Tag: Medicine

Colonoscopies: a sure way to save thousands of lives every year.

November 20, 2009 | By | 3 Replies More
Colonoscopies: a sure way to save thousands of lives every year.

Every year 50,000 Americans die of colon cancer or rectal cancer (combined, they are referred to as colorectal cancer). If Americans over 50 years of age (and those in other higher risk categories) were screened for colorectal cancer as recommended, 80% of these cancer deaths could be avoided.

These numbers are staggering. To put them in perspective, about 3,000 Americans died during the 9/11 attacks, which caused this country to become apoplectic to the point where it started an entirely needless war that is currently in its seventh year. Needlessly undiagnosed colon cancer takes the lives of more than ten times as many Americans as 9/11 every year. Needlessly undiagnosed colon cancer killed enough Americans over the past twelve months to fill an entire major league baseball stadium. So where is the “war on colon cancer?

My insurance company just send me a mailer reminding me of the importance of obtaining a colonoscopy, the gold standard for detecting and preventing colorectal cancer. The statistics are so stark that it would be irrational for anyone to not proceed with this procedure, even though going through with it are less than pleasant.

Given that I’m 53 and I’ve never had such a procedure, I signed up. I started looking for information on the internet and found this highly informative video introduced by Katie Couric and featuring Dr. Jon LaPook, a gastroenterologist, who undergoes a colonoscopy on camera to demonstrate both the preparation and the procedure. After viewing this video, the entire thing looks a lot less daunting.


Watch CBS News Videos Online

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Huffington quackery

July 29, 2009 | By | 1 Reply More
Huffington quackery

Over at Salon.com, Rahul K. Parikh, M.D. makes a strong case that the Huffington Post is not strong on vetting their health and wellness contributors:

But when it comes to health and wellness, that diverse forum [Huffpo] seems defined mostly by bloggers who are friends of Huffington or those who mirror her own advocacy of alternative medicine, described in her books and in many magazine profiles of her. Among others, the site has given a forum to Oprah Winfrey’s women’s health guru, Christiane Northrup, who believes women develop thyroid disease due to an inability to assert themselves; Deepak Chopra, who mashes up medicine and religion into self-help books and PBS infomercials; and countless others pitching cures that range from herbs to blood electrification to ozonated water to energy scans.

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More clarity Needed on Obama healthcare; Something, Anything Needed from Party of “NO!”

July 29, 2009 | By | 2 Replies More
More clarity Needed on Obama healthcare; Something, Anything Needed from Party of “NO!”

I’m concerned about some lack of clarity on health care issues from the Obama administration but, my concern is nothing compared to my disgust for the despicable declarations of “NO!” and nothing from the Republicans in Washington. Chief among the prevaricators is Republican Roy Blunt who reports there will be no GOP alternative to any Democratic plan for the reform of America’s broken healthcare system.

All we’ll hear about is “socialism” and more lies about how you won’t be able to choose your doctors or will lose your current coverage. You can see more about the President’s plan here:

First, “socialism” is government control of the means of production.

Second, no one is proposing that the entire medical “industry” be taken over by the federal government. The current legislation will allow for options to the current system. The current system is one for which I found an apropos description below [the following well-written post was published under the headline of “Still scary…” in the Letters section at the website of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reprinted with permission]:

Dear Mr. President: I am writing you today because I am outraged at the notion of involving government in healthcare decisions like they do in other countries. I believe healthcare decisions should be between myself and my doctor.

Well, that is not strictly true. I believe healthcare decisions should be between myself, my doctor, and my insurance company, which provides me a list of which doctors I can see, which specialists I can see, and has a strict policy outlining when I can and can’t see those specialists, for what symptoms, and what tests my doctors can or cannot perform for a given set of symptoms. That seems fair, because the insurance company needs to make a profit; they’re not in the business of just keeping people alive for free.

Oh, and also my employer. My employer decides what health insurance company and plans will be available to me in the first place. If I quit that job and find another, my heath insurance will be different, and I may or may not be able to see the same doctor as I had been seeing before, or receive the same treatments, or obtain the same medicines. So I believe my healthcare decisions should be between myself, the company I work for, my insurance company, and my doctor.

And the separate claims review team that will be looking over my treatment.

My health insurer might have flagged me as someone who needs a lot of healthcare, and who is therefore costing the company money. Needing to use the insurance you paid for is naturally a suspicious activity: that means that a special review team will look over my paperwork, seeing if there is any vaguely plausible reason for the company to be rid of me. They will look for loopholes in my application, irregularities in the paperwork my doctor filled out or any other situations which, like magic, mean that all the money I have paid for health insurance premiums was in fact irrelevant, null and void, and they don’t have to pay a single cent of claims because I defrauded them by neglecting to remember that I had chicken pox in sixth grade, not fifth, or that what I presumed was a bad cold in 1997 was in fact maybe-possibly-bronchitis, and I can’t possibly expect to be covered for any lung-related complaints since then. I suppose I cannot complain too much; after all, this is a crack squadron of employees whose pay is determined by how much they can reduce the healthcare costs incurred by the company. It would be irresponsible for them to not look for such loopholes.

So, Mr. President, I write to you with this demand: we are not a socialist country, one which believes the health of its citizens should come without the proper profit-loss determinations. I believe that my healthcare decisions should be between me, my insurance company plan, my insurance company’s list of approved doctors I am allowed to see and treatments I am allowed to get, my insurance company’s claims department, the insurance company doctors who have never met me, spoken to me or even personally looked at my files, my own preexisting conditions, my insurance company’s crack cost-review and retroactive cancellation and denial squads, my insurance company’s executives and board of directors, my insurance company’s profit requirements, the shareholders, my employer, and my doctor.
Anything else would be insulting.

— The Libtard
1:29 am July 26th, 2009

America needs to take better care of its citizens in critical times of need, like when we are ill. It is not any government scheme to take over the means of production to provide some basic health care for all of us. The status quo is unacceptable. If the Republicans can do no better than “NO,” it’s time for them to get out of the way. People are dying, and we can’t yet all rise from the dead.

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Health-less

July 10, 2009 | By | Reply More
Health-less

The boogeyman of Socialized Medicine is being dragged onto the field of rhetorical combat to block the move toward anything smacking of Single Payer Health Care in the United States. The argument is old and hoary by now, that adopting a system like that available in Canada or the United Kingdom would lead to a collapse of American health care. Somehow the fact that expenses might be shared and disbursed through the government will render the world’s best health care system somehow crippled inside a generation is not seriously questioned by most people. Because most people don’t know.

You can find case after case of anecdotal evidence to support the notion that British health care is worse than ours. Someone knows someone who, as the argument goes. And there is something to that. The waiting periods alone, the pigeonholing of treatment—horror stories abound which we glimpsed here when HMOs were instituted and accountants seemed to be in charge of medicine.

There is, in fact, too much information for the average American to digest much less make sense of.

Technologically, the United States has an extraordinary medical system. Unmatched in the world, despite some annoyingly negative statistics. That we achieve what we do in a country peopled by citizens who do the least for their own health than in any other country comparably empowered is amazing.

Americans eat too much. Medicine can only do so much against a rising tide of obesity related illnesses. The tradition of the doctor giving you a physical and then telling you to eat right and get some exiercise is not a quaint leftover from an age that didn’t know as much as we do—that is sound advice and more than half the battle in maintaining good health. The explosion of Type 2 diabetes in children has been alarming, and this can be tied directly to diet and exercise.

We also work longer hours under higher stress than almost anywhere else in the developed world. The need for vacations and long weekends is acute. This may sound sarcastic, but the link between stress and several major illnesses is no joke.

We are also a violent society. If one looks at emergency room statistics, it becomes quickly clear that we are a people who like to beat, stab, and shoot each other at higher levels than almost anywhere else.

What makes all these factors so overwhelming is that we have the means to do all this. Because a certain percentage, a significant percentage, of the population can afford to go to the doctor and have the consequences of all these lifestyle disasters “taken care of.”

I put all this out front because the one factor that is muted in the national debate over the rising cost of healthcare is the fact that we are, collectively, idiots. We do not do, statistically, the simplest things to avert the need for medical intervention.

The last detail in this litany has nothing to do with idiocy but with sentiment and perspective. It has been said for decades and it is true—80% of individual health expense in this country is spent in the last two years of life. We are, as a people, loathe to die and we will direct our health services to do absolutely everything to give us another day.

In Europe, such people are told to go home and die.

That sounds cold, I know, and I’m sure there are people in France and Germany and Italy with the resources to reject this advice.

But the nations as a whole are not expected to pay for it. Here we are.

Through health insurance.

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Medicating the kids . . .

June 16, 2009 | By | 6 Replies More
Medicating the kids . . .

As a parent, I have participated in many discussions regarding the medication of kids for a variety of reasons. I have friends who have kids with serious problems for whom medication has been a godsend, allowing them to function with relative normalcy. Kids who were unable to participate in a typical classroom for one behavioral issue or another.

We’ve also had many discussions about the problem of over-medicating children, and how some schools push for difficult children to receive behavioral meds, whether they truly need them or not. How some of those adult medications should perhaps not be so quickly prescribed for children. We’ve talked about education reform, changes in teaching methods and school culture and administrative philosophies that would allow for wider ranges of learning styles. I’ve heard parents rant about how unfair it is for their well-behaved child to not receive the same level of attention as the “problem kid” in the class commands, and I’ve seen them answered by the parents of said problem kids with an invitation to trade shoes, just for a day.

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Robert Reich explains the “public option” re health insurance reform.

June 14, 2009 | By | 12 Replies More
Robert Reich explains the “public option” re health insurance reform.

In this video at Bill Moyers’ Journal, Bill Moyers and and former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich rolled up their sleeves to discuss Barack Obama’s objectives regarding national health care reform, including the (potentially feasible) “public option” and (not unlikely option of) “single payor.”

The bottom line: Barack Obama has an uphill struggle against some extremely powerful (monied) interests, including the private insurers, pharmaceutical manufacturers and other profit-driven corporations that have each hired fleets of lobbyists yelling “socialism.”

At the 14-minute mark, listen to Reich describe how the financial sector has “pulled the wool over the eyes” of the Obama Administration. He warns that the lobbyists are enormously powerful, and that we need Obama and average citizens to start standing up to the lobbyists. As things are, nothing has fundamentally changed regarding the financial system, other than the financial sector’s new ability to paper over its scandalous practices and its ever-increasing massive transfer of wealth from America’s middle class to the financial sector.

In 1980, the top 1% of the country took home 9% of the total national income. By 2007, the top 1% was taking home 21% of the national purchasing power. Reich explains that the middle class has been drained of financial and government power. What has happened is that “capitalism has swallowed democracy.” Reich explains that when the government fails to set boundaries, we have the law of the jungle, and we then have super-capitalism, which is capitalism without democracy. The culprits were the lobbyists who made sure that there was no effective regulation of the financial sector.

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Patients sharing symptoms and treatment results: Patients Like Me

March 29, 2009 | By | Reply More
Patients sharing symptoms and treatment results: Patients Like Me

I just learned that there is a site called Patients Like Me, where people fighting diseases can share symptoms and treatment experiences. This is another wonderful benefit of being able to network using the Internet. It might even be a life-saver. Here’s how the site describes itself:

Whether you’re depressed, bipolar, anxious, obsessive-compulsive, or simply want to monitor your mood fluctuations, this is the online community for you. By sharing your symptoms, treatments and mood charts, you can gain insight into what affects your mood while helping others learn from your experiences. Create a profile today to begin taking control of your health. Imagine knowing every medication, supplement, or device used to treat your disease. Imagine knowing what treatments work for people just like you — and having the ability to easily connect with those people. That’s what makes PatientsLikeMe different. Patients share their treatments and outcomes not just to help themselves, but to help others. Become part of making a difference for everyone with mood conditions today.

The site has special categories for neurological disorders, mood disorders and immune conditions. It’s wonderful that patients can have information above and beyond their own health care providers–the opportunity to be a member of a larger community of like-minded people sharing ideas and encouragement.

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Montana judge sticks her neck out for terminally ill patients

December 7, 2008 | By | 7 Replies More
Montana judge sticks her neck out for terminally ill patients

Let’s see . . . who should have the final say over whether a terminally ill person has suffered enough and should be allowed to check out of life Earth.  Based on the debacle involving Terry Schiavo I’m betting that the country will be split down the middle in this emerging battle in the culture […]

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More Merck lies uncovered regarding Vioxx

April 28, 2008 | By | 2 Replies More
More Merck lies uncovered regarding Vioxx

I’m not a big fan of big Pharma. There’s a good reason for my attitude. Many drug companies are selling hype rather than bona fide drugs. And some of those big drug companies have been caught outright lying. Merck has already been shown to have killed tens of thousands of people as a result of […]

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