May 21, 2011

Impact of NPs on Diabetes Primary Care

With the growing shortage of primary care physicians in the US, expect to see more NPs (nurse practitioners) and PAs (physician assistants) in the years ahead if you are not already seeing them. Those NPs that have specialized in diabetes and become proficient are having good success in this area.

The study uses the term “mid-level providers” which the NPs find demeaning. This term is used because they are not doctors, but the successes NPs are achieving shows that once they have the training, they are more effective than the PCPs. The study data was mainly from the hospital-affiliated and free-standing Veterans Administration primary care programs. It involved 198 care programs and more than 88,000 diabetes patients.

The significant data points out that NPs helped patients reduce their A1c's and this translated into a seven percent reduction in diabetes complications and deaths in VA patients with diabetes. This is consistent with previous studies and this study having been done be a groups of epidemiologists, medical sociologists, and physicians supports previous findings of nurse researchers that had been discounted by other healthcare professionals.

The fact that NPs are getting better results than PAs is the result of the training program they had to submit to to become eligible to work as NPs in the VA system. There should have been more data, but even with the data explanation given in this study says a lot about the care veterans with diabetes are receiving under the direction of NPs.

Read the article here.

May 19, 2011

'Natural' Doesn't Always Mean Safe

Another kick in the pants for homeopathic medicine, but is it good enough? With some added regulations was put into place on May 1, 2011, the European Union took a step in the right direction in regulating herbal products, but fell far short of the regulations needed to reign in the misuse and abuse of herbal products. The spokesperson said that it was a step in the right direction.

Whether a step in the right direction is sufficient remains to be seen. For the time being herbal remedies will now have to contain the correct ingredients, the right dose, and cannot be adulterated with other pharmaceutical products or heavy metals. The new Traditional Herbal Medicine Registration Scheme (THR) became effective on May 1, 2011. Unregistered products will continue to be available to the public as food supplements.

It is important for consumers in the EU to understand that manufacturers of products registered through the THR will not have to prove that they work for a particular condition. Consumers will have to rely on the concept of “traditional use”. Unregistered products will continue to be available to the public as food supplements. So it seems that the situation really has not gotten easier for people to discern whether a product is good for their health.

The spokesperson for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society added that herbal medicines should only be used for minor health conditions and those remedies claiming to cure serious illnesses should be avoided at all costs.

Anyone wanting to use herbal remedies should speak to a health professional first in order to receive the right information about a product. Never stop taking a prescribed medicine to replace it with an herbal remedy.

Does this sound like something we hear in the US? It certainly does and the outcomes will probably be very similar. Prescription medicines will be deferred to herbal remedies if the homeopaths have their way. Read the article here.