Trending News Today: Patients at NJ Facility May Have Been Exposed to HIV, Hepatitis

Top news of the day across the health care landscape.

More than 3700 former patients of a surgical facility in New Jersey may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C, according to Reuters. Although the risk of infection is low, health officials urged patients who had procedures at HealthPlus Surgery Center between January 1 and September 7 to get tested out of caution, the article reported. A health department investigation of the facility found that “lapses in infection control in sterilization/cleaning instruments and the injection of medications” may have exposed them, Reuters noted.

A recent trial found that treatment with pembrolizumab was superior to the standard of care for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), The American Journal of Managed Care reported. According to the article, the trial enrolled 495 patients, of whom 247 were randomized to receive pembrolizumab every 3 weeks and 248 were randomized to receive the standard of care. The study found that 37% of patients taking pembrolizumab survived for at least 1 year, compared with 26.5% of patients receiving the standard of care, the article reported.

A letter published in Pain Medicine suggested that forced tapering of opioids may be detrimental to patients, Reuters reported. According to the article, international medical experts argued that mandated opioid tapers requiring “aggressive” dose reductions over a defined period can destabilize patients, lead to worsening of pain, precipitate severe opioid withdrawal symptoms, and cause a profound loss of function. The experts called for “compassionate systems for opioid tapering” in carefully selected patients, with close monitoring and realistic goals, the article reported.