I'm back from the Vancouver "PIERS Investigators Meeting" (Preeclampsia Integrated Estimate of Risk). Researchers from all over Canada, as well as several from Australia, New Zealand, and England have been working on developing data that support a rigorous protocol for diagnosing PE as well as an equally rigorous intervention and treatment protocol. The good news is that the early numbers are very encouraging regarding maternal outcomes . . . unfortunately they have not seen any marked improvement in fetal outcomes.
I had the opportunity to present (along with Fiona Morrow) the patient's perspective and why PIERS is so important. I thank Eleni Tsigas and Laura Larsen for helping with materials for a very strong and emotive PowerPoint presentation. Fiona did a terrific job in being the face of preeclampsia -- literally -- by sharing her story and answering questions. I could tell by the eagerness of the interaction that she really got the audience's attention. It was an excellent opportunity to make sure the scientists don't forget that real people are behind the statistics, trends, and "regression analyses." At the end of the first day, I was given the opportunity to offer my observations on the day's discussions and suggested that two somewhat related thoughts that are also core beliefs of the Foundation seemed most significant to me:
1. It seemed to me that whatever protocols are developed from the project . . . it will be critical to identify the best "entry point" in the continuum of care a potential PE patient receives. If it is too late in the process . . . it won't make much difference, so reaching out to the local OB/GYN population is vital. Further, the research should drive enhanced public education so as to make the patient a partner in the diagnostic protocol . . . not just a subject.
2. In a somewhat similar vein, I told the assembled group that all the good research in the world sometimes cannot overcome those who have become set in their ways; I call them the "we've always done it that way" crowd. If their findings are going to change actual medical practice, they had better work at educating the hospital administrators, insurers, and other bureaucrats as to why the changes in protocol are necessary.
On the 2nd day I had the opportunity to do a half hour overview of the Foundation, our work, and our goals for the future. The presentation was well received and I had an excellent opportunity to meet ad speak to the Coordinator of Maternal and Perinatal Health activities within the Reproductive Health Division of the World Health Organization. He was quite impressed with our work and I do believe we will stay in touch and consider ways in which we can collaborate in the future.
After the presentation last Wednesday, I zipped off to the airport to get home for Thanksgiving. I wasn't scheduled to land at Baltimore-Washington International Airport until midnight and was frankly despairing of my chances of actually getting through O'Hare (Chicago) on-time. I'm pleased to report that I made it home and we enjoyed a marvelous Thanksgiving with my 2 daughters (my wife's son and daughter will be with us for Christmas).
I hope all of you enjoyed the holiday . . . now it's time to get back to work!
Best wishes . . .