Trending News Today: Study Shows Alcohol Abuse is Undertreated

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

In the United States, approximately 28% of adults drink more alcohol than the recommended amount, or are heavy drinkers, but do not receive the help they need, according to a nationwide survey by the National Institutes of Health. A report by NPR noted that a meta-analysis of naltrexone—–used to help opioid addicts––helped reduce heavy drinking and alcohol cravings. The analysis included data from 64 clinical trials examining participants who received either naltrexone or a placebo. Naltrexone appears to curb the euphoric and sedative effects of opiates on the brain, NPR reported. The study found that when the drunk blunts the effects of alcohol, it can help people drink less alcohol. The findings show that naltrexone and acamprosate—–a drug that helps individuals who have stopped drinking maintain abstinence––are cost-effective, safe, and efficacious. However, they are substantially underused.

Antibiotic resistance is on the rise among children, according to The Washington Post. A new study found that 3 of 5 children admitted to hospitals already have antibiotic-resistant infection. The investigators analyzed data from 48 children’s hospitals across the United States between 2007 and 2015, with a focus on approximately 100,000 children younger than 18 years who contracted infections primarily caused by Enterobacteriaceae. The results of the study showed that a proportion of infections increased almost 700% from 0.2% to 1.5% over the 8-year period. Furthermore, children with Enterobacteriaceae infections had 20% longer hospital stays compared with pediatric patients with more treatable infections, the Post reported. A report by the CDC found that health care providers prescribed 842 antibiotic courses per 1000 people in the United States in 2011.

Only a small fraction of physicians, nurses, or pharmacy staff at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals were fired or reprimanded for thousands of reported cases of opioid theft and missing prescriptions since 2010, The Washington Post reported. Over the last 6 years, approximately 372 VA employees were disciplined for a drug or alcohol-related issue across a network of 160 medical centers and 1000 clinics. During this time period, more than 11,000 incidents of drug loss or thefts at federal hospitals—–a vast majority within the VA––were reported. This roughly translated to VA employees disciplined in 3% of cases, according to the Post. Nearly one-third of disciplined employees were either forced to resign or dismissed, while others were suspended without pay, admonished, or given last chance warnings. Thus far, the VA has declined to comment regarding their reasons for the low disciplinary rate, citing some cases were still be adjudicated, the Post reported.