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July 15th, 2011
09:59 AM ET

U.S. hospital work prepares military docs for battlefield injuries

For a special look at "Battlefield Breakthroughs: Helping at Home," tune in to "Sanjay Gupta, M.D.," Saturday-Sunday 7:30 a.m. ET

The phone does not stop ringing at Baltimore’s shock trauma center.

A trauma tech picks up one of the calls.

“Stabbing, 10 to 15 by land,” he yells out in the emergency room, citing how far away the victim is from the hospital.

Every day dozens of trauma patients are wheeled into their trauma bays. Some are accident victims, others are critically ill. But right alongside the civilian trauma doctors, nurses and techs are military personnel.

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Why you should never go to the hospital in July
June 22nd, 2011
01:00 PM ET

Why you should never go to the hospital in July

Anthony Youn, M.D., is a plastic surgeon in Metro Detroit. He is the author of “In Stitches,” a humorous memoir about growing up Asian American and becoming a doctor. 

Do not get sick in July. Why? You might die.

A 2011 study published by the Journal of General Internal Medicine reported a 10% spike in teaching hospital deaths during the month of July due to medical errors. We call this spike “The July Effect” and we attribute it to the influx of new interns and residents.

Typically, medical students graduate in June and begin their first year of residency training — internship — in July. This group of eager new interns invades the hospital to learn, care for patients, and make medical decisions. One problem. They don’t know what they’re doing.

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Vacation season: Airplane rides and DVT
May 9th, 2011
05:00 AM ET

Vacation season: Airplane rides and DVT

As the school year winds down and the weather improves in most parts of the country, families may be planning their vacations and doctors want travelers to remember that long trips can raise the risk of getting dangerous blood clots.

Sitting for a long time in a car or on a plane can slow down blood flow, which can lead to a very serious condition called deep vein thrombosis or DVT – caused by blood clots that form in a person's lower leg or thigh and break off.

"DVT is very dangerous and can do severe damage to a person's body and if the clot breaks off and travels to the lung, it can be fatal," says Dr. Sandra Schneider, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians in a press release. A clot in the lung creates a condition known as a pulmonary embolism.
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Kids' CT scans increase fivefold
April 5th, 2011
09:55 AM ET

Kids' CT scans increase fivefold

The number of children getting computed tomography, or CT scans when visiting an emergency room increased fivefold over a 14-year period according to a new study in the journal Radiology.

The study analyzed data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey between 1995 and 2008 and looked at more than 7,300 emergency room visits a year. Researchers say during that time ER visits that included at CT exam increased from approximately 330,000 to 1.65 million visits.

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March 9th, 2011
04:16 PM ET

Doctor's heroics prompted praise, questions

Readers had a lot of praise for  Tim and Alison Delgado and also questions about the story that was published Saturday. The Delgados had a rare encounter in the emergency department after Alison was struck by a car while bicycling.

For more about the couple, visit Razoo and Move with Love.

Here are some of your questions and comments (edited for brevity). FULL POST


Using clot buster for mild stroke could save millions
February 9th, 2011
01:11 PM ET

Using clot buster for mild stroke could save millions

Treating mild strokes with the blood-clot dissolving drug approved for severe strokes could save $200 million in annual disability costs and lower the number of patients left disabled after suffering strokes, a new study finds.

Strokes can be caused by a blood clot (ischemic) or a ruptured blood vessel (hemorrhagic) preventing proper blood and oxygen flow to the brain. The majority –about 87%– are ischemic, according to the American Stroke Association.

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Michigan squashes infections, saves thousands of lives
January 31st, 2011
07:30 PM ET

Michigan squashes infections, saves thousands of lives

By using an intensive system of training and safety reminders, hospitals in Michigan have eliminated about one in five patient deaths, according to a study in the British Medical Journal.

The pilot program in Michigan started in 2003, an effort to reduce infections among elderly patients in intensive care. In 95 participating hospitals, doctors and staff took part in regular safety meetings and held consultations with infection-prevention experts at Johns Hopkins University. The hospitals also followed formal, five-point checklists of infection control measures – some as simple as remembering to wash hands before a procedure. Other checklist items include frequent adjustments to the position of patients on respirators, and removing catheters that are not absolutely necessary.

“We wanted it to be simple,” said Dr. Allison Lipitz-Snyderman of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the study’s lead author. “These aren’t new ideas. They were already proven to work. They just weren’t disseminated as widely as you’d think.”

Previous studies found the program did reduce infections, but the new analysis goes further, showing it cut the number of actual deaths. While death rates fell in surrounding states as well, the difference was larger in Michigan. There’s no way to calculate the precise number of lives saved, but Dr. Peter Pronovost, the Hopkins physician who led the project, says it’s likely a few thousand Michigan deaths were prevented each year.

Intriguingly, the death rate for elderly ICU patients started to fall during the study period in hospitals throughout the Midwest, not just the Michigan hospitals that implemented the program. After the end of the study period, the death rate continued to drop – even faster than before – in the Michigan hospitals, only.

To Pronovost, this suggests that a shift in hospital culture, rather than specific infection-control measures, was the crucial factor. “I’m convinced that changing the mindset, from thinking these infections were inevitable, to seeing them as preventable, is what made the big difference,” Pronovost told CNN. “Culture takes a while to change.”

Infections acquired in hospitals and other medical settings cause 1.7 million infections and 99,000 deaths each year, according to federal statistics. The Hopkins researchers, the Michigan Health and Hospital Association and the American Hospital Association are now overseeing a project to expand the infection-control program to all 50 states. So far all but three have signed on, with California the big holdout.


Shockable cardiac arrests more common in public
January 26th, 2011
05:01 PM ET

Shockable cardiac arrests more common in public

Having a cardiac arrest that can be treated by electrical stimulation is more common in a public setting compared with having a cardiac arrest at home. That's the finding of a new study by Canadian and U.S. researchers, published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

When the heart’s electrical system malfunctions, causing it to beat irregularly, it’s called cardiac arrest. The irregular heartbeats are called arrhythmias. Two of the most common arrhythmias are ventricular fibrillation, when the lower heart chambers quiver rather than pumping blood properly to the body, and pulseless ventricular tachycardia, where the lower chambers beat rapidly, preventing the heart from filling with blood, and stopping the pulse. Death will result if the heart’s proper rhythm can’t be restored, and both arrhythmias can be treated by shocking the heart back into rhythm with an AED.

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January 26th, 2011
12:17 PM ET

Study names cities with top hospital care

West Palm Beach, Florida; Brownsville, Texas; and Dayton, Ohio top the list of cities with the best hospital care according to HealthGrades, an independent health care ratings organization.

The HealthGrades list may surprise some who may have thought Cleveland or Houston or New York might top the list. But to get high marks, a city has to have the most "high performing" hospitals. For example, West Palm Beach, Florida, which ranks No. 1,  has nine out of 12 of its hospitals listed as excellent. Other cities in the Top 5 include Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, and Tucson, Arizona.

This doesn't mean that if you're searching for the best cancer center you won't want to consider a facility like the Cleveland Clinic or the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.  But what this does indicate, according to HealthGrades, is that certain cities have a higher percentage of hospitals that excel so no matter which hospital you choose, you're likely to get excellent care.

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Drug for heavy periods may help in traumas
January 19th, 2011
10:36 AM ET

Drug for heavy periods may help in traumas

A drug used to stem bleeding for heavy menstrual periods may do the same for hemorrhaging patients after a traumatic injury, according to a new study. Tranexamic acid, which works by keeping blood clots intact, could prevent countless deaths in situations where extensive blood loss occurs, according to the study.

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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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