Archive | March, 2014

Should Feeling OK Keep the Doctor Away?

9 Mar

I’ve always suspected this but thought that perhaps I was just too cynical for it to actually be true but…

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2010 statistics) here are the leading causes of death in America:

      Number of deaths

  • Heart disease: 597,689
  • Cancer: 574,743
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 138,080
  • Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 129,476
  • Accidents (unintentional injuries): 120,859
  • Alzheimer’s disease: 83,494
  • Diabetes: 69,071
  • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 50,476
  • Influenza and Pneumonia: 50,097
  • Intentional self-harm (suicide): 38,364

So heart disease and Cancer are the 2 big causes of death in the USA But, consider this… a recent study in the Journal of Patient Safety, which is a follow up to a 2010 report from the Office of the Inspector General for Health and Human services, estimates that as many as 210,000 to 440,000 patients who go to the hospital for healing die each year as a result of preventable medical deaths.

This makes unintentional medical errors during… doctor’s, hospital’s, and nursing home’s attempts to care for and improve our health… the third-leading cause of death in the United States!

And that is just counting the deaths from preventable errors…and that’s if you count preventable errors as a disease…which of course we don’t…and I also just have to ask. What’s the word “preventable” doing in front of the word “errors”? Isn’t the word error enough? Adding the word preventable implies that the errors wouldn’t occur if we just stopped insisting on the service, test or exam that leads to the errors being made.

And then…If we also count everyone who is in someway made sicker by an error in the healthcare they receive ( An error is defined as an act that produces an adverse outcome compared to the natural progression of disease) then up to one million more patients experienced some type of preventable error, that leads to injury. (according to the U.S. Institute of Medicine)

It seems that the more expensive healthcare has become, the more doctors, hospitals and insurance companies have become eager and interested in offering services, tests and screening exams to healthy patients in efforts to get a jump on their “potential disease” before it manifests itself as an “actual disease” to the patient…unfortunately many of these preventive measures have proven to be ineffective at best and dangerous at their worst. Most insurance companies and especially Medicare, reimburse doctors and hospitals regardless of outcome. In fact, there are now even billing codes for specific errors.

So what’s a body to do… healthy or Un?

Sadly, and as in most things once they become unimaginably profitable, it becomes necessary to “Let the buyer beware!”

That phrase “caveat emptor” arises from the fact that buyers often have less information about the goods or service they are purchasing, while the seller has more information. Defects in the good or service may be hidden from the buyer, and only known to the seller. Thus, the buyer should beware.

In legal theory this is known as information asymmetry...sounds like a disease doesn’t it?

 

 

 

Here’s Looking at You…Kid

6 Mar

Here is a new word for your dictionary!

De-extinction.

Scientists are now working hard on ways to bring extinct animals back to life… like the Wooly Mammoth, Saber Tooth Tiger, Giant Auk and for some reason, the Passenger Pigeon! Why you ask? The main answers seem to be those good old scientific mainstays: “Why not?” and “Because we’d like to see if we can do it!”

But what I’m thinking is that you know there must be a billionaire or two out there who are thinking about their own soon to be and eminent extinctions and the possibility of resurrecting themselves some day. I mean, who needs a Wooly mammoth when they can have another…me! You just know that Donald Trump has to be thinking along these lines…

Anyway, just imagine a not so distant future when all of this de-extinction technology becomes routine and saving your DNA becomes an iPhone app and everybody’s doing it. And then imagine that your will contains the stipulation that if your ancestors want to inherit your stuff (money) then they must agree to give birth to…you!

Or what about a future when you and your wife, when deciding it’s time to have children, can decide to have… yous!

Oh boy! You just know that this technology is going to create havoc someday with either the unexpected return of giant Wooly Mammoth stampedes or with eccentric billionaires suddenly replicating like flocks of Passenger Pigeons! (I’m pretty sure us little people will most likely be denied this technology either through expense or “for our own good”, reasons)

And don’t be surprised if this technology first appears in humans somewhere within the sports world, where almost all scientific breakthroughs that could lead to more homeruns or larger offensive linemen, do. They say that A-Rod is keeping a low profile over the next year while he sits out his MLB suspension before returning to the Yankees in 2015.

If he shows up with 3 younger brothers who look just like him who can play 1st, 2nd and short, then I’d say that somewhere George Steinbrenner, is alive and well and having lunch with Donald Trump(s) in a sky box in centerfield.

And Thanks to new words like de-extinction, it could happen…someday?

Are You a Ticking Time Bomb?

4 Mar
Here’s something new and interesting…perhaps…
 
There’s A new screening technology that can predict if you’re at high risk of dying… in five years — even if you appear perfectly healthy….and I used to think that appearing perfectly healthy counted for something but…

 

According to Finland’s Institute for Molecular Medicine researchers have discovered that certain biological markers are strong indicators of dying from any disease in the near future. Scientists screened blood samples from over 17 000 healthy people for more than 100 different bio-molecules. Then after following the volunteers for several years while looking for measures in the blood that could reflect who had died within the following five years, they were able to identify four biomarkers of death!
 

 

The researchers say that the bio-markers helped to detect individuals who were at a much higher risk of dying during the five-year follow-up and the results did not change even when only apparently healthy persons were examined. Now it is hoped that in the future these measures could be used to identify people who appear healthy, but in fact have serious underlying illnesses and guide them to proper treatment.

 

So the question is: If you felt perfectly fine and healthy would you want to take a test to find out if you had only 5 years to live? Talk about test anxiety! Would you want to know? Would you believe it if they told you or would the simple fact of knowing that your time might be running out (only 5 years!) make your time run out faster? And how would you know if the test was really accurate… or if perhaps your doctor (in an effort to drum up business)… ( would doctors do that?) was making it all up just so he could have another patient and sell you some medicine. I mean after all, you feel great!?

It reminds me of the joke where the man answers his phone and his doctor is calling. “I have bad news and terrible news”, says the doctor. “What?” says the man. “Well, Give me the bad news first I guess”. “Your recent tests revealed that you have 24 hours to live!” says the doctor. “24 hours to live???” replies the man…then what’s the terrible news?” To which the doctor replies, “I’ve been trying to reach you all day!”

Technology is improving in leaps and bounds so hold onto your seats ladies and gentlemen. From hear on in…It’s going to be a bumpy ride!

March —- !

1 Mar

Happy March!

Are Spring hopes… eternal? I sure hope so because here on the east coast of the United States it has been one very cold and snowy winter. I used to remember having these kinds of winters every winter when I was little, back in the early sixties. We used to skate on the pond in the back yard (well, not me, only those who could skate) and it was frozen all winter long. And we would take our sleds down the street to the golf course and sled down the big snow covered hills until it was dark outside. And whether it was frozen pond skating or golf course hill sledding it was always jam packed with kids!

There were kids outside…everywhere…and not a parent in sight! Back in those days parents never came out of their houses unless they were headed for the car or the lawn needed to be cut…at least that’s the way it seemed to us kids. They never took any interest in the kid’s world, unless of course we broke something…which inevitably we always did…but then we ran!

Anyway, Spring meant seeing the ground again and running around without our boots. What freedom after months of heavy feet and walking around like you were in a diver’s suit on the bottom of the ocean.

Ahhhhh Spring! I hope we have a real one this year (like we just had a real winter) and it doesn’t just shoot straight up to 100 degrees by next Wednesday! (which these days it seems is always possible)

As for the title of this blog. Riddle me this:

Which day of the year is the only day of the year that is also a command? (English teachers should get this one easy)

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