- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 26, 2003

PATIENTS WANT MORE INFORMATION ABOUT MEDICAL ERRORS

A new study reports patients want to be fully informed of medical errors when they happen. However, doctors do not seem to be providing this wanted information, according to the authors of the research released in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association. "Doctors should realize that there is a gap between what they tell patients after a medical error and the information and emotional support that a patient expects from the doctor," said Dr. Thomas Gallagher, professor of medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle. What keeps physicians from disclosing all are concerns about lawsuits, decreased trust, embarrassment and lack of training on how to handle such situations.

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MINORITY BREAST CANCER PATIENTS COULD BENEFIT FROM INTERNET

Researchers have found ethnic minorities with breast cancer use health information on the Internet differently than white patients with the same disease. The major difference is minority participants consider online health information as a source of social support. From these results, the researchers suggest this could affect a patient's survival. "Internet use may impact their physical health, as some research shows that social support is associated with longer life among breast cancer patients receiving social support treatments," said Joshua Fogel, postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University. The report will be released in the March/April issue of the journal Psycho-Oncology.

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SAFETY ALERT FOR PERMAX USERS

The Food and Drug Administration issued a safety alert in February for Parkinson's disease patients taking the drug Permax. The drug could be related to cardiac valvulopathy — in which lesions develop on the heart valves, interfering with proper blood circulation. The condition has been associated most commonly with the taking the appetite-suppression drugs fenfluramine and phentermine, commonly called Fen-Phen. Although conclusive data pointing to a relationship between Permax and the valvulopathy are lacking, both the FDA and Eli Lilly — the manufacturer — have revised their warnings related to Permax to reflect the possible side effect. In a letter, Lilly explained "a small number of individuals have been identified as developing cardiac valvulopathy involving one or more valves during Permax therapy."

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EXPERIMENTAL GEL COULD PREVENT HIV TRANSMISSION

A new contraceptive gel could block sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, while preventing pregnancy, researchers report. However, the product, called BufferGel — manufacturered by ReProtect Inc., of Baltimore — is still being tested at Johns Hopkins University in advanced clinical trials for its ability to prevent pregnancy. Further research into its ability to stop HIV transmission is scheduled to begin soon. A vaginal microbicide, BufferGel "maintains the mild, protective acidity of the vagina," the company's Web site reports. "The vagina is naturally acidic … which kills not only sperm, but also inactivates pathogens that can cause many STDs, including HIV/AIDS, HPV, herpes, syphilis and gonorrhea."

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(Editors: For more information about ERRORS, contact Walter Neary at 206-685-3841 or [email protected] For INTERNET, Kenna L. Brigham at 410-955-6878 or [email protected] For PERMAX, Amarin Pharmaceuticals Inc. at 1-800-969-4877. For GEL, Michael Purdy at 410-516-7906 or [email protected])



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