MASSDEVICE ON CALL — Advancements in emergency room techniques and technology have done little to affect heart attack death rates, according to a University of Michigan study.
Doctors have been working to reduce balloon angioplasty treatment times, reducing so called "door-to-balloon" time to an average of about 90 minutes, but their speed hasn’t reduced patient mortality rates, researchers said.
The study, published in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine, analyzed data from 100,000 heart attack patients from 2005 to 2009, finding that door-to-balloon time dropped, but the average death rate remained 4.7%. Researchers warned that angioplasties may have hit a point of diminishing returns.
"The pendulum may have swung too far," lead study author Dr. Daniel Menees said in prepared remarks. "In our rush to provide treatment even faster, we may be taking patients for angioplasty who don’t need one and possibly even placing those patients at-risk."
Biogen launches science education grant for middle schools in Mass., N.C.
Biogen Idec kicked off a $250,000 grant for science education at middle schools in Massachusetts and North Carolina. The grant is organized through a nonprofit group called Citizen Schools, which runs an apprenticeship program to further science, technology, engineering and math education among low-income children. The Biogen Idec Foundation will fund a 10-week student course at a Cambridge campus and a new community lab in Triangle Park, N.C.
California medical supplier fesses up to $2.6M Medicare fraud scheme
A Long Beach, Calif.-based medical supplier admitted to a $2.6 million
Medicare scam selling unnecessary power wheelchairs. Akinola Afolabi, 54, pleaded guilty to 1 count of healthcare fraud and now faces up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in penalties. His company, Emmanuel Medical Supply, needlessly provided wheelchairs to Medicare patients and then fronted the government with the bill. He also admitted to using marketers to recruit patients involved in the scam and said that , in some cases, he did not even deliver the fraudulently acquired medical equipment.
Cyber theft exposes credit card information of 7,000 people
A security breach at the Medical University of South Carolina exposed online credit card information of more than 7,000 people. The university reported the theft to the FBI as soon as a 3rd-party credit card processing vendor called Blackhawk Consulting Group tipped school administrators off to the hack. University officials told local media they believe that no medical information was stolen from the teaching hospital. The thieves accessed credit card information through the university’s online physician payment tool, and stole credit card information sometime between June 30 and August 31.
Video games give older adults a brain boost
A specialized racing video game can to help improve neuroplasticity in older adults, offering potential applications in adult attention deficit disorder or autism spectrum disorder. The research findings, published in Nature, measured multitasking ability between groups of adults who practiced with the game and groups who did not. Brain scans revealed a physical change in prefrontal cortices among the test group. The game was designed by a company called Akili Interactive Labs, which plans to use the Nature paper to support FDA clearance.