What We're Reading: The Dangers of Not Testing Drugs on Expectant Mothers

What we're reading, May 27, 2016: treatment for pregnant women is often based on guesswork since few drugs are ever tested on them; a new superbug in the US is resistant to even the antibiotic of last resort; and how small physician practices can adapt to new payment models.

With most drugs never tested on pregnant women, treatment is often based on guesswork. According to a report in ProPublica, the desire to protect the fetus has deterred scientists and drug makers from studying expectant mothers, which means almost every drug prescribed during pregnancy in the US is considered “off label.” However, as many as 9 in 10 pregnant women use medications and yet ob/gyns often find themselves in the dark about basic best practices.

A new superbug has arrived in the United States that is resistant to antibiotics of last resort. The deadly antibiotic-resistant strain, which has already been identified in China, Europe, and elsewhere, could mean the end of antibiotics, according to The Washington Post. Scientists and public health officials warn that if resistant bacteria spread, minor infections could become life threatening, pneumonia could become more difficult to treat, and even routine operations could become deadly.

In a post on The Commonwealth Fund’s website, David Blumenthal, MD, and David Squires consider how small physician practices can adjust to new payment models in healthcare. Reforms such as the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act seem to favor larger practices over small or solo practices. However, Blumenthal and Squires outline ways in which small practices can transition to the new payment paradigm, such as improved health information technology and physician networks.