MASSDEVICE ON CALL — Uncertainty surrounding the use of cardiac stents and angioplasty balloons may lead to a market backlash against the devices and their makers.
At least 4 percent and up to 12 percent of percutaneous coronary interventions may be implanted outside of industry-recommended guidelines, according to an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. yesterday.
The study, while declaring at least 85 percent of the more than 500,000 PCIs studied definitively necessary and appropriate, has gotten a fair amount of ink over the implication that one in eight angioplasty implants could be avoided.
The angioplasty procedure, which almost always involves the placement of a tiny metal tube called a stent, costs about $20,000 per patient, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Most of the uncertainty involved PCIs used in non-emergency situations. Those implanted for acute interventions were found almost entirely necessary, with only about 1 percent uncertain and less than half a percent deemed inappropriate.
Elective implants made up a smaller portion of the whole, but a greater amount of those with questionable purposes. For implants used in elective situations, only about half were determined definitively appropriate, 12 percent were considered inappropriate and nearly 40 percent were uncertain.
The latest JAMA study adds to the spectre of doubt that has already stunted the cardiac rhythm management market this year.
A CRM study published in January showed that more than one in five implantable cardioverter-defibrillators were placed outside the medical guidelines. That study and a U.S. Justice Dept. probe raised fears of federal prosecution among cardiologists; the pair also fueled sales slowdowns for large cardiac device makers such as Boston Scientific Corp. (NYSE:BSX) and St. Jude Medical Inc. (NYSE:STJ).
Could something similar be in store for PCI sales? Shares of Boston Scientific, St. Jude and Medtronic stock were all down by the end of the day yesterday. Boston Scientific closed at $7.14, down 1.24 percent on the day; St. Jude was down 1.73 percent to $47.74 and Medtronic dropped 2.97 percent to $37.96.
EMR takes about 160 jobs away from humans at Johns Hopkins
Johns Hopkins hospital will cut 160 clerical jobs that will be instead handled by an electronic medical support system by the end of the year, Fierce Healthcare reported.
"We fully understand the uncertainty and apprehension these necessary changes bring and are dedicated to doing our utmost to minimize the disruptions to our employees throughout this period," hospital spokesman Gary Stephenson said in a statement.
The hospital will try to transition the displaced workers to other positions, according to the report.
Electronic prescriptions may be just as faulty as their human counterparts
Electronic prescriptions are just as error-prone as handwritten ones, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Assn.
"Implementing a computerized prescribing system without comprehensive functionality and processes in place to ensure meaningful system use does not decrease medication errors," the study concluded.
The most common error involved incomplete prescribing information, such as length of treatment or dosage, Fierce Health IT reported.
Research teams hop on board to study skeletal degeneration during space flight
Several research teams, including Cleveland Clinic imaging contract research organization ImageIQ, the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, and biopharmaceutical companies Amgen (NSDQ:AMGN) and UCB SA (EBR:UCB) are teaming up to study bone density loss during space flight.
The space shuttle Atlantis will host 30 experimental mice on its historic final flight scheduled to launch July 8, 2011. Those tiny travelers "might help humans one day travel far beyond the moon," officials from the University of North Carolina said in a release.
Patients are willing to pay more for medical device convenience
The majority of diabetes patients polled said they would be willing to pay extra for medical devices that are more user-friendly, MDDI Online news reported.
More than three-quarters of the 240 patients polled said they would pay a higher out-of-pocket premium for a device that was easier to use than what they had at the time.