Comparison of large restriction fragments of Mycobacterium avium isolates recovered from AIDS and non-AIDS patients with those of isolates from potable water.
We examined potable water in Los Angeles, California, as a possible source of infection in AIDS and non-AIDS patients. Nontuberculous mycobacteria were recovered from 12 (92%) of 13 reservoirs, 45 (82%) of 55 homes, 31 (100%) of 31 commercial buildings, and 15 (100%) of 15 hospitals. Large-restriction-fragment (LRF) pattern analyses were done with AseI. The LRF patterns of Mycobacterium avium isolates recovered from potable water in three homes, two commercial buildings, one reservoir, and eight hospitals had varying degrees of relatedness to 19 clinical isolates recovered from 17 patients. The high number of M. avium isolates recovered from hospital water and their close relationship with clinical isolates suggests the potential threat of nosocomial spread. This study supports the possibility that potable water is a source for the acquisition of M. avium infections. (+info)
Mediators of ethnic-associated differences in infant birth weight.
PURPOSE: To examine whether ethnic differences in low birth weight babies of low-income women may be explained in part by group differences in prenatal health behaviors and psychosocial factors. METHODS: A prospective, survey of 1,071 low-income, primiparous African-American and Mexican-origin women was conducted in Los Angeles County, California. In face-to-face interviews, data were obtained on substance use, prenatal stress, social support, attitudes toward pregnancy, initiation of prenatal care, and medical risk. Medical chart data were abstracted regarding medical risk factors and labor, delivery, and neonatal data. Interview data were linked with birth outcome data retrieved from maternal medical records. Structural equation modeling was used to test a hypothesized model in which differences in birth weight were expected to be mediated by ethnic differences in substance use, psychosocial factors, and medical risk. RESULTS: As expected, African-American women delivered babies of earlier gestational age and lower birth weight than did women of Mexican origin. Direct predictors of low birth weight were use of drugs and cigarettes, prenatal stress, and positive attitudes toward pregnancy; together, these factors accounted for the observed ethnic differences in birth weight. CONCLUSION: These data contribute to our understanding of the factors that may account for ethnic-associated differences in low birth weight. (+info)
Physician and dietitian prescribing of a commercially available oral nutritional supplement.
We examined whether a policy change transferring prescribing privileges for oral nutritional supplements to dietitians resulted in fewer inappropriate outpatient prescriptions. This was a pre/post study design using a retrospective review of physician and dietitian prescribing for ambulatory patients during two separate time periods: physician prescribing, October to December, 1994; dietitian prescribing, April to June, 1995. Inappropriate prescriptions during each period were defined as those given to patients with normal nutritional status or with a contraindication to a high-energy, electrolyte-containing solution. The study was conducted in outpatient clinics at a Veterans Affairs teaching hospital. We found that dietitians gave fewer prescriptions to outpatients who were not malnourished or to outpatients who had a contraindication to receiving a supplement (11% vs 34%; P = 0.002). In addition, dietitians more often completed relevant laboratory assessments (75% vs 43%; P = 0.001) and more frequently arranged follow-up dietetic evaluations (84% vs 30%, P < 0.001) for ambulatory patients receiving supplements. We conclude that transferring nutritional supplement prescribing privileges to dietitians led to fewer inappropriate outpatient prescriptions and to more comprehensive nutritional assessments, as measured by relevant laboratory use and dietetic follow-up. Physicians more frequently prescribed supplements to outpatients who were not malnourished or who had contraindications to receiving supplements. Our results suggest that physicians would benefit from assistance with and/or education concerning oral nutritional supplements. (+info)
Improving access to disability benefits among homeless persons with mental illness: an agency-specific approach to services integration.
OBJECTIVES: This study evaluated a joint initiative of the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to improve access to Social Security disability benefits among homeless veterans with mental illness. METHODS: Social Security personnel were colocated with VA clinical staff at 4 of the VA's Health Care for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) programs. Intake assessment data were merged with SSA administrative data to determine the proportion of veterans who filed applications and who received disability awards at the 4 SSA-VA Joint Outreach Initiative sites (n = 6709) and at 34 comparison HCHV sites (n = 27 722) during the 2 years before and after implementation of the program. RESULTS: During the 2 years after the initiative began, higher proportions of veterans applied for disability (18.9% vs 11.1%; P < .001) and were awarded benefits (11.4% vs 7.2%, P < .001) at SSA-VA Joint Initiative sites. CONCLUSION: A colocation approach to service system integration can improve access to disability entitlements among homeless persons with mental illness. Almost twice as many veterans were eligible for this entitlement as received it through a standard outreach program. (+info)
Effect of insurance coverage on the relationship between asthma hospitalizations and exposure to air pollution.
OBJECTIVE: Based on the assumption that people without health insurance have limited access to the primary care services needed to prevent unnecessary hospitalizations for asthma, the authors hypothesized that insurance is a factor in the strength of the association between hospital admissions for asthma and exposure to air pollution. They tested this hypothesis with 1991-1994 data from central Los Angeles. METHODS: The authors analyzed the effect of insurance status on the association between asthma-related hospital admissions and exposure to atmospheric particulates (PM10) and ozone (O3) using hospital discharge and air quality data for 1991-1994 for central Los Angeles. They used regression techniques with weighted moving averages (simulating distributed lag structures) to measure the effects of exposure on overall hospital admissions, admissions of uninsured patients, admissions for which MediCal (California Medicaid) was the primary payer, and admissions for which the primary payer was another government or private health insurance program. RESULTS: No associations were found between asthma admissions and O3 exposure. An estimated increase from 1991 to 1994 of 50 micrograms per cubic meter in PM10 concentrations averaged over eight days was associated with an increase of 21.0% in the number of asthma admissions. An even stronger increase--27.4%--was noted among MediCal asthma admissions. CONCLUSIONS: The authors conclude that low family income, as indicated by MediCal coverage, is a better predictor of asthma exacerbations associated with air pollution than lack of insurance and, by implication, a better predictor of insufficient access to primary care. (+info)
Comparison of the entropy technique with two other techniques for detecting disease clustering using data from children with high blood lead levels.
The entropy technique was compared with two other case-control techniques for detecting disease clustering using data on blood lead levels of children who were patients at the King/Drew Medical Center in South-Central Los Angeles in 1991 to 1994. The other two methods are the nearest neighbor technique (NNT) and Moran's IPOP technique, a variation of Moran's I test, in which rates are adjusted for population size. Four different blood lead levels (15 microg/dl, 20 microg/dl, 30 microg/dl, 35 microg/dl) were used as cutoff levels to designate cases. Persons with blood lead levels greater than or equal to the cutoff level were designated as cases. The authors found significant clustering for all four cutoff levels using the entropy method, and for the first three cutoff levels using the NNT. They found significant clustering with Moran's IPOP for some scales for two of the cutoff levels. While performance of the entropy technique and the NNT were independent of scale, that of Moran's IPOP was highly scale-dependent. (+info)
What pediatricians can do to further youth violence prevention--a qualitative study.
OBJECTIVE: Youth violence is a public health problem world wide. However, the United States has the worst rate of youth violence among industralized countries. This study was conducted to learn what pediatricians, community leaders, and parents think the doctor's role is in youth violence prevention during the well-child examination for children. METHODS: Interviews were conducted with pediatricians, community leaders, and parents living or working in Los Angeles, California. RESULTS: All three groups interviewed believed that the physician should incorporate violence prevention counseling as part of the well-child examination. The mechanism of action differed for the three groups. Almost half of pediatricians' statements focused on their role as prevention counselor, with respect to such issues as appropriate discipline and gun safety. One third of community leaders' statements, however, related to physician referral to existing community resources. More than half of parents' statements referred to the pediatrician as someone who can directly educate their child about making positive choices. CONCLUSIONS: Although pediatricians cannot solve the problem of youth violence alone, findings from this study suggest that they should address this issue with their patients and should work in tandem with existing community resources to further a solution to this growing epidemic. (+info)
Pharmacoeconomic and health outcome comparison of lithium and divalproex in a VA geriatric nursing home population: influence of drug-related morbidity on total cost of treatment.
OBJECTIVE: Clinicians use mood stabilizers for treating agitation in older patients, but limited information is available regarding side effects and costs in clinical practice. Total costs of treatment were assessed for a subset of geriatric patients receiving either lithium carbonate or divalproex sodium for agitation. STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective cohort examination of the medical records of 72 patients, 55 years of age or older, in a Veterans Administration long-term, skilled nursing care facility, with a diagnosis of dementia or bipolar affective disorder or both. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Patients treated with lithium or divalproex during the previous 4 years (1994-1997) were evaluated. Quantitative information was collected and compared regarding routine care, including cost of treatment and laboratory monitoring; and occurrence of adverse events and associated diagnostic and treatment measurements. RESULTS: Routine care costs for the 2 groups were similar. The lower annual acquisition cost per patient-year for lithium ($15 vs $339 for divalproex) was offset by higher laboratory monitoring costs associated with its administration ($278 vs $53 for divalproex). Examining the adverse events showed that the lithium group had more medication-related adverse events (32 total) than the divalproex group (10 total) and more severe occurrences, including 6 cases requiring medical intensive care unit (MICU) hospitalization. The total mean cost of treating drug-related mild-to-moderate morbidity was $3472 for lithium and $672 for divalproex. An additional cost per admission of $12,910 ($77,462 for all 6 cases) increased total morbidity-related expenditures in the lithium group to $80,934. CONCLUSIONS: Treating geriatric patients with lithium requires careful monitoring because of side effects. Staffing and resource limitations of a skilled nursing care facility may compromise optimal lithium monitoring in elderly patients. The collected data indicated that divalproex does not result in as many as or as severe adverse events and is, therefore, a safer treatment. The use of lithium was not only more expensive (on average $2875 more per patient) than treatment with divalproex but, more importantly, it was associated with poorer patient outcomes. (+info)