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    Trending Topics: What’s Happening in Internal Medicine This Month

    There’s no better way to build your knowledge for daily practice than to stay informed on current issues related to internal medicine. Lately, we’ve been chatting around the office about these topics: the correlation between anticholinergic drugs and dementia in patients, abortion bans and what that means for patients, and the economic implications of physician burnout. We want you to be informed as well! 

    Do anticholinergic drugs cause dementia in elderly patients? 

    JAMA Internal Medicine, June 2019 

    A study published by JAMA Internal Medicine found that commonly prescribed drugs are linked to higher odds of the patient developing dementia. The link to dementia is associated with a total anticholinergic exposure of more than 1,095 daily doses in ten years—equivalent to an older adult taking the medication daily for three years. 

    It’s an observational study that only shows an association, but it’s important to read through so you understand the risk factors when you’re considering prescribing these drugs to your patients. The study also highlights which types of anticholinergic drugs have the strongest associations. 

    Women who receive or are denied abortion–is there a difference in their self-reported overall health?

    Annals of Internal Medicine, June 2019 

    847 women who were seeking abortion were asked to report on different aspects of their overall health, so that doctors could examine the differences among women who were seeking abortions and had them in the first trimester versus second trimester versus those who were denied abortions and gave birth (328 who had first-trimester abortion, 383 who had second-trimester abortion, and 163 who gave birth). 

    These findings come on the heels of several states passing early abortion laws. So far in 2019, nine U.S. states have passed laws restricting access to abortions

    The study found that having an abortion does not take a toll on women's health when compared to the health of women who were denied an abortion. In fact, there were suggestions that the participants who gave birth were in worse health (when studying self-reported overall health. Assessed semiannually for 5 years were: chronic abdominal, pelvic, back, and joint pain; chronic headaches or migraines; obesity; asthma; gestational and nongestational hypertension and diabetes; and hyperlipidemia were assessed semiannually for 5 years. Mortality was assessed by using verbal autopsy and public records).  

    What is the economic cost of physician burnout? 

    Annals of Internal Medicine, June 2019 

    This study aims to estimate the burnout-associated costs related to physician turnover and physicians reducing their clinical hours at national and organizational levels.

    They estimate that there is approximately $4.6 billion in costs related to physician burnout each year in the U.S. That cost is attributed to physician turnover and reduced clinical hours. It’s estimated that the average annual economic impact per physician is $7,600.

    With moderate levels of investment, organizations can help reduce the risk of physician burnout and, ultimately, save money. 

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