Articles Posted in Accessibility of Healthcare

Back-Pain-300x188As the nation rapidly grays, not only are middle-aged and older patients undergoing increasing numbers of knee, hip, ankle, and shoulder surgeries, back operations also have spiked — and a significant number of these procedures may be unwarranted and harmful.

Spinal surgery is a booming business for orthopedic surgeons and hospitals, with  Wall Street analysts forecasting, according to one report, that the “sales of spinal surgery implants, instruments, pharmaceuticals and other novel treatments for chronic and disabling back pain will … rise from $10 billion in 2020 to $14 billion -$ 16 billion by 2030.”

While rising numbers of patients, starting around age 42, complain of back pain and many eventually seek surgical relief, skepticism and concern may be deserved for the common, costly, and lucrative spinal fusion surgery, Modern Healthcare, an industry trade publication reported in its Oct. 5 edition.

capitolus-300x200It may be tempting to get caught up in cynical views of congressional lawmaking, budgeting, and spending — seeing it as gross “sausage making” or in sporting “who wins and who loses” score-keeping.

But for anyone who believes that health care in the wealthiest nation in the world ought to be a right and not a privilege, much is at stake in deliberations under way and, perhaps, soon to reach culmination.

It is difficult to predict exactly what will happen with President Biden’s agenda and his “Build Back Better” package, which contains major proposals that would improve Americans’ health.

brucemoskowitz-150x150A trio of former President Trump’s country club friends planned to use the clout he gave them over the Department of Veteran Affairs to set up a potentially enriching scheme to exploit the confidential, personal medical records of millions of U.S. veterans and their families, documents show.

Congressional Democrats, now leading key House committees, have rebuked the three for even suggesting the plan. They were Trump acquaintances from his country club who were given sweeping influence over the VA and were known to lawful government officials as “the Mar-a-Lago crowd.”

The trio — Ike Perlmutter, Bruce Moskowitz (shown above), and Marc Sherman — never served in the U.S. military. They’re not veterans. Perlmutter and Sherman had zero experience in health care. And Moskowitz, while a doctor, is a primary care practitioner — not someone known for his direct experience in running big, complex operations.

fdaStemCells-300x200Yet more derelictions of duty by the federal Food and Drug Administration are happening now, in its handling of largely hokum treatments and health-threatening devices.  The latest examples: drug safety regulators step back from their oversight of those who peddle sketchy “stem-cell” treatments for a bevy of ills. And twiddle their thumbs as who knows how many more young people get addicted to nicotine because experts just aren’t ready to regulate e-cigarettes and vaping.

Here’s what the Associated Press reported about the agency and how it has allowed a boom in unsupported therapies using so-called stem cells (real versions, shown above):

“Hundreds of clinics pushing unproven stem cell procedures caught a big break from the U.S. government in 2017: They would have three years to show that their questionable treatments were safe and effective before regulators started cracking down. But when the Food and Drug Administration’s grace period expired in late May — extended six months due to the pandemic — the consequences became clear: Hundreds more clinics were selling the unapproved treatments for arthritis, Alzheimer’s, Covid-19 and many other conditions. ‘It backfired,’ said Leigh Turner, a bioethicist at UC Irvine. ‘The scale of the problem is vastly larger for FDA today than it was at the start.’ The continuing spread of for-profit clinics promoting stem cells and other so-called ‘regenerative’ therapies — including concentrated blood products — illustrates how quickly experimental medicine can outpace government oversight. No clinic has yet won FDA approval for any stem cell offering and regulators now confront an enormous, uncooperative industry that contends it shouldn’t be subject to regulation.”

coviddeathsnytoct22021-300x174It’s one thing when toddlers in their terrible twos react to common sense directions for their own good, throwing themselves to the floor, declaring, “I won’t, I won’t — and you can’t make me …” When grownups behave in, basically, the same way, the results can be catastrophic.

The estimated death toll of the coronavirus pandemic in this country — a figure likely to be far understated — has hit 700,000.

That’s like wiping out the equivalent or more of the population of cities like Boston, Nashville, or Las Vegas.

chartgfrresults-300x197Medical specialists and researchers have taken a big step in recognizing that how they diagnose black patients with kidney disease may be racially biased and harmful to a group that already and disproportionately suffers the illness’s harms.

Doctors now should jettison race-based adjustments in equations used in a crucial and fundamental test to assess kidney function, according to studies and editorials published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the American Journal of Kidney Diseases, and the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

As the New York Times reported, this step will “affect hundreds of millions of kidney function tests performed yearly in hospitals and outpatient settings, both for acutely ill patients and as part of routine screening blood tests. By one estimate, one million Black Americans might be treated earlier for kidney disease if the diagnostic equation were not adjusted for race.”

becerra-150x150biden-150x150With the Biden Administration battling the coronavirus pandemic and Democrats in the throes of determining what could be big spending for major changes in the U.S. health care system, even the president’s biggest supporters are baffled why he still hasn’t nominated a commissioner to head the federal Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA, entrusted to safeguard the safety and quality of the nation’s prescription drugs, medical devices, and foodstuffs, has a huge lift in the best of times.

In the Biden administration’s 10 months, the agency — demoralized and banged up, big time, by the Trump Administration and its politicization of health matters across the board — has found itself in a relentless crossfire in areas in which the 18,000-employee organization holds sway.

cdcwalensky-150x150The battle against the coronavirus pandemic is further splintering Americans into brittle groups, segments familiar because they long have been components of the inequitable U.S. health care system — let’s call them the have nots, the have somes, the have much, and the won’ts.

Regulators have decided that those who have some protection with lifesaving vaccines are now eligible for more — a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine. It will be given six months after the original two-shot regimen was completed to people:

  • older than 65

portalmedrecord-300x124As doctors and hospitals switch to electronic medical record systems and try to amp up the business efficiency of their enterprises by opening online consumer portals, more patients may access their caregivers’ files on them, including  doctor notes that may be shocking in their inaccuracy.

Heather Gantzer, a doctor practicing at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, Minn., and immediate past chair of the American College of Physicians’ Board of Regents, told Cheryl Clark, a contributor to the MedPage Today medical news site:

“100% of medical records have errors. Some of them are nuisances, but some are really impactful and might make a huge difference for [example for] the person who was said to be on antibiotics” but was not.”

govtrustpew-181x300It’s a small occupational hazard that accompanies membership in the Bar — the ribbing that all lawyers take at social functions with those groan-inducing lawyer jokes.

While the good-natured jests typically merit a chuckle and a pass, it’s worth noting, two decades after the 9/11 tragedy and with all the deeply divisive events that have occurred since, that there are clear indicators that the legal profession deserves more credit than jibes. Lawyers are striving at least to preserve their constitutional responsibilities as a pillar of truth-telling in the contentious world. Others? Maybe less so. And the public should not be confused about this.

When viewers see the splashy Netflix documentary Worth, for example, they should take judicial notice that it creates a fictionalized account about trial lawyers and the push to compensate victims of the Sept. 11 catastrophe, argues the Center for Justice and Democracy at New York Law School.

Patrick Malone & Associates, P.C. listed in Best Lawyers Rated by Super Lawyers Patrick A. Malone
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