Health Scan: New system keeps parked ambulances cool

In cooperation with the Philcar company in Petah Tikva, MDA has designed a unique retrofitted cooling system.

Ambulance 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Ambulance 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Israeli summers are blisteringly hot, which makes problems for Magen David Adom ambulances and mobile intensive care units when they have to park in sunny places. Many expensive medications, infusions and other equipment can be damaged by heat, which can reach 60ºC. After much thought and effort, MDA has yet to find a way to overcome the problem. As a result, it has had to dispose of drugs exposed to very high temperatures. But now, in cooperation with the Philcar company in Petah Tikva, MDA has designed a unique retrofitted cooling system for parked ambulances that brings down the temperature to only 20ºC. A flexible hose introduces cool air into the vehicle safely and cheaply through holes cut in the glass windows. MDA director-general Eli Bin said the new system - tried in a pilot program at three of the hottest places where ambulances park - worked well and will be expanded to others. It will save MDA a lot of money, said Bin, who added that the engineers are working on a system that can be introduced in the factory where the vehicles are built. FIGHTING PARENTS CAN TRIGGER MENTAL PROBLEMS IN CHILDREN Individuals whose parents were violent toward each other are more likely to have mental problems when they grow up, according to a retrospective study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. Researchers looked at what impact interparental violence had on children by observing their mental health outcomes in adulthood. A child often exposed to interparental violence suffers a form of maltreatment with consequences for a child's development, but in some countries it is only seen as a risk factor for later problems with no specific outcomes. French researchers studied 3,023 adults in the Paris area in 2005 by carrying out face-to-face interviews. The researchers measured current depression and lifetime suicide attempts, intimate partner violence, violence against children and alcohol dependence. They also asked people about their childhood adversities such as parental separation, divorce, parental death or imprisonment, alcoholism and physical and/or sexual abuse, as well as about social stressors including poor parental health, housing problems, prolonged parental unemployment, and financial troubles. Among the group of people interviewed, 16 percent said they had witnessed interparental violence before the age of 18, and this was far more common in certain situations. For example, it was up to eight times more likely in cases where parents had been alcoholics. Other factors were also relevant, and witnessing violence was more common in families with financial problems, serious parental diseases, housing problems or unemployment. After adjusting for family and social stressors, the researchers found that people exposed to interparental violence had a 1.4 times higher risk of having depression, were more than three times more likely to be involved in conjugal violence, were almost five times more likely to mistreat their own children and 1.75 times more likely to have a dependence on alcohol. The authors concluded: "Intensification of prevention of and screening for domestic violence including interparental violence is a public health issue." OPENING UP TECHNION FACULTY For the first time, physicians in community clinics will be eligible to become faculty members in the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology's Rappaport Medical School. The dean of the medical faculty, Prof. Ido Perlman, says the Technion's new policy is apparently the first in Israel, and called it "a real revolution." Until now, only hospital physicians were allowed to be faculty members. "A large amount of medical teaching is now carried out not in the hospitals but in the community," explains Perlman. "Until now, only family physicians were eligible for academic appointments. Now, specialists working in health fund clinics who participate in the teaching of medical students may apply for an academic appointment - of course by meeting all the necessary academic criteria," says the dean. The Rappaport faculty thus has suited itself to a new reality, in which community medicine encompasses a much larger share of professional public medicine, the Technion said. "A large amount of medical treatment is performed today in the framework of primary medicine (clinics for children's and women's health and preventive medicine, for example). One can predict that in the future, most medical students will be employed not in hospitals but in community medicine," continues Perlman. "Thus they will have to treat us and our children and give us the most professional treatment. It is our obligation to expose them to new subjects." DRUG SAFE FOR PREGNANT WOMEN A drug named metochopramide is rarely used in the US for treating pregnant women for nausea, heartburn and vomiting, as doctors there have long believed it can harm the fetus. Now Ben-Gurion University scientists have shown it is perfectly safe when used to treat morning sickness. Dr. Rafael Gorodisher, a pediatrician, clinical pharmacologist and professor emeritus at BGU, and Dr. Amalia Levy of the university's health sciences faculty published their findings in a recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. "Metoclopramide is the drug of choice in Europe and Israel for "morning sickness-like" symptoms of nausea and vomiting. In the US, however, it is used only in the most severe cases, as it is an "off-label" use. The findings of this very large study examining infants born to mothers exposed to metoclopramide during the first trimester provide significant reassurance for the safety of the fetus when the drug is given to relieve nausea and vomiting during pregnancy." The study was a collaboration among BGU, Soroka University Medical Center and Clalit Health Services - all in Beersheba - along with the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and was part of the doctoral thesis of Ilan Matok. Metoclopramide's safety was investigated by linking a database of medications dispensed over 10 years to all women registered in Clalit's southern district with Soroka databases containing maternal and infant hospital records during the same period. In the study, 3,458 (or 4.2%) were exposed to metoclopramide during the first trimester of the 81,703 infants born to mothers during the study period. The rate of major congenital malformations identified in the drug-exposed group was 5.3%, as compared with a rate of 4.9%, thus there was no statistical significance.