Bnei Brak hospital pioneers use of iPads as medical aid

Health Scan: Children of inbreeding also have reading problems; Facebook may compromise doctor-patient relationships.

iPad 311 (photo credit: BLOOMBERG)
iPad 311
(photo credit: BLOOMBERG)
Children born to consanguineous (related by family) parents are at higher risk of having difficulty reading compared to children whose parents did not inbreed, according to a new study at the University of Haifa, and are also at greater risk of certain genetic disorders. These autosomal recessive disorders occur in people who carry a particular recessive gene mutation. This means they carry two copies of the same gene. Arabs suffer from one of the highest rates of genetic disease in the world, and over 900 genetic disorders have been identified in them and their descendants, according to the Center for Arab Genomic Studies. The disorders vary from deafness and spinal deformation to Wilson’s disease, muscular dystrophy and kidney failure.
Prof. Salim Abu-Rabia and Latifa Marron of the university’s special education departments studied Arab couples and their 814 children in grades four through six. The schoolchildren were controlled for socioeconomic status and underwent reading tests. The researchers found that 59 percent of the children whose parents were consanguineous had reading problems compared to only 13% whose parents were not related. They then divided up the children, finding 21 with reading difficulties whose parents had inbred and compared them to 21 children whose parents had not (and thus served as the controls). All of them underwent a battery of tests on memory and the ability to identify letters, vowels and words.
The found that 33% of the kids whose parents were cousins suffered from the most difficult reading disabilities, compared to just 11% among the control group. Of the control group, most were more successful on the reading tests than the inbred group. Inbreeding has long been known to increase the risk of a variety of physical and intellectual disorders; children who escape these problem still are at high risk for reading problems, the researchers concluded.
Apple’s iPads are going to take over in hospitals, and Bnei Brak’s Ma’ayanei Hayeshua Medical Center (MHMC) is the pioneer – the first Israeli hospital to give iPad technology to its doctors. Medical staff can now check patient records, test results, hiresolution X-rays and CT scans, report on patient progress and plan ongoing treatment using the latest hand-held computers.
The hospital invested in the iPad version 4.2, customized for Hebrew, which allows clinicians instant touch-screen access to patient records and medical information via secure password-protected Internet.
MHMC’s information technology team have programed the Apple iPad to interact with its Microsoft Chameleon program.
According to hospital CEO Dr. Yoram Liwer, “the picture quality on the iPad screen enables our doctors to check high-resolution X-ray and scan images, either on the wards or from outside the hospital, and to diagnose and prescribe treatment at any time. Patients, too, were found to be happy with it. “That is why we are using the latest devices to help revolutionize patient care,” explained Liwer.
Dr. Nir Cohen, head of the orthopedic surgery at the Orthodox-sponsored hospital, noted that “as head of the department, even working late at night from home, I can now give directions to medical staff during operations using my iPad, and check that vital treatment records have been entered correctly into the hospital system. This can help speed up surgical procedures, reducing the time spent under anaesthetic.”
Doctors with a profile on Facebook may be compromising the doctor-patient relationship, because they don’t use sufficient privacy settings, indicates research recently published online in the Journal of Medical Ethics. The authors base their findings on a survey of the Facebook activities of some 200 postgraduate trainee doctors at Rouen University Hospital in France. Almost three-quarters said they had a Facebook profile, with eight out of 10 saying they had had a presence on the site for at least a year. One in four logged on to the site several times a day, but almost half did so several times a week.
Virtually all physicians displayed sufficient personal information for them to be identified, and 91% displayed a personal photo. Just over half revealed their current post, while 59% provided information on their current university training site. Only a few Facebookers had received a friend request from a patient, four of whom accepted it. But such requests are likely to become more common, suggest the authors. While most respondents said they generate an automatic refusal to a friend request from a patient, one in seven (15%) said they decide on a case-by-case basis.
The reasons given for accepting a patient as a friend included feeling an affinity with them and a fear of embarrassing or losing that patient if they decline. The need to keep a professional distance and the suspicion that the patient was interested in a romantic relationship were the primary reasons given for rejecting the request.
“This new interaction (whether romantic or not) results in an ethically problematic situation because it is unrelated to direct patient care,” say the authors. “Moreover, public availability of information on a doctor’s private life may threaten the mutual confidence between doctor and patient if the patient accesses information not intended for them.” They warn MDs to be aware that comments and pictures posted online may be misinterpreted outside their original context and may not accurately reflect their opinions and reallife behavior. This information could also become accessible to people that it was not intended for, the authors concluded.