The UK pays docs to prescribe statins

I read this article in a British newspaper: Medical experts furious that doctors will be paid to dole out ‘risky’ statins

It could mean four in 10 adults, including most of those in late middle age, are put on regular doses in a move that “medicalises” healthy people, leaving them at risk of side-effects including diabetes and memory loss. 

Klim McPherson, professor of public health at Oxford University, said: “This is shocking. Incentivising doctors to dish out drugs to patients who may not benefit and more importantly may suffer side effects is wrong and unethical.”

Could that happen here?

It … Continue reading

Patients want better care, not fancier hospitals

All around the country, and certainly in my own city (Seattle), hospital construction has been booming over the last ten years.

Billions of dollars are being spent, and not just for necessary upgrades. Hospitals are going for a more upscale look in the hopes that they can attract better paying patients (those with the best insurance coverage) and get better patient satisfaction scores.

And patient satisfaction scores are important because Medicare is basing some reimbursements on those scores—if the patient isn’t happy, Medicare won’t pay.

But a couple of recent studies have shown that patients don’t give hospitals better ratings … Continue reading

Kids and allergies

I’ve seen several recent news stories on kids and allergies.

For some time, it’s seemed to me that the incidence of childhood allergies, especially serious ones like peanut allergies, have been on the increase.

Food labels carry warnings about possible peanut contamination; schools ban snacks or sack lunches containing peanuts; some airlines have designated “peanut-free” zones. It’s crazy and disturbing. And do you know how much an Epi-Pen costs??

Aaron Carroll, MD, the pediatrician who blogs at The Incidental Economist had a good post on the subject: By shielding infants from stuff, we may be making allergies worse

Since 2000, … Continue reading

Don’t buy supplements to prevent Alzheimer’s

I’ve posted many times about the problems with the multi-billion-dollar supplement industry, and there was a good Op-Ed piece on Live Science yesterday that supported my own opinion: These 5 Supplements Do Nothing For Alzheimer’s, Despite Claims

The article was co-written by two physicians, both geriatric (aging) specialists.

The Latin axiom “caveat emptor,” let the buyer beware, applies to people of all ages. But in our medical practices, we have witnessed the incredible dependence elderly patients have on herbal supplements to help them (in their minds, at least) prevent and manage chronic illness.

When we see patients, we ask them

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Balance billing

More and more frequently I come across stories of patients who have inadvertently received care from “out-of-network” providers. And it can be a costly mistake.

When you are billed for the costs that your insurance company has denied, that’s called “balance billing.”

My insurance company doubles the deductible for out-of-network care; instead of $10,000, our deductible becomes $20,000. But insurance companies aren’t required by law to put a limit on a patient’s out-of-pocket spending when it comes to out-of-network care. In theory, you could get hit with tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills even though you have insurance.… Continue reading

Stay healthy – safe driving tips

I read a good post from a surgeon urging everyone to use good judgement when driving: Driving advice from a trauma surgeon

After my own stint in the OR of the local trauma center, I can attest to the fact that a seemingly minor bad decision when behind the wheel of a two-ton, fast-moving vehicle can result in horrific injuries. (Not to mention the financial cost is astronomical.)

The surgeon writes:

In my non-scientifically-proven experience, the majority of my patients are in the hospital due to someone’s bad decisions — either their own or someone else’s. However, no one ever

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Belsomra – use with caution

I posted about Belsomra (suvorexant), the newest sleeping pill to hit the market, a few months ago. At that time, it wasn’t available to buy yet. Now it is.

As I predicted, it’s expensive, although not quite as costly as I thought it might be. According to GoodRx, a 30-day supply of 10mg tablets in my area code will cost on average $275.

Generic Ambien—zolpidem—costs about $30.

Belsomra works differently in the brain than Ambien or Lunesta. Will it work better? Hard to know, since there have been no studies directly comparing the efficacy of Belsomra with the other … Continue reading