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Health Tips: Patients Need Personal Touch

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Oct 07, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- PATIENTS NEED PERSONAL TOUCH

Research shows a skilled physical examination by a knowledgeable doctor is critical to providing good care for hospital patients. Despite modern advances in diagnostic and therapeutic technology, "hands-on" exams can have an important effect on the quality of care a patient receives, the authors said in the journal The Lancet. Brendan Reilly of Cook County Hospital in Chicago examined 100 patients who had been admitted to the hospital with a diagnosis made by other doctors. The exam changed the diagnosis and treatment of 25 percent of them. "These results show that physical examination can have a substantial effect on the care of medical patients," Reilly said. "In many patients, these findings prompted active collaboration by specialist consultants to perform urgent surgical (or other invasive) procedures. These findings have important implications for medical education and efforts to improve the safety and quality of hospital care."


European researchers have found an association between low or high birth weight and the risk of cerebral palsy. Newborns with a birth weight in the lowest 10 percent are 4 to 6 times more likely to develop cerebral palsy than those with more average weight. At the other end of the spectrum, babies born in the top 3 percent range for birth weight have up to a three-fold increased risk. Cerebral palsy is the most common cause of severe physical disability in children in developed countries. The cause of the condition is still poorly understood. Previous research has indicated low birth weight in term babies is associated with increased risk of cerebral palsy, Stephen Jarvis of the University of Newcastle in England said in the journal The Lancet.


Stents coated with the immunosuppressive drug sirolimus can protect heart patients against artery narrowing better than conventional metal stents, doctors say. The implantation of coronary stents, to widen coronary arteries, has become the treatment of choice over the past decade for coronary artery disease. Joachim Schofer, of The Centre for Cardiology and Vascular Intervention in Hamburg, Germany, said patients who received the sirolimus stents suffered fewer heart ailments during the nine-month study than did those given conventional bare-metal stents. Ulrich Sigwart of the University Hospital in Geneva says the introduction of drug delivery from intravascular stents is a major advance in medicine.


Researchers say the use of vibrating insoles could improve the balance of elderly people, perhaps reducing falls and bone fractures. The somatosensory nervous system, which provides touch and position sense, deteriorates with age, and is associated with the impairment of physical balance. James Collins of Boston University says, "Noise-based devices, such as randomly vibrating shoe insoles, might be effective in enhancing the performance of dynamic balance activities (eg, walking), and could enable older adults to overcome postural instability caused by age-related sensory loss." The study appears in The Lancet.


(EDITORS: For more information about PERSONAL, contact Brendan Reilly at (312) 864-7200 or For BIRTH, Mary-Jane Platt at +44 (0)151 794 5576 or For CORONARY, Joachim Schofer at +49 40 889 0090 or > For INSOLES, contact Joe Santangelo at (212) 633-3810 or

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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