Category: Health

Riding A Hobby Horse

| January 28, 2014 | 1 Reply
Riding A Hobby Horse

Hobby Lobby is suing to be exempted from certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act.  The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case . . . The question at the heart of this is, should a company be forced to pay for things with which it has a moral objection? [More . . . ]

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Problems with Orifices

| January 18, 2014 | 2 Replies

What kinds of things do people stick into their orifices? It’s limited only by their imagination, it seems. This article summarizes hospital reports and it’s an eye-opener—wait, I shouldn’t have said that, because some of you might now try to stick something in your eye. The data comes from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System.

Here’s a sample of things people stuck into their ears:

Ear:
SEED
PAINTBRUSH
“SOME BALLS”
SLAG
MAKEUP BRUSH
PATIENT TOLD PARENTS THAT THE CATS STUCK SOMETHING IN HER EAR
GASOLINE
BUTTERFLY
HERSHEY KISS
“CLASSMATE PUT A ROCK IN EAR, HAS PIECE OF PAPER IN OTHER EAR”

Check out the article for lots more.

But now I must mention that I once attended a deposition of a doctor in Atlanta. On his bookshelf, he had a big jar of screws, nails, coins, nuts and bolts and other metal things. It all weighed more than a pound. The doctor related that a man came to the ER complaining that he didn’t feel good. An x-ray revealed all of this crap in his stomach. The medical staff did surgery to take it all out. Shortly thereafter, “the man died of something else.” Go figure.

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How to make things

| January 15, 2014 | Reply

I really enjoyed these mesmerizing videos demonstrating how many types of things are manufactured. Fascinating. Life would be so very different without our factories. Some would say for the better, but I don’t agree at all. I don’t want to spend the time to make my own food from scratch or create clothes. That would take immense amounts of time away from things I prefer to do.

This topic reminds me of Jared Diamond’s Germs, Guns and Steel, in which he describes a culture that spends most of every live long day harvesting, mashing and cooking their basic food substance. They can never get to libraries or any sort of technology because every day is a battle to gather enough food. Here’s a description from Wikipedia:

The first step towards civilization is the move from nomadic hunter-gatherer to rooted agrarian. Several conditions are necessary for this transition to occur: 1) access to high protein vegetation that endures storage; 2) a climate dry enough to allow storage; 3) access to animals docile enough for domestication and versatile enough to survive captivity. Control of crops and livestock leads to food surpluses. Surplus frees people up to specialize in activities other than sustenance and supports population growth. The combination of specialization and population growth leads to the accumulation of social and technologic innovations which build on each other. Large societies develop ruling classes and supporting bureaucracies, which in turn lead to the organization of nation states and empires.

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Excellent stop-smoking ad

| January 5, 2014 | Reply

I found this video of a stop-smoking ad on Facebook and wanted to share it here too:

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Physicians’ gag order regarding fracking to be re-evaluated

| December 22, 2013 | Reply

Amazing that such a law could be passed in the first place. From Alternet.

Challenges by Pennsylvania citizens and townships on provisions in the law that prohibit doctors from telling patients about health impacts related to fracking chemicals were sent back to Commonwealth Court for reevaluation. The “physician gag order” (or “ frack gag“) was recently challenged by a doctor who claimed it infringed on his First Amendment rights and his duties as a doctor, but his challenge was thrown out by a Pennsylvania court in October. The Supreme Court’s decision to send the Commonwealth Court’s decision back down for re-evaluation spells trouble for the gag order. Doctors have expressed concern over this rule in Pennsylvania and what it means for their patients — a report from Pennsylvania documented a range of health problems affecting residents living near natural gas operations, including skin rashes, headaches and chronic pain.

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On the failures of Obamacare

| October 30, 2013 | 2 Replies

I’m reading a lot about the recent problems with Obamacare. For everyone complaining about this new program, however, I would ask “You say Obamacare is bad, but compared to what?”

I’m on COBRA, having left a job a few months ago. I shopped around on the open market PRE-Obamacare. The prices were already high, even for high-deductible coverage. My wife, who walks briskly every day and who is in very good health was deemed uninsurable because of four separate reasons, all of which were total bullshit (one was that she broke her ankle last year, and it had substantially healed by the time we applied for coverage). The for-profit insurance companies have been out there cherry-picking and leaving families in desperate straights. I know of one family that has been paying almost $40,000/ year because two children are fighting depression and the husband has some physical injuries (though he is working). This is all PRE-Obamacare. For all of those people who want to blame Obamacare I would like to remind them that things were terrible before Obamacare. Coverage was shrinking and prices sky-rocketing BEFORE Obamacare.

Not that I’m a big fan of Obamacare–we need Medicare for all–some reasonable level of care for all Americans, combined with many of the strategies offered by “Bitter Pill,” the blockbuster Time Magazine article published a few months ago. We were lucky to get anything at all accomplished in Congress given the abject corruption. There are many aspects of the so-called health care system that need immense rehab, and Congress is not up to the task. Half of Congress wants to destroy Obamacare and replace it with “Fend for yourself, and good luck not getting fleeced by huge profit-driven companies, including all of those huge “non-profit” hospitals who are gobbling up your favorite doctor’s medical practices.”

I fear for many people out there. Too bad ordinary folks can’t afford lobbyists. If they did, we could bring some sanity to the prices charged by many providers and Big Pharma. Finally, as Dylan Ratigan has written, we also need to reconceptualize health care as “Help me, my family and friends live long and prosper” instead of “Don’t let me or anyone I know die.” We need to have courage to face our deaths with dignity in order to reset our priorities in a meaningful way, but there is no sign that this is likely.

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The re-framing necessary to move away from talk of health care death panels

| October 23, 2013 | Reply

Here’s another excellent and succinct analysis by Dylan Ratigan, part of an mass emailing he recently sent out. Allowing conservatives to argue about “death panels” is a big mistake and here’s why — and BTW, the time to make policy is not as we gather around very sick people challenging each other as to who can spend the most to to extending someone’s last breaths by 3 months, bankrupting healthcare in the process. We need to grow up and get our heads out of fantasy-land. Let’s redefine healthcare in terms of sustainable and meaningful goals. Ironically, there is date that those who claim to be most confident in the existence of an afterlife insist on the highest rate of last-minute desperate expenditures. Here’s Dylan’s email:

Dear Friends,

Generally speaking, there are only two ways to earn money.

1. Charge a fee for goods or services.

2. Charge a mutually agreed upon percentage based on a future outcome based on the newly created value. This percentage can be in the form of equity or commission.

As it stands, healthcare in America is based on the first model. This creates a system with many, high fees generated by acute and traumatic care. The chart above, from this report by the International Federation of Health Plans, shows how much we are paying compared to the rest of the world:

In reality, this care is for only 5 percent of us at a given moment, yet accounts for 50 percent of what each of us spend on the service regardless of whether or not we are using it.

If this unfortunate reality upsets you, please relax…close your eyes….and imagine for a moment a healthcare model that uses the second model of income generation. One that is based on equity or commission based on a future outcome.

[More . . . ]

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Make that call to your elected representative – Make some noise.

| October 4, 2013 | 2 Replies

Here’s what’s on my mind. Many of us care deeply about social and political issues, and it does feel good to clarify each other’s thoughts here on FB, but it doesn’t change politicians views. I’ve ranted about U.S. warmongering online for almost a decade, and it hasn’t changed America’s obsession with war as the first tool of choice for attempting to “fix” social conflict.

Last week, I got a robocall from a voice that told me that Obamacare is going to destroy the United States. I don’t believe that. I also believe that Obamacare is full of flaws (I think the U.S. should guarantee ALL citizens a reasonable minimum level of health care doing an end-around private insurers, based on what is sustainable in terms of the overall budget–I would much rather prefer Medicare for all to Obamacare).

This robocall said to “Hit 1, to be transferred to Senator Blunt.” I hit 1. A man from Roy Blunt’s office answered the call and proceeded to horribly misrepresent several aspects of Obamacare. He proceed to tell me that his poll of choice showed that people from Missouri are heavily against the things offered by Obamacare. I told him that I didn’t trust the methodology and that I know 1,000 people who are not against the things offered by Obamacare. He tried to get off the phone. I challenged him to stay on the phone. I asked him whether there weren’t SOME decent aspects of Obamacare, such as eliminating exclusions for pre-existing conditions. He hemmed and hawed. He told me that costs will go up under Obamacare. I responded, “Costs for health insurance rose throughout the 8 years of George W. Bush. They go up regardless of who is the President.” I kept this twerp on the phone for 5 painful minutes (painful for both of us), and challenged Senator Blunt to do SOMETHING so that in a nation that has more resources than most, we don’t have people dying for lack of medical treatment. He actually seemed to be agreeing with me a bit at the end.

[More . . . ]

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Ralph Nader discusses a better approach to hernia repair surgery

| July 17, 2013 | 2 Replies

This article at Common Dreams is ostensibly a discussion about hernia repair surgery, namely, an option to be treated more humanely and cheaply in Canada than in the U.S. The discussion turns to deeper criticisms of the American way of providing healthcare, however.

Too many general surgeons and hospitals have on average over 10 times the rate of recurrence, four times the rate of infection, and often use expensive mesh both to replace lack of surgical skill and to speed up the operation. Plus they charge much more before they quickly say “sayonara.”

The Shouldice [Hospital, outside of Toronto] procedure is described by hospital officials as a “natural tissue repair that combines the surgical technique with the body’s natural ability to heal,” and takes, on average, forty-five minutes to complete. Except in rare circumstances, “the technique does not use artificial prosthetic material such as mesh because mesh can introduce unnecessary complications such as infections or migration, dramatically increasing the cost of the operation. Shouldice does not use laparoscopic technology because of the potential intestinal punctures and bladder and blood vessel injuries, which may lead to infection and peritonitis.” Shouldice staff note that laparoscopic surgery also requires general anesthesia and hugely higher costs for disposable items per surgery than is the case at their hospital.

There are about one million abdominal wall hernia operations yearly in the U.S. Hospitals and general surgeons for the most part do not use the Shouldice Procedure. Still the deplorable “quick and dirty” that invites overuse of mesh – about 80 percent of the patients – has become a perverse incentive for higher billings in the United States. Superior talent is needed for the more natural procedure used by Shouldice.

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