Volume 93, Issue 74

Thursday, February 10, 2000


City questions anti-Semitic behaviour

Controversial photo gets pulled

Women still reaching for the top

Study finds home can make a good hospital

Hydro deregulation to push the industry

Newspaper challenges YOA



Caught on campus

Study finds home can make a good hospital

By Adam Stewart
Gazette Staff

Future sufferers of pneumonia can breathe a sigh of relief, as a new study has shown the time they spend in the hospital can be significantly reduced.

Brian Feagan, reasearcher at the John P. Robarts Research Institute, co-authored the study with University of Alberta researcher Tom Marrie, which was released in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Tuesday.

Mark Poznansky, president and scientific director of the Robarts Institute, said the purpose of the study was to investigate whether a new assessment method for pneumonia patients would result in different outcomes from the present method of immediate hospitalization.

Poznansky explained during the study, half of the 19 participating Canadian hospitals treated patients as usual, while the latter half used a more strict, "critical pathway" criteria for assessing the severity of the patient's disease and gave patients an international score.

If the patients scored below a limit which indicated the need for hospitalization, they were treated as outpatients and sent home with the same antibiotic treatment administered to the hospitalized patients. The two groups shared nearly identical results.

Poznansky added an average of 1.7 hospital days per patient were saved by treating subjects on an outpatient basis. He said hospitals generally see an average of 300 to 400 pneumonia patients per year and if the new pathway was implemented, it would result in an average savings of $600,000 to $700,000 per year.

"Our health care system must be evidence-based as opposed to budget-based," he said, adding more research should be done to investigate ways to make the health care system more cost effective.

Although unable to comment on the exact amount, the Janssen-Ortho pharmaceutical company's public affairs director, Walter Masanic, said part of the study's funding came from them and part from the Research Council of Canada.

Masanic added even though the antibiotic used in the study was Janssen-Ortho's own Levaquin, the company had no benefit in the outcome of the research. He said Levaquin did not need to be the drug used for treatment of pneumonia patients.

David Heinrichs, assistant professor in the department of microbiology and immunology at Western, was quick to caution the potential misuse of antibiotics by patients outside of the supervision of a health care professional.

"One of the concerns that needs to be looked at is to ensure that patients follow through with the complete antibiotic treatments to the end," Heinrichs said. "Misuse of antibiotics may lead to the spread of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria in the community," he added.

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