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Last Acts

Last Acts, the nation's largest coalition promoting improvements in care and caring near the end of life, released in July 2002 a blueprint for better care for children who have advanced illness. A recent study by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued a report, "When Children Die: Improving Palliative and End-of-Life Care for Children and Their Families." Their study found that the American health care system is poorly prepared to offer palliative care to the more than 53,000 children who die each year. The report recommended specific, comprehensive approaches to providing that care: respecting patient and family's goals, preferences and choices; relieving pain and emotional distress; using multi-disciplinary care teams; addressing care-giver concerns; and building systems of support for palliative care. For more information, contact Arlyn Riskind, 301-652-1558.


Worry About the Right Things

You probably get nervous about plane crashes, anthrax and flesh-eating bacteria. These frightening health risks you can't control, but don't overlook the common causes of death for women. According to the July 2002 issue ofMayo Clinic Women's Health Source(MCWHS),one in five women will die from heart disease, one in seven from cancer and one in eighteen from stroke. The likelihood of dying in a plane crash is one in 5,092. "Flesh-eating" strep disease? One in one million.


Julie Abbott, MD, a preventive medicine specialist, medical editor of MCWHS, says "Many come to the physician's office with a mismatched sense of what's important. A woman who smokes three packs of cigarettes a day refuses a chest X-ray because of the risk of radiation exposure. She should be focusing on the significant health risks of smoking." You can reduce your risk of serious and common illnesses by not smoking, maintaining a normal weight, eating healthy foods and exercising regularly. Next time you're worrying about toxic chemicals or pesticides, put your health risks in perspective. Direct your energy toward making healthy lifestyle changes.-Mayo Clinic,


Christ with Us in Suffering

One of its [book of Revelation] great themes (often missed) is that Christ reigns especially in the midst of our suffering. In my experience, some of the Christians who have understood best what that reign means have been disabled people or people with other limitations [horizontal ellipsis] who have learned to trust God in their physical challenges or other struggles, and therefore often render us all a great service by teaching us a theology of weakness. My major hope is that all of us in the body of Christ could learn that theology better, by receiving the teaching that our sufferings bring us and valuing more thoroughly the contributions that those who suffer bring to our communities.-Marva J. Dawn in Joy in Our Weakness as quoted in Morning by Morning, Marva J. Dawn, edited by Karen Dismer


Have a Safe Trip!!

Researchers at the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center studied the cause of 25,000 serious auto crashes from 1995 to 1999. They found that one out of every seven drivers was distracted by something at the time the crash happened. The biggest culprit was something outside the vehicle-a car stopped by the police at the roadside, a friend in another vehicle or a construction area. The culprits within the vehicle included adjusting the radio or CD player, eating or drinking, talking on a cell phone or taking care of children.Deadly Distraction, a booklet put out by Shell, says: "Using a cell phone while driving increases the chance of getting into an accident by 400 percent." For a copy of this or one of seven other driving-tip booklets from Shell, call 800-376-0200 or check the website,,June 2002


Fighting Hip Fractures

Besides causing much pain and discomfort for the elderly, osteoporotic hip fractures cost millions of health care dollars each year in ED visits, hospitalizations and nursing home stays. Medications for osteoporosis may help or prevent hip fractures, but many cannot or will not take them. Fall prevention (home assessment, proper footwear, vision and hearing evaluations) becomes a key aspect of nursing care.


Nurses can now offer something additional: hip protectors. Hip protectors disperse the weight of a blow from the neck of the femur during a fall or impact to the hip. Acting like the crash helmets of racecar drivers, they are hard, flexible shell protectors sewn into the hip area of cotton and Lycra undergarments. Several studies have shown them to be effective. Hip protectors can be purchased from medical supply companies or through the Internet at Safehip, Spectrum, May 20, 2002


RNs' Care Saves Lives

Hospitals staffed with highly skilled RNs save more lives from deadly complications, researchers from Harvard and Vanderbilt Universities say in a May 2002 issue of theNew England Journal of Medicine.They analyzed 6.2 million patients released from 799 hospitals in 11 states in 1997, about one-fourth of those discharged nationwide, comparing the 25 percent who received the most nursing care with the 25 percent receiving the least nursing care.


Medical patients with the greatest proportion of RN care were 9 percent less likely to suffer shock or cardiac arrest or get a urinary tract infection. Those patients spent 5 percent less time in the hospital. Surgical patients with more RN care were 6 percent less likely to die from pneumonia, shock or cardiac arrest, upper GI bleeding, blood poisoning or clotting. The study was funded by the government and is meant to give direction to policymakers on medical costs and nurse staffing.-Chicago Tribune,May 30, 2002


Struggling to Give Meds to Babies?

The new Kidz-Med(TM) medicine dispenser makes it easy to give medicine to infants and toddlers by dispensing accurate administration of liquid meds, even to finicky little ones. The pacifier's graduated reservoir holds up to 5 ml. of medicine, delivered through the nipple by gently depressing the built-in plunger or by the baby's normal sucking. The orthodontically correct polypropylene mouth shield and silicone nipple are FDA approved, and parts are welded together for safety and may be sterilized to prevent infection. For more information, call toll-free 877-206-3225.


-PulseBeats compiled by Melodee Yoke, consulting editor