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This column seeks to inform readers about new research and events coming out of the UW’s medical community, like a study on the emotional effect of sepsis, rankings of UW medical centers, and a bioethics conference.

Severe sepsis affects spousal quality of life

A joint study conducted by the UW School of Medicine and the University of Michigan Health System has found that spouses of patients with severe sepsis suffer greater risk of depression.

Sepsis is an inflammatory response that occurs when an infection misleads the immune system into attacking healthy cells, damaging organs and causing bleeding.

The study found that wives whose husbands were hospitalized with severe sepsis were nearly four times more likely to experience substantial symptoms of depression. Sepsis is the most common non-cardiac cause of critical illness.

Sepsis is responsible for four times more hospitalizations than heart attacks. It is a leading cause of death among elderly Americans, and, according to the study, affects elderly spouses as well.

The study also noted that husbands in the same situation may be less willing to report symptoms of depression.

UW Medical Center ranks high in U.S. News and World Reports

The UW Medical Center ranked first in Washington and in the Seattle metropolitan area in U.S News and World’s latest ranking of America’s best hospitals, and was also ranked nationally in 10 adult specialties. It was particularly high-performing in four of those, placing fourth nationally in rehabilitation, sixth in diabetes and endocrinology, eighth in neurology and neurosurgery, and eighth in cancer care.

Seattle Children’s Hospital ranked in the top 10 in four categories, fourth for nephrology, fifth in urology, and seventh for treatment of pediatric cancer. Harborview Medical Center ranked in the top 50 in two specialities, placing 25th in orthopedics and 47th in diabetes and endocrinology. The hospital also ranked second overall in Washington and in the Seattle metropolitan area.

Eighth annual Pediatrics Bioethics Conference

Entitled “The Thin Ethical Line: When Professional Boundaries and Personal Interests Collide,” the conference will take place at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center on July 27 and 28.

The conference will cover issues such as the sharing of personal information online, personal relationships between physicians and patients, objection to health-care services, and parental refusal of immunizations.

Speakers include Doug Diekema, the director of education at the Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics at Seattle Children’s Research Institute; Doug Opel, a bioethicist at Seattle Children’s; and Wendy Sue Swanson, a pediatrician and blogger, among other notable pediatricians and bioethicists.

Sessions will be webcast and info will be broadcast via Twitter with the hashtag #pedbioethics8.

The Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics is the first in the U.S. to focus on specifically pediatric issues, and has developed partnerships with the Department of Bioethics and Humanities at the UW School of Medicine and the UW Schools of Law, Nursing, and Public Health.

Reach reporter Garrett Black at science@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @garrettjblack

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