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A 50-year-old female patient suffering from a severe form of epidermolysis bullosa acquisita (EBA) took legal action against the Croatian Pension Insurance Institute (CPII) in an attempt to overturn their assessment that she was no longer capable of working as a seamstress but still capable of doing administrative jobs. Her claim was that she was not capable of doing any job at all. She was first diagnosed EBA in 2000, and the disease progressed slowly with intermittent remissions. In 2012, skin erosions appeared on her feet, followed by the loss of all toenails and lesions and infiltrations on the tongue and oral mucosa. Her whole body was covered in oozing wounds, she was in pain, and parts of her skin would stick to fabric while changing clothes or bandages. The most recent findings showed oesophageal stricture. She can consume only liquid food and is on the waiting list for receiving a feeding tube. The occupational health expert witness confirmed that the patient was generally incapable of work and was fighting her life. The judge and CPII lawyers fully accepted this report and the earlier assessment was overturned. To avoid incompetent assessments of working (in)capacity in the future, CPII and similar institutions should engage occupational medicine specialists to work in their assessment teams.
Nataša Holcer, Marija Maričević and Anamarija Miočić-Juran
The Use of Mercury-Based Medical Devices Across Croatian Healthcare Facilities
In 2009, we conducted a survey to assess the use of mercury-based thermometers and sphygmomanometers and their disposal in Croatian healthcare facilities. The questionnaire addressing the use of mercury-based medical devices, waste management, preferences between mercury-based and electronic devices, and the knowledge on mercury toxicity was filled by ward nurses affiliated with 40 (71.4 %) out of 56 contacted healthcare facilities. Only one of these facilities had given up the use of mercury-containing medical devices at the time. As many as 84.6 % of the nurses believed that broken devices did not increase the risk of mercury exposure, even though 90 % claimed they were aware of mercury toxicity. In fact, 69.4 % of the nurses preferred mercury-containing devices on account of their precision and reliability and because they received little training in the use of electronic devices.
Breaking of thermometers and sphygmomanometers is common in healthcare facilities. The number of broken thermometers and sphygmomanometers was estimated to 278 and five per month, respectively. Only 18 (46.2 %) of the surveyed healthcare facilities claimed to have had a proper disposal procedure for mercury from broken devices. Nurses, who most often handle these devices and collect mercury spills, are primarily exposed to mercury vapours via inhalation. Croatia has adopted the EU Directive 76/769/EEC intended to reduce mercury exposure in the living and working environment. Our survey suggests that all healthcare professionals need training in proper management of broken mercury-based medical devices, nurses in particular. To reduce the risk of exposure, all Croatian healthcare facilities should implement guidelines for staff protection and programmes to gradually replace mercury-based with electronic devices.
The risk of precipitation limits calcium and phosphate concentrations that can be administered parenterally to pediatric patients. As an alternative to dipotassium phosphate, sodium glycerophosphate (NaGlyP) is claimed to reduce the risk of precipitation in solutions for parenteral administration.
To determine the calcium concentrations, NaGlyP, and dipotassium phosphate prescribed in pediatric parenteral nutrition orders and the cost–benefit of the organic phosphate.
We retrospectively collected cross-sectional data for parenteral nutrition orders from September 2014 to August 2015 for pediatric patients including neonates and children aged <18 years who were admitted to King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand. Calcium concentration, calcium concentration adjustments, and costs of phosphate used per bag were analyzed.
Of 2,192 parenteral nutrition orders, NaGlyP was used in 2,128 (97.1%) with calcium concentrations in the range of 0.84–139.91 mmol/L, which were significantly higher than calcium concentrations used with dipotassium phosphate (0.00–12.21 mmol/L, P < 0.001). There was no report of visible precipitation. Median costs of NaGlyP and dipotassium phosphate used per unit bag were not significantly different (35.88 and 41.25 Thai baht [THB] or 1.04 and 1.20 USD per bag, respectively, P>0.99; (1 USD equivalent to 34.241 THB U.S. Federal Reserve Bank G5.A annual average rate 2015).
Higher calcium concentrations could be achieved without increasing the direct cost per unit bag significantly as a result of using NaGlyP, an alternative to dipotassium phosphate as a source of phosphate for patients who require high amounts of calcium in parenteral nutrition.
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