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Vital Signs

News Briefs

Facing Facts About Blood

The DHMC Blood Donor Program faced a mismatch. The population of people rolling up their sleeves and regularly donating blood was growing older and older. But program officials suspected there was a willingness among young people, including Dartmouth students, to give back to the community. The problem was that their standard recruitment methods didn't resonate with this audience. Michelle Loveys Dozier, the program's marketing specialist, figured social marketing might be just the ticket. The founders of a new nation- al nonprofit called Takes All Types (TAT) had exactly the same idea; they aimed to use Facebook's demographic linking capability to recruit blood donors. Dozier stumbled across TAT on Facebook, "learned that their mission and what we were hop- ing to accomplish were perfectly in line," and signed DHMC up as one of TAT's first two pilot sites in the country. "We have not seen a bump [in younger donors] as of yet," she says, "but expect to after the students return to [school] in the fall."


NOT IN VEIN: Al Whitney, a 71-year-old retired factory worker from Ohio, aims to donate platelets in all 50 states. He made DHMC his Granite State stop, ticking off his 27th state on May 14. He began to donate blood in 1965.

CAPITOL ONE: In March, DMS's David Goodman, an expert on the physician supply, was invited to testify about health-care work- force issues before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee. For more about Goodman's work, see "The Supply Side of Medicine."

SPINAL TAP: Dartmouth's first-in-the-nation Center for Shared Decision Making just celebrated its 10th anniversary. Over 4,000 videos and other "decision aids" were checked out of its library in 2008, with spine conditions the most popular topic.

NO BOOB: When the Today Show tackled "the issue of too much cancer screening," health-care blogger Gary Schwitzer said, "thank goodness they had one of the best evidence- based minds on the set . . . Dartmouth's Dr. Gil Welch."

A Painful Conclusion

Geography of drug use

Listen to undergraduate Laura Hester talk about her opioid study.
Hear podcast

See detailed results from Laura Hester's statewide study.
See graphs

Doctor-shopping and diverting drugs from their intended recipients— those may be ways two groups of New Hampshire residents are feeding their addiction to prescription opioids. So surmises a student who led the first-ever comprehensive analysis of New Hampshire deaths related to prescription opioids. The study was conducted by Laura Hester, a geography major in the Dartmouth Class of '09. When she looked at age-specific death rates, she found that the greatest increase for men was among 18- to 24-year-olds and for women among 45- to 65-year-olds. "The 18-to-24 [group] is worrisome," says Hester, because young people experience less chronic pain and thus are less likely to be prescribed opioids, such as Vicodin or OxyContin. So opioids prescribed to older adults are probably getting diverted to this younger group. In contrast, middle-aged women addicted to opioids are "most likely doctor-shopping," Hester says-going from doctor to doctor to get higher doses or more drugs. "So you have a law-enforcement problem in younger people and a prescribing-practices problem in older people," she concludes.


SIM CITY: Dartmouth's 8,000-square-foot simulation center is the third-largest such center in the nation. Health-care providers can practice procedures there on lifelike manikins programmed to bleed, cry, drool, and sweat.

BODY OF KNOWLEDGE: Over the past 12 years, more than 15,000 New Hampshire fourth-graders have learned about their bodies and how to care for them, thanks to a program supported by the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Clinic called Granite State Fit Kids.

HAND-Y DEVICE: DHMC just acquired a 1.5-tesla MRI machine designed to scan extremities. It's as powerful as a whole-body MRI, but patients who need to have only a wrist, arm, or ankle scanned don't have to be confined in the bore of a closed MRI.

NUMBERS GAME: Know Your Chances: Understanding Health Statistics, by three DMS faculty members, was described by health-care blogger Maggie Mahar, also a DARTMOUTH MEDICINE contributor, as "fact-filled, funny, and very persuasive."

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