February 2003
Volume 27 No. 2

Hi-tech ID wristbands boost safety, efficiency

New policy details procedure for missing patients

New Cellular Therapeutics Lab boosts SHC's bone marrow transplant capacity

Emergency Medicine faculty promotes specialty halfway around the globe

Revised policies mean cell phones, laptops can be used in some areas

Physicians can take simple steps to improve patient safety





Below are selected highlights of recent medical research
conducted at Stanford Medical Center.
Detailed news releases are available on the Internet at

HEART-DISEASE MEDICATIONS. A new study shows that physicians continue to underprescribe time-tested medications - such as beta blockers and aspirin - that can help manage heart disease. The research by Randall Stafford, assistant professor of medicine, was published in the Jan. 1 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. To determine the usage level of the various medications studied, Stafford and Yale co-author David Radley analyzed data over a 13-year period from the National Disease and Therapeutic Index and from National Ambulatory Medical Care surveys, which included more than 45,000 outpatient visits for irregular heartbeats, coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure.

DIABETES AND STEM CELLS. A team of researchers working with Seung Kim, assistant professor of developmental biology and of medicine, found a new way to coax embryonic stem cells into producing insulin and used these cells to treat an induced form of diabetes in mice. To help stabilize the cells and increase the proportion of cells producing insulin, the researchers altered the mixture of growth factors used to control how the stem cells developed. In the study, published in the Dec. 10, 2002, issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the diabetic mice that had been transplanted with insulin-producing cells showed improved insulin and blood-sugar levels and had less weight loss, while the mice that received a sham transplant developed severe diabetes. The work could ultimately lead to a treatment for human diabetes.

DEPRESSION AND CHRONIC PAIN. A study published in the January issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry found that people with major depression are more than twice as likely to have chronic pain as those who have no symptoms of depression. The correlation was tested by Alan Schatzberg, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and colleague Maurice Ohayon, associate professor, using data previously collected by Ohayon. The data included information from 18,980 people in five European countries. Among all the participants, 17 percent had chronic pain and 4 percent had symptoms of major depression; however, 43 percent of those with major depression had chronic pain, most commonly headaches and backaches. The study results suggest that doctors should ask patients with chronic pain about any symptoms of depression.