​HSNewsBeat’s top topics 2015

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​HSNewsBeat’s top topics 2015

News of greatest interest to our readers over the past year
Leila Gray

The topics that most engaged HSNewsBeat readers in 2015 ran the gamut from groundbreaking medical devices, to earthquake preparedness for “The Big One,” to landmark occasions in the lives of health science students.

HSNewsBeat carries news and information from the University of Washington Health Sciences and UW Medicine and covers a broad spectrum of stories about public health, research pursuits, advances in education and clinical care, social programs and more.

Here are the topics that garnered the greatest number of readers this past year:

Testing of the wearable artificial kidney.  A prototype designed to provide mobility to dialysis patients underwent its first clinical trial this year.  The results earned the device fast track status from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and a patient in the clinical trial describes in a video interview what it was like to participate.

Changes in pharmacy practice.  Washington became the first state to recognize the growing expertise of pharmacists in direct patient care and their training beyond dispensing medication.   A new law gave the state’s pharmacists compensated-provider status.

Mom of 3 took unusual route to medical school.  A young woman had dropped out of college in her teens to get married to a Navy serviceman and work odd jobs. Then she was inspired by the family physician who was treating her three young children. She decided to continue her education, and is now a University of Washington medical student.

Residency match sets record with the highest  percentage of UW medical school graduates entering primary care. The majority of UW medical students graduating this past year decided to train in primary care fields:  family medicine, general internal medicine, and general pediatrics.  America is facing a shortage of primary-care physicians, particularly in the sparsely settled WWAMI region of Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho – the states served by the UW School of Medicine.

Dementia risk increases with extended use of some medicationsThe UW School of Pharmacy, in collaboration with Group Health Research Institute,  conducted a large studythat found a greater risk for developing dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, among people taking common anticholinergic medications at higher doses or for a longer time.  Anticholinergic drugs include some types of cold and allergy medications, anti-depressants, bladder control therapies, and sleeping pills. 

Compound discovered to trigger innate immunity against viruses.  A drug-like molecule can activate innate immunity and induce genes to control infection in a range of RNA viruses, including West Nile, dengue, hepatitis C, influenza A, respiratory syncytial, Nipah, Lassa and Ebola. The findings show promise for creating a broad-spectrum antiviral.

U.S. News & World Report hospital rankings.  UW Medicine once again did well in the magazine’s annual national, state and metro Best Hospitals 2015-16.  UW Medical Center was ranked the top hospital in the state, and was listed among the top 5 in the country in rehabilitation medicine and in cancer care, which is provided through the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.  

Planning for “The Big One? After the New Yorker magazine reported on the potential in western Washington and Oregon for an earthquake of a magnitude unlike anything experienced in recent generations,  emergency services at Harborview Medical Center gave tips on preparing rationally for natural disasters.  

Student No. 6 extends family’s century-long affiliation with UW School of Pharmacy  Beau Chiba’s lineage in the UW School of Pharmacy is long and strong. When he graduates in 2018, it will be 101 years since his great-grandfather, Yasukuchi Chiba, earned his degree in pharmacy. In fact, Beau Chiba is the sixth member of his family to attend the school. 

Psychiatrist Dr. Wayne Katon remembered  Wayne Katon was known for his  tireless efforts to improve the lives of patients with psychological and physical problems, and for inspiring other health professionals from many fields.  He was a major force in understanding repercussions of co-existing chronic illness and depression.