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1.  Fatal toxic leukoencephalopathy secondary to overdose of a new psychoactive designer drug 2C-E (“Europa”) 
We present a case of a fatal toxic leukoencephalopathy following ingestion of a new psychoactive designer drug known as 2C-E or “Europa.” Recreational drugs, particularly hallucinogenic substances, appear to be growing in popularity, with increasing amounts of information available via the Internet to entice potential users. In addition, some newer “designer” psychoactive substances are available for purchase online without adverse legal consequences, therefore adding to their popularity. We describe magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings to include selective diffuse toxic injury of the cerebral white matter with sparing of the cortex and most of the deep gray nuclei. To our knowledge, this is the first reported description of cerebral findings on MRI that are likely related to a lethal ingestion of 2C-E.
PMCID: PMC3448584  PMID: 23077393
2.  Improving attendance for cardiovascular risk assessment in Australian general practice: an RCT of a monetary incentive for patients 
BMC Family Practice  2012;13:54.
Preventive health care is an important part of general practice however uptake of activities by patients is variable. Monetary incentives for doctors have been used in the UK and Australia to improve rates of screening and immunisation. Few studies have focussed on incentives for patients to attend preventive health care examinations. Our objective was to investigate the use of a monetary incentive to increase patient attendance with their general practitioner for a cardiovascular risk assessment (CVRA).
A pragmatic RCT was conducted in two Australian general practices. Participating GPs underwent academic detailing for cardiovascular risk assessment. 301 patients aged 40–74, who did not have cardiovascular disease, were independently randomised to receive a letter inviting them to a no cost cardiovascular risk assessment with their GP, or the same letter plus an offer of a $25 shopping voucher if they attended. An audit of patient medical records was also undertaken and a patient questionnaire administered to a sub sample of participants. Our main outcome measure was attendance for cardiovascular risk assessment.
In the RCT, 56/301(18.6%) patients attended for cardiovascular risk assessment, 29/182 (15.9%) in the control group and 27/119 (22.7%) in the intervention group. The estimated difference of 6.8% (95% CI: -2.5% to 16.0%) was not statistically significant, P = 0.15. The audit showed that GPs may underestimate patients’ absolute cardiovascular risk and the questionnaire that mailed invitations from GPs for a CVRA may encourage patients to attend.
A small monetary incentive does not improve attendance for cardiovascular risk assessment. Further research should be undertaken to determine if there are other incentives that may increase attendance for preventive activities in the general practice setting.
Clinical trials registration
PMCID: PMC3439323  PMID: 22681743
3.  Can teletechnology improve patient experience and reduce the use of health care resource? 
By 2050 it is estimated that there will be 16 million people over the age of 65 years. With the expansion in the older population and improvements in health care the number people living with a chronic health condition (Long Term Condition, LTC) is increasing. Many people will have more than one LTC e.g. diabetes and cardiac disease. With pressure on the health economy and available resources increasing, managing as many people outside of hospital as appropriately possible is essential. The white paper “Our health our care our say” (DH 2006), challenges local health and social care communities to deliver more care closer to the patients own home. The Kent Telehealth pilot study, undertaken in 2005, investigated whether the use of Telehealth in the UK health care setting could replicate the outcomes of the Veterans Administration programme in the US.
The pilot examined the role of Telehealth in supporting users and their carers, and assessed its impact on hospital admissions, length of stay, GP contact and nursing visits. Patients acted as their own controls. SF12 and QuIL were used for the qualitative evaluation. Health Ethics approval was granted. All participants provided informed consent. Those meeting the eligibility criteria—of at least one LTC (diabetes, COPD, heart failure) were recruited, equipment was provided to record their vital signs. Vital signs parameters were agreed for individual users with their clinician. Data were automatically uploaded to a web based server, accessible to health care staff responsible for the care of the individual. The frequency of data review was dependent on the service delivery model and appropriate communications were undertaken with the user to facilitate any change in their agreed management plan.
Two hundred and fifty users were recruited, data were available for 202 users for the final analysis. There were 88 less A&E visits and 536 bed days were saved. If admitted the length of stay was shorter by up to 4 days. There was a 28% reduction in calls to the GP, a 23% reduction in visits to the surgery, and an 18% reduction in home visits. It has been estimated that over a six-month period, Telehealth intervention saved an average of £1878 per user (£1038 to £2718, p=0.01). Using Hospital Episode Statistics estimates savings that could be generated across Kent (2006–2007 prices) could be £7.56 million (CI £4.18 million to £10.942 million) annually. Users reported an increased peace of mind, increase quality of life with increased empowerment and self management with improvements in SF12 scores improved for General Health +5.7, for Physical health +8.7.
Telehealth is a potentially valuable adjunct in the management of people with LTCs. Patients become more empowered and independent and as a result, reduced their reliance on primary and secondary care. There is the potential for significant financial gains to be realised, through improved working and reduction in attendance at hospital for admission and or outpatient consultations. Patient quality of life also improved which impacts on how and when they interact with services.
PMCID: PMC3571165
telehealth; long-term conditions; patient experience
4.  Feasibility and effectiveness of a pulmonary rehabilitation programme in a community hospital setting. 
BACKGROUND: Pulmonary rehabilitation programmes run in secondary care have proved to be one of the most effective interventions for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). AIM: To assess whether a pulmonary rehabilitation programme, similar to that run in secondary care, could be established in a primary care-run community hospital and whether it could achieve similar benefits in patents with moderately severe COPD. DESIGN OF STUDY: Uncontrolled prospective intervention study SETTING: A primary care-run community hospital. METHOD: Thirty-four patients with COPD aged between 5 and 80 years of age (mean = 70years) with a forced expiratory volume (FEV1) of 30 to 50% (mean = 40%) predicted were enrolled in a programme established in the activities room at Honiton Community Hospital. Patients were assessed at the start, on completion of the programme, and six months after completion, using spirometry, shuttle-walking distance, and short form-36 (SF-36) and chronic respiratory questionnaire (CRQ) scores. RESULTS: All but one patient completed the programme. There were significant improvements in the walking distance (by a mean of 100 m), in the SF-36, and in all domains of the CRQ. There was no significant change in the FEV1 or forced vital capacity. CONCLUSION: Pulmonary rehabilitation programmes can be run in community hospitals. They appear to be as effective as those run in secondary care and patients may find them easier to access.
PMCID: PMC1314354  PMID: 12120724

Results 1-4 (4)