By: Balita Pinoy

DOH probes reported exploitation of new nurses in hospitals

MANILA, Sept. 3

The Department of Health (DOH) said Wednesday it will investigate the alleged exploitation of new nurses in hospitals where they are reportedly required to pay exorbitant fees for their on-the-job-trainings (OJTs).

DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said he has formed a team for a focused investigation on the matter even as he admitted they have long heard about the nursing OJT racket.

However, Duque said no formal complaints on the issue reached the DOH for them to initiate an investigation.

Senator Pia Cayetano earlier called for the shutting down of government and public hospitals engaged in the alleged exploitation of new nurses.

Cayetano urged the DOH to cancel the license to operate of all medical facilities that are found to be involved in the racket.

The call was an offshoot from the expose' of Philippine Nursing Association (PNA) which bared that several hospitals only hire interns instead of permanent nurses and ask them to pay P3,000 to P3,500 for their internship fee.

Duque, meanwhile, denied that the practice is being observed in government hospitals.

The DOH chief also said he is aware that some specialty hospitals ask for standard fees for them to have a budget for nurses who would like to undergo a special training course.

For his part, Dr. Tiburcio Macias, president of the Philippine Hospitals Association (PHA), said they have not encountered such accusations of the PNA.

“We have not encountered such accusations. In fact, hospital owners and medical centers tell us that they lack nurses,” Macias said in a radio interview.

“The internship fee accusations are not true. As far as I know, during the time that a nurse will undergo OJT and are assigned to have duties in a hospital, the hospital will not charge any fee from them. It is the school that will be responsible in cases that there are damaged equipment,” he added.

Macias also cited the incidence of some student nurses who opt to get their internship certificates through flawed means instead of being assigned in hospitals located in provincial areas and municipalities.

He said he received reports that nursing students usually want their internship in hospitals located in highly-urbanized cities so they resort to such means. (PNA)

Scientists will share new ideas about the body and disease

Wednesday, August 27, 2008
By Joe Fahy, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

More than 200 scientists from around the world will gather in Pittsburgh this weekend to consider research that challenges conventional theories about immunology, inflammation and their link to disease.

The Third International Damage Associated Molecular Pattern Molecules and Alarmins Symposium will be held Saturday through Tuesday at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Sessions will be held at the Herberman Conference Center at the UPMC Shadyside Cancer Pavilion.

The symposium is being held for the first time in the United States, organizers said. Two prior conferences on the topic were held in Europe.

Damage Associated Molecular Pattern Molecules, known as DAMPs, and alarmins are molecules in the body that promote healing after such events as heart attacks, stroke and car accidents. They promote a sterile inflammation that comes from inside cells, said Dr. Michael Lotze, director of strategic partnerships for the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and co-director of the symposium.

Inflammation is known to be associated with certain chronic diseases, he said. But in the past, the prevailing scientific notion was that pathogen-associated molecular patterns, or PAMPs, cause inflammation by activating the immune system when bacteria or other pathogens invade the body.

Scientists at the conference will present research linking the DAMPs' inflammatory response to chronic conditions like arthritis, obesity, atherosclerosis and cancer, Dr. Lotze said.

"We think a better understanding of these DAMPs could lead to development of modern preventive and therapeutic strategies for all of these diseases," he said.

Dr. Ronald Herberman, director of the Pitt cancer institute and UPMC Cancer Centers, said research interest in the topic has grown dramatically in recent years.

"This has been a major new paradigm that has been progressively accepted," he said. "I'm very optimistic the knowledge that's building so rapidly will be translated, in the not-too-distant future, to new lab tests and approaches to treatment."

Researchers at the symposium include Dr. Marco Bianchi, of the H. San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan; Dr. Polly Matzinger, of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Dr. Ruslan Medzhitov, of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Yale University; and Dr. Shigekazu Nagata, of the Graduate School of Medicine at Kyoto University in Japan.

Others are Dr. Jeffrey Platt of the University of Michigan; Dr. Jean-Marc Reichhart of the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Strasbourg, France; and Dr. Anna Rubartelli, director of the Cell Biology Laboratory in Genova, Italy. She co-directs the symposium along with Drs. Lotze and Helena Harris of Sweden.

The symposium is sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Center for Continuing Education in the Health Sciences, the Society of Innate Immunity, the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies, the National Cancer Institute, the Office of Orphan Diseases of the National Institutes of Health, the International Society for Biologic Therapy of Cancer and the Society of Leukocyte Biology.
Joe Fahy can be reached at or 412-263-1722.

Some Bay Area Kaiser Patients Exposed To TB

Babies Will Receive Physical Exams

SAN FRANCISCO -- Kaiser Permanente has begun tuberculosis testing for patients, employees and visitors who may have been exposed to a San Francisco maternity ward worker diagnosed with the infectious disease.

Kaiser said the part-time employee worked the night shift in the postpartum unit of its San Francisco Medical Center from March 10 to August 10 and no longer works there.

The medical center on Tuesday began notifying people who may have been exposed, including  

about 960 mothers and their infants. 

Patients will be screened with a simple skin test, but infants also will undergo a physical exam and chest X-ray. Some babies will be treated with antibiotics as a precaution.

Kaiser officials said the infection risk is low, and the worker had a common strain of TB that responds well to treatment.

Painless needle mimics a mosquito's bite

A painless "microneedle" that mimics the way a female mosquito sucks blood has been built by engineers in India and Japan. The needle could be used to draw blood, inject drugs, and as a glucose-level monitor for diabetics.

A female mosquito sucks blood by flexing and relaxing certain muscles in its proboscis. This creates suction (or negative pressure) that draws blood into its mouthparts.

The new biocompatible microneedle, designed by Suman Chakraborty of the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur and Kazuyoshi Tsuchiya of Tokai University in Kanagawa is based on the same principle.

In this case, the sucking action is provided by a microelectromechanical pump, which works using a piezoelectric actuator attached to the needle.

Contrary to popular belief, a mosquito bite does not hurt. It is the anticoagulant saliva that the creature injects to stop your blood clotting that causes inflammation and pain.
Snap safe

The new needle has an inner diameter of around 25 microns and an external diameter of 60 microns, which is about the same size as a mosquito's mouthpart. Its size and the fact that it works by suction, makes it painless. To compare, a conventional syringe needle has an outer diameter of around 900 microns.

In contrast to previous microneedles, which were made of silicon dioxide, the new device is robust because it is made of stronger titanium and related alloys, which dramatically reduces the risk of it snapping during injections.

The needle is also strong enough to penetrate as far as 3 millimetres into skin and reach capillary blood vessels.

Its size compared to earlier models also means that surface tension effects are exploited further, and the same capillary flow that draws water up into trees helps draw blood into the microneedle.

The researchers have calculated that their needle can extract 5 microlitres of blood per second. This volume is sufficient for measuring blood-sugar levels in diabetics using a glucose sensor that can be attached to the needle in a "wristwatch" design.
Production challenges

The design uses a shape-memory alloy to drive the needle into skin and a micro-pump for delivering drugs. The latter could be used to inject insulin (or other drugs) into the patient when required.

"The working principle of this device follows on from our discovery that in a well-designed microneedle, surface tension forces may overcome resistance from friction and draw up blood with unprecedented efficiency," Chakraborty told New Scientist.

Chakraborty and Tsuchiya hope to commercialise their needle, but there are still some challenges to overcome, including cost, scaling up the fabrication method, and making it more user-friendly.

"This new blood extraction is interesting, but I question its ability to be fabricated and initialised en masse," said Geoffrey Thomas of the University of Calgary, Canada, who is working on a similar blood glucose sampling and analysis project.

Journal reference: Journal of Applied Physics (DOI: 10.1063/1.2936856)