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Latest News Around the Web

Chronic Depression Associated With Increased Risk For Later Dementia.

The Wall Street Journal (5/8, D2, Dooren, Subscription Publication) reports that according to a study published in the May issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, individuals who have chronic depression may be at increased risk for developing dementia, compared to those who do not suffer from depression.

HealthDay (5/8, Preidt) reported that after evaluating “long-term data from more than 13,000 people in California,” researchers found that “people with late-life depression were twice as likely to get Alzheimer’s disease and those with both midlife and late-life depression had a more than threefold increased risk of vascular dementia.”

Related Links:

— “Study Examines Depression and Aging Brain,”Jennifer Corbett, The Wall Street Journal, May 8, 2012.

Study: Early Interventions Promising For Very Young Children With Autism.

The Wall Street Journal (5/9, D3, Wang, Subscription Publication) reports that in Baltimore, MD, at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, researchers are conducting experiments in which toddlers who are at increased risk for autism spectrum disorders are put into groups designed to elicit improvements in how the little ones socialize and communicate. Currently, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most youngsters who receive an autism diagnosis are about four, and behavioral and social interventions take place even later. However, the sooner children start with such interventions, the better their outcomes are in the long run. For that reason, the Kennedy Krieger intervention groups are focusing on one- and two-year-olds. The toddlers are engaged in intense playgroups with specific activities designed to help them learn to form concepts. So far, results are promising.

Related Links:

— “Targeting Child’s Play to Help Tackle Autism,”Shirley S. Wang , The Wall Street Journal, May 9, 2012.

Appeals Court Says It Cannot Order Overhaul Of VA’s Mental Healthcare System.

A Monday ruling by the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals that it cannot order Veterans Affairs to revamp its mental healthcare system was heavily covered, by publications like the AP and Reuters and by newspapers in various parts of the country. Despite the court’s ruling, the coverage tended to focus on criticism of VA’s mental healthcare system.

The AP (5/8, Elias) reports that on Monday, 10 judges on a “special 11-judge panel” of the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals reversed an earlier demand, made by a three-judge panel of the same court, that Veterans Affairs “dramatically overhaul” its mental healthcare system. In ruling on a lawsuit filed by Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United for Truth, the 11-judge panel “said that any such changes need to be ordered by Congress” or the President. A lawyer for the two vets groups “said he will ask the US Supreme Court to review the case.”

Running a shortened version of the AP story in its “National Briefing/West” section, the New York Times (5/8, A20, Subscription Publication) reports that when it made its ruling last year, the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals’ three-judge panel ordered VA “to ensure that suicidal veterans are seen immediately.” That panel “found the department’s ‘unchecked incompetence’ in handling the flood of post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health claims was unconstitutional.”

Related Links:

— “Fed court reverses order for VA system overhaul,”Paul Elias, Associated Press, May 7, 2012.

Determining Patient’s Fitness To Drive A Growing Issue For Psychiatrists.

Medscape (5/6, Brooks) reported, “Determining when it is time for a patient to stop driving and hand over the keys is a growing issue for psychiatrists.” A poster presentation “at the American Psychiatric Association’s 2012 Annual Meeting highlights the fact that psychiatrists are ‘increasingly’ faced with patients whose driving ability may be impaired by excessive daytime sleepiness due to primary sleep disorders or to sleep disturbance associated with medical and psychiatric illness, such as dementia, epilepsy, or substance abuse.” What’s more, “patients with dementia are three to five times more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle accident than age-matched control individuals, and epilepsy is one of the most frequently implicated medical causes for motor vehicle accidents.”

Related Links:

— “Patients’ Fitness to Drive a Growing Issue for Psychiatrists,”Megan Brooks, Medscape Today, May 5, 2012.

ED Patients With Mental Health Emergencies May Wait Longer Than Other Patients.

HealthDay (5/5, Preidt) reported, “Patients with mental health emergencies wait an average of 11.5 hours — nearly half a day — in hospital emergency departments, and those who are older, uninsured or intoxicated wait even longer,” according to a study published online in the Annals of Emergency Medicine. Investigators found that “overall, patients with psychiatric emergencies wait about 42 percent longer in the emergency department than other patients.”

MedPage Today (5/6, Bankhead) reported, “Several recent studies have shown that patients who go to emergency departments for psychiatric care have substantially longer waits compared with patients seeking other types of care.” For instance, “In a survey by the American College of Emergency Physicians, 40% of emergency department medical directors said psychiatric patients waited more than eight hours from disposition decision to discharge from the ED. In contrast, 7% of the directors said medical patients had to wait that long.”

Related Links:

— “Psychiatric Patients Often Wait Nearly 12 Hours in ER,”Robert Preidt, HealthDay, May 2, 2012.

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