Articles Posted in Clinical guidelines

cvsad-150x150Well, hear, hear! A much delayed, but important health care reform has gotten off to a rocking start. Consumers with moderate hearing loss now can buy hearing aids with greater convenience and less cost  — over the counter and without prescriptions.

New devices, new makers, and new retailers have raced in to tap a big need and potentially lucrative market, due to regulatory changes finally put in effect by the federal Food and Drug Administration, as the Wall Street Journal reported:

“Retail chains such as Walgreens, CVS, Walmart and Best Buy carry [hearing aids now], and they are also available on Amazon.”

betterworkplacemurthy-300x263Although the still-chugging U.S. economy is providing workers with more employment opportunities than many economists expected, it is always tough to leave a job, even with the highly publicized trend of “quiet quitting” supposedly in full force.

Still, no less an authority than Dr. Vivek Murthy, the U.S. Surgeon General, has warned Americans that too many of their workplaces put their health and mental health at risk. He has called on employers large and small to practice the Golden Rule, better share companies’ good fortunes, and to improve regular folks’ work-life balance. Stat, a science and medical news site, quoted Murthy’s statement on toxic workplaces and needed changes, thusly:

“As we recover from the worst of the pandemic, we have an opportunity and the power to make workplaces engines for mental health and well-being. It will require organizations to rethink how they protect workers from harm, foster a sense of connection among workers, show workers that they matter, make space for their lives outside work, and support their growth. It will be worth it because the benefits will accrue for workers and organizations alike.”

makenadrug-300x67Federal regulators have hit a highly public reckoning for their policies to provide speedy approvals for prescription drugs, benefiting Big Pharma’s profits but not necessarily patients — notably women in serious need of help with a shame of the U.S. health care system: the nation’s dismal state with injuries and deaths to expectant moms and infants.

The federal Food and Drug Administration 11 years ago gave Covis Pharma an expedited review and approval to market its prescription drug Makena, which the maker promoted as a rare medication to prevent preterm births.

In exchange, the company was supposed to conduct broader, rigorous, and more detailed studies to prove definitively that Makena prevents moms from delivering before 37 weeks, which is a serious problem that affected 1 in 10 births in 2020 alone, the New York Times reported. The newspaper also noted that preterm births are a greater problem for black women:

booster-150x150As many as 4 in 20 patients infected with the coronavirus report they have not fully recovered after months and 1 in 20 of those with the disease say they have not recovered at all. The viral illness, which has claimed more than 1 million lives and has infected more than 97 million of us, still kills just under 400 people daily on average.

Meantime, the southeast and south central parts of the United States — including the District of Columbia — are reporting the nation’s highest rates of influenza cases, as this infection is showing an early season surge. Just a reminder that in pre-pandemic times, flu sickened as many as 41 million Americans annually, leading to as many as 700,000-plus hospitalizations, and up to 50,000-plus deaths.

After years now of coping with the catastrophic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, and especially with the sustained harms of long covid, and with evidence growing that this year’s flu season will be tough and break with a recent period of mild caseloads, why aren’t more folks using common sense and getting safe, effective vaccinations to increase their protection against these debilitating and lethal diseases?

colonoscopynatinstitute-300x292Colorectal cancer remains  the third most commonly diagnosed form of cancer  in this country. It kills tens of thousands of Americans annually. Although detection of the illness is declining overall, and especially among older adults, specialists have expressed growing concern about its rising rates in younger patients. This has prompted experts to push for more screenings to discover this cancer earlier.

But a new, decade-long European study involving 80,000 participants has given experts in the field at least a pause and may be forcing a more nuanced consideration of colonoscopies — long considered a pricey, inconvenient, intrusive, but “gold standard” test in the battle against colorectal cancer.

The study offered a brusque reminder, especially to regular folks, that testing and early detection of serious illnesses do not automatically result in optimal outcomes that improve or extend lives. As Stat, the science and medical news site reported:

desertsmaternitycaremod-300x209The national disgrace of expectant moms and infants suffering excessive, preventable injuries and death can’t be blamed on mysterious causes. Indeed, a leading advocacy group has put out yet another of its damning research studies, reporting on the disturbing increase in what it terms “maternity care deserts.”

The March of Dimes says it has analyzed data county by county to discover that too many areas of this country have “no hospitals providing obstetric care, no birth centers, no obstetrician/gynecologist, and no certified nurse midwives.”

The nonprofit organization classified an unacceptable number of counties “as having low access to maternity care services,” meaning they have “one or fewer hospitals offering OB service and fewer than 60 OB providers per 10,000 births, and the proportion of women without health insurance was 10 percent or greater.”

healthrecords-150x150Patients have hit a red-letter day in the long, too-difficult struggle to win control of a crucial part of their care — their electronic medical care records. Hospitals and other caregiving institutions no longer can block access to these documents, with federal law now holding them accountable for any runarounds they may try.

As Stat, a medical and science news site,  reported:

“Under federal rules taking effect [Oct. 6,2022], health care organizations must give patients unfettered access to their full health records in digital format. No more long delays. No more fax machines. No more exorbitant charges for printed pages. Just the data, please — now. ‘My great hope is that this will turn the tide on the culture of information blocking,’ said Lisa Bari, CEO of Civitas Networks for Health, a nonprofit that supports medical data sharing. ‘It’s a ground level thing to me: We need to make sure information flows the way patients want it to.’”

sidesleep-300x155With millions of patients struggling with long delays in getting replacements for night-breathing devices recalled by their manufacturer over the machines’ potential health risks, a seasoned health journalist has reported an intriguing, personal counterpoint on the growing prevalence of the problem of sleep apnea and its routine, costly, inconvenient care.

Jay Hancock, who has been a senior correspondent for the independent, nonpartisan Kaiser Health News service (KHN) for a decade and has reported on health care, business, finance, and the U.S. State Department for the Baltimore Sun and the Virginian Pilot, penned his piece in admitted self-interest. That’s because he suffered bouts of drowsiness during the day and his wife told him he snored.

He decided to undergo exams to see if he had sleep disorders. Tests gave him a diagnosis of moderate apnea. Because of his journalistic background, he wrote that he decided he needed to learn more, reporting:

nwsl-logo-150x150tua-150x150While fans may wax poetic about how sports show humanity at its finest, the grim and even sleazy aspects of U.S. games also have been on full display in recent days.

The poohbahs of two of the nation’s most popular pastimes have acted poorly and spoken loudly as to how, maybe they don’t really give a whit about players’ health and well-being, permitting perversity and demeaning behaviors to flourish in women’s soccer and brutality and an almost willful medical blindness to rise anew in pro football for head trauma.

What are parents supposed to tell their kids about such sports “role models?”

conferencehungernutrition-300x133The Biden Administration, already locked in a long battle with the coronavirus and committed to a “moonshot” campaign against cancer, has announced it will tackle yet more persistent harms to the health of regular folks in this country — hunger, poor nutrition, and pernicious (but heavily marketed and highly profitable) foods.

The White House rolled up these issues and pledged at the first White House conference on them in a half century that this country will end U.S. hunger in a decade, the New York Times and other media organizations reported. The newspaper said this of the administration ambitions to deal with a fundamental of Americans’ health and wellbeing:

“The White House plan hinges on $8 billion in commitments from the private sector to help fight hunger, including $4 billion that will be dedicated by philanthropies that are focused on expanding access to healthy food. The investments will come from some of the largest corporations in America, including Google, Tyson Foods, and Walgreens. Other actions include expanding nutrition research and encouraging the food industry to lower sodium and sugar. But some of the most ambitious proposals — such as expanding food stamps (formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) and introducing coverage of ‘medically tailored’ meals to Medicare — would require congressional action, a difficult prospect at a time of deep political divisions.’

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