burningdope-150x150Marijuana, as the kids say, isn’t as dope as users would like it to be.

Instead, a new study finds that marijuana can do greater damage to humans’ respiratory system than cigarette smoking — a nasty habit that research also has proven to be a major cause of cancer, heart and circulatory damage, and other health harms.

To be sure, the researchers’ observations about pot’s harms were based on a relatively small sample size of 56 Canadian patients who smoked both cigarettes and marijuana and had their chest scans scrutinized by at least two radiologists who were blinded to information about the patients whose images they were reviewing. As the Wall Street Journal reported of the study, published in the medical journal Radiology:

tksgiving-300x177Millions of us will have much to give thanks for during the annual holiday, which, like several of its recent versions, again will be a time of health wariness and uncertainty, too.

The seasonal feast — which brings so many the joy of not only a grand meal but also the pleasure of gathering with friends, family, and other loved ones — will be more costly than any in recent memory due to economic inflation and supply chain problems, the Associated Press reported:

“Americans are bracing for a costly Thanksgiving this year, with double-digit percent increases in the price of turkey, potatoes, stuffing, canned pumpkin, and other staples. The U.S. government estimates food prices will be up 9.5% to 10.5% this year; historically, they’ve risen only 2% annually. Lower production and higher costs for labor, transportation and items are part of the reason; disease, rough weather and the war in Ukraine are also contributors.”

agedhands-150x150The Biden Administration is encountering stiff industry opposition but is forging ahead with plans to announce in coming months major regulatory reforms that advocates hope finally will force nursing homes to meet minimum staffing guidelines to care for some of the nation’s most vulnerable.

The tragic devastation of long-term care facilities and their residents by the coronavirus pandemic demonstrated the dire need for federal regulators to set baseline standards for nursing and other front-line resident care, critics say.

Their arguments have been bolstered by lawsuits against nursing homes and their subsequent disclosure of harms done to seniors, the sick, and injured — those who are so debilitated that they require substantial living assistance but too often do not get it due to substandard staffing and profit-driven decision-making by facilities’ owners and operators.

walmartlogo-300x117Walmart has offered to pay $3.1 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits filed against the deep-pocketed retailing giant, accusing it of complicity through its nationwide pharmacy operations in the lethal opioid abuse and overdose crisis.

The Bentonville, Ark., -based company insists it committed no wrong and the states, counties, cities, Indian tribes, and others who sued Walmart said it did not have as large a part as other pharmacy chains in inundating the country with powerful, prescribed painkillers.

Still, Walmart joins CVS and Walgreens in settling rather than confronting those who have found sustained success in seeking justice in the civil system, various news organizations have reported.

savings-150x150Just how much do you love the company for which you work? Is it enough to want to fork over hundreds or even thousands of dollars that you could spend to benefit the health of you and your loved ones?

Before the hectic holidays engulf us all, your personal finances can benefit if you check your 2022 health care spending, especially taking account of sums you may have set aside in special accounts offered through your employer.

These are known as Health Care Flexible Spending Accounts, aka FSAs. As the federal government defines and explains them to its own employees:

ciggy-166x300Consumers, politicians, and federal regulators should not make the mistake of thinking that Big Tobacco somehow will go, as the poet put it, quietly into that good night.

The fortunes are still too big to be made in peddling products that persist as some of the greatest preventable threats to Americans’ health, industry players keep reminding us all — most recently by suing to block California voters upholding a ban of flavored tobacco and by taking a last-minute investors’ reprieve to reorganize a pioneering vaping company that was on the brink of bankruptcy.

The Golden State had not even finished tallying its midterm 2022 votes when RJ Reynolds marched into federal court to challenge the newly and overwhelmingly approved referendum to allow a two-year-old state law to take effect barring within weeks the sale of flavored tobacco and vaping products. As the New York Times reported:

ACEP-300x98Almost three dozen leading groups representing a range of doctors, specialists, and other health workers have called on the Biden Administration to deal urgently with the long-running but increasing and dangerous practice of hospitals allowing their emergency care facilities to be overwhelmed because they also are parking patients waiting for rooms and treatment.

This “boarding” crisis, already at breaking points for many exhausted ER staffs, will worsen and imperil patients even more if the nation gets hit — as growing indicators suggest is occurring — with a “tripledemic,” a choking load of coronavirus, flu, and other respiratory infections serious enough to require hospitalization.

The American College of Emergency Physicians (38,000 members), has been joined by the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, American Academy of Emergency Medicine (8,000 members) and groups representing family doctors, allergists, anesthesiologists, radiologists, osteopaths, psychiatrists, and many others in a recent letter to the administration, reporting:

voting-150x150Voters from coast to coast made decisions last week not just about which candidates to favor but also about an array of health-related concerns from abortion to health insurance expansion to legalized ways to get high.

Women’s reproductive rights: a big deal

A major motivator in the 2022 midterm elections was the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to abolish the constitutional right to abortion and leave it to the states to decide women’s reproductive health rights.

charitycarehospitalskff-300x209Already sick, injured, and debilitated by age and other circumstance, U.S. patient-consumers get battered with misleading information from shady firms about insurance coverage under the Medicare program and with too little word from hospitals about too spare charitable care that could help the beleaguered with bankrupting medical bills.

Democratic investigators for the U.S. Senate Finance Committee have ripped outfits hustling private Medicare plans to seniors, saying that companies have, among other sketchy practices uncovered, “posed as the Internal Revenue Service and other government agencies, misled customers about the size of their networks, and preyed on vulnerable people with dementia and cognitive impairment,” the New York Times reported.

The investigators said they have cataloged dubious behaviors by vendors in 14 states of Medicare Advantage programs. The newspaper earlier has reported those health plans have become a highly lucrative line of business for insurers. They overstate how sick their patients are to put a bigger bite on taxpayers’ financial support of health coverage for those 65 and older, with Advantage plans enrolling a huge chunk of seniors now.

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.

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