Archive for September 15th, 2015

September 15, 2015

St. Joseph Regional Part of National Research Study

Bryan, TX, September 15, 2015 – St. Joseph Regional Health Center has long been known as the region’s leader in treating trauma and life-threatening illness for patients. However, what you may not know is that inside of the Emergency and Trauma Center, research teams are working on new studies to treat patients using the latest technology, medications and treatment protocols. Often times, these studies can help patients who may have run out of treatment options, are waiting for a new treatment option or considering going out of town for care.

The most recent study at St. Joseph Regional Emergency and Trauma Center, which began in July, involves the use of medication to reverse the effects of blood thinners on the body.

Often times, these studies can make the difference between significant illness or life and death. From 2010 to 2012, the research team at St. Joseph Regional played an important role in bringing KCentra, a newly FDA approved reversal for Coumadin (warfarin) to the market. St. Joseph was a leader in patient enrollment of this research study for this life-saving drug. Because of this, the hospital was the first in the region to utilize this treatment in the Brazos Valley.

Coumadin (warfarin) and other blood thinners are medicines that make your blood less likely to form clots, according to the U. S. National Library of Medicine. These blood thinners can lower the risk of blood clots, a potential cause of stroke and heart attack. The medication works by thinning the blood so that blockages cannot form in blood vessels. However, taking blood thinners makes patients more prone to bleeding, even from every day activities.

Anit-coagulants, or blood thinners, are taken by an estimated 2-3 million Americans for the prevention of strokes and blood clots in various medical conditions. However, every year, an estimated 45,000 patients experience a need for urgent reversal back to a normalized bleeding state due to the occurrence of a major medical issue such as trauma, emergency surgery or internal bleeding.

“Patients on some of these newer blood-thinners may come into the ETC, and then require emergency surgery or treatment, are at significant risk for life threatening bleeding. If they are on these new blood thinning medications, that slows the treatment time down dramatically, as we have to wait for the medication to wear off before performing any kind of surgery,” said Michael Spohn, M.D., medical director for the research program at St. Joseph. “A reversal agent makes it possible for us to operate sooner. We are very excited to bring these cutting-edge drug reversal trials to the Brazos Valley.”

There are a number of reasons that people might need to take blood thinners. Patients who have an irregular heartbeat, have had blood clots in the past or are at risk for a blood clot in the lung may need to take blood thinners.

This particular study provides a reversal agent for patients on blood thinners who need reversal in order to be treated for their medical emergency. Results for this particular study will be assessed through a series of blood draws to determine the difference in the blood over a time period. The research team will analyze the blood when the drug is given, as well as throughout the process, looking for exactly when the drug starts working, when it peaks and when the blood thinners are quite obviously not in the blood stream any longer.

“The goal of the study is to overall decrease the time that the blood thinner takes to wear off in the blood stream, thus decreasing the bleeding in the patient, and the wait time for a patient who needs surgical treatment,” said Dr. Spohn.

The research team within the hospital includes physicians and clinicians who evaluate patients that come into the emergency center and throughout the hospital and determine if they may be eligible and able to participate in any of the research studies currently being conducted. The team is on call 24/7, with a physician and clinician always available when the need to begin a patient study arises.

In addition, the team of researchers works with the FDA, as well as the drug companies, to write protocols for how the drug should be administered. Clinicians work closely with each patient that opts into the drug study to be sure they understand the risks and benefits associated. For many patients, studies like this bring access to medications and treatments that wouldn’t otherwise be available to patients in areas like the Brazos Valley.

At any given time, the Emergency and Trauma Center at St. Joseph Regional has between four and six studies running. Additionally, the St. Joseph Cancer Center is continually involved in trials of various treatments and drugs available to patients who may not otherwise have access to them.

Being able to offer this type of care and service to the Brazos Valley is special. Most of the time, drug trials are only available in urban areas. With the level of care that is offered at St. Joseph, we are able to add to that with studies such as the Coumadin trial, Dr. Spohn went on.

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About St. Joseph Health System

Established in 1936, St. Joseph Health System is a faith-based, not-for-profit health system committed to excellence and compassion in caring for the mind, body and spirit while creating healthier communities. St. Joseph Health System is comprised of five hospital facilities across the Brazos Valley, including St. Joseph Regional Health Center, the region’s highest level trauma center. St. Joseph Physician Associates operates more than a dozen primary and specialty care clinics around the region, offering expert care, closer to home. St. Joseph Health System is a part of Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), one of the nation’s largest health systems. For more information, visit st-joseph.org.

St. Joseph Health System is a part of Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), one of the nation’s largest health systems. Headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, CHI operates in 18 states and comprises more than 90 hospitals, including four academic medical centers and teaching hospitals; 24 critical-access facilities; community health services organizations; accredited nursing colleges; home health agencies; and other services that span the inpatient and outpatient continuum of care.