In the market for a new hospital?
This last week I’ve spent quite a bit of time researching hospitals online. Why?
First, I recently posted about the book, Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won’t Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care, which questions the safety standards of American hospitals. The author, Dr. Marty Makary, writes about the difficulties both patients and patient safety advocates have in choosing and evaluating hospitals when the necessary information is not made public.
Second, my family is in the process of choosing both a new insurance plan and a new hospital and doctors. Our… Continue reading
Shining a light on the physician-Big Pharma relationship
One of the little-known laws buried in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, which takes effect today.
I understand the impetus of this law, but I am less sure of its positive effect.
The Sunshine Act (the drafters no doubt had a mental image of exposing something slimy to the light) seeks to illuminate the financial relationships between doctors/teaching hospitals and drug companies/medical device manufacturers.
Conflicts of interest and questionable ethics have been problems for years as public funding has decreased and private industry money has … Continue reading
US News & World Report publishes hospital rankings for 2013
And the winner is…Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore! Great, but what does that mean?
Every July US News & World Report publishes a list of what it considers to be the best hospitals in America.
The rankings are mostly based on an analysis of death rates for certain complicated procedures, patient safety statistics acquired from Medicare data, and a physician survey (which hospital do you think is best?)
Because the analysis requires enough patient data to make a judgement, the list is dominated by large, urban, university-affiliated medical centers. Like … Continue reading
The “sleep supplement”
I am a chronically poor sleeper, and I have tried melatonin, the sleep supplement, in the past. I have friends that swear by it, but it never worked for me.
Plus, I could never get a straight answer from any source about the therapeutic dosage – 1 mg, 3 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg? Should I only take it as needed, or is melatonin safe to take every night, forever?
As a supplement (it’s actually a hormone), melatonin falls under the extremely loose guidelines of the Dietary Supplement Health And Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994. It … Continue reading
It seems to have been a busy week in health care news, and I found it difficult to settle on what interested me the most. But here are my picks:
Coke for breakfast?
Apparently that is one of the marketing strategies Coca-Cola is considering to increase its sales in the United Kingdom. It is not clear whether they mean to actually pitch the idea that a Coke would be a great accompaniment to a bowl of oatmeal (maybe an Egg McMuffin) or they mean to develop a new line of beverages to compete with tea and coffee. But sales of … Continue reading
Being a responsible consumer
There is a growing trend in health care for patients – consumers – to take more control of their own health care.
This trend is not really new. Ever since drug companies have been allowed to advertise their products on TV (1997), they have urged consumers to “talk to your doctor about [whatever the latest and greatest drug is].” They have been able to continue this practice because the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) actually believes them when they say their only goal is to empower “consumers to interact with physicians more effectively.”
Of course the Food … Continue reading
Beware false advertising
As often happens on the internet, while looking for information about one thing, I stumbled across something else I found interesting.
In 2011, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Procter & Gamble for “false labels” on one of their toothpastes. The toothpaste, Crest Sensitivity Treatment & Protection, advertised “relief within minutes” from sensitive tooth pain.
The label promised that users did not “have to wait to enjoy all [their] favorite hot and cold foods.”
Who filed the claim against Procter & Gamble? Colgate-Palmolive, the makers of the line of Colgate toothpastes, including Colgate Sensitive.
The lawsuit … Continue reading
The other day I was in Target shopping for toothpaste, and I thought, “Wow, do Americans really need this many toothpastes?”
At first glance I couldn’t even find the toothpaste I normally use, no doubt because the packaging had changed. It’s probably “new and improved.” Aren’t they all?
Ignoring the hyperbole of “advanced”, “intense” and “extreme”, I started looking at the ingredient lists on the backs of the boxes. I know exactly which ingredients I want to see to get the most effective toothpaste at the lowest price.
For me, the most important ingredient in a toothpaste is fluoride. … Continue reading
The sunshine supplement
Last week I learned that my vitamin D level is slightly below normal. My physician recommended that I take a daily vitamin D supplement of 1000 to 2000 IU.
I didn’t want the test, but what’s done is done. Now I need to decide what the test result means to me, and if I should follow my doctor’s recommendation.
A few years ago, vitamin D was the new wonder supplement. Various studies associated a low vitamin D level with an increased incidence of all kinds of diseases, including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, prostate cancer, breast cancer, … Continue reading
The news media recently picked up a report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that stated: “…11 percent of school-age children…have received a medical diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.” Boys are diagnosed twice as often as girls.
Some experts in pediatric psychology and psychiatry are concerned that ADHD is being diagnosed too hastily and treated too recklessly with prescription medications, specifically Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta. Sales of these drugs reached $9 billion in 2012. Overall health care costs related to ADHD are in the tens of billions of dollars—and will increase right along with the diagnoses.
Are there … Continue reading