Friday, February 10, 2017

On Call by Casey Ross & Max Blau
Good morning! We're here to catch you up the latest news affecting hospitals and health care. But first: Yesterday, we published a list of clinicians we think you should follow on Twitter. Who in health care do you follow? Let us know, either by email at, or by tweeting at us: @statnews, @bycaseyross, or @maxblau. Thanks and read on!

The votes are in: Tom Price wins confirmation

Georgia Representative Tom Price won confirmation early today as secretary of Heath and Human Services. The Senate approved the nomination on a party line vote, 52-47, at about 2 a.m., after a long and heated debate. Democrats criticized Trump's pick on ethical grounds, based on stock trades Price made while in public service, but also on philosophical grounds, as Price opposes abortion and has strongly supported the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Republicans, however, praised Price, a former orthopedic surgeon, for his experience with health care and his commitment to small government. As secretary, he will be responsible for a budget of approximately $1 trillion.

Fresh take: Did the FDA jump the gun with anesthesia warning?

A recent FDA warning that repeated exposure to general anesthesia could harm brain development in children age 3 and younger might be undermining access to critical surgeries and diagnostic procedures, according to a new perspective piece in the New England Journal of Medicine. The authors say FDA officials should have waited until two pending safety studies were completed in the next several years. 

Meanwhile, the FDA’s warning is already affecting clinical practice. Doctors at Texas Children's Hospital discuss the anesthesia warning with parents before every relevant procedure, totaling about 13,000 cases per year in children under age 3.

Foreign doctors look to Canada 

Dr. Hassan Majeed is a Pakistani psychiatrist in Connecticut. He’s not immediately affected by President Trump’s temporary travel ban, but still worries his country will soon be added to the list.  So he’s begun the process of getting a medical license in Ontario.

Canada stands ready to welcome him and many others.
Every university in the country has condemned Trump's executive order and some have waived application fees for eligible foreign doctors looking to relocate, reports Dr. Blair Bigham, an emergency doctor in the fellowship program at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto.

Universities in Saskatchewan and Ontario told Bigham that they're already getting calls from doctors wanting to move north. “If you have US training, it’s easy,” Majeed told Bigham about the process, which could take several months.

The US relies on foreign medical graduates to fill positions in under-served areas, including many rural communities. 

Today in STAT: A Syrian child, a better chance for treatment in the US

Matthew Orr/StAT
When the Almkhlef family arrived in the US in 2014, after a government airstrike destroyed their home in Syria, they knew it would be tough to start over. But in the US, they knew nine-year-old Jude would get the best possible treatment for Ullrich congenital muscular dystrophy and osteoporosis, which leaves her with weak muscles and brittle bones.

Watch STAT's video documenting Jude's treatment at Boston Children's Hospital.

So this is what it means to be "essential personnel"

Much of Massachusetts was hit with a major snowstorm yesterday, and first-year resident Dr. Jennifer Okwerekwu learned what it meant to be classified as "essential personnel," required to report to work at Cambridge Health Alliance.
The hospital was chaotic all morning, she said, with patients, social workers, and ambulance drivers clamoring for discharge orders immediately, in hopes of beating the worst of the snow. Okwerekwu and her colleagues had to crush work that is normally spaced out over the day into a couple hours.
Okwerekwu was to sleep at the hospital, or crash with other residents who lived nearby. But 13 hectic hours later, her husband drove up and they slowly rolled away.

Okwerekwu said the first big snow of the season did bring one nice surprise: She finally got to taste one of the hospital’s popular Caribbean beef patties. “Every time I see people in the hospital with them, I go down to the cafeteria and they’re all gone,” she said. But with only essential personnel reporting to duty, she finally had her shot at snagging one. Her verdict? "It was good."


  • This foster care parent only asks to care for terminally-ill children (Los Angeles Times)
  • San Bernardino terror attack victims to Trump: Please OK delayed medical care (ABC News)
  • University of Texas’ med school under fire for spending tax dollars for indigent care on admin costs (Austin American-Statesman)
  • Dana Farber Cancer Center says they’ll avoid “controversial venues” after their upcoming benefit on Trump property (STAT)

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