What The Zika Virus Means For Blood Transfusions

Blood TransfusionThere is a lot of concern swirling around about Zika virus, but it is important in times like this that we stay informed. The American Medical Association has provided us with a Resource Center to keep us in the know about Zika Virus and what to do if it occurs. We may know that Zika virus comes from Aedes mosquitos, but there is much more to know about Zika virus and how to prevent it in our lives. There are many questions regarding blood transfusions and Zika circulating around, and it is important that we educate ourselves on the matter. Here are a few common questions and their corresponding answers.

Can Zika be transmitted through donated blood?

The knowledge regarding the ways Zika virus can be transmitted is limited. There is, however, evidence that implies there may be a risk to blood safety. For example, the virus has been detected within blood donors in locations where Zika is circulating. Related viruses such as dengue, West Nile virus, and chikungunya have been transmitted through blood transfusion. In addition, Brazilian health authorities have found two possible cases of transmission of the Zika virus via blood transfusion. This information points to the idea that there is a risk of transferring the Zika virus through blood transfusion.

What precautions can we take to avoid this?

As far as prevention is concerned, a number of precautions can be taken to ensure that the blood supply is safe in countries that are being affected by the Zika virus. Some recommendations include implementing top notch management programs throughout the transfusion process. We also need to ensure that blood donation is repeated, voluntary, and from low-risk populations. There also needs to be proper training for blood services staff and blood products users. Most importantly, blood services must be well organized.

Will blood donations still occur in areas that are affected?

It may be necessary for blood collection to continue in order to meet the needs for blood and its components. This need may arise when a large area of the country is being affected by the outbreak and it is not possible to get blood from unaffected regions.

How could blood donation be tested for the presence of Zika virus?

In some cases, it may be possible to test blood donation for the presence of Zika virus. This would be done using viral inactivation or pathogen reduction technology (PRT) for plasma and platelets. There also may be selective testing in some cases, such as nucleic acid testing for the presence of the virus in blood donors who have recently returned from affected countries. This testing may be considered as an alternative to the deferral that would otherwise occur.

Zika virus is spreading, and it is important to gather all of the facts. If you are thinking about donating blood, or if you or someone you know needs a blood transfusion, make sure that you get all of the facts regarding Zika virus and blood transfusions. Blood Transfusions will still occur, but precautions are being taken to make sure that the Zika virus does not spread through blood transfusions.


Putting A Stop To Prescription Drug Abuse: It Starts With Our Doctors

 Putting A Stop To Prescription Drug Abuse: It Starts With Our Doctors

Scientists have made leaps and bounds in the world of medicine, but there are still kinks in the medical field that will need to be worked out. One of those problems is the over-prescribing of painkillers.

While the drug abuse problem in the U.S. will not be single handily fixed with this change, working against over-prescribing will make a large difference. The way health professionals prescribe drugs is a large cause of prescription drug abuse, and tackling this problem from its source will work a lot better than simply pointing the finger at those who abuse the drugs.

Scientists became aware of the prevalence of over-prescribing through a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. The study was led by Jonathan Chen, MD, a professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine. The study examined Medicare claims from 2013 to see which doctors prescribed opioids. The researchers also looked at how many prescriptions were filled. The term “opioids” refers to a class of drug that includes OxyContin, morphine, and codeine.

The study had some truly eye-opening results. These drugs are being prescribed by all different types of medical professionals, such as doctors, dentists, physician’s assistants, and nurse practitioners. The researchers were surprised to find that the majority of health professionals are contributing to the problem of overprescribing opioids, an issue which was originally thought to be caused by only a small minority of healthcare professionals.

Abuse of prescription painkillers has been a problem throughout the nation, causing concern among policymakers, law enforcement officials, and public health experts. According to the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 19,000 people died from overdosing on prescription painkillers in 2014. According to previous research, about 80% of opioids are prescribed by medical professionals. Dr. Chen’s research went further in depth to find that 57% of these opioid prescriptions were filled by 10% of doctors, nurse practitioners, dentists, and physician assistants. This figure implies that the pattern for the opioid prescription is in line with the patterns for other medications, including those that are not typically abused. This means that 10% of doctors and responsible for 63% of medical prescriptions. This shows that the opioid crisis is fueled by more than just a few doctors. The frequency that a doctor prescribes these painkillers is about the same as the frequency that a doctor recommends any other type of medication.

So, what are the real world implications of this research? Chen states that any public health initiatives that set out to end prescription drug abuse need to target all doctors, thus taking a systematic approach. This change can not be brought about unless medical professionals throughout a number of fields are informed about the prevalence of overdosing on opioids. The target needs to shift from a small percentage of doctors that were believed to be causing the crisis to the wide spectrum of medical professionals who are actually causing it. All healthcare professionals need to work to solve this issue in order to change the medical field, and the world, for the better.

3D-Printing Has Revolutionized the Medical Care Field

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALike everything, the medical care field has evolved, benefitting from maturing expertise, supplemental services, and advanced technologies. 3D-printing, which has been around since the 1980s, has been hammered and honed, and it’s inching its way toward perfection in order to better meet the needs of the medical industry and beyond.

Yes, 3D-printing seems like something imagined in a flashy 1960’s sci-fi spectacular, but 3D-printers have the capacity to save lives, which is no meager feat. These printers have fast-tracked the production of prototypes and lengthened lives through the production of airway splints and other useful functional tools. The dental and non-dental medical uses for 3D-printed technology proves 3D printing for medical applications can solve real problems. It’s the physical solution to responding to patient-specific needs, and this enables the development of personalized medicine that can be manufactured simply and shared widely, which means that cost becomes the secondary concern, and care remains at the forefront.

3D-printed applications are revolutionizing surgical practice. For example, the creation of a custom cardiac model helped surgeons to detect and patch a defect in the ventricles of a 2-year-old’s heart, which reduced operating time, produced better outcomes, and lowered the risk of complications. Professional 3D printers are also instrumental when studying CT scans, for skeletal operations, medical imaging, and 3D-modeling.

In the year 2014, the 3D industry grew by 35.2 percent ahead of a slight slowdown during the year to follow. Nonetheless, 3D printing continues to be cost-effective and accessible, which can, through various processes, be used to synthesize three-dimensional objects –thus revolutionizing healthcare. Within a decade, 3D-printed surgical guides and medical models will become standard procedure for spinal procedures, heart surgery, hip replacement, cranial implants, knee replacements and a variety of other operations. In years to come, engineers will become more experimental, testing the potential of life-changing consequences and healthcare solutions. Already, 3D-printable braces, prosthetics, devices, instruments, skin and organs helpful for face transplants, saving the lives of babies and assisting in cell reconstruction. Additionally, there are 3D-printed casts, 3D-printed ankle replacements, and 3D-printed pills.

The potential for 3D-printing is enormous, and it has the ability to bring treatment to millions of people requiring difficult surgery or prosthetics. Rather than paying $10,000 to $20,000 for a traditional transradial (below the elbow) prosthetic, 3D-printing can make customizable and functional prosthetics available for less than a few hundred dollars.

The possibilities truly are limitless.