Don’t be a victim of too much medical care

Too much testing = too much medicine

I just ran across an old doctor joke: What is a well person? Someone who hasn’t yet been thoroughly examined.

It’s not funny, of course, if you’re the patient and have suffered the harms—and the expense—of too much medical care.

In 2010, my husband was the victim of too much medical care. Because of complications and a string of medical errors he almost died. His care cost our insurance company over $100,000 and we were out of pocket for our $10,000 deductible.

Now he has no thyroid and has to take medication every … Continue reading

Heavy metals in chocolate

heavy metals in chocolateWhat’s in your chocolate?

I’ve been in the dark about chocolate!

I just received a newsletter from ConsumerLab, one of my favorite consumer websites, that details not only what makes dark chocolate healthy (flavanols), but what potentially makes it just a little bit toxic (the heavy metals lead and cadmium).

And apparently this isn’t new news. I’ve found stories talking about trace levels of heavy metals in chocolate going back over ten years, so I don’t know how I missed it other than I’m not much of a chocolate eater.

Still, I have friends that are chocoholics and I … Continue reading

PSAPs and the OTC Hearing Aid Act

psapsWhat are PSAPs?

PSAP stands for Personal Sound Amplification Product.

They are available at Target or Walmart or Amazon for a fraction of the price of a traditional physician-prescribed hearing aid.

BUT…they can’t actually be called hearing aids and they can’t be marketed as a treatment for hearing loss. That’s because they are currently not regulated as medical devices by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA will only allow them to be sold as sound “amplifiers” to help with recreational activities, such as hunting, bird watching or eavesdropping  😉

Not being hard of hearing … Continue reading

Deprescribing prescription drugs

What is deprescribing?

As an advocate for less medicine and better health, I love the latest healthcare trend of “deprescribing,” or cutting down the number of prescription drugs a patient is taking.

Dr. Aaron Carroll of Healthcare Triage explains the importance of deprescribing in this video:

Polypharmacy—taking multiple prescription drugs—has become much more common over the last couple of decades. There are more drugs than ever on the market, and the drug companies are spending billions of dollars to make sure we know all about them.

Related post: Bohemian Polypharmacy

The elderly are especially … Continue reading

How to choose a dentist that’s right for you

how to choose a dentistThe best tip? Take your time and ask lots of questions

I’ve been exchanging emails this week with a friend who is in the market for a new dentist.

Like me, she expects good value for her money. She doesn’t want to feel like a cash cow and have unnecessary x-rays, procedures of questionable benefit, or expensive cosmetic dentistry.

She wants a dental office that’s clean and well managed, and a dentist she can feel comfortable talking to about costs. Someone who will answer her questions clearly and then let her decide what is best for her health and her … Continue reading

Make safety a priority this Fourth of July!

fireworks injuriesAny nurse who has worked in an emergency department, especially in a children’s hospital, dreads the Fourth of July.

We’ve seen what fireworks can do to a hand. Or a face. It’s not pretty. (Look on YouTube if you don’t believe me.)

Every state has its own laws on what fireworks are legal. Many cities and communities ban fireworks because of fire danger.

But even legal fireworks are risky and bans don’t necessarily stop people from doing stupid things.

The American Academy of Pediatrics makes this statement on their website:

​The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) continues to urge families

Continue reading

Symjepi – A cheaper alternative to EpiPens. Yay.

symjepiJust last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new epinephrine auto-injector, Symjepi.

I don’t much like the name, but if it’s cheaper…!

I’ve posted several times about the skyrocketing cost of EpiPens—over 500% in the last 10 years.

Anyone who, like me, has been shocked at the pharmacy to discover how much a two-pack of EpiPens costs will be hoping Symjepi will be more affordable.

It won’t be available on the market until later this year, so I don’t know yet how much it will cost. But Adamis Pharmceuticals, the company that makes Symjepi, … Continue reading

Premium increases for 2018. Ouch.

My peek into the future

Health insurance companies in my state finally submitted their requests for 2018 rate hikes.

Usually I can look up this info online by mid-May, but all the partisan and intra-party bickering over the future of healthcare in this country has left insurance companies scratching their figurative heads over how to price next year’s policies.

I remember a time when I never gave my health insurance much thought. Like my car or home insurance, it didn’t change much year to year, and was simply there when I needed it.

But for the last ten years or … Continue reading

Contrast baths for arthritis pain

contrast bathsArthritis is a pain

I have osteoarthritis. I also have carpal tunnel and some other overuse injuries that are a result of using my hands a lot over the years.

Arthritis runs in my family, but some level of arthritis is just a natural part of aging.

(I don’t mean rheumatoid arthritis, which is a different animal. It’s an autoimmune disease that affects the whole body and can strike at an early age.)

I can live with my hand and foot pain during the day when I’m active and not thinking about it much. But at night when I’m trying … Continue reading

Sleepio and SHUTi: Online sleep therapy

sleepioWe’re not sleeping enough

Sleeplessness is epidemic in this country.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) consider insomnia a public health issue and report that at least 35% of adults don’t get a good night’s sleep.

Judging from my circle of friends, I think the percentage is much higher than that!

Insomnia and daytime fatigue make life miserable and contribute to chronic illness. Drowsy drivers cause accidents. Drowsy employees cause on-the-job injuries.

Sleeping pills (hypnotics) are the go-to treatment in the US. Drugs like zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta) and suvorexant (Belsomra).

Related post: Belsomra—Use with caution

But they have side … Continue reading

Homemade yogurt – Easy, healthy and delicious

homemade yogurtAnd frugal, too!

I’m so lucky because my husband LOVES making homemade yogurt.

Several years ago, I bought him a yogurt maker for Christmas. He told me once that he used to make his own yogurt when he was in college, so I thought he would enjoy trying it again.

He sure did!  😀

Homemade yogurt has become a staple in our diet, and it is so superior to store-bought brands, I can’t even describe it. You need to eat some to understand.

Anyone who loves yogurt should try making it at home. It’s easy to do with either an … Continue reading

June is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

alzheimer's awareness monthAnd brain health awareness, too!

At this time, there is no drug or treatment to prevent Alzheimer’s or dementia. The best advice is that what is good for your heart is good for your brain, too.

Related post: Don’t buy supplements to prevent Alzheimer’s

Embracing a healthy lifestyle is our best chance to reduce the risk of developing dementia as we age.

That means moderate physical exercise every day, a calorie-appropriate diet full of a wide variety of nutrients, and lots of mental stimulation.

Related post: Do “brain games” prevent dementia?

Socializing and mental exercises help improve brain … Continue reading

Stop the Bleeding – First aid tips to control bleeding

stop the bleedingSurgeons want the public to learn this skill

I taught first aid classes for the American Red Cross for many years. To control excessive bleeding, we showed students how to apply pressure directly on a wound, or at pressure points in the groin and upper arm.

We did not teach how to use a tourniquet. The Red Cross deemed this technique to be potentially dangerous and beyond the skill set of most lay responders.

I told this to a surgeon friend once, and he was amazed. He said “The Red Cross needs to get its head into the 21st century.”Continue reading

Frugal Nurse tips for a safe summer

I’m writing this on Memorial Day while gazing out my window at an (unusually) sunny and warm Seattle day.

We’re on the cusp of summer!  😎

Here is a collection of some of my most popular posts about staying safe during the summer, including information about sunscreens and insect repellents, and first aid tips for burns, bites and too much sun. Stay safe! FN

Be informed – What is SPF?

An SPF rating is an estimate of how effectively a sunscreen product reduces the time it takes your skin to burn.  Some sunscreens use chemical barriers, like oxybenzone, and others … Continue reading

Choosing Wisely: 5 Questions to ask your doctor

choosing wisely 5 questionsCutting the waste

I’ve posted several times about the Choosing Wisely campaign.

Developed by Consumer Reports and the American Board of Internal Medicine, Choosing Wisely hopes to educate both physicians and patients, and cut back or eliminate unnecessary medical tests, procedures and treatments.

Over-testing and over-treatment are estimated to cost about $200 billion every year. I think that’s a conservative figure, as the financial—not to mention emotional—consequences of too much medicine can be difficult to quantify.

Bringing about change in our behemoth, for-profit healthcare system is a daunting task, and I’m always happy to see signs that it’s catching Continue reading