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עמוד בית
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June 2006
R. Rosenberg, S. Vinker, J. Yaphe and S. Nakar
 Background: Maintaining a death register and holding staff discussions about patients who died can aid the physician in audit and research, which will lead to improved care of the terminally ill and the bereaved and to the development of prevention strategies. These issues are important for students and residents as well.

Objectives: To review the value of mortality-case discussions in primary care clinics, particularly teaching clinics.

Methods: The clinic death register, instituted in 1998, includes age, gender, cause of death, place of death, relevant illnesses, and support provided to the patient before the death. In the half-yearly sessions, the data are reviewed, and individual cases that had an emotional impact on the staff, or information that can bring about changes in future care are discussed by the clinic staff and trainees.

Results: In our clinic 233 deaths occurred during a 6 year period (1998–2003). The crude all-cause mortality rate was 7.1/1000. The median age was 80 years old. Neoplastic causes were slightly more frequent than cardiovascular causes of death. Only 15% died at home; 20% lived alone and 70% lived with a spouse or family members before the death. Topics discussed in the mortality review meetings include identifying pre-suicidal patients, when to hospitalize the sick elderly, dealing with the anger of bereaved families, and ensuring proper home care for terminal patients.

Conclusions: We recommend keeping a death register and conducting mortality review sessions in order to improve the quality of care, emotional support of the staff, and training students and residents about the complex issues surrounding the death of patients.

October 2005
S. Vinker, S. Nakar, R. Ram. A. Lustman and E. Kitai.
 Background: Good care of the diabetic patient reduces the incidence of long-term complications. Treatment should be interdisciplinary; in the last decade a debate has raged over how to optimize treatment and how to use the various services efficiently.

Objectives: To evaluate the quality of care of diabetic patients in primary care and diabetes clinics in the community in central Israel.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective cross-sectional study of a random sample of 209 diabetic patients in a district of the largest health management organization in Israel. Patients were divided into two groups – those treated only by their family physician and those who had attended diabetes clinics. Data included social demographics, medications, risk factors, quality of follow-up, laboratory tests, quality of diabetes control and blood pressure control, and complications of diabetes.

Results: Of the 209 patients 38% were followed by a diabetes clinic and 62% by a family physician. Patients attending the specialist clinic tended to be younger (P = 0.01) and more educated (P = 0.017). The duration of their diabetes was longer (P < 0.01) and they had more diabetic microvascular complications (P = 0.001). The percentage of patients treated with insulin was higher among the diabetes clinic patients (75% vs. 14%, P = 0.0001). More patients with nephropathy received angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors in the diabetes clinic (94% vs. 68%, P = 0.02). Follow-up in the specialist clinic as compared to by the family physician was better in the areas of foot examination (P < 0.01), fundus examination (P = 0.0001), and hemoglobin A1c testing (P = 0.01). On a regression model only fundus examination, foot examination and documentation of smoking status were significantly better in the diabetes clinic (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: There is still a large gap between clinical guidelines and clinical practice. Joint treatment of diabetes patients between the family physician and the diabetes specialist may be a proposed model to improve follow-up and diabetes control. This model of treatment should be checked in a prospective study.

June 2002
Shlomo Vinker, MD, Sasson Nakar, MD, Elliot Rosenberg, MD, MPH and Eliezer Kitai, MD

Background: Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer mortality in Israel. Unfortunately, compliance  with annual fecal occult blood testing is very low.

Objective: To assess the effectiveness of interventions to increase FOBT[1] screening in primary care clinics in Israel.

Methods: A prospective, randomized study included all 50–75 year old enrollees of six family physicians in two primary care clinics. The register of two physicians, one from each clinic, was allocated to one of three groups. Two FOBT reminder strategies were tested: a physician reminder (753 patients), and a patient reminder that was either a phone call (312 patients) or a letter (337 patients). The control group (913 patients) of physicians continued administering their regular level of care. The main outcome measure was the percentage of patients undergoing FOBT screening in each study arm at the conclusion of the one year study period.

Results: In the intervention groups 14.3% (201/1,402) were screened using the FOBT over the course of the study year. Using an intent-to-screen analysis, the screening rate in the physician and patient reminder groups was significantly higher than in the control group(16.5 and 11.9%,vs. 1.2% respectively, P < 0.0001). Phone reminders were significantly more efective as compared to letters (14.7 vs. 9.2%, P = 0.01).

Conclusions: Our study has shown the benefit of various FOBT reminder systems, especially those centered around the family physician. Further research should focus on this area, in conjunction with other novel approaches.

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[1] FOBT = fecal occult blood testing

December 2001
Sasson Nakar MD, Shlomo Vinker MD, Eliezer Kitai MD, Eli Wertman MD and Michael Weingarten MD

Background: Migration leads to changes in almost all areas of life including health. But how far are health beliefs also preserved, and how far are they affected by the process of acculturation to the host society?

Objectives: To examine the difference between behavior and attitudes towards conventional and traditional medicine among elderly Yemenite immigrants.

Methods: A community-based study was conducted in the Yemenite neighborhoods in the city of Rehovot. All inhabitants of Yemenite origin over the age of 70 were identified from the population register, excluding those who were institutionalized or demented. Social work students interviewed them at home. The questionnaire inquired after health problems in the preceding month. For each of these problems, the respondent was asked whether any mode of treatment had been employed – Yemenite folk remedies, conventional medical care, or other. Their attitudes towards Yemenite folk medicine and conventional medicine were recorded. Socioeconomic data included their current age, age at immigration, year of immigration, marital status, gender, religiosity, and education.

Results: A total of 326 elderly people were identified who fulfilled the selection criteria, of whom 304 (93%) agreed to be interviewed. Of these, 276 (91%) reported at least one health problem in the preceding month, providing 515 problems of which 349 (68%) were reported to a conventional medical doctor while 144 (28%) were treated by popular folk remedies. Fifty-nine problems (11.5%) were treated by specifically Yemenite traditional remedies, mostly by the respondents themselves (38/59) rather than by a traditional healer. Immigrants who arrived in Israel over the age of 30 years, as compared to respondents who immigrated at an earlier age and grew up in Israel, were more likely to use traditional Yemenite remedies (24.4% vs. 8.2%, P<0.005).

Conclusion: Aged Yemenite Jews in Israel prefer modern medicine. The earlier the immigrant arrived in Israel, the more positive the attitude towards modern medicine and the less use made of traditional Yemenite healing.

September 2001
Slomo Vinker, MD, Boris Kaplan, MD, Sasson Nakar, MD, Gita Samuels, MD, Gidon Shapira, MD and Eliezer Kitai, MD

Background: Urinary incontinence in older women is common. Its characteristics and impact on quality of life is not well established since these women are usually reluctant to tell their healthcare providers about the problem.

Objective: To determine the characteristics of urinary incontinence in women and the manner in which it affects patients quality of life.

Methods: Twenty family physicians were requested to distribute a questionnaire to the first 25 consecutive women aged 30 to 75 years who visited their clinic for any reason. The questionnaire covered general health issues, symptoms of urinary incontinence, and quality of life.

Results: A total of 418 women, mean age 50.0 ± 11.8 years, completed the questionnaire (84% response rate). Of these, 148 (36%) reported having episodes of urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence was found to be associated with older age, menopause, obesity and coexisting chronic disorders. Sixty percent of the women with urinary incon­tinence found it to be a disturbing symptom, and 44% reported that it had a detrimental effect on their quality of life. Only 32% of the affected women had sought medical advice, half of them from their family physician. Treatment was recommended to 66% of those who sought help, and in about two-thirds of these it brought some measure of relief.

Conclusions: Urinary incontinence is a common com­plaint among women attending primary care clinics, but it does not receive appropriate attention, Though it often adversely affects quality of life, only a small proportion of women seek medical advice. Family physicians should raise the issue as a part of the routine general health check-up.
 

March 2000
Shlomo Vinker MD, Sasson Nakar MD, Michael A. Weingarten BM BCh, and members of the Israeli General Practice Research Network

Background: Most countries today are experiencing an accelerated pace of population aging. The management of the elderly housebound patient presents a special challenge to the family physician.

Objectives: To investigate a series of home visits to housebound patients, the therapeutic procedures used, the equipment needed, and the diagnostic conclusions reached.

Methods: The details of 379 consecutive home visits to housebound patients were recorded by 91 family doctors serving 125,000 patients in Israel.

Results: The average age of the patients was 76.1 years. The vast majority of the visits were during office hours (94%). In 24.1% it was the doctor who decided to make the home visit on his/her own initiative. The most common initial reason for a home visit was undefined general symptoms, but the doctor was usually able to arrive at a more specific diagnosis after the visit. Medications were prescribed in 59.1% of the visits, and in 23.5% the medication was administered directly by the physician. The commonest drugs used were analgesics and antibiotics. In 19.3% of visits no action at all, other than examination and counseling, was undertaken. The equipment needed included prescription pads (73%), a stethoscope (81%), sphygmomanometer (74.9%), and otoscope/torch (30.6%). Only 15% of visits resulted in referral to hospital.

Conclusions: Home visits to housebound patients serve as a support to caregivers, provide diagnostic information, and help the family with the decision as to when hospitalization is appropriate. The specific medical cause for the patient being housebound had little effect on the process of home visiting.
 

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