AHA toolkit fosters evidence-based medicine

The Chicago-based American Hospital Association (AHA) has mailed all hospitals in the United States a patient safety and quality toolkit designed to help hospitals and their medical staffs practice evidence-based medicine.

The kit, "Strategies for Leadership: Evidence-based Medicine for Effective Patient Care," was developed with UnitedHealth Foundation. It includes print and CD-ROM copies of "Clinical Evidence," a publication by BMJ Publishing Group containing the latest clinical evidence from a variety of medical disciplines. The kit also contains information on how to use clinical-based evidence in hospitals and in developing clinical information systems.

Recipients are eligible for a six-month trial subscription to Clinical Evidence Online, which features monthly updates. For more information, go to www.aha.org and click on "Quality and Patient Safety," then "What’s New."

CDC stresses smallpox vaccination site care

The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued a report highlighting the importance of proper care of the place on the arm where the smallpox vaccine is administered. The report details adverse reactions experienced by two women exposed to the vaccination sites of military vaccinees.

A 26-year-old woman in close contact with a man who often kept his vaccination site uncovered became ill with swelling, pain, and discharge from the right eye, which progressed to swelling of the entire right side of her face, according to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). The woman was discharged from the hospital after treatment including vaccinia immune globulin.

Also, an 18-year-old woman who handled the bandage of a military vaccinee later developed skin lesions and swelling in her right eye. Her condition improved after treatment including antibiotics. The CDC said close contacts of vaccinees should not touch the vaccination site or materials that might be contaminated, including bandages, clothing, towels, or sheets.

For more information, go to: www.cdc.gov/mmwr/mmwr_wk.html.

St. Louis hospitals sign preparedness agreement

St. Louis area hospitals have unveiled an agreement to assist each other with volunteer medical professionals and supplies in the event of a disaster involving mass casualties. "At a time of uncertainty in our world, this agreement provides reassurance to the citizens of Missouri that the world-class health care facilities in St. Louis will be able to work together swiftly and efficiently if a disaster occurs," said Michael Zilm, president of the St. Louis Metropolitan Hospital Council, in making the announcement. A total of 35 hospitals signed the mutual aid agreement, which Mayor Francis Slay called a model for other communities.

HHS seeks safer smallpox vaccines

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy Thompson announced HHS has awarded two contracts totaling up to $20 million in first-year funding to develop safer smallpox vaccines.

"To protect ourselves from the remote but extremely grave threat of a deliberate release of smallpox virus, we need a vaccine that can be safely given to all Americans. The new contracts will help us meet this need by accelerating research on second-generation smallpox vaccines," he said.

Under the three-year contracts, Bavarian Nordic A/S of Copenhagen, Denmark, and Acambis Inc. of Cambridge, MA, will develop, manufacture, and conduct safety trials of modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) vaccine candidates. MVA is a strain of vaccinia that cannot replicate inside human cells and therefore cannot cause dispersed infection.

An MVA-based vaccine given to more than 120,000 people during the smallpox eradication campaign in Germany in the 1970s had an excellent safety record, HHS said. For more information, go to: www.hhs.gov/news/press/2003.html.