Articles Posted in Testing

drunkstop-300x161As federal, state, and local officials seek to slash the nation’s spiking road toll of injury and death, law enforcement authorities need to crack down on the scary prevalence of motorists who get behind the wheel while intoxicated by marijuana or alcohol.

Indeed, as NPR reported:

“A large study by U.S. highway safety regulators found that more than half the people injured or killed in traffic crashes had one or more drugs, or alcohol, in their bloodstreams. Also, just over 54% of injured drivers had drugs or alcohol in their systems, with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an active ingredient in marijuana, the most prevalent, followed by alcohol, the study published [Dec. 13] by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found. Although the study authors say the results can’t be used to gauge drug use on the roads nationwide, they say the high number of drivers, passengers, and other road users with drugs in their systems is concerning.”

condoms1-150x150In some not-so-great news for the nation’s sexual well-being, the rubber has hit the road for too many guys.

The familiar and oft-ridiculed prophylactic could play a significant role in battling an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that has engulfed the nation, the Washington Post reported. But condom use has declined significantly, for example, as a leading means for family planning, falling in opinion surveys from 75% in 2011 to 42% among men polled.

Public health experts confront multiple challenges in trying to slash the soaring tide of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, partly because medical advances with HIV-AIDS mistakenly have the sexually active, especially young men, believing that they can forgo condoms and be safe, the newspaper reported:

heart3-150x150As cardiologists and other medical specialists grow increasingly aware of big differences in the heart and circulatory health of men and women, researchers also are prodding doctors who take medical histories of female patients to be sure to ask simple but important questions about their experiences with problem pregnancies.

That’s because vital preventive information can be surfaced, if clinicians learn, for example, that their patients had preeclampsia, “a complication that occurs in about 5% of pregnancies and in which dangerously high blood pressure can lead to seizures, organ failure, and death,” according to Stat, a science and medical news site. As Stat reported:

“Women who have preeclampsia have more than twice the chance of developing cardiovascular disease later in life compared to women who had pregnancies without it …Today, a growing subset of care providers is advocating for closer follow-up of the millions of people who have had preeclampsia and other complications during pregnancy that signal an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Given that about one in three women in the U.S. have cardiovascular disease, better screening of people with pregnancy complications could help protect them before they develop the disease in the first place.

pulseoximeter-150x150Until the coronavirus pandemic struck, few regular folks knew about pulse oximeters, much less had one on hand for urgent use. The devices, which fit over a finger, are supposed to give fast readings on the levels of oxygen in patients’ blood — a key measure of their respiratory wellness.

But the devices, whether in relatively inexpensive consumer versions or in medical-grade units used in doctor’s offices, clinics, and hospitals, are far from perfect. They suffer major inaccuracies when used by those with darker skin.

Federal regulators have known about this flaw for years. But at a time when patients, families, doctors, and hospitals relied on the devices routinely to make critical treatment decisions affecting those struggling with likely coronavirus infections, an information chasm opened. Doctors urged people to pop by drug stores and other retailers to pick up the devices, saying that they could be helpful in letting them know when their oxygen levels were dipping in concerning enough fashion that they should seek emergency treatment.

colonoscopynatinstitute-300x292Colorectal cancer remains  the third most commonly diagnosed form of cancer  in this country. It kills tens of thousands of Americans annually. Although detection of the illness is declining overall, and especially among older adults, specialists have expressed growing concern about its rising rates in younger patients. This has prompted experts to push for more screenings to discover this cancer earlier.

But a new, decade-long European study involving 80,000 participants has given experts in the field at least a pause and may be forcing a more nuanced consideration of colonoscopies — long considered a pricey, inconvenient, intrusive, but “gold standard” test in the battle against colorectal cancer.

The study offered a brusque reminder, especially to regular folks, that testing and early detection of serious illnesses do not automatically result in optimal outcomes that improve or extend lives. As Stat, the science and medical news site reported:

anxietykid-150x150Americans live such nerve-wracking, glum, stressful lives that not only young people but also adults up to age 65 would benefit from regular screening during their doctor visits for anxiety and depression.

That’s the draft recommendation, newly issued and up for public comment, by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent, blue-ribbon group that provides influential guidance to the federal government on medical tests and treatments.

As the New York Times and other media outlets have reported, the task force recommendations on anxiety and depression screening for most regular folks in this country were in the works before the coronavirus pandemic hit. The advisory has only taken on greater urgency as the pandemic worsened what already were grave concerns about the nation’s mental health.

coronavax-150x150As summer ends, millions of Americans should pop around the corner for a healthy double — that is, a pair of vaccinations, one targeted against the latest, widely circulating coronavirus Omicron variants and the other shot to fight the seasonal flu, federal health officials say.

The newest booster for the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants should be available at drug stores, clinics, and doctors’ offices this coming week, regulators at the federal Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Infection have decided.

The coronavirus shots, as occurs with annual flu vaccines, will be based on existing products that have been given to huge populations globally — safely, with great effectiveness, but now without extensive clinical trials that were conducted of previous formulas of the vaccines.

faucipic-150x150This fall our nation will go once more into the breach, with federal officials hoping that another big push for vaccinations against the coronavirus and flu will stave off the deadly surges of contagions that have caused the fundamental health measure of life expectancy to plummet in a historic way.

Still, the announced retirement of Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the nation’s foremost fighters against infectious illnesses — and the sharply divided reactions to his planned end of year departure from a half century of public service — continue to show how fraught vaccinations and public health have become in the U.S.

Fauci, who joined the National Institutes of Health in 1968 and was appointed the director of its infectious disease branch in 1984, has advised every president since Ronald Reagan — seven in all. He became a political lightning rod twice in instances of illnesses with enormous medical effect, with the outbreak of HIV-AIDS and the coronavirus pandemic.

cdcwalensky-150x150The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of the world’s premier public health agencies, will try to revamp itself after taking months of a political, scientific, and reputational battering for too often performing in shambolic fashion in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Rochelle Walensky (shown, right) appointed the agency’s chief in December 2020, announced in April of this year that she had asked outside experts to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the CDC and to recommend reforms.

She now has told her 11,000 agency colleagues that the much-needed scrutiny showed that the CDC, with its $12 billion budget, had become too ponderous, bureaucratic, and academic in its work, communicating too slowly, badly, and in confusing ways with its most important constituents: the American people. As the New York Times reported of Walensky’s blunt assessment of the suboptimal response to the pandemic that has killed more than 1 million and infected 93 million-plus of us:

covidnewcdcguideaug22-300x169Federal health officials have eased guidelines for most regular folks on how best to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, even as monkeypox cases and vaccination efforts for that viral illness keep increasing and the detection of once-controlled polio raises concern.

Indicators about the severity of the next influenza season also  worry experts.

With the coronavirus, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shifted, putting “more of the onus on individuals, rather than on schools, businesses and other institutions to limit viral spread.” the Washington Post reported:

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