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In evaluating the quality of table eggs and the developmental stages of embryonic eggs, spectroscopic techniques provide greater efficiency than traditional, time-consuming and laborious approaches. This review summarises recent developments in the spectroscopic analysis of table eggs, including the determination of the chemical composition (ratios of performance to standard deviation of 4.38, 2.25, 2.28, 2.31, and 3.03 for fat, moisture, and protein in egg yolk and moisture and protein in egg albumen, respectively, have been reported). A Haugh unit detection accuracy RMSEP (root mean square error of prediction) for quality of 6.29 was obtained by hyperspectral imaging) for table eggs and fertility detection (for white-shell eggs, fertility detection has been realised at a promising rate of 93.5%) and gender determination in hatching eggs. In conclusion, hyperspectral imaging generally outperforms visible or near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy when evaluating both consumption eggs and hatching eggs, and near-infrared reflectance Raman and fluorescence spectroscopy exhibit a strong potential for gender determination prior to hatching. Scientists have attained a correct sexing rate above 90% at 3.5 d of egg incubation without removing the inner shell membrane. In the detection of blood-spot eggs or fertile eggs, eggshell colour proved to be a negative factor.
This paper reports on an innovative survey of long-term care facilities for older people in the Argentine city of La Plata. It applies a range of qualitative methodologies, including a clandestine audit conducted by older people living in the community. The paper pays particular attention to the types and availability of services, perceived quality and the rigour of regulatory processes. It finds that there has been a rapid growth in the availability of formal services, but that there are many gaps in provision, especially for older people with complex care needs. There are strong indications that service quality is uneven and, in some cases, this amounts to the contravention of basic human rights. State regulation is hampered by institutional fragmentation and weak governance. A wider set of expert interviews and the limited available published information indicate that these findings are unlikely to be exceptional, and that similar issues affect rapidly emerging long-term care systems in many low- and middle-income countries.
To report from the Scientific Development and Capacity Building Committee of Health Technology Assessment International (HTAi) on activities that are being undertaken within HTAi regarding the promotion of scientific rigor in the field of health technology assessment (HTA).
Retrieval of definitions of HTA that the SDCB committee considered reflective of the current practice of HTA, followed by a narrative synthesis of the core components of HTA.
Several definitions of HTA have been provided, all sharing the notion that HTA is the formal, systematic, and transparent inquiry into the meaning and value, broadly defined, of health technologies, when used in specific patient populations.
Many frameworks and tools have been developed for assessing the quality of specific tasks that may be conducted in the context of HTA. Collating such frameworks and tools is likely to be helpful in developing standards and in providing guidance as to how the scientific quality of HTA may be secured. Two current trends in HTA were noted: a stronger health systems focus, and the need to involve stakeholders throughout the HTA process. A wider systems’ perspective requires that plausible alternative scenarios are being developed, and wide consultation of various stakeholders is a prerequisite to the development of such scenarios with data from various sources.
Current trends in HTA will lead to different demands on the HTA expert. The task of this emerging policy professional would be not just to provide technical information for problem-solving, but also to combine it with a new function of facilitating public deliberation and learning.
This chapter examines the relationship among globalisation, the expansion of the tertiary sector and the growing authority conferred on standards. It outlines the contextual and conceptual background on services and situates opposing arguments on the potential role of standards in supporting the globalisation of services. There is a common understanding that trade in services differs from goods and relies on standards (for quality, safety, protection of consumers, etc.) often embedded in domestic regulation and likely to impede market access. This makes the internationalisation of services dependent on sectorial and institutional specificities – a restrictive hypothesis that rejects broader power configurations. I contend that an international political economy perspective allows for a more extensive hypothesis by assuming that issues of quality and security, conventionally seen as the heart of the regulation of services, should be understood as social institutions, whose qualification remains highly political. Appraised as particular instances of transnational hybrid authority, service standards can accommodate opposing political economy objectives and power configurations across sectorial and institutional specificities.
Alteplase is an effective treatment for ischaemic stroke patients, and it is widely available at all primary stroke centres. The effectiveness of alteplase is highly time-dependent. Large tertiary centres have reported significant improvements in their door-to-needle (DTN) times. However, these same improvements have not been reported at community hospitals.
Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre (RDRHC) is a community hospital of 370 beds that serves approximately 150,000 people in their acute stroke catchment area. The RDRHC participated in a provincial DTN improvement initiative, and implemented a streamlined algorithm for the treatment of stroke patients. During this intervention period, they implemented the following changes: early alert of an incoming acute stroke patient to the neurologist and care team, meeting the patient immediately upon arrival, parallel work processes, keeping the patient on the Emergency Medical Service stretcher to the CT scanner, and administering alteplase in the imaging area. Door-to-needle data were collected from July 2007 to December 2017.
A total of 289 patients were treated from July 2007 to December 2017. In the pre-intervention period, 165 patients received alteplase and the median DTN time was 77 minutes [interquartile range (IQR): 60–103 minutes]; in the post-intervention period, 104 patients received alteplase and the median DTN time was 30 minutes (IQR: 22–42 minutes) (p < 0.001). The annual number of patients that received alteplase increased from 9 to 29 in the pre-intervention period to annual numbers of 41 to 63 patients in the post-intervention period.
Community hospitals staffed with community neurologists can achieve median DTN times of 30 minutes or less.
Determine the relationship between quality of an accountable care organization (ACO) and its long-term reduction in healthcare costs.
We conducted a cost minimization analysis. Using Centers for Medicare and Medicaid cost and quality data, we calculated weighted composite quality scores for each ACO and organization-level cost savings. We used Markov modeling to compute the probability that an ACO transitioned between different quality levels in successive years. Considering a health-systems perspective with costs discounted at 3 percent, we conducted 10,000 Monte Carlo simulations to project long-term cost savings by quality level over a 10-year period. We compared the change in per-member expenditures of Pioneer (early-adopters) ACOs versus Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) ACOs to assess the impact of coordination of care, the main mechanism for cost savings.
Overall, Pioneer ACOs saved USD 641.24 per beneficiary and MSSP ACOs saved USD 535.59 per beneficiary. By quality level: (a) high quality organizations saved the most money (Pioneer: USD 459; MSSP: USD 816); (b) medium quality saved some money (Pioneer: USD 222; MSSP: USD 105); and (c) low quality suffered financial losses (Pioneer: USD -40; MSSP: USD -386).
Within the existing fee-for-service healthcare model, ACOs are a mechanism for decreasing costs by improving quality of care. Higher quality organizations incorporate greater levels of coordination of care, which is associated with greater cost savings. Pioneer ACOs have the highest level of integration of services; hence, they save the most money.
Despite the increasing complexity of nursing home care, the role of physicians caring for residents is largely unexplored. This international, exploratory study sought to learn about physicians’ roles, responsibilities, and tasks as well as investigate the unique qualities of medical practice in nursing homes. We conducted interviews with 18 physicians, who reported making important contributions to the quality of resident care, including clarifying the goals of care, working to reduce unnecessary medication and hospitalization, as well as contributing to staff education. Nursing home practice involved physicians in networks of relations that were instrumental to the quality of medical care and physicians’ job satisfaction. The importance of these relationships disrupts the oft-drawn boundary between the medical and the social, suggesting that good medical practice depends on good social practice. Reflecting the exploratory nature of the study, we recommend research to better understand and support the relational dimensions of nursing home medicine.
Referral letters sent from primary to secondary or tertiary care are a crucial element in the continuity of patient information transfer. Internationally, the need for improvement in this area has been recognised. This aim of this study is to review the current literature pertaining to interventions that are designed to improve referral letter quality.
A search strategy designed following a Problem, Intervention, Comparator, Outcome model was used to explore the PubMed and EMBASE databases for relevant literature. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were established and bibliographies were screened for relevant resources.
A total of 18 publications were included in this study. Four types of interventions were described: electronic referrals were shown to have several advantages over paper referrals but were also found to impose new barriers; peer feedback increases letter quality and can decrease ‘inappropriate referrals’ by up to 50%; templates increase documentation and awareness of risk factors; mixed interventions combining different intervention types provide tangible improvements in content and appropriateness.
Several methodological considerations were identified in the studies reviewed but our analysis demonstrates that a combination of interventions, introduced as part of a joint package and involving peer feedback can improve.
Haemodynamically unstable patients can experience potentially hazardous changes in vital signs related to the exchange of depleted syringes of epinephrine to full syringes. The purpose was to determine the measured effects of epinephrine syringe exchanges on the magnitude, duration, and frequency of haemodynamic disturbances in the hour after an exchange event (study) relative to the hours before (control).
Materials and methods
Beat-to-beat vital signs recorded every 2 seconds from bedside monitors for patients admitted to the paediatric cardiovascular ICU of Texas Children’s Hospital were collected between 1 January, 2013 and 30 June, 2015. Epinephrine syringe exchanges without dose/flow change were obtained from electronic records. Time, magnitude, and duration of changes in systolic blood pressure and heart rate were characterised using Matlab. Significant haemodynamic events were identified and compared with control data.
In all, 1042 syringe exchange events were found and 850 (81.6%) had uncorrupted data for analysis. A total of 744 (87.5%) exchanges had at least 1 associated haemodynamic perturbation including 2958 systolic blood pressure and 1747 heart-rate changes. Heart-rate perturbations occurred 37% before exchange and 63% after exchange, and 37% of systolic blood pressure perturbations happened before syringe exchange, whereas 63% occurred after syringe exchange with significant differences found in systolic blood pressure frequency (p<0.001), duration (p<0.001), and amplitude (p<0.001) compared with control data.
This novel data collection and signal processing analysis showed a significant increase in frequency, duration, and magnitude of systolic blood pressure perturbations surrounding epinephrine syringe exchange events.
The perspective of a possible ban on surgical castration of male pigs in the EU is a real challenge for pork production systems aiming at (very) high-quality products. Information was collected from a total of 272 situations in 16 European countries, including 170 situations related to EU protected designations (Database of Origin & Registration (DOOR) database) and 102 other situations related to high-quality products or differentiated production systems, in order to evaluate their potential sensitivity to the use of entire male pigs along four dimensions: BT_Inc, likelihood of increased levels of boar taint compounds compared with conventional production of entire males; BT_Per, extent to which (some of) the associated pork product(s) are susceptible to perception of boar taint by consumers; FatQQ, likelihood that the quality of (some of) the related products is decreased due to the lower fat quantity and quality in entire males; Manag, increased likelihood of animal management and welfare problems compared with conventional production of entire males. Situations corresponding to EU protected designations (DOOR situations) were on average more sensitive to entire male production but 11% of the non-DOOR situations were highly potentially sensitive, whereas one-third of the DOOR situations had low potential sensitivity. In total, 37% of the situations where castration is not formally specified as mandatory exhibited high potential sensitivity to entire male production. Three main patterns of situations were identified via ascending hierarchical clustering. A first pattern including 31% of the DOOR situations and 74% of the other ones, had potentially no increased risk compared with conventional production of entire males. A second pattern including 28% of the DOOR situations and 16% of the other ones had a high, moderate and low potential sensitivity for FatQQ, BT_Inc and Manag, respectively. The third pattern including 41% of the DOOR situations and 11% of the other situations had high potential sensitivity for BT_Inc and FatQQ, associated with moderate to high sensitivity for Manag. The approach used to evaluate the sensitivity to entire male pig production from the limited information collected for this study has many limitations. More precise approaches using more specific information are needed to evaluate the actual sensitivity of individual situations to the use of entire male pigs. Still, the present study provides a first global insight on the capacity of European production systems aiming at high-quality products to use entire male pigs as an alternative to surgical castration.
Despite the increasing prominence of residential hospices as a place of death and that, in many regards, this specialized care represents a gold standard, little is known about the care experience in this setting. Using qualitative survey data, we examined the positive and negative perceptions of care in hospices and in other prior settings.
Qualitative comments were extracted from the CaregiverVoice survey completed by bereaved caregivers of decedents who had died in 16 residential hospices in Ontario, Canada. On this survey, caregivers reported what was good and bad about the services provided during the last three months of life as separate open-text questions. A constant-comparison method was employed to derive themes from the responses.
A total of 550 caregivers completed the survey, 94% (517) of whom commented on either something good (84%) and/or bad (49%) about the care experience. In addition to residential hospice, the majority of patients represented also received palliative care in the home (69%) or hospital (59%). Overall, most positive statements were about care in hospice (71%), whereas the negative statements tended to refer to other settings (81%). The hospice experience was found to exemplify care that was compassionate and holistic, in a comforting environment, offered by providers who were personable, dedicated, and informative. These humanistic qualities of care and the extent of support were generally seen to be lacking from the other settings.
Significance of results:
Our examination of the good and bad aspects of palliative care received is unique in qualitatively exploring palliative care experiences across multiple settings, and specifically that in hospices. Investigation of these perspectives affirmed the elements of care that dying patients and their family caregivers most value and that the hospices were largely effective at addressing. These findings highlight the need for reinforcing these qualities in other end-of-life settings to create comforting and supportive environments.
Introduction: Point-of-care-ultrasound is an established tool in the early diagnosis of abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), with a reported pooled sensitivity of 97.5% and pooled specificity 98.9%. Despite these impressive numbers, body habitus and bowel gas often render emergency department (ED) PoCUS for AAA inconclusive. We devised a manual aid “the modified peace sign technique” to improve visualization of the aorta, consisting of placing the divided fingers of the free hand of the sonographer around the probe to increase gas dispersion and improve the view of the obscured aorta. We tested the technique on volunteers during a training course when the initial scan was indeterminate due to inability to view the aorta from sub-xiphoid to bifurcation. Methods: In our pilot study, 7 physicians were asked to make a best attempt to perform an aortic scan. If they were unable to visualize the aorta, they were asked to use the modified peace sign technique. Participants recorded the number of times which they used the technique and the frequency that the technique allowed for a complete aortic scan, previously unobtainable. All scans were supervised by certified PoCUS physicians. Results: The technique was used a total of 25 times. Following failure to complete an aortic scan using their best attempt, participants were subsequently able to obtain a complete aortic scan 70% (95% CI 48 to 83%) of the time using the modified peace sign technique. Conclusion: In our pilot study, the modified peace sign technique had an estimated effect size of 70% improvement for visualization of the aorta in volunteers. Further studies are required to validate the technique in clinical practice.
The beef industry must become more responsive to the changing market place and consumer demands. An essential part of this is quantifying a consumer’s perception of the eating quality of beef and their willingness to pay for that quality, across a broad range of demographics. Over 19 000 consumers from Northern Ireland, Poland, Ireland and France each tasted seven beef samples and scored them for tenderness, juiciness, flavour liking and overall liking. These scores were weighted and combined to create a fifth score, termed the Meat Quality 4 score (MQ4) (0.3×tenderness, 0.1×juiciness, 0.3×flavour liking and 0.3×overall liking). They also allocated the beef samples into one of four quality grades that best described the sample; unsatisfactory, good-every-day, better-than-every-day or premium. After the completion of the tasting panel, consumers were then asked to detail, in their own currency, their willingness to pay for these four categories which was subsequently converted to a proportion relative to the good-every-day category (P-WTP). Consumers also answered a short demographic questionnaire. The four sensory scores, the MQ4 score and the P-WTP were analysed separately, as dependant variables in linear mixed effects models. The answers from the demographic questionnaire were included in the model as fixed effects. Overall, there were only small differences in consumer scores and P-WTP between demographic groups. Consumers who preferred their beef cooked medium or well-done scored beef higher, except in Poland, where the opposite trend was found. This may be because Polish consumers were more likely to prefer their beef cooked well-done, but samples were cooked medium for this group. There was a small positive relationship with the importance of beef in the diet, increasing sensory scores by about 4% in Poland and Northern Ireland. Men also scored beef about 2% higher than women for most sensory scores in most countries. In most countries, consumers were willing to pay between 150 and 200% more for premium beef, and there was a 50% penalty in value for unsatisfactory beef. After quality grade, by far the greatest influence on P-WTP was country of origin. Consumer age also had a small negative relationship with P-WTP. The results indicate that a single quality score could reliably describe the eating quality experienced by all consumers. In addition, if reliable quality information is delivered to consumers they will pay more for better quality beef, which would add value to the beef industry and encourage improvements in quality.
Quantifying consumer responses to beef across a broad range of demographics, nationalities and cooking methods is vitally important for any system evaluating beef eating quality. On the basis of previous work, it was expected that consumer scores would be highly accurate in determining quality grades for beef, thereby providing evidence that such a technique could be used to form the basis of and eating quality grading system for beef. Following the Australian MSA (Meat Standards Australia) testing protocols, over 19 000 consumers from Northern Ireland, Poland, Ireland, France and Australia tasted cooked beef samples, then allocated them to a quality grade; unsatisfactory, good-every-day, better-than-every-day and premium. The consumers also scored beef samples for tenderness, juiciness, flavour-liking and overall-liking. The beef was sourced from all countries involved in the study and cooked by four different cooking methods and to three different degrees of doneness, with each experimental group in the study consisting of a single cooking doneness within a cooking method for each country. For each experimental group, and for the data set as a whole, a linear discriminant function was calculated, using the four sensory scores which were used to predict the quality grade. This process was repeated using two conglomerate scores which are derived from weighting and combining the consumer sensory scores for tenderness, juiciness, flavour-liking and overall-liking, the original meat quality 4 score (oMQ4) (0.4, 0.1, 0.2, 0.3) and current meat quality 4 score (cMQ4) (0.3, 0.1, 0.3, 0.3). From the results of these analyses, the optimal weightings of the sensory scores to generate an ‘ideal meat quality 4 score (MQ4)’ for each country were calculated, and the MQ4 values that reflected the boundaries between the four quality grades were determined. The oMQ4 weightings were far more accurate in categorising European meat samples than the cMQ4 weightings, highlighting that tenderness is more important than flavour to the consumer when determining quality. The accuracy of the discriminant analysis to predict the consumer scored quality grades was similar across all consumer groups, 68%, and similar to previously reported values. These results demonstrate that this technique, as used in the MSA system, could be used to predict consumer assessment of beef eating quality and therefore to underpin a commercial eating quality guarantee for all European consumers.