Articles Posted in Accessibility of Healthcare

fingersxd-150x150The quality of medical-scientific information is strained — and patients should know this, be warned, and watch for ways to protect themselves from bungled communication, bluster, hype, misinformation, and disinformation.

Although regular folks may have unprecedented access via the internet to resources on medical services and developments, a trio of recent news articles underscore the importance of the familiar warning Caveat emptor (buyer beware):

coronavax-150x150As summer ends, millions of Americans should pop around the corner for a healthy double — that is, a pair of vaccinations, one targeted against the latest, widely circulating coronavirus Omicron variants and the other shot to fight the seasonal flu, federal health officials say.

The newest booster for the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants should be available at drug stores, clinics, and doctors’ offices this coming week, regulators at the federal Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Infection have decided.

The coronavirus shots, as occurs with annual flu vaccines, will be based on existing products that have been given to huge populations globally — safely, with great effectiveness, but now without extensive clinical trials that were conducted of previous formulas of the vaccines.

smokingjoint-150x150Generation Z and young millennials have become the nation’s leading group of stoners, setting record highs for their use of marijuana, hallucinogenic drugs, nicotine, and booze.

This has occurred even as federal regulators have gotten called out for failing to crack down, after chest-thumping promises to do so, on the noxious but popular practice among the young of vaping.

The National Institutes of Health has conducted its annual “Monitoring the Future” survey of behaviors and attitudes of young adults since 1975, providing a much-watched, longitudinal snapshot of the lives and health of Americans ages 19 to 30. Its results this go-round are unsettling to those who monitor substance use and abuse in this critical age group, as the Washington Post reported:

faucipic-150x150This fall our nation will go once more into the breach, with federal officials hoping that another big push for vaccinations against the coronavirus and flu will stave off the deadly surges of contagions that have caused the fundamental health measure of life expectancy to plummet in a historic way.

Still, the announced retirement of Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the nation’s foremost fighters against infectious illnesses — and the sharply divided reactions to his planned end of year departure from a half century of public service — continue to show how fraught vaccinations and public health have become in the U.S.

Fauci, who joined the National Institutes of Health in 1968 and was appointed the director of its infectious disease branch in 1984, has advised every president since Ronald Reagan — seven in all. He became a political lightning rod twice in instances of illnesses with enormous medical effect, with the outbreak of HIV-AIDS and the coronavirus pandemic.

hearing-300x181Is it time for a glimmer of optimism about reducing at least one unacceptably high health care cost?

Say hear, hear then, to the federal Food and Drug Administration’s removing the last regulatory block to consumers with mild to moderate hearing loss buying cheaper, easier to access, over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids — potentially as soon as this fall.

Hearing some fading Bronx cheers? Those may be for the regulators who plodded to potentially benefit tens of millions of folks, who were forking over $5,000 for pairs of medically prescribed devices that previously also required expensive attention of doctors and audiologists. Patients also were ripped for the costs of this care, which typically was not covered by traditional insurance or Medicare. As the Washington Post reported of the regulatory shift to allow OTC hearing devices:

docmisbehaviormedscape-300x179Patients may be reluctant to think ill of their doctors or to imagine that highly educated, rigorously trained professionals could mistreat or cause them harm. Doctors themselves know this picture is way too rosy for some of their colleagues.

In a survey of 1,500 practicing MDs, all of whom voluntarily responded to an online questionnaire, Medscape — a web-based medical news source — reported this information about doctor misconduct:

“Physicians tell us they’re seeing more frequent incidents of other doctors acting disrespectfully towards patients or coworkers, too casually about patient privacy, angrily or aggressively at work, and even sometimes criminally. Such behavior is still relatively uncommon, and many respondents say they are proud of the high standards of attitudes and behavior shown by fellow physicians.”

cvsapp-150x150CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart are getting expensive lessons about corporate responsibility in filling prescriptions, as federal courts in San Francisco and Cleveland separately have faulted the companies for inundating communities with staggering quantities of addictive painkillers.

Those drugs caused such great harm that the three major drug chains must pay two Ohio Counties $650.5 million, a judge has decided.

The county governments told U.S. Judge Dan A. Polster — before whom has been consolidated thousands of lawsuits from states, counties, cities, other local governments, and Indian tribes — that they estimate they and their residents have suffered $3 billion in damages due to the opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis.  A November jury verdict in favor of the two Ohio counties already faulted the pharmacy chains for continuing “to dispense mass quantities of prescription painkillers over the years while ignoring flagrant signs that the pills were being abused,” the New York Times reported.

cdcwalensky-150x150The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of the world’s premier public health agencies, will try to revamp itself after taking months of a political, scientific, and reputational battering for too often performing in shambolic fashion in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Rochelle Walensky (shown, right) appointed the agency’s chief in December 2020, announced in April of this year that she had asked outside experts to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the CDC and to recommend reforms.

She now has told her 11,000 agency colleagues that the much-needed scrutiny showed that the CDC, with its $12 billion budget, had become too ponderous, bureaucratic, and academic in its work, communicating too slowly, badly, and in confusing ways with its most important constituents: the American people. As the New York Times reported of Walensky’s blunt assessment of the suboptimal response to the pandemic that has killed more than 1 million and infected 93 million-plus of us:

IRAapproval-300x174President Biden and congressional Democrats have embarked on a major political experiment, testing the public’s willingness to delay gratification on seeing big benefits of a landmark measure with important elements to improve their health and wellbeing.

Is it more persuasive to regular folks that one political party is trying to tackle huge problems, or will relentless naysayers reap rewards for doing little or nothing?

As a little more than four score days remain before important midterm elections, Democrats will be seeking to convince voters of the significance of the giant Inflation Reduction Act — aka the much-reduced Build Back Better legislative package originally proposed by President Biden.

bankruptcy-300x199They were a tortured part of the opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis. They have become a painful aspect of the push to hold nursing home owners and operators accountable for the shambolic response to the coronavirus pandemic.

And they soon may be an obstacle to military veterans’ attempts to get justice for defective devices that were supposed to protect their hearing.

Bankruptcy courts, the evidence increasingly shows, are at risk of warping their congressional mandate to help struggling enterprises sort out complex business operations. They are instead offering a legal haven to big corporations zealously protecting their profits from civil claims they harmed others.

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