Beware health charity scams

Stories like this make me so angry: Cancer Charities Called $187 Million “Sham”

A group of family members whose charities claimed to be raising millions of dollars for cancer victims bilked donors to the tune of $187 million over five years, spending some of that money on fancy cars and trips for themselves and their friends, according to a civil suit.

The alleged fraud, which would be one of the largest-ever involving a charity, was detailed in a complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission, all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It describes four connected groups, all with

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What nurses know (and you don’t)

nursesThere is a new book I can’t wait to read: The Nurses: A Year of Secrets, Drama, and Miracles with the Heroes of the Hospital by Alexandra Robbins.

The author wrote a preview of the book for Politico this week.

If you want to know what’s really happening in a medical building, don’t ask a doctor. Instead, turn to the best-informed, hardest-working and savviest professionals in health care: Nurses.

Many nurses call their profession—3.5 million strong in the United States and more than 20 million worldwide—a “secret club.” In the years I spent going behind the scenes in hospitals, I

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Atul Gawande – Overtreament, “Overkill”

A friend of mine who is an avid reader of both The New Yorker and my blog sent me the following link: Overkill: An avalanche of unnecessary medical care is harming patients physically and financially. What can we do about it?

The author is Atul Gawande, MD, one of my favorite surgeon/writers. It’s a long article, but if you are interested in saving money on your health care (and possibly saving your health), I encourage you to take time to read it.

I have posted many times about America’s obsession with overtreatment—too many tests, too many specialists, too many … Continue reading

What is Teladoc?

I just received an email from my insurance company, Premera Blue Cross.

Dear subscriber, talk to a real doctor anytime, anywhere!

Set up your account with Teladoc.

And get medical care anytime, anywhere for $40 or less.

You and your eligible dependents can now get care from U.S. board-certified doctors and pediatricians by phone or online video with Teladoc®.

A real doctor? I’m not sure why they felt it necessary to add that adjective.

But aside from that, I was intrigued by the idea that my insurance company wanted to support, even encourage, my family’s use of telemedicine, so I … Continue reading

Tanning beds and skin cancer

tanning beds and skin cancerLast month a nurse posted this selfie on her Facebook page with the following message:

If anyone needs a little motivation to not lay in the tanning bed and sun here ya go! This is what skin cancer treatment can look like. Wear sunscreen and get a spray tan. You only get one skin and you should take care of it. Learn from other people’s mistakes. Don’t let tanning prevent you from seeing your children grow up. That’s my biggest fear now that I have a two year old little boy of my own.

I hope a picture is worth … Continue reading

Chaparral – When herbs turn deadly

I ran into an old acquaintance a few days ago. As we got caught up, he asked “Do you remember Michael?”

“Yes,” I replied. “But I haven’t seen him in years. How is he?”

“He’s dead.”

“Wow, what happened?” I inquired. Michael was relatively young, in his forties. I thought perhaps an accident or a heart attack or cancer.

“Chaparral poisoning. It destroyed his liver.” Huh.

I had never heard of chaparral, but as soon as I’d finished chatting with my friend, I googled it.

Chaparral (aka larrea) is a shrub native to the southwest. It’s also known as the … Continue reading

FDA seeks to change drug advertising messages

Are you tired of flipping through magazines and seeing three-page ads for prescription drugs? Or listening to a commercial that fast talks through a seemingly endless list of side effects and dangers?

Well, if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has its way, you will see a change in how pharmaceutical companies are allowed to advertise their products.

Marketing drugs is a big business. In 2013, BigPharma’s Top 10 companies spent $98.3 billion promoting their drugs. Advertising that is targeted specifically at the patient is called direct-to-consumer marketing, or DTC.

Last year, Pfizer alone spent $1.4 billion on DTC … Continue reading

Googling doctors

Too funny.

I just read this post on the popular medical blog, KevinMD: How do patients really feel about doctors? Google shares their secrets.

While Google’s autocomplete can be quite convenient, albeit creepy, it can also be pretty mean. I decided to see how Google’s autocomplete felt about various medical specialties. Apparently a lot of specialties are stupid and useless.

The author shares the following examples:

googling doctors

googling doctors

googling doctors

googling doctors

Well, I was a surgical nurse and I have to agree that a lot of surgeons are jerks, but certainly not all of them. And calling gynecologists evil seems a bit extreme, doesn’t … Continue reading

Exercises for snoring and sleep apnea

It’s no secret that as we age we have to be more diligent about exercise to keep our muscles toned and flexible, and maintain a healthy body weight.

The same is true of the tissue inside our throats. Flabby throat muscles and fatty tissue cause snoring and sleep apnea. Poor quality sleep affects not only the patient, but anyone sleeping (or trying to) within hearing distance.

The typical solution given to most patients seeking help is the CPAP, a bulky machine that applies air pressure through a nasal mask as you sleep. It keeps the airways open so you can … Continue reading

Calcium and vitamin D tracking app

calcium and vitamin d appI’ve written several posts on calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is an important nutrient, but most evidence suggests we need to get more calcium in what we eat, rather than supplements.

It’s the same with vitamin D. We need to eat a variety of foods that are rich in vitamin D and also spend more time in the sunshine. There is no data at this time to support vitamin D supplements.

Related post: Healthy adults don’t need multivitamins

But it’s difficult to follow the recommended intake levels of both nutrients. Every day I try to eat foods … Continue reading