decision made after long, difficult debate – no matter what anti-choice moralists say

Parliament in Belgium has passed a bill allowing euthanasia for terminally ill children without any age limit, by 86 votes to 44, with 12 abstentions.

When, as expected, the bill is signed by the king, Belgium will become the first country in the world to remove any age limit on the practice.

It may be requested by terminally ill children who are in great pain and who have no treatment available.

Opponents argue children cannot make such a difficult decision. Which presumes opponents have the right to make the decision today – for the children.

In the Netherlands, Belgium’s northern neighbour, euthanasia is legal for children over the age of 12, if there is parental consent.

Under the Dutch conditions, a patient’s request for euthanasia can be fulfilled by a doctor if the request is “voluntary and well-considered” and the patient is suffering unbearably, with no prospect of improvement…

Supporters of the legislation argue that in practice the law will affect an extremely small number of children, who would probably be in their teens…

The law states a child will have to be terminally ill, face “unbearable physical suffering” and make repeated requests to die – before euthanasia is considered.

Parents, doctors and psychiatrists would have to agree before a decision is made

Church leaders argued the law is immoral…

Some paediatricians have warned vulnerable children could be put at risk and have questioned whether a child can really be expected to make such a difficult choice.

But opinion polls have suggested broad support in Belgium for the changes.

Not an easy debate. No more or less than the discussion between doctors, psychiatrists, parents and children facing the question. In a very small number of cases where even the possibility for such a decision is lawfully allowed.

None of which seems to matter to the Christian moralists who have no inhibition about lying about the debate which took place. No matter to the moralists of any philosophic conviction who depict the debate as a conspiracy to murder hundreds and thousands of inconvenient children. They deserve to be shamed for the liars they are.

Once again the leadership of movements against choice care no more for truth than they do for individual liberty.

Lockheed signs deal to produce ocean wave-energy in Oz

Top U.S. arms maker Lockheed Martin Corp on Tuesday said it had signed an agreement with a unit of Ocean Power Technologies to harness the motion of ocean waves to generate electricity off the coast of Victoria, Australia.

The US$206 million deal will produce the world’s largest wave energy project using power buoys designed by Ocean Power Technologies that tap energy from the surface motion of waves.

Once completed around 2018 or 2019, the project will generate 62.5 megawatts of peak power, enough to meet the needs of 10,000 homes, Lockheed said. That is about one-third the capacity of a small coal-fired power plant in the United States…

Energy from ocean waves is more predictable than wind and solar energy, and can generate electricity for more hours in the year than other alternate energy sources, Lockheed said.

The power buoys to be used in this project will rise about 30 feet out of the water, far smaller than wind turbines, which are typically 130 feet tall and have drawn public resistance. Mostly from NIMBYs

Fuhr said Lockheed had worked with Ocean Power Technologies on several smaller projects for the U.S. Department of Energy since 2004, and kicked off initial work on this project about 18 months ago. Lockheed recently signed an agreement with Victorian Wave Partners, an Australian special purpose company owned by Ocean Power, to develop the wave project…

Fuhr said he expected it to take until the 2020s before different forms of ocean energy accounted for a significant percentage of world energy production. Countries such as Australia and Britain were among the most forward leaning at the moment, although there are some U.S. projects as well, he added.

Been writing about Lockheed’s hardware for wave-based electricity for a few years. Nice to see them trying it out in the Southern Hemisphere.

Unless American voters grow sufficient brains and backbone to vote out Congressional hacks beholden to fossil fuel barons, we’ll be next-to-last in the world when it comes to alt-energy production. Just ahead of Saudi Arabia.