Posts Tagged Newspapers

Good Riddance — Time to Shed Those Bad 2007 Health Challenges!

I found a photo in my morning newspaper of a man throwing paperwork into a shredding bin in Times Square in New York City. The caption tells about Good Riddance Day. A huge, industrial-sized paper shredder was set up, and the public was invited to shred their bad memories of 2007 — to tell those memories and those events, Good Riddance!

People came from near and far to shred all sorts of documents. One woman threw a photo of her ex-fiancé and his new girlfriend into the shredder. A man threw in his paid-off mortgage paperwork. Dozens wrote down wishes and reminders on pieces of paper, then threw those in. Included were “the obsession to drink beer,” and “getting bad grades on my report card.”

Germane to this blog, however, was the gentleman who threw a photo of his appendix into the shredding bin. It was removed while he was vacationing in May this year. Along with the photo went his medical bills.

So it begs the question: do you have any health or medical memories YOU would like to get rid of from 2007? What sorts of health challenges have you suffered this year that you would like to say Good Riddance to?

We’re picking up the conversation in the About.com Patient Empowerment Forum. Please join us!

Posted in: Health /Medical Consumerism, Health Insurance, Healthcare Quality, Media, Medical Errors / Mistakes / Misdiagnosis, Patient Empowerment, Patient Tools, Self Help

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Lot’s ‘o Topics – Find Links Here

It’s been a busy several days — as the holiday season always is. Haven’t written anything new on this blog for your consideration, but I have been busy!

Here are the topics I’ve covered, and links so you can find them:

What about Nataline?

The 17-year-old who got caught in the crossfire over insurance coverage, then died from liver failure… Would universal insurance have saved her?

Is Your Family Together for the Holidays?

Why not talk about healthcare issues? Recording a family history can be helpful to all blood relatives.

Do You Have a Flexible Medical Spending Account?

You may have to use it up before December 31 — or you may have until March 15. Here are some ways you can — or can’t – use that money.

An Ounce of Prevention…

Costs much less than that pound of cure. Why not stay healthy and save money, too?

Sure enough… plenty of empowered patient reading for these quieter times between the holidays. If you think of a topic you’d like me to cover, then contact me!

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Join Trisha in the Patient Empowerment Forum at About.com
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Or link here to empower yourself at
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Posted in: Health /Medical Consumerism, Health Insurance, Healthcare Quality, Media, Patient Advocacy, Patient Empowerment, Patient Safety, Patient Tools, Self Help

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Yanking the Cure Rug Out From Under Lymphoma Patients

In the continuing saga of two “miracle” drugs for those who suffer from non-Hodgkins lymphomas… the fifth most common cancer….

I told you six months ago about Bexxar and Zevalin, the two drugs which can treat non-Hodgkins lymphoma but were not being promoted by oncologists in private practice because they cannot, by law, administer it. That means they cannot profit by it. Remembering that American Healthcare is not about health or care, it’s about sickness and money…. we learned then that these drugs must be administered in (usually academic) medical centers because they have a radioactive component to them. So many oncologists provide infusion services themselves, but are not allowed to administer these two drugs, so they don’t tell their patients about them. I remain angry about that subject.

As if that weren’t difficult enough, there is now a new twist to this story, making it even more difficult for lymphoma patients to get this treatment they need — and deserve to have. According to the New York Times, Medicare has decided to reimburse administration of this drug in 2008 at about half the cost of the drug. Medicare made that determination, it says, based on what hospitals have been billing Medicare for the drug — but hospitals dispute that, saying they would never request reimbursement that would cost them almost $10,000 per patient! Patients need only one treatment, but it’s very expensive because the drug itself is very expensive.

Both hospitals and the manufacturers are confused as to how Medicare put together its reimbursement schedule. They believe errors have been made, and that Medicare’s numbers are wrong.

So here’s how this begins to domino….

Since the reimbursements won’t even cover the cost of the drug, hospitals will stop treating Medicare patients with it. (can you blame them? would you offer a service that put you $10,000 in the red each time you did it?)

By law, if a treatment is not offered to Medicare patients, it cannot be offered to any other patient by that same provider.

If there is no way the drug can be administered, then, of course, it won’t be sold by the manufacturer. That means the manufacturer then loses money on the cost of researching and developing such a drug — which means they lose incentive to research and develop new drugs.

Meaning — because lymphoma patients will not be able to be treated by this life-saving drug, then other patients with other diseases may someday suffer, too.

There needs to be some kind of compromise here and hopefully Medicare will work out the kinks in their adding machines. People are sick. A promising drug is available. And their own government is telling them they can’t have it.

What’s wrong with this picture?

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Want more tools and commentary for sharp patients?
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Join Trisha in the Patient Empowerment Forum at About.com
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Or link here to empower yourself at
EveryPatientsAdvocate.com
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Posted in: Health /Medical Consumerism, Health Insurance, Healthcare Quality, Hospitals, Patient Empowerment, Pharmaceutical Drugs

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Maybe Surgery Should be Performed in a Restaurant?

Dr. Betsy McCaughey of RID (Reduce Infection Deaths) pointed out in last week’s Wall Street Journal that when it comes to inspections for bacteria and other infection sources, the restaurants in every state in the nation are held to a higher standard than hospitals or other healthcare physicians.

She points out that inadequate hygiene in hospitals causes 100,000 deaths per year, while the CDC estimates that only 2,500 people die from food-borne illnesses like those that may come from restaurants. And those restaurants are inspected diligently in most areas, and far more than hospitals or other facilities ever are.

And here’s a real question mark. According to her article, prior to 1970, hospitals routinely tested the surfaces in operating rooms, patient rooms, labs and other locations for pathogens. In 1970 these facilities were told to stop testing because it was unnecessary. And now, 37 years later, there has been a 32 times increase in the number of deaths from hospital acquired infections such as MRSA. So why hasn’t the CDC updated its policy?

Dr. McCaughey asks the question in regards to hospitals, doctors’ offices and other facilities, “Why aren’t hospitals and doctors’ offices held to the same standard and inspected regularly? Going to a restaurant is voluntary. Going to a hospital is not.”

As patients, we should be asking these questions, too. And insisting, as we are able, that when we do visit any type of healthcare facility that hands are well washed and sanitized, and that instruments, equipment and other surfaces in the facility have been cleaned and sanitized, too.

Last year, at least 100,000 people didn’t do that insisting. And this year, they no longer have that option.

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Learn more about MRSA and other hospital acquired infections at About.com.

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Posted in: Healthcare Quality, Hospitals, Patient Empowerment, Patient Safety, Patient Tools

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WSJ Interviews Every Patient’s Advocate

Not only was I privileged to contribute to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal (You Doctor’s Business Ties are Your Business, Too ) — but I actually learned even more than I knew before from the article!

The question asked by the author, David Armstrong, was whether patients have a right to know about any financial ties doctors have to the treatments they recommend. We discussed that topic last week while he was researching for his story. I told him absolutely I believe patients have a right to know, but it’s not so easy as just asking the question.

What I learned from his column is that there is a proposal in Congress called the Physician Payments Sunshine Act of 2007 that will require companies to publicly disclose any payments of $25 or more to doctors. I also didn’t know that the American Academy of Orthopaedic surgeons has mandated, beginning in January, disclosure of any arrangements made between a surgeon and a company which will relate to treatment. So, for example, if you need your knee replaced, and the surgeon stands to profit from the new knee parts — s/he will need to disclose that to you.

Love it! Both are grand steps forward toward transparency and disclosure…

My contribution to the article was a response to the question whether patients should ask their doctors about financial relationships that might affect their treatment …. my answer might surprise you…. (and you’ll have to read the article to find out why!)

Then, when you’re finished, you’ll be interested in this post, too.

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Posted in: Doctor Communication, Health /Medical Consumerism, Healthcare Quality, Media, Patient Empowerment, Pharmaceutical Drugs

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