ITUpdate for October 2014

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» The personal information of roughly 4.5 million patients was compromised during a series of cyber-attacks against hospital group Community Health Systems, the organization reported Aug. 18. The attacks are believed to have occurred in April and June. Stolen information includes names, addresses and Social Security numbers; no credit card or medical data was lost, officials said. CHS officials said they were working with authorities, and have plans to offer identity theft protection services to victims. 

» Using electronic health record alerts can significantly reduce the instance of urinary tract infection in hospitals, a new study has found. The alerts led to a 15% reduction in urinary catheter use over the course of the study, both from assessing whether a patient needed a catheter to begin with, and removing catheters sooner after they become no longer necessary. Up to 25% of patients receive urinary catheters while they are in the hospital.

» British scientists have developed an “electronic nose” they say can sniff out the bacteria C. difficile. The team from the University of Leicester says different strains of the bacteria have a unique chemical fingerprint, or smell, that make it possible to quickly detect an infection. Because the different strains have a different smell, doctors could use the device to tailor their treatments, according to researchers.

» Adoption of electronic health records is progressing, but there remains much room for improvement, according to data from the American Hospital Association. The group's 2013 Annual Survey IT Supplement found 59% of hospitals have either a basic or comprehensive EHR system, which is four times as many as four years ago. Just 5.8%, however, meet all 16 Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements, which include being able to transfer health information to skilled nursing facilities and other care settings. 

» Regular Internet use has been linked with slowed cognitive decline in older adults. A recent British study found that adults ages 50 to 90 who use email and the Internet are more likely to perform better on memory tests than their less technologically inclined peers. 



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