An EpiShell for your EpiPen

The EpiShell will protect your investment

I recently saw a news story about a local family that came up with a brilliant invention—the EpiShell.

What is the EpiShell? It’s a small insulated tube that provides climate control for your EpiPens.


Why is this a great idea? Like most medications, epinephrine is best kept at room temperature. Temperature extremes speed up deterioration of the product.

Anyone who needs an EpiPen is counseled to carry it with them at all times. If a child has a life-threatening allergy, that means having multiple EpiPens for school, daycare, a backpack, the family car, … Continue reading

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

What’s in your medicine cabinet?

I admit it.

I have a few old pill bottles stashed in a kitchen cupboard. These are mostly leftover pain meds dating back several years to when my son had his wisdom teeth removed, or my husband had his thyroid taken out.

I need to get rid of them.

drug take back dayLuckily, this Saturday, October 22, from 10 am to 2 pm, is the semi-annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

On Saturday, local law enforcement agencies will partner with the DEA to act as drop-off sites for unused … Continue reading

Think Pink? Think twice!

think pinkI just returned from an errand to the bank where I saw a huge cardboard advertisement for a pink-ribboned Susan G. Komen credit card. That reminded me that October (or Pinktober) is all about Think Pink and breast cancer awareness.

But be aware that there are less-than-worthy charities and lots of for-profit merchandising, too. This post from last October has excellent links to help you know if a charity deserves your money. FN

Profiting from breast cancer?

I know October is all about the color pink and supporting breast cancer, but don’t be too hasty giving your money away, … Continue reading

Costs of Care story contest – Tell your story

And maybe win a prize!

Have you or a family member been the victim of crazy medical expenses? Or are you a healthcare provider who has witnessed again and again unreasonable and unfair healthcare costs?

Have you just been waiting for the chance to share your experience with a wider audience?

If so, then the healthcare advocacy group, Costs of Care, wants you to submit your story to its annual Story Contest.

Your story should be 750 words or less, and it should “focus on experiences that illustrate the challenges or opportunities to make healthcare more affordable.” (Check out… Continue reading

Do you know your drug formulary?

drug formularyThe shrinking drug formulary

Insurance companies have several ways to cut their costs.

We are all familiar with higher premiums, higher co-pays, increased deductibles, and narrower provider networks. These will all be apparent when we look at our policies for 2017.

A lesser-known strategy is to remove high-cost drugs from the drug formulary—the list of medications that insurance will cover.

Insurance companies typically work with a pharmacy benefits manager, or PBM, which acts as the middleman to negotiate drug prices with drugmakers.

Exploding drug costs

The Affordable Care Act made it mandatory that health insurance plans offer prescription drug … Continue reading

Know CPR? Get the Pulse Point app

Pulse Point saves a life!

A recent news story here in Seattle caught my eye: Off-duty doctor gets Pulse Point app alert, saves man’s life

pulse pointDouglas Stine was driving with co-workers along Aurora Ave. on Monday when he started gasping for air and lost consciousness, the result of a heart condition.

The other workers called 911, but help arrived minutes before the paramedics.

Dr. Matt Gittinger, a UW medicine physician at Harborview, happened to be at his dining room table catching up on work when he saw an alert on his phone.

“I was out of my front door within

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What defines a “healthy” food to you?

The FDA wants your input!

Add your comment here: Use of the Term “Healthy” in the Labeling of Human Food Products

Do you remember a couple years ago when the maker of a particular brand of granola bars was told by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to cease and desist from using the term “healthy” to describe their product?

The problem with those particular granola bars was their high saturated fat content. They were made with nuts, peanuts, peanut butter. coconut and dark chocolate—foods generally considered to be healthy and “good fats,” but fats nonetheless.

This caused a lot … Continue reading

Don’t reach for Life Line screenings

I first posted about Life Line screenings two years ago. I’m re-posting today as this post still gets a lot of traffic and I wanted to reopen the comments. 

life line screeningsOvertreating, overspending

I just received an invitation in the mail!

Not to a party or a wedding or anything fun, but to a Life Line Screening event being held at a local church. The letter says they’re holding a spot for me on this particular date, but I must call NOW to confirm and register, because spaces are LIMITED!

“These aren’t just routine medical procedures—they can help save your life”

Oh, … Continue reading

Are ICD 10 diagnoses not so crazy?

OK, this post is just for fun.

Last year I mocked the new catalog of diagnosis codes, the ICD 10. Every medical bill must include a diagnostic code, and I thought the ICD 10, which increased the number of available codes from 13,000 to 70,000, was really over-the-top ridiculous.

New diagnoses included such notables as “injured when knitting,” “sucked into a jet engine” and “problems with the in-laws.”

But my niece, who just graduated from medical school and is now a first-year resident, toured one of the first hospitals built in Washington state and shared with me a list … Continue reading

“Brain on Fire” – A diagnostic odyssey

brain-on-fireI just finished reading a really gripping and emotional story—Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by journalist Susannah Cahalan. (Soon to be a movie!)

As a twenty-something cub reporter in New York, Ms. Cahalan began experiencing strange, seemingly unconnected symptoms, such as forgetfulness, paranoia and the sensation that bugs were crawling on one side of her body.

The details of her weeks’ long medical journey—which she had to piece together from medical records, her parents’ journals, and the recollections of friends, doctors and nurses because she couldn’t remember most of it—are a pretty frightening look at today’s fragmented … Continue reading

Kids’ health – Avoid medication errors

The right medication at the right dose

The journal Pediatrics recently published a study that showed about 85% of parents make mistakes when measuring out doses of liquid over-the-counter medications.

That reminded me of this short video from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio talking about medication errors made by parents or other caregivers.

Using over 10 years of data from the National Poison Center, researchers found that children under the age of 6 are exposed to a medication error every 8 minutes: too much, too little, or the wrong drug altogether.

Most often, they … Continue reading

Drug commercials do more harm than good

I think it was a mistake to allow prescription drug commercials on TV. In my humble opinion, at least.

But I’m not alone in disliking these commercials, or direct-to-consumer (DTC) ads, as they’re called.

The news website Vox recently released a video that explains more about how DTC ads came to be ever present on our TVs. They attempt to be fair and present both sides of the debate, but it seems to me they lean negative. What do you think?

One of my objections to DTC ads is that these multi-billion dollar campaigns are … Continue reading

Prevent eye infections with proper use of contact lenses

prevent eye infectionsBad lens hygiene, or what was I thinking?

I’ve worn contact lenses my entire adult life. I remember many, many times throughout high school and college when I would pop out a lens, stick it in my mouth to wet it, and then put it back in my eye.

I really can’t believe I used to do that!

But at least I’m not alone in being careless with my contact lenses and eye health.

A couple weeks ago the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published a report that said more than 99% of contact lens wearers (and that’s well over … Continue reading

Parents – Don’t use FluMist this flu season

Kids need flu shots!

Pediatricians recommend all children over the age of 6 months get a yearly flu shot.

In previous years, a nasal spray version of the flu vaccine, FluMist, has been available to parents who wanted to avoid subjecting their children to another needle jab.

But for the last 3 years FluMist has not been nearly as effective as the standard flu shot. So for the 2016-2017 flu season, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) are recommending against FluMist for flu prevention.

For the 2016-2017 flu season, the Advisory Committee on

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FDA finally bans triclosan, but only in soaps

triclosanTriclosan isn’t effective


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began drafting guidelines for the use of the popular antibacterial, triclosan, about 40 years ago.

Two years ago they announced they were ready to implement some much-needed oversight of this chemical. They asked the manufacturers of soaps and body washes to provide more evidence of both its effectiveness and safety.

Well, those companies came up short. Last week the FDA made its final decision to ban triclosan and some other chemicals used in “antibacterial” soaps.

Manufacturers haven’t shown that these ingredients are any more effective than plain

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