Topics in research and education
Cardinal Health grant funds study on MRSA infection screenings
Aurora has received a $24,000 grant from the Cardinal Health Foundation to determine whether targeted or universal screening of hospital patients for MRSA, antibiotic-resistant staph infections, is cost-effective. The study, with Kathryn Leonhardt, M.D., as the principal investigator, runs through June 30, 2010. International debate has centered on how best to identify patients with MRSA -- which costs $6.5 billion annually to treat infected patients - when they are admitted to the hospital. Two common approaches are universal screening and targeted screening, in which only people with certain criteria are tested. While there have been clinical studies as to which screening method is best, no consensus has been reached. And few studies have looked at cost effectiveness. The outcome of this research will provide a useful model on cost effectiveness that can be adopted by other hospitals. Aurora Sheboygan Memorial Medical Center, Aurora BayCare Medical Center and ACL Labratories are involved in the study.
Thousands donate blood to ORBIT; biorepository program branching out
Since the April 21 launch of Aurora's Open-Source Robotic Biorepository and Informatics Technology, or ORBIT, more than 6,000 patients have consented to donate blood left over from their lab tests, and the specimens have been entered into the repository. Essentially a large library of specimens from which the DNA is extracted by a robot and stored in a freezer, ORBIT is designed to streamline medical discovery by providing scientists with the basic tools they need for research. The project started at Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center, is now live at Aurora Sinai Medical Center, and will be introduced at Aurora St. Luke's South Shore and Aurora West Allis Medical Center this summer. For now, ORBIT is in the rollout phase. Research projects are expected to start in the next few months. Because Aurora sees such a large and diverse population of patients, totaling more than 1.8 million people a year, ORBIT promises to be one of the largest and most diverse biorepositories in the world. IBM, Columbia University, the University of California-Los Angeles and Aurora have partnered on a $5.4 million grant proposal to the National Institutes of Health to fund genomic and informatics research.
Widely used human physiology text updated
Hershel Raff, Ph.D., and associate editors have updated and expanded a very popular physiology textbook, "Vander's Human Physiology: The Mechanisms of Body Function." This book is used in many medical schools in the United States, and it has been translated into a variety of languages for use in medical schools abroad.
Expert helps patients avoid kidney damage from radiation exposure
Hershel Raff, Ph.D., is providing his expert knowledge of endocrine physiology to help determine the pathophysiology of kidney damage in atients who have been treated with radiation, or in subjects exposed to radioactive sources outside of a medical setting, such as an accidental exposure. The goal is to better understand the mechanisms involved in treatment or prevention of kidney damage due to radiation exposure.
Test screens stress hormone's role in diagnosing Cushing's syndrome
Hershel Raff, Ph.D., and colleagues have developed a screening test to detect the over-production of the stress hormone cortisol by the adrenal glands. They have written a paper that analyzes worldwide data on this methodology and its utility in the diagnosis of Cushing's syndrome.
Study finds computer technology enhances home care
In June, Aurora completed a $1.7 million, five-year study "Heart Care II: Customized Computer Support for Home Care," funded by the National Institutes of Health. The study found that patients who received home care nursing had better health status, quality of life and self-maintenance of their heart disease when they had access to technology-enhanced home-care nursing compared to those who received standard home care nursing. In the study, patients got free Internet access, and a trained nurse guided them to use their home computers to better manage their heart disease. Patricia F. Brennan, R.N., Ph.D, and Laura J. Burke, R.N., Ph.D. are co-principal investigators.
Pilot project on evidence-based nursing expands
A pilot project of a Knowledge-Based Nursing Initiative that started at Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center last July expanded in recent weeks. This collaboration among Aurora Health Care, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee College of Nursing and the Cerner Corporation, provides evidence-based computer alerts to nurses based on questions they ask and examinations they make of patients. The questions are designed to identify risk for certain problems; the system then offers information on how best to care for them. The pilot initially looked at activity intolerance, medication non-adherence, and risk for blood clots, falls and fall-related injuries. In early June, delirium and bedsores were added. Early results show that nurses' attitudes toward clinical documentation improved by 33 percent, and the use of electronic tools to guide the delivery of patient care increased 24 percent. Norma Lang, R.N., Ph.D., is the principal investigator.
Grant to help reduce fall-related injuries
Aurora has received $390,000 from the Agency for Healthcare and Research Quality to study for 18 months the use of evidence-based practices to reduce fall-related injuries in hospitals. This project will develop, user-test, and disseminate findings about how an electronic decision support system within the electronic health record supports nurses to improve care planning and quality improvement efforts related to fall and fall-related injury prevention. The findings are expected to help nurses better identify patients at risk for falling, use reports to evaluate and revise care plans and improve outcomes. Mary Hook, R.N., Ph.D., and Norma Lang, R.N., Ph.D., are co-principal investigators.