Monday, November 29, 2010

Hospital RFID Tags Interfere with Medical Devices

Wireless devices interfering with life saving medical devices probably shouldn’t come as any surprise to anyone who’s experienced interference of one type or another from a wireless device of some kind. After all, we have all these signals filling the air around us. You would think someone would have tested this before.
But it took a team of Dutch researchers, the same group whose study last year indicated that cell phones could interfere with critical care equipment such as ventilators and external pacemakers, to come up with a similar result regarding RFID tags.
RFID tags are used to track various items, including – in hospitals – items like medicines and surgical tools. However, the study, to be published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that RFID tags can interfere with equipment such as respirators, external pacemakers and kidney dialysis machines.
The researchers tested medical equipment within meters of an RFID reader broadcasting a signal to nearby RFID tag. In 123 tests of 41 different pieces of equipment, the equipment malfunctioned 34 times (28%), with 22 of the problems serious enough to affect patients.
Erik Jan van Lieshout, a critical care physician at the University of Amsterdam led the study, as well as the prior cell phone study. He urged caution in reacting to the study. "Don’t put on a frenetic ban on RFID systems. That would be as stupid as instituting systems without testing them."
Virtually none of the equipment had no interference at all, but older equipment seemed to be less susceptible to interference.
Last year the FDA issued a set of draft guidelines that identified RFID technology as a potential safety concern.
In fact, their guidelines said:
"In general, a wired connection is more reliable than a wireless connection. FDA believes the more critical the medical device function and information passed via RF technology, the more important it is the wireless connection be robust. We recognize there are several concerns about the potential effects of RF wireless technology in and around medical devices related to the ability of the devices to function properly and the resultant safety of patients and operators, including:"
* RF wireless emissions from one product or device can affect the function of another.
* electromagnetic environments where medical devices are used may contain many sources of RF energy.
* the use of RF wireless technology in and around medical devices is increasing.
Despite this, there hasn’t been much attention paid to RF interference and possible issues with regards to patient safety. Despite the fact that the FDA has no injury reports due to RFID interference with a medical device, this study shows that more attention needs to be paid to this subject, as increased RFID tag use could mean that such a safety record won’t stand up over time.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turning Clocks Back Not Good for Your Health

It’s time once again for turning clocks back, and some say they relish the extra time to sleep. But an expert at Policy Studies Institute, as well as Saga research results, say that turning clocks back is not good for your health.

Turning clocks back impacts physical and mental health

According to Mayer Hillman, senior fellow emeritus at the Policy Studies Institute, putting clocks forward in the spring is a simple way to improve health because it increases the number of daylight hours and thus encourages people to be outside and participate in outdoor activities. Turning clocks back, however, has the opposite effect.
Given the growing problem of overweight and obesity among both children and adults, as well as weight-associated health challenges such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain cancers, efforts to encourage physical activity are critically important.
Mayer notes in a “Personal View” section of the recent British Medical Journal that putting the clock ahead in the spring but not turning it back in the fall “would considerably increase opportunities for outdoor leisure activities—about 300 additional hours of daylight for adults each year and 200 more for children.”
Research indicates that individuals tend to be happier and have more energy when there is more daylight and to be more sad and lethargic when there is less daylight. In fact, a type of depression known as SAD—Seasonal Affective Disorder—is associated with a decline in sunlight during the winter months.
In a recent article in the UK Telegraph, it is also reported that Saga’s monthly poll of more than 13,000 people older than 50, two-thirds are in favor of not turning back clocks in the fall to avoid the isolation they feel during the longer days without sunlight.
According to Ros Altmann, Saga’s director-general, “Taking away the extra hour of daylight robs many of their independence. By staying indoors to avoid driving they are being isolated from friends and family.” Saga’s research has shown that two-thirds of people older than 50 are less likely to go out on dark evenings, 40 percent said they were more depressed by dark evenings, nearly 25 percent were “grumpier,” and they exercised less.
For many people, the approach of winter is also the time for turning clocks back. Some argue that it may be time to forego this tradition because it is not beneficial for our health. Officials will have an extra hour or so to sleep on that question.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pros and Cons of Going Vegetarian

As a vegetarian, people often ask me: How do you only live on salad?!  Does that make you a hippie? How many supplements do you have to take? Nevertheless, times have changed. As the amount of research correlating a vegetarian diet with a healthy lifestyle increases, the herbivore population is no longer limited to “hippies.” Although taking meat out of your diet has many benefits, it isn’t for everyone. It is important to consider the dedication this alternate lifestyle requires, in addition to education on nutrition before deciding if vegetarianism is a good choice for you. Pros The information below was provided by the Vegetarian Beginner’s Guide by the editors of Vegetarian Times Animal welfare 54% Unfortunately, farm animals—cattle, pigs, chicken, etc—face daily abuse on the majority of factory farms that produce most of America’s meat. For instance, chickens are often in wire cages so small that they cannot walk until ready for slaughter and cattle are typically castrated without any anesthetic.  Environmental concerns 47% Land: 64% of all land used to grow grain and soybeans will go to feed industrial farm animals—not humans. In addition, the large amounts of land used for grazing slaughter house animals have washed away topsoil, depleting nutrients that could have been used for food growing. Water: In 1996, the Environmental Protection Agency declared the largest non-point (not from a water origin) source of water pollution in the United States was from livestock manure. With more than two billion tons per year, the livestock waste—filled with ammonia, pesticides, and other toxic chemicals—is equal to the waste of almost half the world’s population. Not only does this alter water supply, but the contaminated water also hinders what we and other animals drink. Improve overall health 53% From a stronger immune system to a 40% lower risk of developing cancer than omnivores, research shows vegetarian diets rich in vitamins and minerals promote good health and ward off a variety of diseases (heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, etc). According to Walter Willett, chair of the department of nutrition and Harvard University’s School of Public Health, half of all illnesses could be eliminated or greatly delayed through diet changes. Food safety concerns 31% Botulism? Salmonella? Staph? Do these sound familiar? They are all diseases stemmed from contaminated animal products. Unfortunately, the commonly occurring pathogens are becoming increasingly common as more food passes through plants. In addition, all the animals are fed antibiotics and other drugs in order to counter diseases promoted by overcrowded conditions. Therefore, these products potentially contaminate the consumer. You are what you eat. Weight loss 25% A well balanced vegetarian diet is generally rich in low fat-fat fibrous food with the necessary nutrition to thrive. This lifestyle can increase your energy, ultimately creating a healthier body inside and out. Cons With new limits, maintaining a healthy vegetarian diet requires an open mind. Without adventurous taste buds, some new vegetarians resort to an abundance of bread and fries. If you generally have difficulty entering a realm of different food (tofu, tempeh, seitan, and other soy products) and prefer to stick to the familiar, creating a well-balanced meatless plan may be difficult. According to the Vegetarian Beginner’s Guide, eating a lot of meat is healthier than a non-colorful vegetarian diet. Therefore, vegetarianism means a lot more planning and sometimes less options at restaurants. For instance, I did not plan well when deciding to go vegetarian. As a result of unsuccessfully constructing a food regimen, I developed a severe case of iron-deficiency anemia within a year. With a lack of dark greens (rich in iron) and fruits rich in vitamin C (which helps the body absorb iron). A few hospital visits and articles on nutrition later, I developed a well-rounded meatless diet and feel better than ever. The same goes for protein and calcium. They are still prominent in vegetarian foods; however, it requires planning and education to gain the benefits. After all, being a vegetarian alone does not guarantee good health. One must eat the right foods, exercise, and avoid the destructive habits of smoking and drinking heavily to fulfill the physical and spiritual benefits food can provide.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Vets Must Cope With Many Struggles

Financial problems, unemployment, poor health and poorly managed and often ignored mental health seem to be the top challenges facing area veterans, officials said.
“Unemployment is quite high” in Henry County and Martinsville, and “adjusting to life after being in combat can be very difficult,” said Preston Page. He is a licensed social worker and licensed substance abuse treatment practitioner who has a practice in Martinsville.
"A great deal of terrible things happen in combat to you and other people. Sometimes you have caused terrible things to happen” he said. “Those things are hard to live with. Plus, you survived and came home,” said Page.
It appears that the rules at home are quite different than in the rules in the combat zone. Soldiers and their families often struggle as things have changed during the time of military service, and adjustment problems and relationship problems may result, Page has said.
A study by the Virginia Tech Institute on Policy and Governance that indicated veterans in Southwest Virginia had alarming rates of depression. Page said there has been a huge increase in mental health services offered by the military since he was in Vietnam, and there are services available in the community and through other avenues.
“Many in our group have waited over five years to have their claims rated by the (VA),” she added. Rated means that a veteran qualifies for disability benefit depending on what percentage of his or her injury or health condition is service-connected.
According to a survey in the study, 47 percent of veterans responding in Southwest Virginia felt sad or depressed. Statewide the average was 34.8 percent. That is a great deal of soldiers that are depressed after serving their country,
The problem is it can be difficult for veterans to admit they need help and seek it, he said. In the military, personnel are taught to be strong and self-reliant, he said. The other problem is the VA is swamped.
The most important issue facing veterans today is “the delays, denials and excuses, we have been given by the (VA) in rating and processing the disability claims for our veterans. The fact that 380, plus, Vietnam veterans are dying each day makes it imperative these claims be expedited. Too long we have endured a maze of futile forms and one-sided claims and pension exams,” said Judy Doering coordinator of the support group Wives of Vietnam Veterans.
Many vets must cope with struggles that we may be unaware of and the waiting list for proper care seems to get longer and longer.