More outbreaks of preventable diseases
Always disturbing to me are the news stories about outbreaks of deadly, crippling diseases—pertussis, measles, polio—that can be safely and effectively prevented by vaccination.
The most recent measles outbreak is in Ohio.
The Ohio outbreak, like ongoing outbreaks in California and elsewhere, has been linked to unvaccinated travelers bringing the measles virus back from countries where the disease remains common. In Ohio, all of the cases have been among the Amish, health officials say. The outbreak began after Amish missionaries returned from the Philippines. The Philippines is experiencing a large, ongoing measles outbreak with
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A bad drug deal
I’ve been following the release of the new pain drug Zohydro with some interest.
In October 2013 Zogenix, a pharmaceutical company, received FDA approval for its “new”* extended-release hydrocodone capsule, Zohydro (Zogenix + hydrocodone—get it?).
My first thought was, “I wonder what that will cost?” (Answer: A lot)
My second thought was, “Do we really need another highly addictive, deadly, opioid drug that will easily make it’s way into the wrong hands?” (Answer: No, we do not! These drugs are already responsible for more deaths every year than illegal drugs.)
So I was interested to see … Continue reading
What is too much medicine and why is it bad?
I’ve talked about it before: Health care costs are crazy high; the cost of insurance is increasing to meet those costs; and more patients than ever are being harmed by the treatment that is supposed to help them.
The overuse of medical care is directly responsible, and increased patient (consumer) awareness is needed to help turn this trend around.
Reading The Treatment Trap: How the Overuse of Medical Care is Wrecking Your Health and What You Can Do to Prevent It by Rosemary Gibson and Janardan Prasad Singh would be … Continue reading
Educating patients and doctors
I’m a big fan of the Choosing Wisely® campaign sponsored by the ABIM Foundation, a non-profit group established by the American Board of Internal Medicine.
Why? Because the campaign’s objective is to reduce the number of unnecessary and potentially harmful (not to mention expensive) medical procedures being done in the US.
Choosing Wisely® aims to promote conversations between physicians and patients by helping patients choose care that is:
- Supported by evidence
- Not duplicative of other tests or procedures already received
- Free from harm
- Truly necessary
In response to this challenge, national organizations representing medical specialists
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A musical plea to stop over medication
I ran across this informative and creative YouTube video on one of my favorite blogs, Health News Review by Gary Schwitzer.
I don’t know how James McCormack, Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of British Columbia, finds time to produce these videos, but I’m a big fan. His latest is “Bohemian Polypharmacy” – a parody of Queen’s classic song “Bohemian Rhapsody” – a song all about polypharmacy – taking more medicines than are clinically indicated.
The vocals and the new lyrics are awesome, especially if you … Continue reading
My husband asked me the other day, “What’s Non-24?”
“Never heard of it,” I answered. “Why?”
“Oh, I just heard a commercial on the radio. Whatever it is, I think there’s a drug for it now.” He knows I like to keep track of all the new drugs being marketed to an unsuspecting public.
Interesting, I thought. I know the pharmaceutical industry’s trick of developing a drug for a condition, re-labeling the condition as a disease, giving it a catchy name, and then kicking off an ad campaign to “increase public awareness” of this horrible (and now treatable!) disease.… Continue reading
The latest report
Most of my nursing career was in breast cancer, so I like to stay current on the most recent research on screening, diagnosis and treatment.
Earlier this week, the British Medical Journal released a pretty stunning report:
In conclusion, our data show that annual mammography does not result in a reduction in breast cancer specific mortality for women aged 40-59.
In normal language that translates to “annual mammograms don’t save lives.”
Aaron Carroll, MD, writes on his blog:
This study is going to make a whole lot of people upset. It’s a large, well designed
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Tamiflu makers trolling for money
We are well into flu season, and in another egregious direct-to-consumer advertising campaign, the makers of the anti-viral drug Tamiflu (Roche) are broadcasting a commercial encouraging people to—what else?—“Ask your doctor about Tamiflu.”
The thing about Tamiflu is that to have any chance of being effective, it must be prescribed within, ideally, 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.
And the commercial says this, more or less: “The flu comes on fast. Don’t wait! Call your doctor right away.”
No. Do wait.
When I first saw this commercial, I thought, “Yikes. How many people … Continue reading
The anatomy of a prolonged death
In 2001, author Katy Butler’s father suffered a stroke. Thus began her and her family’s long journey through our health care system detailed in Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death.
After his death, I would not rest until I understood better why the most advanced medical care on earth, which saved my father’s life at least once when he was a young man, succeeded at the end mainly in prolonging his suffering.
During vigorous rehabilitation to regain strength following the stroke, Ms. Butler’s father developed a hernia—a … Continue reading
Last week I discussed my worry that doctors would no longer have relationships with patients, but rather would plug us into pre-determined screening, diagnostic and treatment “pathways” without much regard for our personal stories.
Then I read the book When Doctors Don’t Listen: How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Tests by two ER physicians, Leana Wen, MD, and Joshua Kosowsky, MD.
And they agree “cookbook” medicine is a problem. They see it all the time in the emergency rooms.
Medicine has morphed from thoughtful engagement between doctors and patients to cookie-cutter recipes that regard all individuals alike…this cookbook
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