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The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence referral guidelines prompting urgent two-week referrals were updated in 2015. Additional symptoms with a lower threshold of 3 per cent positive predictive values were integrated. This study aimed to examine whether current pan-London urgent referral guidelines for suspected head and neck cancer lead to efficient and accurate referrals by assessing frequency of presenting symptoms and risk factors, and examining their correlation with positive cancer diagnoses.
The risk factors and symptoms of 984 consecutive patients (over a six-month period in 2016) were collected retrospectively from urgent referral letters to University College London Hospital for suspected head and neck cancer.
Only 37 referrals (3.76 per cent) resulted in a head and neck cancer diagnosis. Four of the 23 recommended symptoms demonstrated statistically significant results. Nine of the 23 symptoms had a positive predictive value of over 3 per cent.
The findings indicate that the current referral guidelines are not effective at detecting patients with cancer. Detection rates have decreased from 10–15 per cent to 3.76 per cent. A review of the current head and neck cancer referral guidelines is recommended, along with further data collection for comparison.
At the heart of the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) lies ‘best interests’. As we have seen, one of the key principles of the Act is that, if someone lacks capacity, any decision made on the person’s behalf must be in his or her best interests.
Declining mortality following invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) has been observed concurrent with a reduced incidence due to effective pneumococcal conjugate vaccines. However, with IPD now increasing due to serotype replacement, we undertook a statistical analysis to estimate the trend in all-cause 30-day case fatality rate (CFR) in the North East of England (NEE) following IPD. Clinical, microbiological and demographic data were obtained for all laboratory-confirmed IPD cases (April 2006–March 2016) and the adjusted association between CFR and epidemiological year estimated using logistic regression. Of the 2510 episodes of IPD included in the analysis, 486 died within 30 days of IPD (CFR 19%). Increasing age, male sex, a diagnosis of septicaemia, being in ⩾1 clinical risk groups, alcohol abuse and individual serotypes were independently associated with increased CFR. A significant decline in CFR over time was observed following adjustment for these significant predictors (adjusted odds ratio 0.93, 95% confidence interval 0.89–0.98; P = 0.003). A small but significant decline in 30-day all-cause CFR following IPD has been observed in the NEE. Nonetheless, certain population groups remain at increased risk of dying following IPD. Despite the introduction of effective vaccines, further strategies to reduce the ongoing burden of mortality from IPD are needed.
We compared antibiotic prescribing to older people in different settings to inform antibiotic stewardship interventions. We used data linkage to stratify individuals aged 65 years and over in Northern Ireland, 1st January 2012–31st December 2013, by residence: community dwelling, care home dwelling or ‘transitioned’ if admitted to a care home. The odds of being prescribed an antibiotic by residence were analysed using logistic regression, adjusting for patient demographics and selected medication use (proxy for co-morbidities). Trends in monthly antibiotic prescribing were examined in the 6 months pre- and post-admission to the care home. The odds of being prescribed at least one antibiotic were twofold higher in care homes compared with community dwellers (adjusted odds ratio 2.05, 95% CI 1.93–2.17). There was a proportionate increase of 51.5% in the percentage prescribed an antibiotic on admission, with a monthly average of 23% receiving an antibiotic in the 6 months post admission. While clinical need likely accounts for some of the observed antibiotic prescribing in care homes we cannot rule out more liberal prescribing, given the twofold difference between care home residents and their community dwelling peers having accounted for co-morbidities. The appropriateness of antibiotic prescribing in the care home setting should be examined.
Does the content of a physically dangerous job affect the moral permissibility of hiring for that job? To what extent may employers consider costs in choosing workplace safety measures? Drawing on Kantian ethical theory, this article defends two strong ethical standards of workplace safety. First, the content of a hazardous job does indeed affect the moral permissibility of offering it. Unless employees need hazard pay to meet basic needs, it is permissible to offer a dangerous job only if prospective employees have a reason other than hazard pay to choose this job instead of safer alternatives. Second, employers typically cannot justify omitting expensive safety measures by paying employees more, even if employees prefer higher pay to greater safety. Employers offering dangerous jobs must meet these two standards to avoid treating their employees merely as means.