By Claire Jacobson
Sarah, a teacher in a rural Midwestern town, is always receiving compliments on her home. It has a cozy feel with soft lighting, shag rugs, and a beautiful cobblestone path leading to the front door — what’s not to love?
Unfortunately, her 80-year-old mother, who recently moved in with Sarah, has slipped several times. She ended up in the emergency department after one of the falls.
In Sarah’s home, as in many homes, there are three significant trouble areas where older adults are most at risk of falling: the bathroom, stairs, and hallways or pathways.
If you’re an older adult and want to make changes that will “fall-proof” your home and reduce your risk, here are some tips that might…
By Mandy Erickson
Stanford Medicine’s Marc and Laura Andreessen Adult Emergency Department, the front door to the hospital for many patients, has been responding to the coronavirus pandemic for nearly a year. The roughly 500 workers in the ED — physicians, nurses, security officers, X-ray technicians, pharmacists and many others — have faced a challenging 10 months. They’ve had to develop strategies for treating people with COVID-19 and prevent the virus’s spread among staff and patients — all while caring for everyone who comes through its doors, and each other.
As the pandemic hits its third, and so far biggest, surge in the Bay Area, Andra Blomkalns, MD, chair of emergency medicine, and Alison Kerr, MSN, chief administrative officer of clinical operations, spoke with me about how the ED crew has adapted and prevailed during COVID-19. …
By Beth Duff-Brown
Stanford Professor of Medicine Joshua Salomon, PhD, and his colleagues have mapped out an approach to the national distribution of COVID-19 vaccines that they predict would get more Americans fully inoculated sooner and reduce the number of COVID-19 cases compared with the federal government’s original strategy.
Because both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, federal officials have been withholding 50% of each week’s available supply from immediate distribution to states, with plans to release it three or four weeks later for use as second doses.
But as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths reached new highs after the holidays, vaccination in the United States has been well behind schedule. On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that second doses of the vaccine would no longer be held in reserve. …
By Erin Digitale
A blood test that predicts if a baby will be born prematurely has been shown to work well in pregnant women in several developing countries, according to a new Stanford-led study. The method can also predict how long a woman has been pregnant.
The test, which builds on a similar test invented at Stanford in 2018, has the potential to improve prenatal care in low- and middle-income countries, where the majority of the world’s premature babies are born. Validating the testing technique in diverse populations is an important step in making it useful for everyone.
The study, published recently in JAMA Network Open, was conducted in collaboration with scientists, health care workers and pregnant women in five locations in Zambia, Tanzania, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Premature birth — when a baby is born three or more weeks early — happens for a variety of reasons, with genetic, environmental and immune-system factors all potentially contributing. …
By Patricia Hannon
Since the mid-1970s, U.S. hospitals have empowered dying patients to decide for themselves what level of treatment they would want if their heart stopped.
Traditionally, hospitals have given patients two options: they can request that care teams try every available procedure to restore their heart function, called full code; or they can ask clinicians to allow them die without further intervention, known as a DNR — do not resuscitate.
But medical advances in the past four decades have made this choice increasingly complicated; there are now more options for keeping a patient alive and therefore, more scenarios to consider when a patient is seriously ill but not yet in cardiac arrest. …
By Claire Jacobson
Paul, a retired construction manager, woke up one morning feeling a little light-headed. Brushing it off, he got out of bed to go to the bathroom, and suddenly, the world was spinning.
Before he could grab on to something, Paul lost his balance and slipped on the tile floor, hitting his head on a towel rack as he crashed to the ground.
His granddaughter rushed him to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a concussion.
Unfortunately, Paul is one of the 3 million older adults — individuals age 65 and older — treated in emergency departments across the United States each year for fall injuries. About one in every four older adults will fall every year. The physical, psychological and financial consequences of falling can be staggering. Largely shouldered by Medicare and Medicaid, the total medical costs related to falls exceed $50 billion annually. …
By BeWell Stanford
If you’re feeling anxious right now, you’re certainly not alone.
The good news is that anxiety can be effectively treated and managed. To better understand anxiety and what can be done to help alleviate it, BeWell Stanford spoke with Rosan Gomperts, LCSW, director of the Stanford Faculty Staff Help Center.
While the symptoms of anxiety, worry and stress can be similar, it’s important to understand the differences to determine the best form of treatment.
Stress is commonly described as having inadequate time or resources to accomplish specific objectives. …
By Erin Digitale
A large public health program in rural India improved maternal and child health in its pilot phase, but was at risk of leaving behind the most-disadvantaged participants when the program expanded, according to a Stanford-led study. The research has lessons for other thorny problems in health equity, including how to handle COVID-19 in the United States, according to the authors.
The program, called Ananya (“limitless” or “unique” in Hindi), focused on people living in Bihar, a state in Northeastern India that borders Nepal. The program included many interventions, such as encouraging women to give birth in health care facilities instead of at home; giving nutrition advice; and promoting postpartum contraception and childhood vaccinations. …
By Stacey Paris McCutcheon
Important conversations about end-of-life preferences are often skipped, leaving patients voiceless about the kind of care they want in a crisis.
Could an app help prompt these conversations?
Quite possibly, according to a team of Stanford physicians who developed a digital way to engage patients and families in end-of-life planning in an unusual course called Building for Digital Health. This new course from the Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign pairs Stanford faculty working on digital health projects with computer science students who are interested in health care.
About 65% of chronically ill patients don’t have conversations with their physician about end-of-life care, said Lance Downing, MD, a Stanford Medicine physician who specializes in clinical informatics. “As a result, they may receive costly, invasive, life-prolonging treatments that contradict their health goals and values.” …
By Hanae Armitage
Every drug, from morphine to ibuprofen, has a standard dose — a sort of one-size-fits all recommendation. But a new study suggests that when it comes to drug doses, “one size fits all” rarely applies.
Stanford Medicine professor Russ Altman, MD, PhD, and a team of scientists found that almost everyone (99.5% of individuals) is likely to have an abnormal or “atypical” response to at least one therapeutic drug. …