Gift or Curse: Surgical ‘Black Box’ Could Be Future of Operating Room

Debate over proper use still in question 

Surgical black box could benefit or harm

Researchers in Canada have developed a surgical black box that could track procedures and operations for later analysis. (Photo: Bigstock)

Researchers in Canada are developing a surgical “black box,” like the ones used in airplanes, which could change the face of modern surgery. The hope is that the box could become an tool for surgeons, where operations could be tracked and analyzed, mistakes could be improved upon and complications before, during and after surgery could be significantly reduced.

However, some are wondering if the tool could backfire. If data could be used in court, it could become a potential mess in the malpractice department and ultimately become counterproductive to those it was meant to help.

“We have to ensure the black box is used as an educational tool to help surgeons evaluate their performance and improve,” said Dr. Teodor Grantcharov, a minimally invasive surgeon at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

For more information, click here: Surgical Black Box Could Reduce Errors.

Since 1981, Havel’s has offered high-quality procedure needles and surgical scalpel blades to doctors, hospitals, veterinarians and other leading medical professionals. To learn more about Havel’s selection of procedure needles and surgical scalpel blades, please click here: Havel’s Procedure Needles and Surgical Scalpel Blades.

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American Academy of Dermatology Wraps Up 2015 Annual Meeting

Topics like health care reform, teledermatology, quality care addressed

The Moscone Center in San Francisco, California

The American Academy of Dermatology’s 73rd Annual Meeting took place at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California. (Photo: MedPage Today)

The American Academy of Dermatology’s 73rd Annual Meeting took place this past weekend, March 20-24, and throughout the meeting several topics of interests were highlighted. Among them were health care reform and the impact it has on the field of dermatology, maintaining quality care for patients, the growing problem of skin cancer and the role dermatologists have in early diagnosis and the role of teledermatology in the future.

“The future of dermatology and how dermatologists can continue to offer quality patient care remains a key issue for the academy,” said AAD scientific assembly chair Joan Guitart, MD, of Northwestern University in Chicago, as quoted in an article from MedPage Today.

A number of speakers were on hand to discuss a wide variety of topics, including American Medical Association president-elect Steven J. Stack, MD, who spoke on both the challenges and opportunities the dermatology profession faces in the next decade.

Workshop sessions included topics like advanced suture techniques, nail surgery and the use of cosmetic fillers. There were also sessions that focused on late-breaking science and the newest trends in dermatology.

For more information on the AAD’s annual meeting, click here: Future of Dermatology on Display at AAD.

Be sure to visit the AAD’s website for up-to-date news and information.

Since 1981, Havel’s has offered premium quality sutures and surgical scalpel blades for dermatologists, doctors, hospitals and other leading medical professionals. To see Havel’s selection of sutures and surgical scalpel blades, please click here: Havel’s Sutures and Surgical Scalpel Blades.


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Peripheral Nerve Blocks: What Can They Do For You?

An overview of the regional anesthetic procedure

Peripheral nerve block is a type of regional anesthesia

Anesthesiologists use peripheral nerve blocks to numb a specific part of the body for surgery, with only a few, if any, side effects or complications. (Photo: Bigstock)

Just what exactly is a peripheral nerve block? This regional anesthetic procedure is gaining new ground in modern healthcare for a variety of different reasons.

In short, peripheral nerve blocks are a type of regional anesthesia where a specific part of the body is targeted to be numbed with a local anesthetic, which then allows the area to be operated on during surgery. This is done by injecting the local anesthetic around a nerve or group of nerves that control feeling and movement to the area of the body being operated on. This technique can be used either as the sole method of anesthesia or in combination with general anesthesia.

Depending on the location of the surgery, different types of peripheral nerve blocks can be performed in order to provide the most relief for the patient. They include blocks of the upper limb (arm, forearm and hand), blocks of the lower limb (leg, knee and foot) and various blocks at the trunk (chest and abdomen). No matter what kind is used, all peripheral nerve blocks are performed by trained anesthesiologists. Ultrasound is most often used in order to identify the specific nerve or nerves that will be numbed, along with a special needle to administer the drug.

Peripheral nerve blocks provide tremendous pain relief both during and after surgery, and carry with them few side effects or complications. They’re known to reduce the use of opioids for post-surgical pain and also enable earlier physical activity.

For more information on peripheral nerve blocks, please read the following article: I See the Knife Cutting into Me … but I Feel No Pain.

Since 1981, Havel’s has offered premium quality anesthesia needles and pain control needles for anesthesiologists, pain specialists, doctors, hospitals and other leading medical professionals. To learn more about Havel’s selection of anesthesia and pain control needles, please click here: Havel’s Anesthesia and Pain Control Needles.

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Data Mining for Solutions

How hospitals like the Cleveland Clinic are using data to improve patient satisfaction

Data mining for solutions to patient satisfaction

Hospitals and health care organizations are using data to help boost patient satisfaction scores. (Photo: U.S. News & World Report)

Big data is a growing trend in modern health care, and hospitals and other medical facilities alike are starting to figure out how to apply this data to help improve from the inside out. Principles like patient satisfaction, patient communication and employee satisfaction are a top priority, and now health groups from across the country are finding out that data can be used to focus in on these priorities.

The Cleveland Clinic is one hospital that’s finding out how to use data mining to fix key issues within their facility. In 2009, Dr. James Merlino took over as chief patient experience officer. At that time, the Clinic’s patient satisfaction scores had leveled off, and even declined in some cases, and Merlino had a situation that needed to be addressed. He found that analytics helped identify three areas where patients felt most dissatisfied: respect, communications among Cleveland Clinic staff and the happiness of employees.

From there, Merlino came up with a plan to get all of his employees on the right track. Better communication and accountability was critical, but data and analytics were the tools used to solve the problem.

“You have to give physicians data across the care continuum to drive real behavior change,” Merlino added.

Today, patients at the Cleveland Clinic are noticing the difference. Patient satisfaction is up in a big way, with 82 percent of patients giving high ratings to the facility, while 86 percent said they would recommend the Clinic to friends and family. This is an increase from when Merlino first arrived; in 2009 the same criteria came in at 66 percent and 76 percent, respectively.

Big data on a small scale

The trend isn’t exclusive to large health care organizations like the Cleveland Clinic. Beaufort Memorial Hospital in Beaufort, South Carolina is a 197-bed facility that sees 55,000 emergency room visits a year, on top of 200,000 outpatient visits and 10,000 inpatient admissions. The hospital often found that it didn’t have enough beds to keep up with demand, and this was an issue that Edward Ricks, CIO and vice president of information services, wanted to zero in on.

Ricks found that the hospital could save roughly $435,000 a year just by moving patient discharges up by half a day. Earlier discharges meant that new patients could be assigned a room more quickly, which could increase capacity while also allowing the potential for higher revenues from more patients. After applying data and analytics to track patient flow, Beaufort physicians began writing 50 percent of discharge orders to release patients by noon. Management was soon able to up that goal to 9 a.m. with great success. Now, the hospital is using the same technology to improve daily planning for things like prescriptions, wheelchair transportation and room cleaning.

“Our primary objective is reducing length of stay,” said Ricks.

For more information on how hospitals are using data mining for improvement, click here: Cleveland Clinic, Other Health Groups Use Data to Boost Patient Satisfaction.

Since 1981, Havel’s has offered premium quality ultrasound needles and procedure needles for anesthesia, pain control, radiology and biopsy, as well as sutures and surgical scalpel blades, for doctors, hospitals, veterinarians, dentists, dermatologists and other leading medical professionals. To learn more about Havel’s selection of procedure needles, sutures and surgical scalpel blades, please click here: Havel’s Procedure Needles, Sutures and Surgical Scalpel Blades.


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Radiology and Your Hospital: Rethink and Regroup

Ohio hospital strikes innovative new partnership with outside imaging practice

radiology MRI scan

Aultman Hospital in Canton, Ohio has formed a unique partnership with Radiology Associates of Canton with a focus on both patient and physician satisfaction. (Photo: Bigstock)

Patient care and satisfaction is a top priority for many hospitals and healthcare networks across the country, and many facilities are trying new approaches to keep their patients, and physicians, happy.

Aultman Hospital in Canton, Ohio is doing just that. Three years ago the nonprofit hospital faced challenges typical to anyone working in modern-day healthcare — financial pressure, increased competition — and when it came time to renew the contract the hospital had with an outside radiology practice, Aultman’s CEO Christopher Remark decided it was time for a new approach.

For years, the relationship between Aultman Hospital and Radiology Associates of Canton was all too common. Separated, uncommunicative and lacking in transparency, the time for change was obvious. The two parties worked together to develop a shared vision with the best interests of the hospital and practice in mind.

“When you summed it all up, it didn’t look really good, from our standpoint, from an imaging standpoint,” said Remark. “We really felt that we had an opportunity to do something different because it was right in the heat of [health care reform].”

A new focus

The end result was a shift in focus for Aultman and Radiology Associates, set around incentives tied to quality, patient satisfaction and most importantly, efficiency. Volume and money took a backseat, and the new goals included growing their outpatient market share, instituting patient-centered imaging services and preparing for new payment models for patients.

The first year of the new agreement was 2013, and it was a major success. One of the biggest successes was dropping the turnaround rate for an MRI brain observation report from 24 hours to two. Employee and physician satisfaction is up for both, which then leads to stronger patient care and better outcomes for all.

“This is the beauty of co-management because we were talking strategically, and as a hospital we were behind in these areas,” said Remark. “It was neat to forge a relationship between the cardiologists and radiologists to really make this happen.”

“This would not have happened without a visionary CEO of the hospital like Remark,” said Syed Furqan Zaidi, M.D. and CEO of Radiology Associates of Canton.

For more information on the new partnership, click here: The Radiologist’s Role in Shaking Up Your Hospital.

Since 1981, Havel’s has offered premium quality radiology needles and biopsy needles for radiologists, doctors, hospitals and other leading medical professionals. To see Havel’s selection of radiology and biopsy needles, please click here: Havel’s Radiology and Biopsy Needles.


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The Most Surprising Misconceptions of Dermatology

Four ways you’re misinformed abut the dermatology profession 

Tablet with the medical specialty Dermatology on the display

A new study reveals that the majority of Americans are misinformed about the dermatology profession. (Photo: Bigstock)

According to a recent survey, most people living in the U.S. have a misconception about dermatology and what dermatologists actually do. Not only do the results express a “lack of understanding of the day-to-day realities of dermatology,” but more importantly some are worried that the misconception could result in people not seeking out the proper care for skin diseases.

Here are the four most common misconceptions the general public has concerning dermatology:

  1. Dermatologists spend the majority of their time working on cosmetic procedures – The survey revealed that 27 percent of Americans think that dermatologists spend the majority of their time doing cosmetic procedures. In reality, about 10 percent of their work involves cosmetic procedures, while the remaining 90 percent is made up of surgery and managing medical conditions.
  2. Dermatologists only deal with medical conditions like acne, skin cancer and melanoma – Although skin cancer and melanoma are some of the most common diseases they diagnose, dermatologists treat over 3,000 different kinds of diseases.
  3. Dermatologists don’t see as many patients as other types of doctors – Dermatologists tend to work fewer hours than other specialties, but report seeing more patients.
  4. Dermatologists are overpaid for what they do – While dermatologists do tend to make more than the average primary care physician, they still earn less than other specialty fields like cardiologists and plastic surgeons.

To read more on the misconceptions of dermatology study, click here: Many Think of Dermatology as Superficial: Survey.

For more than 30 years, Havel’s has offered premium quality sutures and surgical scalpel blades to dermatologists and other medical professionals. To see Havel’s selection of sutures and surgical scalpel blades, please click here: Havel’s Sutures and Carbon Steel Surgical Scalpel Blades.

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3 Uses for Peripheral Nerve Blocks You Didn’t Even Know About

The common regional anesthetic procedure is finding more uses in non-surgical settings

Peripheral nerve blocks can be used in many non-surgical procedures

Peripheral nerve blocks are already used in a variety of surgical and post-op procedures, but the technique is beginning to find more use in non-surgical settings as well. (Photo: Bigstock)

Peripheral nerve blocks have proven to be a welcome relief for patients and physicians alike, with the ability to lessen the need for opioids as well as provide minimal complications during recovery. Now, anesthesia providers and pain management practitioners are starting to use nerve blocks in other non-surgical settings, including use in diagnosing and treating chronic conditions.

Here are three alternative uses for peripheral nerve blocks making the rounds in the medical community:

  1. Shingles - This disease causes a painful rash and can leave what’s called post-herpetic neuralgia, or a burning or aching sensation on the affected skin and nerves. Since the shingles rash and neuralgia often occur in the same area by the same particular neural pathway, patients have begun seeking relief through nerve blocks. Pain management practitioners suggest blocking the nerves early for the best results, saying it might even help to ease the outbreak’s symptoms.
  2. Phantom limb pain - Researchers have found that nerve blocks could be used to quiet phantom limb pain experienced by some patients. A team of Israeli and Albanian researchers concluded that intraforaminal epidural blocks “rapidly and reversibly extinguished” phantom pain, although more evidence may be needed to determine the overall rate of success.
  3. Headaches - Many patients suffering from a traumatic brain injury are probably familiar with headaches, and run the risk of developing them into a more serious chronic condition. But researchers in Canada have found that peripheral nerve blocks administered into the scalp are able to provide an immediate therapeutic effect not only in adult patients, but in pediatric patients as well. The results were published in the May 2014 issue of Headache.

For more information on alternative uses for peripheral nerve blocks, click here: Alternative Uses for Peripheral Nerve Blocks.

For over 30 years, Havel’s has offered premium quality anesthesia needles and pain control needles for anesthesiologists, doctors, hospitals and other medical professionals. To see Havel’s selection of anesthesia and pain control needles, please click here: Havel’s Anesthesia and Pain Control Needles.

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2015, and What the New Year Means for Dentistry

A look ahead at the most important issues facing the profession

Dental predictions for 2015

Predictions for the field of dentistry in 2015 include adapting to changing health care reforms and ensuring quality, affordable dental coverage for seniors. (Photo: Bigstock)

It’s time to look ahead in 2015 and see what issues are going to be the most important for dental professionals across the U.S. This year, two big issues should be on the radar of everyone in the field: changes due to the Affordable Care Act and aging baby boomers impacting the system as a whole.

Enter Bill Chase, vice president of marketing for :DentalPlans. The company is known for keeping up with the latest trends in dentistry, and with that, Chase has some interesting predictions for 2015.

For one, he says that the current changes in health care just aren’t enough.

“The Affordable Care Act does little to solve the dental crisis in America, especially for adults,” Chase said in an interview with DentistryIQ. “As baby boomers lose their employer-sponsored dental insurance and realize that Medicare doesn’t provide much in the way of dental coverage, there will be an increasing demand to address this issue.”

The hardest part may be trying to find the right balance between making dental coverage affordable without hurting the field altogether.

“As a nation, we need to sort out ways to provide affordable, quality dental care to everyone while still enabling oral health-care professionals to run profitable businesses. If we can’t do that, we’ll start seeing a big spike in dental tourism, and sadly we’ll also see many people sickened and worse for lack of access to affordable dental care.”

Another issue facing dentistry this year is the oral health of the aging baby boomer population. Chase mentions that about one in four Americans over the age of 65 has lost all of their natural teeth due to a lack of affordable coverage. In order to change these drastic figures, dental health needs to be at the forefront of the national health care conversation.

“Affordable preventive care would go a long way toward keeping seniors’ mouths healthy and smiling. We need to stop treating dental care as a luxury option and bring it into the mainstream health care system where it belongs.”

For more of Bill Chase’s 2015 dental predictions, click here: What Will 2015 Bring for Dental Professionals and Patients?

Since 1981, Havel’s has offered premium quality surgical scalpel blades, miniature blades and sutures to dentists, oral surgeons, periodontists, endodontists and other leading medical professionals. To see Havel’s selection of surgical scalpel blades and sutures, please click here: Havel’s Surgical Scalpel Blades, Miniature Blades and Sutures.

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Essentials of Peripheral Nerve Blocks

Advanced technology has made placing blocks safer, quicker and more efficient

Regional anesthesia nerve blocks work well with ultrasound guidance

Advances in ultrasound technology has allowed regional anesthesia techniques like peripheral nerve blocks to become more prominent for surgical pain control. (Photo: Bigstock)

Over the years, advances in ultrasound technology has allowed regional anesthesia to become a viable alternative for pain control and pain management. Procedures like peripheral nerve blocks are now a common option for many practitioners due to the effectiveness of ultrasound guidance. The switch to ultrasound-guided regional anesthesia techniques has transformed the field, giving new light to possibilities that were once thought out of reach.

Today, a well-trained anesthesiologist can use ultrasound to place peripheral nerve blocks with the kind of care and efficiency that couldn’t be achieved a decade ago. Ultrasound gives doctors a more complete visualization when placing blocks, giving practitioners the chance to see the needle as it moves along its path. It also lets them see different internal structures along the way, and avoid any further damage in the process. In the end, all of this leads to more successful blocks and better patient outcomes.

Ultrasound guidance is a breakthrough for regional anesthesia. In order to get the most out of ultrasound guidance, here are a few essentials you’ll need:

  1. Training – advanced training is crucial for any anesthesia providers new to ultrasound guidance. Ultrasound regional courses are available throughout the country, and most are often reasonably priced and not too long. The benefits certainly outweigh any extra time it may take for a course or two.
  2. A designated room – ultrasound-guided regional anesthesia is best performed in a designated area with easy access to all the necessary tools and supplies needed for the procedure. Things like adequate lighting and ample work space help make peripheral nerve block procedures even safer than they already are.
  3. Ultrasound machine – of course, what good is ultrasound guidance without the proper machine? A good ultrasound machine is key, and can run anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000. Depending on your preference, many new machines are easily portable and offer high quality images. The more bells and whistles you want, the higher the price may be. In the end, there are many factors to consider before purchasing the right ultrasound machine, and it’s always better to do research to find the perfect machine for your blocks.
  4. Needles – like a good ultrasound machine, placing a peripheral nerve block is impossible without the right nerve block needle. Today, there are a variety of needles to choose from, based on length, gauge, echogenicity, bevel and insulation qualities. With ultrasound, echogenicity is an important factor to consider, and most new needles tend to focus on their ability to enhance visualization under ultrasound.

To learn more about the essentials for peripheral nerve blocks, click here: Basics of Blocks.

Since 1981, Havel’s has offered premium quality anesthesia needles and pain control needles for anesthesiologists, pain management specialists, physicians, doctors, hospitals and other leading medical professionals. To see Havel’s selection of anesthesia and pain control needles, please click here: Havel’s Anesthesia and Pain Control Needles.

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The Economic Advantages of Regional Anesthesia

Peripheral nerve blocks, continuous local anesthetic infusions save time and money

Regional anesthesia is more effective for post-op pain management

Regional anesthesia techniques are being used more for post-op pain management due to the benefits they can provide to both patients and surgical facilities. (Photo:

For most modern-day anesthesia providers, the biggest reason to use regional anesthesia is because of the vast improvements the techniques can bring to a patient’s post-op experience. Improved patient outcomes can result in major efficiency gains, which means saving time and money for the patient and the facility. Overall, it’s a win-win for everyone.

Regional anesthesia’s post-op analgesic effects are known to dramatically lower pain scores in patients, which then leads to a decline in the use of opioids. Opioid use for post-op pain can increase the risk of grogginess, nausea, vomiting and delirium in patients, some of which are the main causes for prolonged stays in a hospital or surgical facility. More time means higher costs for both patients and insurers. By decreasing the need for opioids and using regional anesthesia, patients recover quicker and are discharged much sooner.

“For an outpatient facility, any technique that avoids the use of opioids is advantageous,” said Mark E. Hudson, MD, MBA, associate professor of anesthesia at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

“Under regional, within minutes after surgery they’re having 7-Up and crackers,” added David Rosen, MD, president of Midwest Anesthesia Partners of Naperville, Illinois. “In 20 to 25 minutes they’re dressed. In 30 minutes, they’re in a wheelchair, heading for the car.”

Fast-track to success

It’s no secret that fast-tracking surgical recovery times can be financially rewarding, as long as the techniques are seen as beneficial to a particular patient. Since regional anesthesia has already proven to be just as effective, if not more, for post-op pain management, it’s no wonder facilities are beginning to see the benefits these techniques can provide for them as well.

Although there isn’t a big difference between the cost of drugs used for general anesthesia and the ones used in regional anesthesia, others resources still play a pivotal role in the discussion.

“Anything that reduces the time the patient spends in the facility is going to save the facility dollars,” said Dr. Hudson.

“When people are out in under an hour, as opposed to 2-plus hours, you’re saving a lot of money on your personal costs,” added Dr. Rosen.

For more information on the economic advantages of regional anesthesia, including what you’ll need in order to take full advantage of these techniques, click here: Regional Anesthesia’s Economic Advantages.

For over 30 years, Havel’s has offered premium quality anesthesia needles and pain control needles for anesthesiologists, pain management specialists, physicians, doctors, hospitals and other leading medical professionals. To see Havel’s selection of anesthesia and pain control needles, please click here: Havel’s Anesthesia and Pain Control Needles.


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