Final year of life
It has recently been reported that the final year of a dying patient’s life will cost the NHS an average of £7,400 if they require hospital care. Although the bill covers care over that period, it is mostly allocated to emergency treatment in the final month. The Nuffield Trust conducted the study based on the care of 73,000 people and comes during a time of controversy over the way hospitals are apparently withdrawing treatment from patients deemed to be dying to reduce costs. The report found that nine out of ten people go into hospital in their last months of life. Dr Martin Bardsley, Nuffield researcher, said: “People are very vulnerable in the last months of their lives and achieving appropriate and well-coordinated care across health and social care is critical. Given the financial climate, this type of analysis is critical now more than ever if more value for patients is to be extracted from public funds”.
Researchers from the University Clinic of Rostock in Northern Germany have discovered how a surprise discovery, good or bad, might kill you. The scientists say the news or event can cause the body to release large amounts of stress hormones including adrenaline, which narrows the main arteries supplying blood to the heart. This in turn paralyses the hearts main pumping chamber causing a similar body reaction as a heart attack. Those most at risk from this condition are women who have just gone through the menopause and whether its good or bad news makes no difference. Dr Christoph Nienaber, director of cardiology at the university, said: “These patients suffer under a heavy emotional load, either positive or negative. Their hearts literally break. It usually happens within minutes to an hour of hearing the news.”
A new product designed to prevent bedsores in severely ill or immobile patients has been unveiled. ‘Smart-e-Pants’ have been developed to stimulate muscles, which in turn will relieve pressure and boost blood supply to the buttock. Half a million Britons suffer from bedsores each year and although often dismissed as a minor issue, can lead to fatal complications if left untreated. The pants look like normal underwear but have mini electrodes in little pockets on them. A trial of 33 very ill patients found that those who wore the Smart-e-Pants four days a week for up to two months suffered no bedsores. The pants give tiny electric shocks for ten seconds every ten minutes for 12 hours a day. Although the pants are likely to cost hundreds of pounds a pair, it could save the NHS tens of thousands treating bedsores. A large scale trial is yet to take place but the pants have been proved safe and have been approved by both patients and nurses who have used them in the development.