One Smart Dummy: Patient Simulators Help Save Lives

sim labBob lay in his hospital bed, eyes wide open and looking at the ceiling, when his condition took a turn for the worse. After being monitored for chest pain and low blood pressure all day, he suddenly went into cardiac arrest. A care team rushed to his side, administering an electric shock that normalized his heart rhythm and brought him to a stable state.

A good outcome, to be sure. But just in case the doctors weren’t entirely satisfied with their performance, they can ask Bob to do it all over again. And again.

That’s the beauty of the new Rush Clinical Skills and Simulation Center, which uses sophisticated dummies like Bob to simulate real-world patient care for students and health care workers from Rush University Medical Center.

“Simulation is a safe place to make mistakes,” says Nathan Walsh, manager of the simulation center, which opens Sept. 8. “It’s where we practice unfamiliar techniques and new procedures, address our inefficiencies and learn from our errors, so that by the time a team treats your loved one, they know exactly how to get it right.”

The Rush Center for Clinical Skills and Simulation, with its first phase of construction complete, significantly increases the number of future doctors, nurses and other care givers who can be accommodated. It has three times more capacity than Rush’s old simulation laboratory.

The 7,000-square-foot center utilizes advanced technology to help create patient scenarios that vary from the flu to serious heart conditions. The event mimics what a health care worker would experience in real life. Continue reading

Drug May Slow Memory Loss Caused by Alzheimer’s

20040120-01-011A new research study at Rush University Medical Center and Northwestern Medicine is testing whether a new investigational treatment can slow the memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

The study will include men and women ages 65 to 85 who have normal thinking and memory function but who may be at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) memory loss sometime in the future.

The purpose of the research study, called the Anti-Amyloid Treatment in Asymptomatic Alzheimer’s study (the “A4 study” for short), is to test whether a new investigational drug, called an amyloid antibody, can slow memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

Amyloid is a protein normally produced in the brain that can build up in older people, forming amyloid plaque deposits. Scientists believe this buildup of deposits may play a key role in the eventual development of Alzheimer’s disease-related memory loss and dementia. The overall goal of the A4 study is to test whether decreasing amyloid with antibody investigational drug can help slow the memory loss associated with amyloid buildup in some people.

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Rush Ranked in Seven Specialties by U.S. News

RushTowerCloudsRush University Medical Center once again has been named one of the nation’s top hospitals, according to the new issue of U.S. News & World Report. Rush is ranked in seven of 16 categories included in the magazine’s 2014 -15 “America’s Best Hospitals” issue, which became available online on July 15, and is one of the two top-ranked hospitals in Illinois overall.

Rush’s orthopedics program was ranked No. 6 nationwide, making it the highest ranked orthopedics program in Illinois. Rush’s other ranked programs were geriatrics (No. 17); neurology and neurosurgery (No. 17); nephrology (No. 31); urology (No. 43); cardiology and heart surgery (No. 46); and cancer (No. 48).

U.S. News also noted that the following Rush specialty services are “high-performing”: diabetes and endocrinology; ear, nose and throat; gastroenterology; gynecology; and pulmonary.

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Lake Michigan Swim to Benefit Cancer Research

Swim Across America events have raised roughly $50 million for cancer research nationwide.

Swim Across America events have raised roughly $50 million for cancer research nationwide.

As many as 10 former Olympians, along with scores of others, will participate in the Swim Across America (SAA) fundraiser Saturday, July 26, at Ohio Street Beach in Chicago. It is SAA’s 21st annual Chicago event.

Swim Across America is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to raising money for cancer research, prevention and treatment through swimming events across the country.

The fundraiser benefits the Rush University Cancer Center, which comprises all of the clinical, research and educational efforts at Rush University Medical Center. SAA is aiming to top the more than $400,000 raised at last year’s event.

“What Swim Across America has achieved in Chicago and around the country is incredible,” said David McClellan, SAA Chicago event director. “We always set our sights high, but we expect a record-breaking 2014 event in hopes of funding groundbreaking cancer research at Rush.”

Read the news release.

Circadian Rhythm Disruption May Contribute to Disease


Robin Voigt, PhD

A disruption of circadian rhythms, when combined with a high-fat, high-sugar diet, may contribute to inflammatory bowel disease and other harmful conditions, according to a recent study conducted by researchers at Rush University Medical Center. The study is online at the peer-reviewed, open-access journal, PLOS ONE.

“Circadian rhythms, which impose a 24-hour cycle on our bodies, are different from sleep patterns,” said Robin M. Voigt, PhD, assistant professor at Rush Medical College and first author of the study. “Sleep is a consequence of circadian rhythms,” Voigt said.

While circadian rhythm disruption may be common among some, the research suggests that it may be contributing to a host of diseases that may be prevented by regulating things such as sleep/wake patterns and times of eating to help prevent circadian rhythm disruption. Including prebiotics or probiotics in the diet can also help normalize the effects of circadian rhythm disruption on the intestinal microbiota to reduce the presence of inflammation.

“It’s something that needs to be addressed — not something people need to be very concerned about, but aware. If you have some of these other risk factors, like a high-fat, high-sugar diet,” or a genetic tendency toward disruption in circadian rhythms, “take precautions, watch your diet, take pre- and probiotics, monitor your health, be vigilant,” Voigt said.

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Rush Earns Fifth Consecutive “A” for Patient Safety

patient_room-215Rush University Medical Center again has received an “A” for patient safety in a nationwide evaluation of hospitals by The Leapfrog Group, a national not-for-profit organization that promotes health care safety and quality improvement. It is the fifth consecutive time Rush has received an A, the top grade possible.

The Leapfrog Group released the spring Hospital Safety Score grades on April 29. This score represents Rush’s overall performance in keeping patients safe from preventable medical errors, injuries and infections.

“Rush’s consistent performance in the Leapfrog ratings reflects our staff’s ongoing commitment to patient effort and the daily effort of thousands of people to ensure that we maintain the highest quality standards,” said Cathy Dimou, MD, Rush Health chief medical officer.

The Hospital Safety Score was compiled under the guidance of the nation’s leading experts on patient safety. The Hospital Safety Score is designed to give the public information they can use to protect themselves and their families and is the first and only hospital safety rating to be peer-reviewed in the Journal of Patient Safety.

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Fusion Technology Increases Prostate Cancer Detection Accuracy to 97 Percent

Dr. Ajay Nehra

Dr. Ajay Nehra

Urologists at Rush University Medical Center are the first in Chicago to offer a powerful new tool for visualizing and monitoring the prostate in men who have high prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels and in detecting prostate cancer more accurately.

The new technology combines or “fuses” magnetic resonance (MR) and ultrasound images uses electromagnetic tracking/guidance, similar to your car’s GPS system. A tiny tracking sensor is attached to an ultrasound probe and generates a small, localized electromagnetic field that helps determine the location and orientation of the biopsy device. A sophisticated computer program maintains the fusion of MR and ultrasound images, even when a patient moves.

“This is a new way of identifying and specifically targeting suspicious prostate lesions. We believe it may have the potential to be a new standard in prostate care,” said Dr. Ajay Nehra, chairman of urology at Rush University Medical Center.

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