Research by staff affiliated to Mercy University Hospital

Recent Submissions

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Audit of compliance with HSE standards and recommended practices for healthcare records management for discharge summaries in St. Michael's Unit, Mercy University Hospital, Cork

    Vrabec, Michal; Geary, Eoin; O'Brien, Sinead; North Lee Mental Health Services, HSE Southern Area (Centre for Recovery and Social Inclusion (CRSI), 2019-06-07)
  • Counselling in Primary Care – A General Practitioner’s Perspective

    Rafferty, M.; Bradley, C.; 1. Mercy University Hospital 2. Department of General Practice, University College Cork (Irish Medical Journal, 2019-02)
    Counselling in Primary care (CIPC) is a new service introduced by the HSE in 2013, providing short-term counselling for medical-card holders, suffering from mild to moderate mental health problems.
  • A budget impact analysis of a clinical medication review of patients in an Irish university teaching hospital

    Kearney, Alan; Walsh, Elaine. K; Kirby, Ann; Halleran, Ciaran; Byrne, Derina; Haugh, Jennifer; Sahm, Laura. J (Global & Regional Health Technology, 2018-09)
    To measure the net benefit of a pharmacist-led medication review in acute public hospitals. To identify and measure the resources used when completing a pharmacist-led medication review, an observational study was conducted in an acute urban university teaching hospital. Health Information and Quality Authority guidelines were used to value resources used in a pharmacist-led medication review. Model inputs included demographic data, probability of adverse drug events associated with the pharmacist interventions, estimates of future discharges and cost data. The cost of a pharmacist-led medication review and savings generated from avoidance of adverse drug events were estimated and projected over a 5-year period, using hospital discharge rates taken from the hospital inpatient enquiry system and the census of population. Using the per-patient cost of a medication review, the annual cost of delivering a bi-weekly medication review is projected to vary between €6 m and €6.4 m over a 5-year period from 2017 to 2021. The per-patient net benefit of a bi-weekly medication review is €45.88. Therefore, the projected annual net benefit of a bi-weekly medication review is between €29.5 m and €31.2 m over the 5-year period of 2017 to 2021. Introducing a pharmacist-led medication review for each inpatient saves in the short and longer term. The results are consistent with previous findings. Substantial savings were estimated, regardless of variation in model parameters tested in sensitivity analysis.
  • Giant Cell Arteritis Presenting as an Ischaemic Upper Limb

    Fitzgerald, Gerald; O’Connor, Mortimer B.; Phelan, Mark J.; Mercy University Hospital, Cork (Irish Medical Journal, 2018-07)
    Aim: To present an interesting case of giant cell arteritis presenting as ischaemic upper limb. Methods Data was collected from the patient’s chart and from radiology and laboratory systems in our institution. Results: The patient had a temporal artery biopsy confirming the diagnosis of temporal arteritis. This was successfully treated with high dose steroids leading to resolution of symptoms in the arm. Conclusion: Arteritis is an important consideration to consider in patients who present with limb ischaemia as it is a reversible cause which can be treated effectively.
  • An audit of empiric antibiotic choice in the inpatient management of community-acquired pneumonia

    Delaney, F; Jackson, A (Irish Medical Journal, 2017-04)
    Adherence to antimicrobial guidelines for empiric antibiotic prescribing in community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) has been reported to be worryingly low. We conducted a review of empiric antibiotic prescribing for sixty consecutive adult patients admitted to the Mercy University Hospital with a diagnosis of CAP. When analysed against local antimicrobial guidelines, guideline concordant empiric antibiotics were given in only 48% of cases, lower than the average rate in comparable studies. Concordance was 100% in cases where the CURB-65 pneumonia severity assessment score, on which the guidelines are based, was documented in the medical notes. The use of excessively broad spectrum and inappropriate antibiotics is a notable problem. This study supports the theory that lack of knowledge regarding pneumonia severity assessment tools and unfamiliarity with therapeutic guidelines are key barriers to guideline adherence, which remains a significant problem despite increased focus on antimicrobial stewardship programs in Ireland
  • Management of patients with subclinical hypothyroidism in primary

    McCarthy, E; Russell, A; Kearney, PM (Irish Medical Journal, 2016-01)
    Subclinical hypothyroidism (SCH) is defined as a raised serum thyroid stimulating hormone level with normal thyroxine. Despite a prevalence of up to 9% of the adult population there is widespread uncertainty on how to manage it. The aim of this study was to assess how older adults with SCH are managed in primary care. A retrospective case-note review was carried out on patients attending Mallow Primary Healthcare Centre. This study identified patients 65 years and over meeting the criteria for SCH in one year. The prevalence of SCH in this study was calculated as 2.9%. 22.2% of patients were treated with thyroxine. 6.1% of untreated patients progressed to clinical hypothyroidism within the study period while 18.2% spontaneously reverted to normal TSH levels.
  • Chronic kidney disease and obesity in Ireland: comparison of self-reported coronary artery disease in population study with clinic attendees.

    Lannin, U; Vaughan, C; Perry, I J; Browne, G (Irish Medical Journal, 2015-02)
    Obesity is a growing issue in Ireland. The link between obesity, CKD and CAD has not previously been described in the Irish population. The prevalence of obesity and CKD was compared across 3 groups: population based estimates with self-reported CAD, population based estimates without self-reported CAD (SLAN-07) and a random selection of cardiology outpatients with CAD. The SLAN-07 is a representative survey of 1207 randomly selected participants ≥ 45 years. Validated methods measured parameters including waist circumference, blood pressure and markers of renal function specifically glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) and albumin: creatinine ratio. The Cardiology clinic surveyed a random selection of 126 participants ≥ 45 years with CAD. Similar parameters were measured using the validated methods utilised in SLAN-07 study. Prevalence of obesity and renal disease was significantly higher in both CAD groups. At population level, risk factors were modelled using logistic regression to compare odds of participants with self-reported CAD with those without. Age, hypertension, obesity, elevated waist circumference, renal disease and diabetes are significantly associated with existing CAD. Obesity and CKD are more frequent in patients with CAD. Routine evaluation is essential to facilitate more intensive management of these risk factors.
  • The Intensity of QuantiFERON TB-Gold Response does not Differentiate Active from Latent Tuberculosis

    F Khan, F; Cotter, O; Kennedy, B; Clair, J; O’Connor, B; Collins, J; Curran, D; O’Connor, T (Irish Medical Journal (IMJ), 2013-12)
    We analyzed positive QuantiFERON (QFT) assays, performed between July 2009 and April 2011 in the Mercy University Hospital, Cork, Ireland, which included, 94 patients with latent tuberculosis (LTBI) and 35 patients with active tuberculosis. There was no difference in the intensity of response between patients with LTBI and active tuberculosis (p=0.1589). In patients with LTBI, there were no correlations between age (p=0.353), sex (p=0.476), smoking (p=0.323), contact (p=0.612), Mantoux response (p=0.055), Irish nationality (p=0.768), previous BCG vaccination (p=0.504), WCC (p=0.187), lymphocyte count (p=0.786), neutrophil count (p=0.157) and the intensity of QFT response. Similarly in patients with active TB, there were no correlations between these variables and QFT response. The intensity of QFT response does not help to differentiate active from LTBI. The intensity of QFT response is not influenced by age, sex, smoking, remoteness of contact history, Mantoux response, nationality, CXR abnormalities, BCG vaccination and peripheral lymphocyte count.
  • COPD exacerbations: a comparison of Irish data with European data from the ERS COPD audit

    Crinion, S; Cotter, O; Kennedy, B; O’Connor, B; Curran, DR; McCormack, S; McDonnell, T J; O’Connor, TM (Irish Medical Journal (IMJ), 2013-10)
    The European Respiratory Society COPD audit was a cross-sectional, multicentre study that analysed outcomes for COPD patients admitted to hospital with an exacerbation across Europe. We present the data on patients admitted to 11 Irish hospitals that participated in the audit. Among 237 patients (123 Male), the median age was 71 years and 79 (33%) patients were current smokers. 82 (35%) patients received high-flow oxygen before admission and 43 (18%) were cared for in a dedicated respiratory ward. 54 (23%) patients required ventilatory support. Median length of stay was 7 days, 98 (41%) patients were readmitted and 211 (89%) patients were alive at the 90 day follow up point. Irish patients were more likely to receive high-flow oxygen before admission, less likely to be managed in a dedicated respiratory ward and had a higher likelihood of readmission or death within 90 days than the European average.
  • Pancreatico pleural fistula an unusual complication of chronic pancreatitis

    Ferris, H; Buckley, M (Irish Medical Journal (IMJ), 2012-07)
  • Novel agents in the management of lung cancer.

    Kennedy, B; Gargoum, F; Bystricky, B; Curran, D R; O'Connor, T M; Department of Respiratory Medicine, Mercy University Hospital, Cork, Ireland. (2012-01-31)
    Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide. Survival remains poor as approximately 80% of cases present with advanced stage disease. However, new treatments are emerging which offer hope to patients with advanced disease. Insights into cell biology have identified numerous intracellular and extracellular peptides that are pivotal in cancer cell signalling. Disrupting the function of these peptides inhibits intracellular signal transduction and diminishes uncontrolled proliferation, resistance to apoptosis and tumour angiogenesis. The most widely studied signalling pathway is the Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) pathway. EGF signalling can be disrupted at numerous points. Blockade of the cell surface receptor is achieved by the monoclonal antibody cetuximab; intracellular tyrosine kinase activity is inhibited by erlotinib. Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) regulates another pathway important for tumour growth. Inhibition of VEGF impairs angiogenesis and disrupts metastatic spread. Bevacizumab is a monoclonal antibody that binds to VEGF and blocks interaction with its cell surface receptor. Clinical trials have demonstrated that disruption of these signalling pathways can improve survival in advanced lung cancer. New compounds including folate antimetabolites such as pemetrexed, proteasome inhibitors such as bortezomib, modified glutathione analogues such as TLK286, and other agents such as epothilones and other small molecules are currently being evaluated in patients with lung cancer. As more and more signalling peptides are targeted for manipulation, it is hoped that a new era is dawning in the treatment of advanced stage lung cancer. This review will focus on emerging new therapies in the management of lung cancer.
  • Management outcome of acute urinary retention: model of prediction.

    Daly, Padraig; Connolly, Stephen; Rogers, Eamonn; Sweeney, Paul; Department of Urology, Mercy University Hospital, University College Cork, Cork, , Ireland. (2012-01-31)
    OBJECTIVES: To assess for predictors of outcome in patients presenting with acute urinary retention (AUR). METHODS: A study was performed in our unit to evaluate trial without catheter (TWOC) and successive management. We assessed for predictors of surgical or medical management, which included: age, volume drained at time of catheterisation, cause of retention, serum creatinine, success of trial of voiding, co-morbidities, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and prostate size on digital rectal examination (DRE). RESULTS: 72 men were entered into the study over an 18-month period: 27 had a successful first TWOC, 20 patients had a second TWOC, and 6 were successful. In total, 31 of the 33 patients with a successful TWOC remained on alpha-blockers without a further episode of AUR within a minimum of 6 months' follow-up. Patients failing TWOC were managed by transurethral resection of the prostate (n = 22), long-term catheterisation (n = 15) or prostatic stents (n = 3), and 1 patient died prior to intervention. Three predictors were significant on multivariate analysis: PSA (>2.9 ng/ml), prostate size on DRE (large) and volume drained at time of catheterisation (>or=1,000 ml). CONCLUSION: Patients with elevated PSA (>2.9 ng/ml), a large prostate size on DRE and a volume drained at time of catheterisation >1,000 ml are best managed by surgical intervention, while those with volumes drained at time of catheterisation of <1,000 ml, a PSA
  • Predictors of early arrival at the emergency department in acute ischaemic stroke.

    Curran, C; Henry, C; O'Connor, K A; Cotter, P E; Department of Geriatric Medicine, Mercy University Hospital, Cork, Ireland. (2012-01-31)
    BACKGROUND: A requirement of an effective acute stroke service is the early arrival of patients to the hospital emergency department (ED). This will allow the possible use of thrombolytic therapy or other acute interventions within a limited time window. AIMS: We investigated the predictors of early arrival in a single hospital serving a mixed urban and rural catchment area. METHODS: A retrospective review of all case notes for 1 year was performed. RESULTS: Of 105 acute strokes, 91 were cerebral infarcts and a total of 71 cases presenting initially to the ED had timing available for analysis. 39.4% presented within 3 h, and 12.7% were potentially suitable for thrombolysis. Those living closer to the hospital were not more likely to arrive within 3 h (Z = -0.411, p = 0.68). Presenting directly to the hospital by emergency services (or private transport) was significantly associated with early arrival in a univariate comparison (p < 0.001), and in a multivariate model. CONCLUSION: The only independent predictor of early arrival to the ED is direct presentation. Improved public education of the importance of recognition of stroke symptoms and rapid contact with the emergency services will improve the early attendance following acute stroke, allowing increased use of acute stroke treatments.

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