Performance enhancing drugs alarm physicians

Filed under: Health Care |

Results from a national survey of 758 physicians indicate that an overwhelming majority would support laws that provide random drug testing of high school student athletes for performance enhancing drugs.

The survey was conducted by HCD Research and Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion, in response to media reports about world-class athletes who have tested positive for performance enhancing drugs.

Among the findings:

  • A majority of physicians (88 percent) reported that they are worried about the effect of performance enhancing drugs on the athletic community.
  • More than half of physicians (63 percent) indicated that they do not believe they have treated a patient who was using legally-obtainable performance enhancing drugs, while one-third (37 percent) believe they have treated patients who were using performance enhancing drugs.
  • 87 percent of physicians indicated that they would support laws that provide random drug testing of high school student athletes for performance enhancing drugs during the scheduled season for which they participate in a sport.
  • Among a list of performance enhancing drugs, the majority of physicians (71 percent) indicated that anabolic steroids posed the greatest risk to the athletic community, followed by human growth hormones (10.6 percent) and stimulants (10 percent).
  • A majority of physicians (70 percent) also reported that anabolic steroids pose the greatest risk to the individual athletes who take them.

Mothers and babies use the most hospital care

The sounds of newborn babies — more than 49,000 of them — fill Colorado hospitals.

Newborns with normal birth weight led the way as the most common reason for a hospital stay in 2005.

Mothers who were in the hospital for childbirth were the second and third most common reasons for checking into a hospital.

About 140,000, or 30 percent of all people who received care in Colorado’s general hospitals in 2005, were expectant or new mothers and babies receiving care for conditions related to childbirth, pregnancy, normal newborns or newborns with complications.

Individuals with circulatory system diagnoses accounted for 11 percent of admissions to general hospitals in Colorado during 2005. These people received medical or surgical treatment for heart conditions. Six of the top 35 reasons for hospitalization, including chest pain, heart failure and balloon repair of heart vessels with or without heart attack are in this diagnostic category.

The average hospital stay for these individuals was 3.9 days. Total hospital charges for their care exceeded $2 billion — three times the amount for pregnancy, childbirth and newborns — which places the circulatory system major diagnostic category first for total charges.

Top 5 reasons for hospital visits

Neonate, birth weight greater than 2499g, normal newborn or newborn with other problems 10.34 %
Vaginal delivery 9.62 %
Cesarean delivery 3.5 %
Other pneumonia 2.69 %
Knee joint replacement 1.78 %

Source: 2005 Hospital Charges and Average Length of Stay Report

More than 48,000 people were hospitalized for treatment of musculoskeletal system and connective tissue diseases or disorders. Eight of the top 35 reasons for admission to a hospital are part of this category, including knee-joint replacements, which ranked as the fifth most common reason, hip replacements and other back and neck disorders, fractures and injuries. These individuals stayed in the hospital an average of 3.87 days and had total charges of $1.9 billion.

Of the other categories, pneumonia remained the fourth most common reason for a hospital stay. Admissions for pneumonia increased in 2005 by more than 2,000 people, or 21 percent. This contributed to the 9 percent increase in hospitalizations for all respiratory system disorders. Almost 43,000 persons were hospitalized.

Because the average length of time a person was hospitalized for respiratory system diagnoses was 4.73 days, the number of days individuals spent in the hospital for these ailments was greater than the number of days patients admitted for circulatory system diagnoses spent in the hospital, but total charges for persons with respiratory system diagnoses was lower at about $1.1 billion.

The 2005 report, released by the Colorado Health and Hospital Association, provides information about average length of stay and charges for hospitalization by the level of severity of the patients for the 35 most common reasons for admission.

This is the 19th year CHA has released this report, which is available at www.cha.com.

Amy Gillentine covers health care for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.