A few months ago I posted about a new website that could help you find the Number Needed to Treat, aka the NNT.
How many people need to be treated with a drug or procedure before one person is helped? That’s the NNT.
It’s a tool I wish more patients and physicians used. Medical interventions should be limited to those that are proven to work for more people than not.
That seems like a pretty simple aim, doesn’t it? But you’d be surprised how many commonly used treatments are either useless or do more harm than good.
Aaron Carroll, … Continue reading
A study coming out of Harvard this week reveals that ordinary headaches are being overtreated, and it’s costing billions of extra dollars in health care spending.
Each year more than 12 million Americans visit their doctors complaining of headaches, which result in lost productivity and costs of upward of $31 billion annually. A new study by researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) suggests some of that cost could be offset by physicians ordering fewer tests and an increased focus on counseling about lifestyle changes.
The study looked at over 9,000 doctor visits for headaches over a 10-year … Continue reading
Here’s another great video from Healthcare Triage by Aaron Carroll, MD, on the overuse of antibiotics.
I’ve posted on this topic a few times. Whether it’s physicians prescribing unnecessary antibiotics because they think it’s what the patient wants, or patients demanding antibiotics because it’s what they think they need, too many antibiotics are still being prescribed.
Antibiotic prescriptions are particularly abundant during the cold and flu season, even though the vast majority of colds, coughs and sinus infections are viral and don’t need antibiotics.
Save your … Continue reading
I read a disturbing article in MedPage Today—Metformin: A Great Lakes Disaster?
Metformin is one of the most common drugs used to treat Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, which is mostly a lifestyle disease (obesity), is epidemic in the United States. Seventy million prescriptions for metformin were dispensed in 2013. That year the cost of treating type 2 diabetes, just for the drugs, was $23 billion.
But the environment is paying, too.
Researchers have found high levels of metformin in Lake Michigan—and this is water after it has been treated in the sewage plants.
More importantly, according
… Continue reading
It’s a funny video about a serious topic.
I love the health care parody videos that occasionally show up on YouTube.
This one—to the tune of Taylor Swift’s “We are never getting back together”— is from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and sends a message to those people seeking narcotics from emergency rooms.
I know there are people with legitimate pain issues that need narcotic medications. Most times, health care providers can easily determine if a patient is legit or just a drug seeker.
… Continue reading
I’ve posted before about my deep disappointment in Dr. Oz. Once a brilliant heart surgeon, he has, in my humble opinion, thrown his career and integrity away to hustle sketchy weight-loss supplements to an eager and sometimes desperate audience.
Related post: Dr. Oz – Pitchman for profit
And I’ve never been comfortable watching the medical tips proffered by the photogenic docs on The Doctors. I especially distrust the smooth and stylish plastic surgeon’s weight loss and anti-aging advice. He’s mostly drumming up business for his colleagues (I wonder if they pay him?).
So I was pleased to learn … Continue reading
I very much agreed with the author of the recent article in The Atlantic titled The Cold-Medicine Racket.
There are now hundreds of flashy “cold and flu” products, but still only a handful of simple, cheap ingredients.
Yes! Every time I’m at the grocery or drug store I see displays and shelves full of the latest and greatest cold products, and I’m always stunned by how much they cost.
I’ve posted many times about these pricey over-the-counter drugs: what works, what doesn’t, and which products are the best value.
Related post: Save money on cold medications
First, I would … Continue reading
I had a good laugh last week when I read the following news story: Ibuprofen adds 12 years to life! Cheap painkillers can slow ageing and fight disease.
The author explains:
In laboratory tests, ibuprofen was found to extend the lives of worms and flies by the equivalent of about 12 years in human terms.
Which means, according to the author:
Regular doses of ibuprofen could allow people to live up to 12 years longer.
Wow, that’s really leaping to a conclusion. But how many people read this article and then ran to the pharmacy to grab some … Continue reading
I posted a couple weeks ago about how the prices of many generic drugs have been rising to crazy heights over the last 18 months.
Here’s another post by a health care advocate with some more tips for trying to save money on generics.
Unless your health plan’s drug formulary covers your medication, you might be out of luck. A drug formulary is a list of prescription drugs, both generic and brand, that are preferred by your health plan.
If you’re shopping for health plans now during open open enrollment (November through February, 2015) you might ask if the medications
… Continue reading
Lack of support for vitamin D
I’ve written several posts on vitamin D. That’s because it’s one of my pet peeves.
Because there was a lot of hype surrounding it several years ago when it became the latest health care fad. Suddenly a low vitamin D level was suspected of contributing to many types of cancer and chronic diseases. Physicians began testing everyone’s vitamin D levels and recommending vitamin D supplements, either over-the-counter or a stronger prescription form.
Further research on vitamin D, however, has not provided evidence that general screening for low vitamin D levels is helpful, … Continue reading