Articles Posted in Emergency Medicine

dcflags-300x131Nineteen months after the coronavirus pandemic first began to rage, the nation has racked up mortality  and morbidity statistics that are tragic and horrifying:

  • 1 in 500 Americans now has died of the disease
  • People older than 85 make up only 2% of the population, but a quarter of the total death toll

bodybag-150x150In recent days, academic researchers and politicians have made distressing disclosures about the terrible toll the coronavirus pandemic took on the aged, injured, and sick in nursing homes and other long term care facilities with new data suggesting the disease infected more of the vulnerable and killed more of them than previously known.

Government officials, in the pandemic’s early days, may have failed to count 16,000 nursing home deaths due to the coronavirus, researchers at Harvard, UCLA, the University of Minnesota, and Massachusetts General Hospital reported in an online section of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Before federal reporting rules took effect in May 2020, officials also may have missed 68,000 more nursing home infections, the researchers found.

shapona-large-150x150housougami-150x150To those unfamiliar with the history of world religions and disease, the formidable duo shown here are Hosogami (left) and Shapona (right). In two different societies of yore, in the 600s and 700s A.D. in Japan and in the 18th and even into the 19th century in Nigeria, the fervent built religious rites around these smallpox deities.

Worshippers hoped various behaviors would appease their lords of infection, with later experts coming to believe that the priests of Shapona (aka Sopona) also helped to spread the highly contagious and disfiguring illness by scratching villagers as part of extortion schemes. Science and vaccinations eventually eradicated smallpox globally, with infectious disease and public health experts historically mindful how fear, ignorance, and societal pressures can lead numbers of people to embrace counterfactual and cultish responses to scary illnesses.

Now, can President Biden and his administration — with a new and tougher program to get millions of unvaccinated Americans to finally get coronavirus shots — back down what increasingly has become a politically partisan and almost theological opposition to proven methods to quell a disease that has killed 660,000 Americans already and is taking 1,500 lives each day?

elijahmcclain-150x150Manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, and other felony charges filed against paramedics in a Denver suburb will provide the public with a queasy close up look at not only the stresses weighing on medical first responders but also how complacent too many people have become as a crucial part of health care frays under fiscal pressures.

The case against Aurora Fire and Rescue paramedics Jeremy Cooper and Lieutenant Peter Cichuniec provides a grim view of municipal emergency medical services.

A grand jury, empaneled by the state attorney general, indicted the city paramedics and two Aurora police officers on an array of charges in the 2019 death of  Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old black man. He was walking home from a convenience store on an August evening, wearing a ski mask because, his parents said, he was an anemic, idiosyncratic individual and often felt cold.

dcautowreck2-300x191The nation keeps zooming toward a tragic and preventable fatality measure: Our roads are staying as deadly as they became during the coronavirus pandemic, and 2021 is racing to be one of the most lethal vehicular years in a decade.

As the Washington Post reported of data on the year’s first quarter from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

“The first quarter of 2021 was the deadliest start of a year on the nation’s roads in over a decade, with car crashes killing an estimated 8,730 people from January to March, according to a new estimate from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The numbers indicate that a surge in road deaths that began with the coronavirus pandemic has continued into this year, although they offer some early glimmer of hope that unusually high fatality rates might be beginning to come down. NHTSA said the ongoing high death rate appears to have been caused by drivers continuing to take risks by speeding, getting behind the wheel after drinking or using drugs, and not wearing seat belts. To coincide with the new estimates, NHTSA … released an updated version of a guide to improving highway safety, largely focusing on encouraging more-conscientious behavior on the roads and deterring risk-taking.”

childcovidcasesaugend21-300x168As tens of millions of travelers hit the road  to enjoy the Labor Day weekend, public health officials warned the unvaccinated anew against moving around freely during the holiday marking the unofficial end of summer. Authorities cautioned the vaccinated, too, against letting their guard down as the Delta variant fuels a fourth, deadly surge in the coronavirus pandemic.

Infections, hospitalizations, and deaths have spiked after too many of the holidays in recent months, experts say. And the sunny optimism that led health officials to forecast a significant quelling of the coronavirus by this summer’s Independence Day has, of course, wilted in the continuing rise of the Delta onslaught.

The U.S. health care system, already buckling in many regions under the pandemic’s terrible recent spike, underwent more pummeling by raging Western wildfires and a hurricane that drenched the Gulf Coast and then pounded the Northeast with spin-off weather calamities (like a tornado) and drenching rains. The inundation of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York claimed dozens of lives and wreaked havoc on regional infrastructure, even as Gulf Coast residents struggled with unbearable late-summer heat and humidity and without basics like dependable food and water supplies, reliable electric power, and undamaged and livable housing.

covidhospitalizations08212021nyt-300x171The coronavirus keeps ripping through the country with a fourth, Delta-variant fueled surge that also is producing confounding, confused behaviors that only add to the pandemic’s considerable gloom.

The pandemic, which already has killed at least 635,000 Americans and infected just under 40 million of us, is slamming hospitals. More than 100,000 coronavirus patients, including rising numbers of children and younger patients, are jamming intensive care and other units in numbers not seen since the pandemic’s start (see New York Times graphic). This is slashing hospitals’ capacity to treat non-coronavirus patients, even many in serious shape. And hard-hit southern facilities braced for the double-whammy of a hurricane making landfall.

Disease deaths continue their scary spike, now averaging 1,000 a day. Florida is taking a bludgeoning from the disease, crashing records for infections, hospitalizations, and fatalities.

diabetesreuterrise-300x120More than 100,000 people in this country died last year due to diabetes. That’s 17% more than the year before. And in younger age groups, it’s even worse: deaths from diabetes climbed 29% last year  among those ages 25-44, federal data show.

The figures should raise huge alarms that diabetes, as exposed by the coronavirus pandemic, is “out of control,” reported Chad Terhune, Robin Respaut, and Deborah J. Nelson for Reuters news service.

Their investigation, including an analysis of federal data to draw a depressing depiction of diabetes’ significant damages to the health of millions of Americans, found that the pandemic only begins to show huge failures in the care of what should be a manageable illness:

deltadixieft-300x187The coronavirus has killed almost 630,000 Americans, with the pandemic adding in its fourth surge now under way 1,000 deaths a day or 42 fatalities per hour.

The disease has infected almost 38 million of us, with more than 145,000 new cases occurring each day in recent weeks.

More than 90,000 coronavirus patients were in hospitals nationwide in the last week, more than in any previous surge except last winter’s, the New York Times reported.

covidhotspotmap08142021nyt-300x180As the latest coronavirus surge worsens, public health efforts to quell the pandemic are targeting two groups that might be dubbed the can’t-s and won’t-s.

Federal regulators sought to assist the first group by approving coronavirus vaccination booster shots for a select group of patients — those whose compromised immune systems could not generate sufficient protection with standard shot regimens.

Experts say that individuals who have undergone organ transplants or who may be undergoing cancer treatments or otherwise have low immune systems may benefit from the booster shots.

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