Exit block 'leading to deaths', HRT ovarian cancer link and GPs to prescribe sex
A round-up of the morning’s health news headlines
Delays moving patients from A&E to hospital beds - dubbed ‘exit block’ - is leading to hundreds of deaths a year according to emergency medicine doctors, the Independent reports.
A report from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine found exit block accounted for 13 deaths for every department seeing 50,000 patients a year - suggesting up to 3,800 may have died in England in the past year as a result of the problem.
Exit block can delay critical interventions such as antibiotic administration and pain relief for patients stuck in A&E departments - but also means new arrivals can’t be treated.
Dr Cliff Mann, president of the college, said: ‘Exit block remains a serious problem and is continuing to impact severely on patient safety.’
Elsewhere, the BBC reports on further concerns being voiced about the potential harms of hormone replacement therapy, after a study found short-term use was linked to an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
University of Oxford researchers found an extra case of the disease for every 1,000 women taking the drugs for five years from the age of 50.
Lead author Professor Sir Richard Peto told the BBC News website: ‘If it were me and I had really bad symptoms, I’d worry more about those than any possible risk.
‘But [these findings] should edge towards less use rather than more use.’
Lastly, GPs have been told to prescribe sex, the Daily Mail informs us this morning.
This activity - outrageous enough to warrant use of capital letters in Mail speak - is actually among a number of daily physical activities that the Royal Academy of Medical Colleges believes GPs and other doctors should be more actively promoting in their patients, even the ones who aren’t overweight.
GPs should tell patients to start off gently with daily brisk walks, using the stairs, dog-walking or having more sex, the paper says.
Professor Dame Sue Bailey, chairman of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, said: ‘This is about people and their doctors believing that the small effort involved is worth it because they are worth it.
‘There really is a miracle cure staring us in the face, one which too many patients and doctors have quite simply forgotten about.’
But Joyce Robins, of Patient Concern, told the paper GPs should mind their own when it comes to patients’ sex lives.
She said: ‘It’s none of GPs’ business to be talking about patients’ sex lives. I would take amiss at that and I’m sure many others would too.
‘This is particularly true as nowadays most patients don’t even know their family doctor.’