Health Life

Physicians urge hospitals to become ‘artificial intelligence ready’

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

A group of doctors and data scientists is calling on hospitals to create clinical departments devoted to artificial intelligence to harness the power of the technology to transform patient care.

While there have been many predictions of AI’s potential to benefit —from helping doctors perform surgery to catching cancer earlier—the technology’s benefits so far have been blunted by inconsistent implementation, the researchers say. They outline a plan to make hospitals “AI ready,” in a way they say would enhance both and .

AI in Health Care

UVA Health’s Dr. David J. Stone and colleagues from several other major medical centers outlined their plan in a new article in the scientific journal BMJ Health & Care Informatics that was highlighted in the July 22 issue of the STAT health news site’s Healthtech newsletter. They begin by offering a frank assessment of the current integration of AI in health care: “The reality of the available evidence increasingly leaves little room for optimism,” they write. “There is a stark contrast between the lack of concrete penetration of AI in and the expectations set by the presence of AI in our daily life.”

The authors are particularly concerned that the implementation of into health care not be burdened by problems that have accompanied the use of electronic health records. Many clinicians have complained that electronic health records were poorly designed to fit into their workflows and have added greatly to their documentation burden while distracting them from their patients. (Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon, has opined, “We’ve reached a point where people in the medical profession actively, viscerally, volubly hate their computers.”)

The disorganization that is holding back AI’s potential in must be addressed systematically, the authors

Health article

Teen vaping research is a priority as marijuana and nicotine use surge

Vaping has led to a dramatic rise in nicotine and marijuana use among young people in recent years. Marijuana vaping among 12th graders, for instance, nearly doubled from 2018 to 2019, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Vaping involves inhaling an aerosol, or vapor, that may contain addictive drugs, including nicotine or THC (a chemical in marijuana that can affect behavior, mood, and thoughts). Because of the capacity of vaping to damage the lungs, it’s also a major concern as COVID-19 spreads. NIDA Director Nora Volkow, M.D., spoke about these concerning trends and how the institute is addressing them head on.

What kind of story is the latest data showing?

There has been a very abrupt increase in vaping THC. This was the second highest increase we’ve ever seen since the inception of the NIDA Monitoring the Future Survey in 1975. The first was the increase in vaping nicotine in 2018. These both have worried us enormously. More teenagers are embracing vaping as a culture for taking drugs that they may not have taken otherwise.

Why is vaping so concerning, especially with marijuana?

Particularly among teenagers, one of the main concerns that we have about the use of marijuana is that it can interfere with the developing brain. The data that has emerged indeed has shown that teenagers who smoke marijuana are at much greater risk of becoming addicted to it. And becoming addicted as teens increases the risk of becoming addicted to other drugs as you age.

How is NIDA research responding to these trends?

“Smoking chemicals can produce severe lung damage.”

– Nora Volkow, M.D.

We’re interested in treatments. And we’re interested in how vaping is influenced by social networks. Right now, there are no published studies regarding the treatment of teenagers who have become

Health Life

COVID-19 ‘super spreaders’ quickly fill room with virus, but masks help

(HealthDay)—Face masks can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among folks trapped in a room with an infected “super spreader,” a new Swiss study claims.

Most infected people with a typical COVID viral load don’t flood the air with -infected respiratory droplets, and the risk of catching the from them tends to be low, estimates show.

But a severely infected person who’s coughing frequently can fill a poorly ventilated room with as many as 7.4 million copies of the coronavirus for every cubic meter of air, according to researchers Michael Riediker and Dai-Hua Tsai, from the Swiss Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health in Winterthur.

“The implications of these findings for and the workplace are that individuals may be at risk of infection if they spend more than a few minutes in a small room with a person who is infected with COVID-19 and has a high viral load,” Riediker and Tsai concluded.

The study also “highlights the importance of wearing a mask,” said Dr. Aaron Glatt, chair of medicine and chief of infectious diseases at Mount Sinai South Nassau. “Wearing a mask clearly helps, and it will diminish the capacity of these super spreaders to spread as much.”

For this study, the Swiss researchers gathered data from a handful of prior studies that tracked how much coronavirus the average infected person will emit by breathing normally, as well as the virus released by a very who’s coughing frequently.

The team then used a to estimate how much virus either a low- or high-emitting patient is likely to release into the air of a closed room.

A COVID-19 patient with a high viral load could be expected to release a large amount of virus into the air, especially when they are coughing,

Health article

5 common questions about dry mouth

Dry mouth is a common symptom of Sjögren’s syndrome, as well as other diseases like diabetes and HIV/AIDS. Without enough saliva, or spit, it can be difficult to break down food, swallow, and take care of your teeth.

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research answers five common questions about dry mouth and Sjögren’s syndrome to help you navigate this tricky condition.

Is dry mouth a normal part of aging?

No, dry mouth is not part of the aging process itself. However, as people age, many may develop conditions that affect making saliva and they may take medications that can dry out the mouth.

What can cause dry mouth?

  • Medications. Dry mouth is a side effect of many types of medications, including those for depression, allergies and colds, and high blood pressure.
  • Dehydration. Dehydration happens when you lose more fluids than you take in. People of all ages can become dehydrated, but older adults are especially prone to it.  
  • Radiation therapy. Salivary glands can be damaged if they are exposed to radiation during cancer treatment.
  • Chemotherapy. Drugs used to treat cancer can make saliva thicker, causing the mouth to feel dry.
  • Injury to the head or neck. A head or neck injury can damage the nerves that tell salivary glands to make saliva.

What can I do about dry mouth?

Visit your dentist or doctor, who will try to determine the cause and may:

  • Suggest changing, or adjusting the dosage of, a medication. But do not make any changes to your medications before talking with your dentist or doctor.
  • Prescribe medications to increase saliva.
  • Recommend using artificial saliva.

Does dry mouth put me at risk for tooth decay?

Yes. Because saliva protects against tooth decay, having less saliva can put you at risk. Keep your teeth healthy by:

  • Brushing