New Weapon Against Superbugs Lives in Noses

Turns out scientists didn't have to look far to discover a potential new weapon in the war against antibiotic-resistant superbugs. A molecule called lugdunin, which may turn out to be an effective weapon against MRSA, is produced by a bacterium that lives in about 10% of human noses.

The researchers were studying Staphylococcus aureus (of which MRSA is one strain) in one of its natural environments — the nose — when they made a startling discovery: Among 187 hospital patients, those whose noses naturally contained the bacterium S. Lugdunensis were 6 times less likely to be colonized by Staphylococcus aureus.

Theorizing a connection, they created an ointment made from lugdunin and found that it killed MRSA infections on the skin of mice and inside the noses of rats. It also killed both vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus and a Staphylococcus aureus strain that's resistant to the antibiotic glycopeptide.

The researchers say they're talking to drug companies about developing lugdunin for human use.

Jim Burger

Robots No Better Than Humans at Surgery

If you invested in a surgical robot, you might not be getting the most bang for your buck, according to a study published in The Lancet.

The first randomized, controlled trial to directly compare robotic-assisted and conventional open prostatectomies found that both methods delivered similar outcomes at 3 months post-surgery, despite the increased costs associated with the robot.

For the study, researchers followed the cases of 308 British men with localized prostate cancer who were randomly assigned to receive either open or robotic surgery. They followed up with the patients after 12 weeks.

While they found that the two groups had no significant difference in urinary or sexual function, there were some big differences. Patients who underwent open surgery spent a longer amount of time in the hospital after the procedure than patients who had robotic surgery, and patients whose surgeons used the robot lost less blood and had less immediate post-op pain.

The results are part of the first phase of a 2-year trial. The researchers say they'll follow up with the patients at 1 and 2 years post-op. In the meantime, they write, "We encourage patients to choose an experienced surgeon they trust and with whom they have a rapport, rather than a specific surgical approach."

Kendal Gapinski

Which Surgeons Make the Most?

Orthopedic surgeons love what they do and are paid handsomely for it, according to a newly released survey of what nearly 20,000 U.S. physicians earned in 26 specialties between November 2015 and February 2016.

Orthopods pulled in an average of $443,000 to beat out cardiologists ($410,000) and dermatologists ($381,000) for the top spot on the earnings list. Gastroenterologists took home $380,000 as the fourth highest earners, anesthesiologists made $360,000 to finish seventh and general surgeons earned $322,000 to round out the top 10. The earning of orthopedic surgeons and ophthalmologists ($309,000) increased by 5% over their previous year's salaries.

Physicians in the north central ($296,000) and southeast ($287,000) U.S. earned the most, while the lowest earners worked in the northeast ($266,000) and mid-Atlantic ($268,000). North Dakota ($348,000), New Hampshire ($322,000) and Nebraska ($317,000) physicians earned the most, perhaps due to government programs aimed at attracting more physicians to poor, rural areas. Physicians earned the least in Rhode Island ($224,000), Washington, D.C. ($226,000) and Maryland ($231,000).

Overall, female physicians made 25% less than their male counterparts, and male specialists earned more than women did: $324,000 versus $242,000 respectively. The survey says 55% of ob-gyn physicians are women, which tops the list of specialties with the most female practitioners. In comparison, just 9% of orthopedic surgeons are women, placing the specialty ahead of only urology.

Two-thirds of the respondents would pursue a career in medicine if they had a chance to do it all over again. Of those respondents, 65% of orthopods say they'd even enter the same specialty, putting them second only to dermatologists in apparent job satisfaction.

Daniel Cook

InstaPoll: How Do You Handle Staff Who Call Out Before or After a Holiday?

Don't you just love when staff call off work the day before or after a scheduled holiday? Tell us in this week's InstaPoll how you handle these unexcused absences.

Only about one-fourth (24%) of last week's 250 poll respondents say their patients can pre-register and fill out their medical histories online. The results:

Can your patients register online?

  • yes 24%
  • no 63%
  • no, but we're planning on it 13%

Dan O'Connor

News & Notes
  • Do Florida in style at OR Excellence OR Excellence has extended the deadline of its latest "Do Florida in Style" contest, so there's still an opportunity to win an upgraded visit to our uniquely interactive and actively networked conference, scheduled for Oct. 12 to 14 in Bonita Springs, Fla. Simply register for OR Excellence by August 15 and you'll be entered into a drawing for spa gift certificates, room upgrades and the grand prize, a 4-night stay in the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point's presidential suite. Plus, you'll get a $100 discount on registration and ensure that your accommodations are right upstairs from the conference. See you there!
  • Would you operate at the mall? As online deals snag retail stores' audiences, shopping malls are faced with plenty of vacant real estate. One business that's taking advantage of the affordable rents, plentiful parking and convenient locations is healthcare. Take a look at the emerging trend of endo centers, ortho practices and imaging labs moving in next door to the department stores, restaurants and movie theaters.
  • Where's Waldo? These pediatric patients know As the $50 million, 16,000-square-foot expansion to Memorial Children's Hospital rises in South Bend, Ind., the general contractor's labor foreman is doing his part to keep pediatric patients next door entertained. Every day he moves an 8-foot-tall plywood Waldo (of Where's Waldo fame) around the construction site for children and families to spot from their windows. The workman created the cut-out with the help of his teenage daughter, once a pediatric patient herself.