Articles Posted in Research Studies

howardhospitallogoHospitals have raised major alarms with insurers, businesses, and patients by asserting that spiking costs for medical staff, especially nurses, will lead them to increase their prices in the days ahead by as much as 15%.

This would be a budget-busting move, breaking contracts the caregiving institutions have struck with employers and insurers, leading not only to potential premium shocks but sharply higher charges for patients, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The newspaper noted that the soaring hospital price plans are coming up in negotiations now among chains like HCA Healthcare and Universal Health Services, companies, and insurers, differing markedly from typical discussions on this always tough issue:

family-300x241While the nation’s pediatricians have announced an important, high-minded goal of eliminating racial bias in the medical treatment of children, working parents and other full-time caregivers for kids need a different kind of help, too, for a growing, serious problem — burnout.

These seemingly different issues share a common discovery point, rooted in challenges made large by the coronavirus pandemic and the recent unrest over social injustices experienced by communities of color, news media reports say.

Medical practitioners of various kinds, including kids’ specialists, have been forced to reexamine their consciences and beliefs even before but especially after the 2020 death in police custody of George Floyd, the AP reported. For pediatricians and their important practice group, this led to a medical reckoning, valuable to all patients but especially those of color:

cabinetdrugcomputertech-300x178Big Pharma has made the nation so pill-obsessed that prescription drugs pose big risks to the safety of the seriously sick and injured and the finances of retirees.

Recent news stories have warned, for example, that:

aspirinme-225x300Aspirin has gotten its crown knocked askew as a cheap, effective low-dose heart problem preventer for older Americans.

That’s because the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has weighed the evidence, heard the comments, and recommended against patients 60 and older taking the common drug to avert cardiovascular diseases. The experts gave this purportedly protective step a “D” grade.

The USPSTF is an elite, independent, and influential group of experts who advise the federal government, insurers, and clinicians about the safety and effectiveness of medical tests and procedures based on rigorous consideration of their merits.

newportsFederal regulators say they soon will ban the manufacture, distribution, and retail and wholesale selling of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, an action expected to take effect in a year or two and which anti-smoking advocates argue could save hundreds of thousands of lives of black and young Americans.

The Food and Drug Administration says the best available evidence argues powerfully for its planned ban, which some opponents have flipped as risky for one of the biggest groups that researchers say will benefit: African Americans.

Big Tobacco has targeted black consumers for decades, getting them and young people addicted to powerful nicotine by pushing the soothing effect of mint-derived menthol on the harshness of cigarette smoke, as the Washington Post reported:

changingcovidtollap2022wp-300x216The coronavirus pandemic has become such a central part of so many people’s lives that the temptation is great to ignore its persistent, calamitous effect — and how some of the worst of these can be dealt with more than ever in relatively easy, safe, convenient ways.

Looking recent data about the disease, it is possible to start to downplay the virus, suggesting it could be reaching the endemic stage in which it still poses high perils but is not a crisis condition, as it has been for months now. Consider, for example, how widespread coronavirus infections have become, especially due to the recent surge involving the highly contagious Omicron variant. As the New York Times reported:

“Sixty percent of Americans, including 75% of children, had been infected with the coronavirus by February, federal health officials reported … — another remarkable milestone in a pandemic that continues to confound expectations. The highly contagious Omicron variant was responsible for much of the toll. In December 2021, as the variant began spreading, only half as many people had antibodies indicating prior infection, according to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While the numbers came as a shock to many Americans, some scientists said they had expected the figures to be even higher, given the contagious variants that have marched through the nation over the past two years.”

diettiming-150x150Americans’ obsession with weight control can lead them to embrace diet theories and convert too many of them into conventional wisdom. Alas, when medical researchers put widely accepted notions to scientific testing, they can evaporate faster than a rain drop on a hot summer sidewalk. That’s the potential fate of the idea that when people eat matters as much in weight control as what they consume.

This just isn’t so, according to “a rigorous one-year study in which people followed a low-calorie diet between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. or consumed the same number of calories anytime during the day,” the New York Times reported, noting that so-called timed eating “has failed to find an effect.” The newspaper quoted Dr. Ethan Weiss, a diet researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, who reported this:

“There is no benefit to eating in a narrow window … These results indicate that caloric intake restriction explained most of the beneficial effects seen with the time-restricted eating regimen.”

cancercenterlogoWhile patients often seek treatment at big, fancy hospitals, in part because they are designated as National Cancer Institute centers, these institutions provide a sticker-shock surprise for those receiving their specialized care: They jack up the already sky-high cost of prescription cancer drugs with markups going up from 120% to 630% above what they pay for the medications.

Those are the findings of researchers at the Harvard and Yale medical schools and elsewhere as reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s Internal Medicine publication. As they noted with expert restraint:

“The findings of this study suggest that, to reduce the financial burden of cancer treatment for patients, institution of public policies to discourage or prevent excessive hospital price markups on … chemotherapeutics may be beneficial.”

airlinemasking-205x300Hundreds of Americans keep dying each day due to the coronavirus. Tens of thousands of people across the country are reporting they are newly infected with the disease, even as at-home testing lowers this count. Thousands of patients still are hospitalized due to the virus that has killed at least 1 million in this country. But even as worrisome measures of the pandemic rise anew, important ways to battle the deadliest infectious disease outbreak in a century are dwindling.

Health officials are grappling with a federal judge’s ruling, upending nationwide what has been a minimally inconvenient step to quell the pandemic — a requirement for passengers to cover their faces while traveling on public transportation.

The judge — yes, an appointee from the last administration who was deemed by the Bar to be not qualified for her lifetime post — staked out a dubious legal view that federal officials overstepped their authority with the mask order.  U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, sitting in Tampa, Fla., asserted among other things in her ruling that she thinks Congress limited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be involved only in “inspection, fumigation, disinfection, sanitation, destruction, or pest extermination.”

academies-300x90The nation’s nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are in dire need of drastic overhaul to dramatically improve the quality and safety of their treatment of the aged, sick, and disabled. They too often now get what one expert has described as “ineffective, inefficient, inequitable, fragmented, and unsustainable” care.

To repair the glaring, longstanding wrongs in these facilities — problems that critics say contributed to 150,000 resident deaths during the coronavirus pandemic — requires sweeping practical, regulatory, and financial changes in an industry focused on profits and resistant to change, according to newly published expert research report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

The academies, with members who are leaders in their fields, are private, nonprofit institutions that work outside of government to provide objective advice on matters of science, technology, and health.

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