Tag Archives | Health Care

The Chronic Disease of Excess Medical Care

Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon and public-health researcher, states what most of us already know: there is a tremendous amount of unnecessary, costly and unpleasant medical care taking place throughout the healthcare system in the United States. From the New Yorker:

It was lunchtime before my afternoon surgery clinic, which meant that I was at my desk, eating a ham-and-cheese sandwich and clicking through medical articles. Among those which caught my eye: a British case report on the first 3-D-printed hip implanted in a human being, a Canadian analysis of the rising volume of emergency-room visits by children who have ingested magnets, and a Colorado study finding that the percentage of fatal motor-vehicle accidents involving marijuana had doubled since its commercial distribution became legal. The one that got me thinking, however, was a study of more than a million Medicare patients. It suggested that a huge proportion had received care that was simply a waste.

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Do Doctors Really Know Best? [Debate]


Despite the recent bad press, most of us still think doctor knows best. Yet with medical intervention now the third biggest killer after heart disease and cancer, is it time to call a halt to our trust? Should we end the monopoly on prescription? Would this give us ownership over our own health, or risk lives and return us to Victorian quackery?

The Panel

Former health minister Gisela Stuart, radical psychiatrist David Healy and former Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners Clare Gerada put the medial profession on trial.

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Americans’ Trust in Doctors Is Falling

By Murray Barnes via Flickr (cc by 2.0)

By Murray Barnes via Flickr (cc by 2.0)

via Live Science:

Americans’ trust in the medical profession has plummeted in recent years, and lags well behind public attitudes toward doctors in many other countries, according to a new report.

That lack of trust comes from how Americans’ perceive doctors’ motivations, said Robert Blendon, a professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and co-author of the new report. While physician leaders elsewhere in the world often take public stands on key health and medical issues, Americans perceive the medical profession as looking out for itself, not advocating for public health, he said.

Just 34 percent of U.S. adults polled in 2012 said they had “great confidence in the leaders of the medical profession,” down from 76 percent in 1966, according to the report.

And a survey of people in 29 countries found the United States ranked 24th in public trust of doctors.

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Paralysed man walks again after cell transplant

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 11.35.46 AM

via BBC:

A paralysed man has been able to walk again after a pioneering therapy that involved transplanting cells from his nasal cavity into his spinal cord.

Darek Fidyka, who was paralysed from the chest down in a knife attack in 2010, can now walk using a frame.

The treatment, a world first, was carried out by surgeons in Poland in collaboration with scientists in London.

Details of the research are published in the journal Cell Transplantation.

BBC One’s Panorama programme had unique access to the project and spent a year charting the patient’s rehabilitation.

Darek Fidyka, 40, from Poland, was paralysed after being stabbed repeatedly in the back in the 2010 attack.

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U.S. Health Care vs. Socialized Health Care

Say what you want about the PPACA legislation (I certainly don’t support it), it’s getting harder and harder to defend privatized, for-profit medicine when the United States gets ranked below Costa Rica by the World Health Organization. And as much as I want to support government-run health care, it’s idiots like these guys which make me fear what might happen the next time I get sick and there just so happens to be a vote on who gets to be insured and who doesn’t that day. Nevertheless, I can’t help but wonder what my life would be like if I grew up in Europe or north of the border.

VIA Christian Science Monitor

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Best Way To Reduce Infection Risk In Hospitals? Open The Windows!

University College Hospital, 235 Euston Road, NW1 - geograph.org.uk - 671049How often do you see open windows in hospitals? Hardly ever, right? As reported by BBC News, opening those grimy windows could decrease risk of infection fourfold:

Keeping the windows open on traditional NHS wards can dramatically reduce the risk of infection, say researchers.

The University of Leeds study suggests closing windows, for example to cut heating bills, increases the risk of infection fourfold.

The researchers used experiments and computer modelling to map the passage of air and germs through wards.

They say fitting household extractor fans to windows could maintain sufficient air flow in winter.

The study looked at air flow in traditional “Nightingale wards”, built as open wards of around 30 beds with opening windows and named after Florence Nightingale, who set out the principles of ward design in the 19th Century.

Balloons filled with carbon dioxide – to represent an airborne pathogen – were popped and the gas followed throughout the ward using tracer devices.

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Hospital Medical Devices Increasingly Riddled With Computer Viruses

Technology Review on the looming hazard of malware causing deadly misfunction in the era of digitalized medical care:

Computerized hospital equipment is increasingly vulnerable to malware infections, according to participants in a recent government panel. These infections can clog patient-monitoring equipment and other software systems, at times rendering the devices temporarily inoperable.

Olson told the panel that infections have stricken many kinds of equipment, raising fears that someday a patient could be harmed. “We also worry about situations where blood gas analyzers, compounders, radiology equipment, nuclear-medical delivery systems, could become compromised to where they can’t be used, or they become compromised to the point where their values are adjusted without the software knowing,” he said. He explained that when a machine becomes clogged with malware, it could in theory “miss a couple of readings off of a sensor [and] erroneously report a value, which now can cause harm.”

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Supreme Court Upholds Main Part Of Obamacare

UpstateNYer (CC)

The U.S. Supreme Court has finally decided to uphold the critical part of President Obama’s controversial health care law. Expect some Tea Party fireworks just in time for Independence Day next week… Robert Barnes and N.C. Aizenman report for the Washington Post:

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the individual health-insurance mandate that is at the heart of President Obama’s landmark health-care law, saying the mandate is permissible under Congress’s taxing authority.

The potentially game-changing, election-year decision — a major victory for the White House less than five months before the November elections –will help redefine the power of the national government and affect the health-care choices of millions of Americans.

Passage of the legislation by the Democratic-controlled Congress in 2010 capped decades of efforts to implement a national program of health care. The legislation is expected to eventually extend health-care coverage to more than 30 million Americans who currently lack it…

[continues at the Washington Post]

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Not What the Doctor Ordered: 20 Million Could Lose Employer Coverage

Obama Signs Health CareIn all the hand-wringing over the last two months for Obamacare by “liberal” apologists, little has actually been said about the actual effects of the law. True, whether or not Obamacare is beneficial has little if anything to do with its constitutionality. (And the actual Constitutional issues involved, however valid, have little to do with the cynical politics behind the Supreme Court’s right-wing block in the case.) But you’d think if someone was gonna go to bat for a law, they’d at least acknowledge the law’s merits.

Hence one story that caught my eye in March: “20 million could lose employer coverage under Obama health care overhaul.” The source, the World Socialist Web Site, may not be acceptable to the media establishment, but the primary source for the WSWS certainly is: the Congressional Budget Office. Here’s what the CBO concludes:

As many as 20 million Americans could lose their employer-sponsored coverage in 2019 under the health care legislation signed into law by President Obama in March 2010…
The CBO’s most optimistic estimate, which the federal agency says is subject to a “tremendous amount of uncertainty,” is that 3 million to 5 million could lose their employer health coverage each year from 2019 through 2022.
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