EHRs Threaten Confidentiality of Adolescent Healthcare

Although much attention has been given to the benefits of electronic health records, EHRs pose serious challenges regarding the privacy of sensitive health information for minor adolescents and parents. In a viewpoint article, Ronald Bayer, Robert Klitzman, M.D., and John Santelli, M.D., discuss two threats to confidentiality created by EHRs—the possibility of disclosure to parents of health information that the adolescent may wish to keep private, and disclosure to the adolescent of information that parents may wish to keep private. (Health Data Management, 1/7)




Lack of sleep, parents’ anxiety may affect kids’ pain after surgery
Children who didn’t sleep well leading up to a surgery, or whose parents made a big deal of the pain the child would feel, did turn out to have worse pain after surgery, according to a new study. The authors say theirs is the first study to look at both parents’ and childrens’ psychological factors before and after surgery that may influence pain, and it may lead to interventions that help kids who are prone to post-surgical pain. (Reuters, 12/31)

U.S. teens have same firearm access regardless of suicide risk
U.S. teens report easy access to firearms, even when they have mental health problems that put them at an increased risk of suicide, according to a new study. Overall, 41 percent of teens who reported being in a home with a firearm had easy access to it. Among teens with a history of mental illness or suicidal acts, researchers found that percentage was the same. (Reuters, 1/2)
Antibiotics Overprescribed for Pediatric Pharyngitis
A research letter published in JAMA Pediatrics uncovered a gap between observed practice and guideline recommendations in medication prescribing for pediatric pharyngitis. A multifaceted team of researchers examined data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, which are 2 nationally representative samples of ambulatory care practices. (Pharmacy Times, 1/3)

More evidence against keeping electronics in kids’ bedrooms
Parents concerned about their children not getting enough sleep may want to remove televisions and other small electronics from the kids’ bedrooms, according to a new study. Children who slept with televisions or other small-screened devices in their bedrooms ended up getting less sleep than children without those electronics in the room, researchers found. (Reuters, 1/5)
Simple sugar swaps make major difference, trial finds
Swapping just one snack a day for a healthier alternative could cut sugar intake by almost half, a pilot study has found. Fifty families followed guidelines from Public Health England which outlined a series of ways to swap sugary treats for healthier food and drinks. It follows warnings that children are now consuming up to 50 per cent more than their recommended daily sugar intake. (The Telegraph, 1/5)
Study: Kids’ sports physicals need work
Cardiac abnormalities among children are rare but sudden cardiac death remains the leading cause of death among young athletes during sporting events, and a new study says a new standard exam could reduce the toll. The study examined current policies in 50 states and Washington, D.C., and found that requirements for their use and the content of the evaluations vary and are determined individually by each state. (Consumer Affairs, 1/5)
For Kids With Concussions, a Couple Days’ Rest Is Enough
Most children who suffer concussions don’t need strict, prolonged rest to fully recover, according to a study that suggests extra down time beyond the typical standard of care may lead patients to focus more intently on their symptoms. While the CDC recommends one to two days of complete rest before resuming regular activities, some doctors lengthen the time of enforced inactivity. (Business Week, 1/5)
Study finds signs of heart disease in overweight children
Children aged under 15 are showing early signs of heart disease and plaque build-up in major arteries to the brain, according to new research. The findings, which were launched as part of the Aviva Health Schools’ Fitness Challenge, showed that children who rarely exercise had on average twice as much body fat as moderately or very active children. The study’s main researcher said he hoped the findings would be a wake-up call. (The Irish Times, 1/6)
Adolescent major depression in the National Comorbidity Survey
A recent study published underscores the important public health significance of depression among U.S. adolescents. Using data from the National Comorbidity Survey - Adolescent Supplement, researchers evaluated symptoms of DSM-IV major depressive in adolescents. Major depressive disorder was highly prevalent in adolescents, whether measured over lifetime (11%) or past year (7.5%). (Medical Xpress, 1/6)
Bullies and Their Victims May Be at Higher Risk of Suicide
A new analysis of research from around the world suggests that kids involved in bullying are at higher risk of suicidal thoughts and actions. Kids who bullied others and were victims themselves were the most troubled of all, the report found. “Our study highlights the significant impact bullying involvement can have on mental health for some youth,” said study lead author Melissa Holt. (HealthDay News, 1/7)
Dating apps increase sexually transmitted infections, doctors say
Health experts in the UK are blaming hook-up apps such as Tinder and Grindr for a significant rise in the number of STIs. The GPS-based apps allow people to meet partners for one night stands quickly and easily. According to Experts at Public Health England, services such as Tinder and Grindr had a role in six outbreaks of syphilis across Britain since 2012. (Red Orbit, 1/7)
Misfit or Miss Goody Two Shoes? Adolescent misperceptions abound, Stanford researcher says
A new study shows how teens over-estimate their peers’ participation in risky behaviors. The new research shows that adolescents overestimate the amount of drug and alcohol use and sexual behaviors that many of their peers are engaging in and at the same time, they underestimate the amount of time their peers spend on studying or exercise. (Health Canal, 1/7)
Fenway Study: Transgender Youth at High Risk for Negative Mental Health Outcomes
Transgender youth have disparately negative mental health outcomes related to depression, anxiety, suicide ideation, suicide attempt, and self-harm without lethal intent compared to their non-transgender youth counterparts, a new study found. The study examined data from 180 transgender patients age 12-29 years matched with non-transgender patients who were seen at a community health center serving youth. (The Rainbow Times, 1/8)
Earlier Life Adiposity Trajectories Linked to NAFLD in Teens
Earlier life trajectories of adiposity are associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in adolescents, according to a new study. Researchers examined the correlations between NAFLD diagnosed during adolescence and earlier life trajectories of anthropometry in a population-based cohort. The researchers found that 15.2 percent of adolescents were diagnosed with NAFLD. (Physician’s Briefing, 1/8)    



OIG to scrutinize medical errors closely in FY 2015
HHS’ Office of Inspector General is focusing on five specific aspects of hospital quality of care and safety in fiscal year 2015, one of which is new, according to its FY 2015 Work Plan. “Access of care, quality of care and drug safety — those are the pillars we’re focusing on,” Christi Grimm, chief of staff for the inspector general’s office. (Becker’s Infection Control and Clinical Quality, 1/2)

Flu widespread in 43 U.S. states: CDC report
Flu is widespread in 43 U.S. states, up from 36 states in the prior week, CDC reported. Six children died from the flu during the last full week in December, bringing the total flu deaths to 21 this season, the report showed. Last week the CDC reported for the first time that deaths from flu and pneumonia reached an epidemic level, comprising 6.8 percent of all deaths. That figure slipped slightly below the epidemic level in this week’s report, the CDC said. (Reuters, 1/5)
Opening Republican salvo on Obamacare draws fire on both sides
The first congressional Republican attempt to weaken Obamacare with legislation boasting Democratic support appeared to be headed for troubled waters on both sides of the partisan aisle. The bill seeks to reduce the law’s burden on companies by requiring them to offer private health coverage to full-time employees who work 40 hours a week rather than the 30 hours stipulated by the ACA. (Reuters, 1/6)
U.S. uninsured healthcare rate fell in 4th qtr - Gallup
The percentage of Americans without health insurance fell 4.2 percentage points to an average of 12.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014 due to the expansion of coverage through the Affordable Care Act, according to a Gallup poll released. The decline was compared with a year earlier, when the new coverage had not yet gone into effect. It is also off from 13.4 percent in the third quarter, the survey found. (Reuters, 1/7)
U.S. Court Weighs Texas Law’s Burden On Women Seeking Abortions
A U.S. appeals court is scheduled to hear arguments on the constitutionality of a hotly contested abortion law in Texas. The measure mandates stricter building codes for clinics that perform the procedure, and Fifth Circuit judges in New Orleans will decide whether that poses an undue burden. The Texas law — HB2 — requires clinics that perform abortions to operate like ambulatory surgical centers. (NPR, 1/7)                    



E-cigarettes popular among adolescents, not long-term smokers, Cancer Council warns
New restrictions adopted in Queensland have made it illegal to sell e-cigarettes to people under the age of 18. Cancer Council policy and advocacy director Paul Grogan said Queensland was leading the way in recognising the potential harm of e-cigarettes. Mr. Grogan said precautions to protect the community’s health had to be a priority. (ABC News, 1/5)
30% adolescent girls in Jalna suffer from anaemia: Report
A survey carried out in Jalna district has revealed that acute anaemia is crippling girl students, especially those aged between 14 and 16 years. The study found that over 30% girls suffered from anaemia. Besides, 70% of the girls were unaware of basic hygiene issues and still practiced open defecation, while 80% suffered from dental fluorosis. (The Times of India, 1/6)


Vital Signs: Alcohol Poisoning Deaths — United States, 2010–2012
Approximately 38 million U.S. adults report binge drinking an average of four times per month and consuming an average of eight drinks per episode. Alcohol poisoning is typically caused by binge drinking at high intensity. CDC analyzed data for 2010-2012 from the National Vital Statistics System to assess average annual alcohol poisoning deaths and death rates. This report describes the results of that assessment. (CDC, 1/6)



Blueprint for Success: The Pediatric Medical Home is Here to Stay 
This AAP conference in Orlando, Florida on February 6, 2015 will examine transforming practices into medical homes -- maximizing both quality of care and profits. Faculty will debunk some common misconceptions about the medical home model, describe national policy perspectives shaping the movement, and offer practical guidance and tools necessary to make the transformation a reality. Register by Jan. 12 for early-bird rates. (AAP, 1/7)


CMS Call: Medicare Quality Reporting Programs: Data Submission Process (Jan. 13)
On January 13, 2015, CMS is hosting a national provider call to provide an overview of the 2014 submission process for Medicare quality reporting programs, including the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), Value-Based Payment Modifier, and the Electronic Health Record Incentive Program. This session will discuss how eligible professionals and PQRS group practices can earn the 2014 PQRS incentive and avoid the 2016 negative PQRS payment adjustment through these reporting mechanisms.  Register here. (Health Industry Washington Watch, 1/5)


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