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On ‘Sound Medicine’: Last lectures, alarm fatigue, beige fat, and the risks of underage drinking


INDIANAPOLIS — The award-winning “Sound Medicine” announces its program for Aug. 4, which features the second of a two-part interview with Vincent Gattone, M.D., a professor of medicine at Indiana University who is using his terminal disease to teach medical students.

How can we combat alarm fatigue? The constant beeping of hospital machines can wear thin on doctors and nurses, who begin ignoring the noisy equipment. This desensitization, called alarm fatigue, is causing serious injury and even death in hospitals around the world. “Sound Medicine” host Anne Ryder speaks with Maria Cvach, M.S., R.N., about why alarm fatigue is dangerous and what’s being done to combat it. At Johns Hopkins, Cvach and a team of medical professionals have been decreasing the number of non-actionable alarms per bed, per day. Non-actionable alarms are used to indicate a problem with the machine, not the patient. After working to decrease the number of non-actionable alarms, as well as duplicative and false alarms, Johns Hopkins saw a 47 percent decrease in total alarms on two test units. Cvach is the assistant director of nursing and clinical standards at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

White fat, brown fat, now beige fat? For years, scientists have known that humans have two types of fat: white and brown. White fat stores energy as large fat droplets, and brown fat serves as an energy burner that helps heat the human body. Brown fat is most prevalent in babies and fades as humans age. According to Sheila Collins, Ph.D., a new color, beige fat, has recently been discovered in rodents and humans. The beige fat is a homogenous cluster of brown fat that functions as an energy-burner and responds to adrenaline and hormonal stimulants. Clinical studies show a correlation between very active brown and beige fat and lowering blood glucose levels or preventing diabetes. Although these studies are still in the early stages, scientists hope their findings will someday help prevent obesity and lower blood glucose levels in diabetic patients. Dr. Collins is a professor and researcher at Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute, San Diego.

Why is underage drinking so dangerous? A new study conducted by Mothers Against Drunk Driving showed that only 32 percent of teen deaths involving alcohol were traffic related; most of the fatalities stem from either homicide or suicide. “Sound Medicine” healthy living expert Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, M.D., talked with host Barbara Lewis about underage drinking and what parents can do now to protect their children. Dr. Rohr-Kirchgraber encourages parents to talk with their children about alcohol use and potential consequences, including injuries and death. She also says parents send the wrong message by allowing underage children to drink alcohol at home and encourages parents to set an example by drinking responsibly. Dr. Kirchgraber is an associate professor of clinical medicine and pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine and executive director for the National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health. She also sees patients at Wishard Hospital.

What can we learn from the CIA vaccination hoax? In 2011, the British paper The Guardian leaked information that the CIA organized a fake vaccination program in several Pakistani towns around where Osama bin Laden was believed to be living in hopes of gathering DNA from some of his relatives. In this earlier interview from the Aug. 14, 2011, “Sound Medicine,” IU bioethicist Eric Meslin, Ph.D., and IU public health policy expert Steve Jay, M.D., discuss the practical implications of using health campaigns for ulterior purposes.

“Patient Listening”: A professor takes his terminal illness into the classroom: In the second of a two-part interview, Vincent Gattone, Ph.D., a professor of pathology and instructor of gross anatomy at the Indiana University School of Medicine, and his wife speak with host Rich Frankel, Ph.D., to discuss the progression of his incurable disease, how it is affecting his career and personal life, and his decision to use his illness as a learning experience for his students. Frankel is director of the Mary Margaret Walther Palliative Care Research and Education Program at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center.

“Sound Medicine” covers controversial ethics topics, breakthrough research studies and the day-to-day application of recent advancements in medicine. It’s also available via podcast and Stitcher Radio for mobile phones and iPads and posts updates on Facebook and Twitter.

Co-produced by the IU School of Medicine and WFYI Public Radio (90.1 FM) and underwritten in part by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, “Sound Medicine”  airs on the following Indiana public radio stations: WBSB (Anderson, 89.5 FM), WFIU (Bloomington, 103.7 FM; Columbus, 100.7 FM; Kokomo, 106.1 FM; Terre Haute, 95.1 FM), WNDY (Crawfordsville, 91.3 FM), WVPE (Elkhart/South Bend, 88.1 FM), WNIN (Evansville, 88.3 FM), WBOI (Fort Wayne, 89.1 FM), WFCI (Franklin, 89.5 FM), WBSH (Hagerstown/New Castle, 91.1 FM), WFYI (Indianapolis), WBSW (Marion, 90.9 FM), WBST (Muncie, 92.1 FM), WBSJ (Portland, 91.7 FM), WLPR (Lake County, 89.1 FM) and WBAA (West Lafayette, 101.3 FM).

“Sound Medicine” is also broadcast on these public radio stations across the country: KSKA (Anchorage, Alaska), KTNA (Talkeetna, Alaska), KUHB (Pribilof Islands, Alaska), KUAF (Fayetteville and Fort Smith, Ark.), KIDE (Hoopa Valley, Calif.), KRCC (Colorado Springs, Colo.), KEDM (Monroe, La.), WCMU (Mount Pleasant, Mich.),  KMHA (Four Bears, N.D.), WYSU (Youngstown, Ohio), KPOV (Bend, Ore.) and KEOS (College Station, Texas).

Please check local listings for broadcast dates and times.