Designed specifically for critical care physicians, Critical Care SmartBrief is a complimentary twice weekly e-mail newsletter. Compiled from thousands of sources including news sites and blogs, it provides the latest litigation, research and policy news in the critical care community. Visit the archives to access previous issues. Mobile device versions are also available. Read the top stories shared by Critical Care SmartBrief readers.

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 Critical Care SmartBrief

Risk score predicts mortality for patients on heart transplant list
French researchers created a risk score, based on four common predictors of death among end-stage heart failure patients, to predict the one-year risk of death for adult patients waiting for a heart transplant. The report in the journal Transplantation said the four variables included short-term mechanical circulatory support, logarithmic bilirubin level, logarithmic glomerular filtration rate and natriuretic peptide decile. Medscape (free registration) (3/20)

Study ties pre-hospitalization opioid use to elevated pneumonia risk
A study presented at the annual American Academy of Pain Medicine meeting found use of prescription opioids, such as fentanyl, codeine or morphine, in the 100 days prior to hospital admission was associated with a higher risk of hospital-acquired pneumonia, compared with no exposure to the drugs. The findings were based on 40,403 patients aged 18 to 70 years admitted to the Kaiser Permanente health system over four years. Medscape (free registration) (3/20)

Troponin T levels may show surgery patients with heart injury
MedPage Today (free registration) (3/20)

ACA study shows variations in access, affordability, quality
A study in Milbank Quarterly assessing the Affordable Care Act found variations in emergency department access, health care affordability and health care quality, based on income and race. The study analyzed data from the "Patients' Perspectives on Health Care in the United States" survey. MedPage Today (free registration) (3/17)

Report links medication errors to CPOE, pharmacy systems
The Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority reported that 50.4% of medication error reports from state health care facilities listed computerized prescriber order entry systems as a contributing factor, with pharmacy systems listed in 28.2% of reports and electronic medication administration record systems mentioned in 28.1%. Researchers said 69.2% of errors reached patients. HealthLeaders Media (3/17)

Trauma team training tool harnesses virtual reality
Trauma care residents at OhioHealth Grant Medical Center, University of Toledo Medical Center and Adena Regional Medical Center recently tried out a virtual reality training tool developed by a team from Ohio University. The OU team filmed emergency department operations with patients' consent, pieced the videos together, added sound and adapted the package for virtual-reality software and headgear. The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio) (tiered subscription model) (3/15)

Texas paramedics participate in hand-held ultrasound study
A Texas A&M University medical student is conducting a study to determine how hand-held ultrasounds can help paramedics. Four teams in Texas are participating, and the paramedics say the tablet-size ultrasound machine helps them assess heart and lung function and place IVs, enabling them to provide faster, potentially lifesaving treatment. KVUE-TV (Austin, Texas) (3/16)

Experts: Health care organizations fail to report all data breach incidents
Healthcare IT News (3/20)

I have accepted fear as a part of life, specifically the fear of change, the fear of the unknown. I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: Turn back.
Erica Jong, writer