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We’re barraged by so much health hokum that it’s a relief when common-sense reminders come along about crucial wellness concerns like exercise, diet, and sleep.

Timely information on these issues has been reported by the Washington Post (here on movement myths and here on sleep and weight), the Athletic on a soccer nutritionist’s insights on healthful eating, and the New York Times on exercise and bodily immunity.

Some of the key takeaways:

FDA-Logo-300x167Members of Congress, as usual, are racing to meet a deadline: This time, to determine the funding for the federal Food and Drug Administration, an agency with some of the most consequential responsibilities affecting Americans’ health.

In their furious political and financial machinations, though, lawmakers aren’t asking the tough, critical question about the FDA’s leading revenue source:

Is it a good idea for Big Pharma and medical device makers to pay most of the cost to run the nation’s watchdog of these giant, wealthy industries?

minnnursesstrike-150x150The coronavirus pandemic has not only caused sustained damage to the U.S. health workforce, it also apparently has accelerated a looming crisis in nursing care, as has been shown by a three-day strike by 15,000 private-sector nurses in Minnesota.

Theirs was the largest such walkout by nurses and it sought to underscore how pay inequities, staffing shortages, exhaustion, working conditions, and other management-employee issues strike at the heart of the quality, safety, and excellence of direct patient care, the Washington Post and other media outlets reported.

As Kelly Kelley Anaas, an intensive care unit nurse for 14 years at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, told USA Today of the strains confronted by some of medicine’s most crucial frontline caregivers:

cfpbchartnursinghomecost-300x226Two federal regulatory agencies have rebuked nursing homes and their debt collectors, warning them that they may be breaking the law with sketchy efforts to make loved ones and friends pay for the care of sick, injured, and debilitated residents in long-term facilities.

Bottom line: A lot of the forms that you may sign for a loved one as they are admitted to a nursing home are straight-up illegal if they purport to make you responsible for paying the facility’s bills.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has conducted hearings and issued a report as well as putting out a joint letter with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency with oversight of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

juullogo1-300x142Parents, educators, politicians, federal regulators, and advocates for Americans’ better health all should pause and consider the prime takeaways from a company’s willingness to strike a $439 million settlement with three dozen states figuratively shutting a barn door long after the nag has bolted.

Hint: Big Tobacco is relentless in its efforts to addict regular folks to products proven to destroy their health — and the financial payoff for doing so continues to be so potentially lucrative that most of us can hardly imagine.

Let’s back up just a bit for the basic facts: Juul, a San Francisco-based firm that federal officials have blamed for almost single-handedly creating the e-cigarette and vaping fad in recent years, reached a deal with 33 states and a U.S. territory to pay almost half a billion dollars over the way it marketed its products to teenagers and young adults.

Abbottlogo-300x77Big Pharma loves to blast away at opposition lawyers and their clients, criticizing them for seeking justice in the civil system over claims of significant harms. But, c’mon, man, as a certain top political leader likes to say to express his flabbergasted skepticism.

Wealthy corporations and their counsel marshal enormous, costly legal resources to bully, intimidate, and just bury in paperwork plaintiffs in civil cases, as the New York Times has reported. The newspaper has detailed how this almost standard operating procedure by huge law firms has complicated the nation’s effort to safeguard a critical foodstuff for the tiniest, most vulnerable among us — infants needing formula, especially specialized varieties.

The ferocious tactics by formula makers, notably the purportedly family friendly pharmaceutical company Abbott Laboratories, has shielded the industry and the company well but to the detriment of consumers learning important information about a widely used product that was the subject of many lawsuits but that stayed out of the spotlight for years, the newspaper reported:

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):

fordlogo-300x123Even the strongest believer in the wisdom of juries in civil lawsuits had to take a pause. But, yes, the verdict in an Atlanta case has been correctly reported.  Jurors deliberating on the damages caused in roll-over of a Ford 250 truck did, indeed, order the automaker to pay the family of two people killed in the auto wreck a sum that apparently set a record in such a Georgia proceeding: $1.7 billion.

Jurors awarded that sum after years of litigation, described by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, thusly:

“Voncile Hill, 62, and her husband Melvin Hill, 74, died after their tire blew out on a Sumter County highway in 2014 and their 2002 Ford Super Duty F-250 pickup rolled over. They were farmers traveling from their Macon County home to Americus to pick up a tractor part, said James E. Butler, [an attorney with the firm] of Butler Prather [representing the couple’s family] … The children sued Ford and Pep Boys, among others. The jury determined Ford had sold 5.2 million ‘Super Duty’ trucks with weak roofs that would crush people inside during rollovers. The flaw was present in all ‘Super Duty’ models between 1999 and 2016, Butler said.”

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.

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