Daily Rounds: Alzheimer's Spreads Virus-like; FDA Surveillance Probe Launched; Rural Docs Wanted; Steward Keeps Growing

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Path Is Found For The Spread Of Alzheimer's (The New York Times) "Alzheimer’s disease seems to spread like an infection from brain cell to brain cell, two new studies find. But instead of viruses or bacteria, what is being spread is a distorted protein known as tau. The surprising finding answers a longstanding question and has immediate implications for developing treatments, researchers said. And they suspect that other degenerative brain diseases like Parkinson’s may spread in a similar way."

FDA monitoring of whistleblowers probed - The Washington Post (The Washington Post) "A senior Senate Republican has launched an investigation into the Food and Drug Administration’s secret e-mail monitoring of scientists who warned that unsafe medical devices were approved over their objections, saying whistleblowers often are treated “like skunks at a picnic.” In a five-page letter released Wednesday, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) demanded that FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg disclose who authorized the monitoring, how many employees were targeted and whether the agency obtained passwords to personal e-mail accounts, allowing communications on private computers to be intercepted. Grassley also wants to know whether the two-year surveillance campaign is ongoing."

How One Hospital Entices Doctors To Work In Rural America : Shots - Health Blog : NPR ( "Ashland, population 855, sits about a five-hour drive south of Kansas City. It's one of the last outposts on the Kansas open range, where buffalo still really roam along the rolling, dusty plains. There's no gas station, unless you count the pump at the farmer's co-op that uses dial-up for credit card approval. The nearest Starbucks is 160 miles away. The Ashland clinic has 24 beds. The next closest center is 50 miles north, in Dodge City. (Yeah, the same one from those old cowboy movies.)So when Benjamin Anderson interviewed for the clinic's CEO job in 2009, he says the board chairman was exceedingly blunt.Anderson says the chairman told him, "Ben, our facilities are 55 years old. Our finances are challenged. Our morale is low. Turnover is up. We've been without an administrator for six months. We've been without a doctor for seven or eight months. We really need this facility in this community. And if we don't have this facility, we'll lose our school. And if we don't have our hospital and our school, this will become a ghost town very quickly."

Steward Health Care System is affiliating with Manet Community Health System on the South Shore (The Boston Globe) "Steward Health Care System, a Boston-based group of 10 community hospitals in eastern Massachusetts, said it has struck a deal to affiliate with Manet Community Health Center, a group of about 20 doctors on the South Shore. The arrangement means that Manet physicians will join Steward’s contracting network and adopt the electronic medical record system used by the chain’s Quincy Medical Center and other Steward hospitals. The doctors, who maintain five practices from Quincy to Hull, have been affiliated with Tufts Medical Center’s New England Quality Care Alliance."

This program aired on February 2, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.