Articles Posted in Emergency Medicine

axioscovidmay152021-289x300Let’s say “WoW” for those coronavirus vaccines.

Federal officials have given emergency approval for their use now in kids as young as 12. And parents are racing to get their youngsters vaccinated, not only against Covid but also other infectious diseases that put children at risk.

The steady increase in vaccinations — which 59% of Americans older than 18 have now gotten at least one dose of (as of May 14) — also has led federal experts to ease guidelines on face covering and distancing.

cdcvax7may2021-300x165The campaign to quell the coronavirus pandemic is a lot like a Herculean tug of war now, with the prospect tantalizingly near of  pulling a big measure of success over the line.

The Biden Administration, to its credit, is not easing a bit in conveying the urgency of its task in dealing with a disease that has infected more than 32 million in this country and killed at least 576,000 — roughly equivalent to the population of Baltimore.

At the same time, more than 148 million Americans older than 18 have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, roughly 57% of the adult population. Those statistics, as shown in the chart above from federal experts, were reported as of May 7.

bupe-300x188Health workers with legal prescribing privileges have gotten newly revised federal guidelines — once again — making it easier for them to help those addicted to powerful opioid painkillers by prescribing buprenorphine, another powerful medication.

This action could be beneficial in battling the opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis that ebbed in recent times and then worsened during the coronavirus pandemic, overall killing hundreds of thousands of Americans.

As the Washington Post reported of regulators’ latest decisions:

apindiafuneralpyres-300x200After months of chafing under tough restrictions to battle the coronavirus pandemic, who among us isn’t ready for more relaxed times, especially as the summer nears? For tens of millions of Americans, vaccination means new safety and freedoms, notably for long awaited closeness with loved ones.

But are those allures and more enough to coax the resistant and reluctant to get the shots, as tens of millions of us already have?

The Biden Administration and health officials across the country may need to give the unvaccinated not only altruistic but practical reasons for joining a campaign that has achieved the notable result of getting shots for 100 million of us.

copradar-300x225Motorists nationwide, having acquired a taste for speed during the coronavirus pandemic, need to get that pedal off the metal — or the consequences can be legally dear, shockingly costly, and deadly. And that includes car owners who let  computers navigate their vehicles.

Look out, drivers, because the alarms have grown so much for traffic safety experts that they and road authorities say they will beef up enforcement, including with more camera systems and tickets, lower speed limits in problem areas, and campaigns with the public to please slow down.

As the pandemic seems to be ebbing and warmer weather also is encouraging more of us to get out and about, the great road haste that gripped the country for months isn’t letting up and is a cause for unnecessary carnage, officials told the Wall Street Journal:

covidexcessdeathsa-21nyt-300x112Even as the latest coronavirus surge appeared to ease, including in hard-hit areas of the Midwest and Northeast, and as the federal government reported the nation has achieved key milestones in vaccinations, the battle to quell the pandemic also has entered the gnarly phase of grappling with the hesitant, the reluctant, and the  resistant.

The Biden Administration, urging continued progress against the coronavirus, reported the nation had met the president’s goal of administering 200 million shots even before the target of the first 100 days of his term.

As of April 23, the federal Centers of Disease Control and Prevention reported that 53% of Americans 18 and older had received at least one of two doses of available vaccines, and 81% of people 65 and older had done so.

faucijim-300x216An Ohio congressman got testy with one of the nation’s leading infectious disease experts, insisting that Dr. Anthony Fauci instantly cough up a metric to tell politicians and the public exactly when the coronavirus pandemic will end. Fauci declined to offer a simple 1-2-3 answer, trying to supply a nuanced and thoughtful response, instead.

The further anger his comments provoked may suggest it’s time to look yet again at the pandemic by the numbers. They do, indeed, tell a story but read it and them with care.

A tragic toll equivalent to noted U.S. metropolises

disabledkidsfla-300x233When doctors, hospitals, and insurers bellyache about malpractice claims with little evidence on their prevalence or outcomes, patients and politicians should push back: And they can cite the nightmares people in grievous circumstance have suffered when their constitutional right to seek justice in civil lawsuits gets stripped away.

The Miami Herald and ProPublica, the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative website, have conducted a joint, deep dive into Florida’s decades-old legislative experiment, purportedly to assist families struggling with infants’ birth-related and catastrophic disabilities. The state’s neurological injury compensation initiative also was promoted as a way to stem a problem seen mostly in anecdote and not evidence — obstetricians and other specialists supposedly fleeing Florida, reputedly due to spiking malpractice insurance costs.

The media investigators, in a multipart series , have found that eliminating medical malpractice lawsuits for this slice of patients has benefited not the patients but instead, doctors, hospitals, and insurers.

covidmichmayo-300x203The campaign to conquer the coronavirus pandemic is having its cautious optimism tested by a stubborn and concerning surge of cases in the Midwest and Northeast, as well as frustrating vaccine supply problems — worsened by manufacturing bungles in a Baltimore plant.

Expert forecasters now see options for how the crucial next several months could go in the battle against the disease. These include an effective vaccination program outpacing the rise of variants (including the B117 strain that has become the most common in this country) and quashing the pandemic, to the viral mutations getting out of control and the nation limping into persistent and unchecked infections for a long time.

In Michigan, where one of the worst outbreak rages (see Mayo Clinic hot spot map, above), the governor and state officials have found themselves in a public policy quandary, uncertain whether stern health restrictions may have lost their public support to be effective now after showing results before. But in California, officials are waiting and watching to see if plunging infections, hospitalizations, and deaths will reverse as they have elsewhere.

waitingroom-2-300x202Patients packed in their doctors’ waiting rooms in pre-pandemic times may have looked around and wondered: Why are there so many seniors here receiving medical care?

It isn’t just age that gets older Americans in numbers to treatment for illness or injury or preventive care — it’s also, of course, their qualification at 65 for government-supported medical insurance, aka Medicare. That, perhaps, unsurprising conclusion has been affirmed by Stanford doctors and researchers in newly published research. The study also offers important insights on delayed treatment and the crucial role played by health insurance.

The work involved running down a hunch of Dr. Joseph Shrager, a cardiothoracic surgeon who wondered why so many older patients he saw were diagnosed with lung cancer at age 65 — and not, say, at 61, or 64? He discussed the observation with colleagues who concurred in their curiosity about Medicare eligibility and its role in disease diagnosis. As the university news service reported of the insurance hypothesis:

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