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  • Evaluation of wavelength ranges and tissue depth probed by diffuse reflectance spectroscopy for colorectal cancer detection.

    Nogueira, Marcelo Saito; Maryam, Siddra; Amissah, Michael; Lu, Huihui; Lynch, Noel; Killeen, Shane; O'Riordain, Micheal; Andersson-Engels, Stefan; Mercy University Hospital, Grenville Place, Cork, Ireland (Nature Research, 2021-01-12)
    Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common type of cancer worldwide and the second most deadly. Recent research efforts have focused on developing non-invasive techniques for CRC detection. In this study, we evaluated the diagnostic capabilities of diffuse reflectance spectroscopy (DRS) for CRC detection by building 6 classification models based on support vector machines (SVMs). Our dataset consists of 2889 diffuse reflectance spectra collected from freshly excised ex vivo tissues of 47 patients over wavelengths ranging from 350 and 1919 nm with source-detector distances of 630-µm and 2500-µm to probe different depths. Quadratic SVMs were used and performance was evaluated using twofold cross-validation on 10 iterations of randomized training and test sets. We achieved (93.5 ± 2.4)% sensitivity, (94.0 ± 1.7)% specificity AUC by probing the superficial colorectal tissue and (96.1 ± 1.8)% sensitivity, (95.7 ± 0.6)% specificity AUC by sampling deeper tissue layers. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first DRS study to investigate the potential of probing deeper tissue layers using larger SDD probes for CRC detection in the luminal wall. The data analysis showed that using a broader spectrum and longer near-infrared wavelengths can improve the diagnostic accuracy of CRC as well as probing deeper tissue layers. © 2021, The Author(s).
  • Managing clinical trials during COVID-19: experience from a clinical research facility

    Shiely, Frances; Foley, Jean; Stone, Amy; Cobbe, Emma; Browne, Shaunagh; Murphy, Ellen; Kelsey, Maeve; Walsh-Crowley, Joanne; Eustace, Joseph A.; Mercy University Hospital, Grenville Place, Cork, Ireland (BioMed Central Ltd, 2021-01-18)
    There is a dearth of literature on best practices for managing clinical trials, and little is understood on the role of the clinical trial manager. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought this into focus, and the continuance of clinical trials worldwide has been catapulted into a state of uncertainty as countries enter lockdown to manage the spread of the virus. Participant retention is an ongoing issue in clinical trials, and the concern is that in the current pandemic environment, attrition will be an issue which could potentially jeopardise trial completion. The current situation has necessitated timely problem solving by the trial manager to ensure trials remain open, and most importantly, that participant safety, paramount in clinical trials, is monitored. The purpose of our study is to highlight key issues arising in the management of clinical trials during a pandemic from first-hand experience in a clinical research facility managing both academic and commercial clinical trials. We offer some practical guidance on solution implementation.
  • A telephone assessment and advice service within an ED physiotherapy clinic: a single-site quality improvement cohort study

    Kelly, Marie; Higgins, Anna; Murphy, Adrian; McCreesh, Karen; Mercy University Hospital, Grenville Place, Cork, Ireland (Springer Nature, 2021-02-08)
    Background: In response to issues with timely access and high non-attendance rates for Emergency Department (ED) physiotherapy, a telephone assessment and advice service was evaluated as part of a quality improvement project. This telehealth option requires minimal resources, with the added benefit of allowing the healthcare professional streamline care. A primary aim was to investigate whether this service model can reduce wait times and non-attendance rates, compared to usual care. A secondary aim was to evaluate service user acceptability. Methods: This was a single-site quality improvement cohort study that compares data on wait time to first physiotherapy contact, non-attendance rates and participant satisfaction between patients that opted for a service based on initial telephone assessment and advice, versus routine face-to-face appointments. 116 patients were referred for ED physiotherapy over the 3-month pilot at the ED and out-patient physiotherapy department, XMercy University Hospital, Cork, Ireland. 91 patients (78%) opted for the telephone assessment and advice service, with 40% (n=36) contacting the service. 25 patients (22%) opted for the face-to-face service. Data on wait time and non-attendance rates was gathered using the hospital data reporting system. Satisfaction data was collected on discharge using a satisfaction survey adapted from the General Practice Assessment Questionnaire. Independent-samples t-test or Mann Whitney U Test was utilised depending on the distribution of the data. For categorical data, Chi-Square tests were performed. A level of significance of p ≤ 0.05 was set for this study. Results: Those that contacted the telephone assessment and advice service had a significantly reduced wait time (median 6 days; 3–8 days) compared to those that opted for usual care (median 35 days; 19–39 days) (p ≤ 0.05). There was no significant between-group differences for non-attendance rates or satisfaction. Conclusion: A telephone assessment and advice service may be useful in minimising delays for advice for those referred to ED Physiotherapy for musculoskeleltal problems. This telehealth option appears to be broadly acceptable and since it can be introduced rapidly, it may be helpful in triaging referrals and minimising face-to-face consultations, in line with COVID-19 recommendations. However, a large scale randomised controlled trial is warranted to confirm these findings.
  • Prevalence and predictors of continence containment products and catheter use in an acute hospital: A cross-sectional study

    Condon, Marie; Mannion, Edel; Collins, Gillian; Ghafar, Mohd Zaquan Arif Abd; Ali, Bushra; Small, Majella; Murphy, Robert P; McCarthy, Christine E; Sharkey, Anthony; MacGearailt, Conall; et al. (Elsevier, 2021-03-05)
    Although incontinence is common in hospital, the prevalence and predictors of continence aid use (continence wear and catheters) are poorly described. A one-day cross-sectional study was conducted in a large university hospital assessing consecutive inpatients (≥55) for their pre-admission and current use of continence aids. Barthel Index, Clinical Frailty Scale and Charlson Co-morbidity scores were recorded. Appropriateness was defined by local guidelines. 355 inpatients, median age 75±17 years, were included; 53% were male. Continence aid use was high; prevalence was 46% increasing to 58% for those ≥75. All-in-one pads were the most common, an overall prevalence of 31%. Older age, lower Barthel and higher frailty scores were associated with continence aid use in multivariate analysis. Inappropriate use of aids was high at 45% with older age being the only independent predictor. Continence aids are often used inappropriately during hospitalisation by older patients. Concerted efforts are required to address this issue.
  • The importance of taking a patient-centered, community-based approach to preventing and managing frailty: A public health perspective

    Adja, Kadjo Yves Cedric; Lenzi, Jacopo; Sezgin, Duygu; O'Caoimh, Rónán; Morini, Mara; Damiani, Gianfranco; Buja, Alessandra; Fantini, Maria Pia; Mercy University Hospital, Grenville Place, Cork, Ireland (Frontiers Media S.A., 2020-11-12)
    Across the world, life expectancy is increasing. However, the years of life gained do not always correspond to healthy life years, potentially leading to an increase in frailty. Given the extent of population aging, the association between frailty and age and the impact of frailty on adverse outcomes for older people, frailty is increasingly being recognized to be a significant public health concern. Early identification of the condition is important to help older adults regain function and to prevent the negative outcomes associated with the syndrome. Despite the importance of diagnosing frailty, there is no definitive evidence or consensus of whether screening should be routinely implemented. A broad range of screening and assessment instruments have been developed taking a biopsychosocial approach, characterizing frailty as a dynamic state resulting from deficits in any of the physical, psychological and social domains, which contribute to health. All these aspects of frailty should be identified and addressed using an integrated and holistic approach to care. To achieve this goal, public health and primary health care (PHC) need to become the fulcrum through which care is offered, not only to older people and those that are frail, but to all individuals, favoring a life-course and patient-centered approach centered around integrated, community-based care. Public health personnel should be trained to address frailty not merely from a clinical perspective, but also in a societal context. Interventions should be delivered in the individuals' environment and within their social networks. Furthermore, public health professionals should contribute to education and training on frailty at a community level, fostering community-based interventions to support older adults and their caregivers to prevent and manage frailty. The purpose of this paper is to offer an overview of the concept of frailty for a public health audience in order to raise awareness of the multidimensional aspects of frailty and on how these should be addressed using an integrated and holistic approach to care. © Copyright © 2020 Adja, Lenzi, Sezgin, O'Caoimh, Morini, Damiani, Buja and Fantini.
  • Evaluation of an emergency department falls pathway for older people: A patient chart review

    O'Keeffe, Anne; O'Grady, Sile; Cronin, Finola; Dolan, Clodagh; O'Hea, Ann; O'Shea, Katie Louise; Naughton, Corina; Mercy University Hospital (Elsevier BV, 2020-07)
    The number of older adults presenting to EDs following a fall continues to rise, yet falls management often ignores opportunities for secondary falls risk reduction. Advanced Nurse Practitioners (ANPs) in EDs have an important clinical leadership role in improving outcomes for this group of patients. Aim: This study describes the development of an ANP led falls pathway in an ED to improve safe discharge. It evaluates compliance with the pathway and referrals to community falls prevention services. It also draws comparison with baseline practice as recorded in 2014. Methods: The Falls Pathway involves four steps: 1) screening at triage (3 questions), 2) risk stratification (low, medium, high), 3) risk assessment (lying and standing blood pressure (B/P), timed-up and go (TUG), 4-AT for delirium screening, polypharmacy), and 4) referral to community falls services. We undertook a 12-month chart review of all patients aged 65 years or older presenting following a fall to the ANP service in 2018. We compared data to a baseline audit in 2014; descriptive and Chi squared statistics were used to examine the data. Results: The 2018 audit involved 77 patients representing 27% of ANP caseload. A repeat fall occurred in 42% (32/77) of cases and 35% (22/77) reported a fear of falling. The Falls Pathway was initiated in nearly 80% (62/77) of patients and compliance with falls risk assessment ranged from 42% for lying and standing B/P to 75% for TUG. In 2014, a review of 59 patient charts showed 27% (16/59) experienced a repeat fall, but other risk factors such as fear of falling were not recorded. In 2018, the majority of patients (88%) discharged home were referred to community falls prevention services compared to 22% in 2014. Conclusion: The Falls Pathway improved falls risk assessment in the ED, identified opportunities for risk reduction and optimised referral to community falls services. The pathway continues to be a valuable tool but requires resources for ongoing implementation among the wider ED team.
  • Irritant contact dermatitis in healthcare workers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic: a cross-sectional study.

    Kiely, L F; Moloney, E; O'Sullivan, G; Eustace, J A; Gallagher, J; Bourke, J F (2020-09-05)
    COVID-19 healthcare workers (HCWs) require frequent handwashing and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent infection. However, evidence is emerging that these practices are causing adverse effects on their skin integrity. A single-centre, cross-sectional study of HCWs from an Irish hospital was undertaken to evaluate the degree of COVID-19-related irritant contact dermatitis (ICD) between April and May 2020. Of 270 participants surveyed, 223 (82.6%) reported symptoms of ICD. The hands were the most commonly affected site (76.47%) and the most frequently reported symptom was dry skin (75.37%). Nearly all (268; 99.26%) HCWs had increased hand-washing frequency, but 122 (45.35%) did not use emollients. In the ICD group, 24.7% cited a history of dermatitis compared with 4.3% of unaffected staff (P < 0.001). The ICD group recorded PPE usage for an average of 3.15 h compared with the non-ICD group at 1.97 h (P = 0.21). Promoting awareness of COVID-19-related ICD is vital to highlight prevention and treatment for frontline staff.
  • Youth mental health in the time of COVID-19.

    Power, Emmet; Hughes, S; Cotter, D; Cannon, M (2020-07-02)
    Youth mental health is a rapidly developing field with a focus on prevention, early identification, treatment innovation and service development. In this perspective piece, we discuss the effects of COVID-19 on young people's mental health. The psychosocial effects of COVID-19 disproportionately affect young people. Both immediate and longer-term factors through which young people are affected include social isolation, changes to the delivery of therapeutic services and almost complete loss of all structured occupations (school, work and training) within this population group. Longer-term mechanisms include the effects of the predicted recession on young people's mental health. Opportunities within this crisis exist for service providers to scale up telehealth and digital services that may benefit service provision for young people's mental health in the future.
  • Risk Factors for Respiratory Syncytial Virus Bronchiolitis Admissions

    Meenaghan, Samantha; Breatnach, C.; Smith, H. (Irish Medical Journal, 2020-01)
    AimDetermine the seasonal incidence of hospital Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) bronchiolitis and explore the variables associated with admission to ward versus the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).MethodRetrospective case-control study. Children, aged ≤2 years, between November and March, over a 3 year period with a positive RSV nasopharyngeal aspirate test.ResultsA total of 557 children were included; 19% (n=106) required PICU admission. Children admitted to the PICU were younger in age, median (IQR) 6.93 (3.96, 11.89) weeks compared to children who remained on the wards 11.00 (5.86, 24.14) weeks. Being underweight at the point of admission (adjusted odds ratio 3.15, 95% 1.46, 6.70, p=0.003) was associated with a PICU admission.ConclusionNumber of RSV bronchiolitis hospitalisations are increasing each year. Age, weight and the use of HFNC were independent predictors for PICU admission.
  • Social isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic has led to worse outcomes in females with inflammatory arthritis.

    Maguire, Sinead; O'Shea, Finbar (2020-07-12)
    Background: Prolonged social isolation as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic has been a source of considerable psychological distress for many people. This can manifest in many ways and if left undetected can impact negatively on general health. It is essential to understand the impact of these conditions on inflammatory arthritis (IA) patients, especially axial spondyloarthropathy (axSpA). Aim: To capture the level of psychological distress for patients with IA following prolonged social isolation. Methods: A survey was sent out to patients with a confirmed diagnosis of IA. This captured changes in sleep, mood, disease activity, employment and general health since the beginning of the social isolation period. A PHQ-4 (Patient Health Questionnaire) was included to determine level of psychological distress. Results: Females with IA reported significantly higher rates of decline in general health (40% vs 16%, p = 0.01), mood disturbance (43.4% vs 26%, p = 0.03) and increased disease activity (50% vs 16%, p = 0.01) compared to males. Evaluating the mean PHQ-4 scores, no significant difference was noted between genders (4.80 vs 3.44, p = 0.10). However, females demonstrated a non-significant trend toward increased rates of moderate to severe psychological distress (40% vs 30%, p = 0.13). Subanalysis of patients with axSpA found high rates of moderate to severe distress in both genders. Conclusions: Females with IA reported significantly higher rates of decline in general health, mood disturbance and increased disease activity during the period of social isolation. This was reflected in a trend towards greater levels of psychological distress.
  • Dual tasking interferes with dynamic balance in young and old healthy adults

    Sulaiman, Amal Al-Shaikh; Kelly, Marie; O'Connor, Mairead; Eva-Bamiou, Doris; Pavlou, Marousa (IOS Press, 2021-01-11)
    BACKGROUND:Functional mobility requires an ability to adapt to environmental factors together with an ability to execute a secondary task simultaneously while walking. A complex dual-tasking gait test may provide an indication of functional ability and falls risk among community-dwelling older adults. PURPOSE:The aim of this cross-sectional study is to investigate age-related differences in dual-tasking ability and to evaluate whether dual-tasking ability is related to executive function. METHODS:Forty-one community-dwelling healthy older and forty-one younger adults completed a dual-tasking assessment in which concurrent tasks were incorporated into the Functional Gait Assessment (FGA). The manual dual-task involved carrying a glass of water (FGA-M) while the cognitive dual-tasks involved numeracy (FGA-N) and literacy (FGA-L) related tasks. FGA scores under single (FGA-S) and dual-task conditions together with associated dual-task costs and response accuracy were determined. Executive function was assessed using The Behavioural Assessment of the Dysexecutive Syndrome (BADS). RESULTS:FGA-N and FGA-L scores were adversely affected in both groups compared to FGA-S (p≤0.001). However, score reductions and dual-task costs were significantly greater for older adults compared to younger adults on FGA-N (p≤0.05) and FGA-L (p≤0.001), with older adult performance on FGA-N associated with falls risk (p≤0.05). Executive function did not appear to be related to dual-tasking ability. CONCLUSION:Findings suggest that cognitively demanding tasks while walking, have a deleterious effect on dynamic balance and could place older adults at a greater risk of falls.
  • Uncomfortably numb: suicide and the psychological undercurrent of COVID-19.

    Hughes, H; Macken, M; Butler, J; Synnott, K (2020-05-21)
  • Estimation and consumption pattern of free sugar intake in 3-year-old Irish preschool children.

    Crowe, Michael; O'Sullivan, Michael; Cassetti, Oscar; O'Sullivan, Aifric (2019-07-19)
    Purposes: Dietary free sugars (FS) are the most important risk factor for dental caries and can contribute to excess energy intake. Measuring FS intake is limited by food composition databases and appropriate dietary assessment methods. The aim of this analysis was to estimate total sugar (TS) and FS intakes for Irish pre-schoolers and examine the proportion of dietary TS and FS captured using a short food questionnaire (SFQ). Methods: This is a secondary analysis of 3-year-old children from two national surveys; Growing Up in Ireland (GUI), N = 9793 of whom 49% were girls and the National Preschool Nutrition Survey (NPNS), N = 126 and 52% were girls. GUI used SFQs and NPNS used semi-weighed food diaries to collect dietary data from 3-year-old children. Dietary intake databases were linked using an established approach. Mean daily TS and FS intakes and frequency were calculated, and consumption patterns from foods and meals are presented. The proportion of foods that were covered or non-covered by the GUI SFQ was calculated by comparison with the NPNS food diary. Results: 75% of 3 year-olds had FS intake greater than the maximum recommended by WHO guidelines for free sugar intake, while 4% met the lower threshold. The median frequency of TS and FS consumption was 5.0 (4.0-6.0) and 4.0 (3.0-5.0) times/day. Less than one-quarter of TS intake (g/day) was non-covered by the GUI SFQ while less than one-third of FS intake was non-covered. Conclusions: A large majority of 3-year-old Irish children do not meet the WHO recommended guidelines for FS intake and almost none meet the desired conditional recommendation. SFQs only capture two-thirds of FS intake at this early age.
  • Storytelling and poetry in the time of coronavirus.

    Barrett, Elizabeth; Dickson, Melissa; Hayes-Brady, Clare; Wheelock, Harriet (2020-05-14)
    The coronavirus crisis occurs at a time when many clinicians have already experienced burnout. One in three Irish doctors were suffering from burnout in the 2019 National Study of Wellbeing of Hospital Doctors in Ireland; rates are also high in Irish Psychiatry. We present a perspective on the use of narrative in medicine and recognise that storytelling, and the patient history are very much at the heart of medicine. Clinician storytelling, such as Schwartz Rounds and Balint group work, has very much come to the fore in Irish Psychiatry and in training. Projects such as MindReading have explored overlaps between clinicians, humanities experts and experts by experience. We give an overview of some approaches from the movement around narrative in medicine to bolster this. We explore why clinicians write as ways to support identification, catharsis and a way to process experiences. Clinicians and patients may also use literature and poetry to promote coping. The historical context and practical strategies are highlighted, particularly with reference to poetry use during the current crisis.
  • Sepsis at ICU admission does not decrease 30-day survival in very old patients: a post-hoc analysis of the VIP1 multinational cohort study.

    Ibarz, Mercedes; Boumendil, Ariane; Haas, Lenneke E M; Irazabal, Marian; Flaatten, Hans; de Lange, Dylan W; Morandi, Alessandro; Andersen, Finn H; Bertolini, Guido; Cecconi, Maurizio; et al. (2020-05-13)
    Background: The number of intensive care patients aged ≥ 80 years (Very old Intensive Care Patients; VIPs) is growing. VIPs have high mortality and morbidity and the benefits of ICU admission are frequently questioned. Sepsis incidence has risen in recent years and identification of outcomes is of considerable public importance. We aimed to determine whether VIPs admitted for sepsis had different outcomes than those admitted for other acute reasons and identify potential prognostic factors for 30-day survival. Results: This prospective study included VIPs with Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) scores ≥ 2 acutely admitted to 307 ICUs in 21 European countries. Of 3869 acutely admitted VIPs, 493 (12.7%) [53.8% male, median age 83 (81-86) years] were admitted for sepsis. Sepsis was defined according to clinical criteria; suspected or demonstrated focus of infection and SOFA score ≥ 2 points. Compared to VIPs admitted for other acute reasons, VIPs admitted for sepsis were younger, had a higher SOFA score (9 vs. 7, p < 0.0001), required more vasoactive drugs [82.2% vs. 55.1%, p < 0.0001] and renal replacement therapies [17.4% vs. 9.9%; p < 0.0001], and had more life-sustaining treatment limitations [37.3% vs. 32.1%; p = 0.02]. Frailty was similar in both groups. Unadjusted 30-day survival was not significantly different between the two groups. After adjustment for age, gender, frailty, and SOFA score, sepsis had no impact on 30-day survival [HR 0.99 (95% CI 0.86-1.15), p = 0.917]. Inverse-probability weight (IPW)-adjusted survival curves for the first 30 days after ICU admission were similar for acute septic and non-septic patients [HR: 1.00 (95% CI 0.87-1.17), p = 0.95]. A matched-pair analysis in which patients with sepsis were matched with two control patients of the same gender with the same age, SOFA score, and level of frailty was also performed. A Cox proportional hazard regression model stratified on the matched pairs showed that 30-day survival was similar in both groups [57.2% (95% CI 52.7-60.7) vs. 57.1% (95% CI 53.7-60.1), p = 0.85]. Conclusions: After adjusting for organ dysfunction, sepsis at admission was not independently associated with decreased 30-day survival in this multinational study of 3869 VIPs. Age, frailty, and SOFA score were independently associated with survival.
  • Mindfulness moments for clinicians in the midst of a pandemic.

    Hedderman, E; O'Doherty, V; O'Connor, S (2020-05-21)
    Clinicians are routinely subjected to intense and stressful working environments, and the current COVID-19 crisis increases their risk of psychological distress. Mindfulness has been shown to improve life satisfaction, resilience to stress, self-compassion, compassion and general well-being in healthcare workers. Based on their clinical experience, the authors present mindfulness moments for clinicians (MMFC), a selection of short, simple and accessible mindfulness practices to promote resilience and compassion among clinicians working in this pandemic. The practices can be used on the job and are accessible to both novice and experienced meditators. Most of these practices are extracted from evidence-based mindfulness programmes. Further research is indicated to assess the effectiveness of using MMFC to support clinicians in their work and to promote resilience.
  • Emerging treatments for inflammatory bowel disease.

    Hazel, Karl; O'connor, Anthony (2020-02-05)
    Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC), is characterized by chronic inflammation, a relapsing and remitting clinical course, requirement for lifelong medication and often, significant morbidity. While multiple effective therapeutic options exist for the treatment of IBD, a proportion of patients will either fail to respond or lose response to therapy. Advances in therapeutics, such as the gut-specific anti-integrins, now offer patients an alternative option to systemic immunosuppression. Anti-interleukin 12 (anti-IL-12)/IL-23 agents offer new and effective treatment options for CD, while the oral small molecules now offer an oral alternative for the treatment of moderate-to-severe disease, previously requiring subcutaneous injection or intravenous infusion. Alternatives to pharmacological treatment such as stem-cell transplant and faecal microbiota transplant are also showing some promise in the treatment of both CD and UC.
  • Sepsis Associated Delirium.

    Atterton, Ben; Paulino, Maria Carolina; Povoa, Pedro; Martin-Loeches, Ignacio (2020-05-18)
    Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening condition caused by a systemic dysregulated host response to infection. The brain is particularly susceptible to the effects of sepsis with clinical manifestations ranging from mild confusion to a deep comatose state. Sepsis-associated delirium(SAD) is a cerebral manifestation commonly occurring in patients with sepsis and is thought to occur due to a combination of neuroinflammation and disturbances in cerebral perfusion, the blood brain barrier (BBB) and neurotransmission. The neurological impairment associated with SAD can persist for months or even longer, after the initial septic episode has subsided which may impair the rehabilitation potential of sepsis survivors. Early identification and treatment of the underlying sepsis is key in the management of SAD as once present it can be difficult to control. Through the regular use of validated screening tools for delirium, cases of SAD can be identified early; this allows potentially aggravating factors to be addressed promptly. The usefulness of biomarkers, neuroimaging and electroencephalopathy (EEG) in the diagnosis of SAD remains controversial. The Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) guidelines advise against the use of medications to treat delirium unless distressing symptoms are present or it is hindering the patient’s ability to wean from organ support.

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