Monday, October 29, 2018

Do You Fancy Yourself an Agent of Change? If So, Read On

If you are attempting to make change within your organization, I would strongly suggest that you check out the book Switch by Chip and Dan Heath.

The three major elements for making significant organizational change:

  • 'Direct the Rider’- have a specific, rational argument  that avoids TBU (True But Useless) information
  •  “Motivate the Elephant”- call upon emotions so that people have a visceral motive for change
  • “Shape the Path” -explicitly and with the utmost simplicity show the critical steps to achieve the goals
Shaping the path requires the 4 Disciplines of Execution- setting wildly important goals, clearly identifying processes, measuring the processes with a scorecard and holding people accountable.

In other words, have a specific goal, provide a persuasive rational and emotional argument for change, then clearly plot out the steps.The simpler, the better.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Money Talks! Industry and Public Health Don't Always Mix

Money talks and certainly buys influence.

This article published in the American Journal Public Health explores the influence of industry sponsorship on research agendas.  Credit to the authors for an extensive and informative review.

Bottom line: Industry sponsorship significantly influences research agendas, particularly in favor of pharmaceutical and device trials but also in the food and nutrition sector.  This results in publications that are generally favorable to industry positions.  

In addition, industry can disseminate research agendas by creating collaboration with prominent institutions and researchers. Prestige and legitimacy ensue.

This sort of bias in the research agenda can result in misaligned public health policies. 

Monday, October 22, 2018

Viral Spread of Medical Misinformation: A Major Public Health Threat

Misinformation going viral on vaccines and viral illnesses is ascendant and alarming, as neatly explored here in Nature.

The author, Professor Heidi Larson from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and director of the Vaccine Confidence Project, argues that the next major outbreak will not be due to the lack of preventive technologies, but rather to vaccine preventable illnesses rendered moot by misinformation and erosion of public trust.

I have recently blogged about how false news spreads more efficiently than the truth, accessible here.

Bottom line, the viral spread of medical misinformation, particularly about vaccines, should now be recognized as a global public health threat.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Open Access to All: The Guide to Infection Control in the Healthcare Setting

Our book, The Guide to Infection Control in the Healthcare Setting (6th Edition) is fully updated and available, in a web-based format, open access to all, here.

The Spanish language translation is in process. 

Further plans for the Guide (development of an App and additional content) are to be discussed at IMED 2018, with the publisher, The International Society for Infectious Diseases .

Stay tuned.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Super-Book! Super-Bugs: An Arms Race Against Bacteria

The book Super-Bugs: An Arms Race Against Bacteria is a stellar read on the looming antimicrobial resistance crisis.
Kudos to the authors on this super book, the best that I have read on the topic 

The writers take a complicated subject and neatly break it down into its component parts with clear and direct writing.  

Antibiotic resistance is not seen as an immediate urgency as it is a slow moving issue that on a day-to-day basis people do not experience or see.  This poses a massive challenge for policy makers. Couple this with antibiotic overuse (both in humans and in animals) and the financial disincentives for pharmaceutical companies to developed and market new drugs and a crisis awaits.

Realistic solutions are offered and include public-private partnerships for drug development, antimicrobial stewardship (both in humans and in agriculture) and heightened infection prevention.

Complicated problems need sensible, multi-modal approaches, as expertly argued. This is no dry, academic tome.

Here is a well written commentary in The Telegraph (UK) exploring the above in greater detail.

Read on.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Social Media Decorum for Medical Professionals: The Crowded Elevator Rule

Source: The Writing Cooperative
Social media blurs the barriers between professional and personal lives.

How should healthcare professionals maintain a social media presence without compromising professional appearance?

This manuscript published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons is a timely best practices guidance for social media use by surgeons, applicable to all healthcare professionals.

Some of the recommendations are both straightforward and commonsense such as not using social media as a tool for patient-physician communication and always protecting patient confidentiality.  Also, avoid posting content that may have negative or unintended consequences in the workplace. Last, the article recommends that surgeons should actively maintain a professional online profile.

I agree with all of the above.

Personally, I try to follow one inviolate rule: never post anything online that I would not be comfortable saying in a crowded elevator.  

It works for me. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Personal Protective Equipment Coverall! The Way To Go?

Source: Johns Hopkins Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design
We have previously argued (here) that healthcare workers need training in personal protective equipment (PPE) doffing, especially given the high risk of self contamination.

I read with great interest this article in American Journal of Infection Control, where a novel PPE coverall (for Ebola) was assessed in stimulated scenarios.

This new PPE suit has a rear entry and exit seem, covered zippers and over the shoulder pull tabs which simplify donning and doffing. In a simulated scenario, this new design was comfortable and well received by healthcare workers.

The next critical step, in my opinion, is formally assessing self contamination at the time of doffing. 

If the newly designed PPE coverall suit decreases self contamination (vs the traditional PPE suit), this may be the way to go.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Bowler Men And Beyond: Rene Magritte at the SF MoMA

Adjacent to the Moscone Convention Center is the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SF MoMA), currently housing an excellent exhibit titled Rene Magritte, The Fifth Season.

A perfect respite from long days of conferencing at ID Week 2018.

Magritte was a provocateur in a well cut suit and a notable surrealist artist.

The (iconic) man in the bowler hat! 

Belgian artist Rene Magritte

Iconic work- The Birth of Man by Rene Magritte

The Blogger within an interactive exhibit at the Magritte exhibit

Disinfection of Non-Critical Equipment: We Can Do Better

Congratulations to our two college research students, Emmy Bowe (University of Richmond) and Tara Srivastava (University of Virginia) for their recent publication on disinfection of non-critical equipment, published in American Journal of Infection Control and accessible here.

We can learn a lot about ourselves by asking simple questions. We simply do not perform disinfection of non-critical equipment with fidelity. Barriers are several, as reported in our paper.

Simple steps to improve practice include improved point of care cleaning information, improved access to cleaning supplies and increased instrument storage space. 

Small interventions will likely pay disinfection dividends.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

VCU Infectious Diseases at ID Week 2018, San Francisco, CA. Making us Proud!

Thank you to the VCU Infectious Diseases and Infection Prevention team for their tireless work and scientific presentations at the ID Week 2018 national conference, San Francisco, California.

Thank you all for the kind feedback on my spirited debate on hand hygiene with Dr. John Boyce. 

What an honor!

Kaila Cooper, VCU Infection Prevention Nurse Director

Trina Trimmer and Kaila Cooper

L to R: Trina Trimmer, Kaila Cooper, Drs. Sann, Emberger, Bailey and Ritmann

VCU Medical Student Andrew Kirk

Drs. Jacob Pierce and Jane Cecil

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Medical Blogging is Legit! Don't Think So? Read On...

Although not as prestigious as a peer reviewed publication in a high impact journal, medical blogging is a legitimate (academic) exercise .

This paper, recently published, in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, uniquely highlights the content and quality of infectious diseases blogs. 

Blogging has its value and is a means of communicating timely issues and content.

The key is to keep the blog short (less than 1000 words), provide relevant hyperlinks, and have an 'angle', a perspective.  Make it meaningful. Wit and humor help too.

In my opinion, for an academician, medical blogging is complementary to publishing peer reviewed work.

Blog on.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Health Hazard:The Spread of False News Online and the Anti-Vaccine Movement

I came across this intriguing article in Science, a comparison of the spread of true and false news online.  Using sophisticated analytic and statistical techniques, the investigators concluded that false news spreads more quickly then true news, particularly false political news.  

The spread of false news is not much impacted by bots as previously believed. False news is propagated by humans.  The reasons are not fully clear, however, false news is generally more novel than true news, suggesting that this may serve as a driver for spread.

The spread of false news is very concerning, particularly false medical news, such as vaccine misinformation

This recent publication in Vaccine, available open access here, suggests that we should change our approach to vaccine communication.  Forget debunking false conclusions as this is rarely effective.  Focus instead on integrated messages that exploit potential social networks and promote messages with positive, emotional values on immunization. This will have greater traction with the public. Novel. 

I am off to San Francisco today, for the 2018 ID Week conference. I will be participating in a debate versus my esteemed colleague Dr. John Boyce. Details can be found here.

Stay tuned.