In 2016, as in years before, the world witnessed many medical discoveries that led to a rethink of medical recommendations for patients. Here, we look at some of them:
Back in May, came the news that there is no longer any need to ask patients to fast in preparation for cholesterol checks. The European Atherosclerosis Society and European Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine made a joint consensus statement in May saying that since 2009, non-fasting lipid testing has become the clinical standard in Denmark and is appropriate more widely. They added that this would offer a chance to simplify testing for patients and General Practitioners.
Another study in 2016 showed that around 34 percent of the women were being told by their doctors to lose weight, while only 16 percent were informed that they were at risk of heart disease, despite 74 percent of them having at least one risk factor for the condition.
If women do not think they are going to get heart disease, and they are being told by society and their doctors that everything would be fine if they just lost weight, that explains the paradox of why women are not going in for the recommended heart checks, say medical experts. No one wishes to be told to lose weight.
In September the American Academy of Pediatrics published its latest study which showed that the flu shot gave significantly better protection than the nasal spray vaccine.
Meanwhile, inappropriate antimicrobial prescribing has persisted. Common colds, uncomplicated bronchitis, sore throats, and sinus infections may create a lot of demand in primary care. However, in an effort to combat antibiotic resistance and drug spending, experts are now offering some advice to doctors. These include conducting a 'gene expression blood test' in the doctor's office that offers better diagnosis by helping distinguish viral infections from bacterial ones.
The traditional doctor's bag also got a digital makeover in 2016. A new stethoscope attachment can now transcribe heart sounds to the medical record. And a smartphone technology has been devised that can create images from the otoscope. Also, a new app, called Dermofit, promises to help doctors better detect skin cancer in its early stages. The new app consists of a library of more than 1,300 skin lesion photos that have been grouped together based on their color and texture. Practitioners can click on the image of a lesion of interest which then leads to further similar lesions. As lesions are selected, further sets of similar lesions are displayed. This gives familiarity with the different skin lesion types and allows users to differentiate between lesions that look similar, but that are from different skin lesion classes.