Monday, November 20, 2017

Morning Rounds by Megan Thielking

Happy Monday, everyone! I'm here to get you ahead of the day's news in health. 

The opioid crisis cost $504 billion in 2015

The opioid crisis cost the economy $504 billion in 2015 — nearly six times higher than recent estimates — according to a new report just released by the president's Council of Economic Advisers. That's nearly 3 percent of the nation's gross domestic product in 2015. The council says past calculations both underestimated the true economic cost of deaths and didn't adjust for underreporting of opioid-related overdose deaths. The new analysis also takes into account the non-fatal costs of opioid misuse — including health care and substance abuse treatment expenses, criminal justice costs, and lost productivity.

The council plans to run an economic analysis of proposed and actual interventions to curb the crisis. But as you might remember, President Trump didn't include any new funding for those interventions in his emergency declaration. Administration officials have said they expect the opioid crisis to figure into budget negotiations and a spending bill Congress must pass by December. 

Motorcycle accidents are common and costly


Motorcycle crashes are incredibly common — and incredibly costly, according to a new analysis of adults treated for motorcycle and car crash injuries at hospitals in Ontario, Canada, between 2007 and 2013. Here’s a look at the findings:

  • Motorcycle accidents are far more common than car accidents, relatively speaking. There were 2,194 motorcycle injuries annually per 100,000 registered motorcycles. That’s triple the rate of automobile injury — there were 718 injuries each year per 100,000 registered cars.
  • Those injuries were often far more serious. There were 125 severe injuries each year per 100,000 motorcycles, compared to just 12 severe injuries per 100,000 cars. People injured in motorcycle accidents were much more likely than those injured in car crashes to be hospitalized. They were also more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit.
  • Motorcycle crashes are more often deadly and more costly. There were 14 deaths per year for every 100,000 motorcycles, compared to three deaths due to automobile accidents.The mean cost of a motorcycle injury was $5,825. The mean cost of an automobile accident was $2,995.

A side dish recall, just in time for Thanksgiving

Double check your frozen corn before throwing it on the Thanksgiving table. Several brands of frozen corn are being recalled over concerns the kernels might be contaminated with listeria. No illnesses have been reported, but Giant, Stop and Shop, and Martin’s Food Markets are recalling bags of frozen corn with a best-by date of October 2019 just in case. Also on the listeria recalls list: hummus, green beans, and guacamole.

Sponsor content by The Jackson Laboratory

Curing breast cancer: What, how, and what’s next?

A diagnosis of breast cancer is always devastating, but advances in research are pushing incidence and mortality trends in the right direction — down. Scientists at JAX are working intensively in their labs to find new strategies for tackling triple-negative breast cancer. Learn more.

Inside STAT: Battling a brain tumor, a man finds resilience through storytelling


(Maria fabrizio for stat)

Michael Bischoff stood in front of nursing home residents in Missouri. His father sat in a wheelchair at his side, a decades-old scar on his scalp. Their tumors had struck 70 years apart. Donald’s was successfully treated. A year ago, doctors told Michael they’d run out of options to treat his glioblastoma. But he maintains his own treatment regimen: spending time with his wife and two children. Daily walks near his home in Minneapolis. And perhaps most unconventionally, public storytelling. In telling his story, Bischoff has been closely watched by researchers studying whether the act of storytelling can actually improve a person’s health. STAT’s Bob Tedeschi has more — read here.

One way to better understand strokes? Study squirrels

Scientists are turning to ground squirrels to better understand brain damage after strokes. Squirrels have significantly lower blood flow to the brain during hibernation — which mirrors what happens to some patients after ischemic strokes, which happen when a blood clot cuts off circulation to part of the brain. That deprives brain cells of oxygen and nutrients they need to survive — but somehow, squirrels manage to wake up every spring without any brain damage. Now, scientists have discovered a special cellular process that kicks into gear to protect squirrels’ brains while they’re taking a long winter nap. Then, they singled out a molecule that boosts that process in rodent cells. The next step? See if the same molecule works to protect the brain in a mouse model of stroke.

New guidelines aim to help pediatricians reduce weight stigma

The American Academy of Pediatrics released a new set of guidelines this morning to help pediatricians reduce stigmatization and discrimination against children who are overweight or obese. The group, which teamed up with the Obesity Society to create the new guide, says that stigma can make health problems worse for children. What doctors can do: Use words like "weight" and "body mass index" instead of "fat," bring up concerns about bullying and discrimination in clinic visits, and help parents address that stigma at home and in school. 

What to read around the web today

  • The many forms, faces, and causes of PTSD. NPR
  • Will cutting the health mandate pay for tax cuts? Not necessarily. New York Times
  • Blue Cross plans to partner with Alphabet to manage diabetes. Forbes

More reads from STAT

The latest from STAT Plus

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


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