Articles Posted in Infections

benzos-300x180Signs abound that the coronavirus pandemic has really stressed out Americans. Dentists say they are seeing a surge in patients needing care for jaw-clenching and teeth grinding. Doctors report treating increased numbers of patients who have shed abnormal amounts of hair due to fear and anxiety about getting sick with Covid-19, losing a job as part of the disease’s economic shocks, or losing friends or loved ones to illness.

But there also is an increasingly worrisome way to deal with the mental health challenges of the coronavirus: prescription drugs, specifically the class of medications known as benzodiazepines. “Benzos,” as they commonly are known, are widely “prescribed for anxiety, insomnia, seizures, panic disorders and other health problems,” the New York Times reported.

“They are also often given before certain medical procedures. They slow brain activity, causing sedation or calming effects. The drugs are enormously popular. In 2019, according to the agency, roughly 92 million prescriptions for benzodiazepines — such as the highly prescribed Xanax, Klonopin and Ativan — were dispensed in the United States.”

wyden-150x150https://www.protectpatientsblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/69/2020/09/Bob_Casey_Jr._official_photo-150x150.jpgThe White House and Senate Republicans have failed to protect more than 1.3 million Americans in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, with persistent inaction contributing to the rising toll of Covid-19 deaths and infections among the institutionalized — months after the crisis in long-term care exploded into the public consciousness.

Those are the new findings of Bob Casey and Ron Wyden, two ranking Democratic U.S. senators serving on the Aging and Finance committees, respectively. They issued their harsh criticisms and a minority staff report they requested and based on information from the Trump Administration. The Washington Post quoted Casey:

“This report lays bare the devastating cost that American families have paid as a result of the Trump administration’s incompetency and Republican inaction. The crisis in our nursing homes, which residents and workers and their families are experiencing every day, demands immediate action.”

dementiadiagram-300x204Even as news organizations reported that the coronavirus pandemic has taken a grievous toll on seniors institutionalized with dementia, a presidential panel on nursing home care split over common sense but limp recommendations on how the nation might reduce Covid-19’s savaging of the old, sick, and injured in long-term care facilities.

The unsurprising, 180-plus pages of recommendations from the Coronavirus Commission on Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes to the Trump Administration and specifically its long-term care facility watchdog Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) included calls for: “More money for testing, for personal protective equipment (PPE), for registered nurses, for infection control training and staff salary increases,” the Washington Post reported.

Seema Verma, the CMS chief who has led a calamitous federal response in long-term care that has left at least 77,000 vulnerable residents dead — 40% of all the coronavirus fatalities in the nation — and not quite a half million infected, tried to spin the commission’s findings.

debtcomsurvey-300x254Americans have made health care a central concern of the upcoming elections with excellent reasons. Their nightmares about this issue are getting worse, not better:

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As the November elections draw near, let’s not lose sight of the flurry of developments in response to the politicization of the pandemic and the assaults by the Trump administration on medical science. Among them:

cmsseemav-150x150Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities now account for around 62,000 coronavirus deaths, 42% of the country’s total. So how is it possible that, months into the pandemic, owners and operators keep failing to fix well-known infection-control basics, like mixing healthy and infected residents and allowing poorly paid staffers to work at multiple facilities, carrying the disease from each to each?

On a side note, is it any comfort to frightened nursing home residents and outraged loved ones that Seema Verma, the nation’s chief regulator of long-term facilities, has obsessed, with taxpayer money, of course, on her image and public relations — spending on girls’ night bashes and face time with well-heeled patrons in her own party?

The independent, nonpartisan Kaiser Health News service deserves credit for piecing together various information sources to raise significant questions about not only nursing homes and long term care facilities but also hospitals and the care giving institutions’ infection-control procedures — notably whether, with all medical science knows now about Covid-19, facilities appropriately separate and isolate individuals with coronavirus diagnoses from others uninfected.

cdcinoculate-300x240The “warp speed” race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine has gotten hit with a yellow flag.

It could be a good thing that the product’s makers — Oxford University and AstraZeneca — followed medical-scientific protocols and paused their Phase III clinical trial due to a participant’s unexplained illness.

Officially, the company offered spare information about the occurrence, especially because it affects the private medical information of a single individual.

bobwbook-209x300Some fictional scenarios to contemplate:

  • What would happen to a military leader who was briefed and admitted to knowing of severe threats but downplayed them, resulting over a few months to the United States seeing its Indo-Pacific and European Commands wiped out — combined losses of roughly 180,000 in U.S. forces?
  • How would the governor of Maryland be treated if he was told of a public works problem but belittled it and in less than a year the cities of Columbia, Bethesda, and Annapolis and all the people in them were destroyed?

atlas-218x300The Trump Administration — yet again — has sowed confusion, frustration, and anger over the federal response to the Covid-19 pandemic, creating potentially harmful credibility issues for a prospective coronavirus vaccine, the scientific concept of “herd immunity,” a possible blood-based treatment for the illness, as well as testing, contact tracing, and quarantines for the disease.

The White House follies would be considered bad farce, save for the reality that the U.S. death toll races toward 200,000 and infections have skyrocketed past 6 million. The U.S. has 22 percent of the world’s Covid death toll, but only 4 percent of the world’s population.

With schools reopening, infections, hospitalizations, and deaths among children are on the rise.

marylandlogo-300x177It turns out there is more to be said about Maryland’s recently completed, pandemic-related checks on hundreds of nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

Three facilities, indeed, got expensive rebukes from state inspectors, but dozens more were hit with milder fines that also suggest widespread issues in the institutions, notably with the crucial concern of infection control.

In contrast to the Washington Post’s previous coverage of the sizable fines for Collingswood Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center ($275,000) and Potomac Valley Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center ($120,000), and Kensington Healthcare Center ($294,000), the Baltimore Sun said it, too, had obtained Maryland records indicating:

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