A persistent theme for Health Care Renewal has been how concentration and abuse of power in health care trap patients and heath care professionals in a maze of bureaucracy, perverse incentives, deception, and conflicts of interest. To anyone who has to make the transition from person to patient, some of these problems become immediately obvious. Consider, for example, this account of "going into a hospital for a minor procedure":

The very idea of ...

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A good chunk of every medical visit is spent writing prescriptions. Before we had an electronic medical record, this was often an arduous task, leading to serious writer’s cramp. Now the computer makes it easier on the doctor, but it doesn’t seem to have much effect on the patient. A recent article in the Journal of General Internal Medicine highlighted what most doctors have suspected all along, that a good chunk for ...

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by Kristina Fiore The first known outbreak of linezolid and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (LRSA) occurred during a 13-week period in 2008 in a hospital in Madrid, researchers say. The LRSA outbreak, involving 12 patients in the hospital's intensive care unit (ICU), was also the first with cfr gene-mediated linezolid resistance and was associated with nosocomial transmission and prior administration of linezolid, Miguel Sanchez Garcia, MD, PhD, of Hospital Clinico San Carlos in ...

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How effective is direct to consumer drug advertising? Some think that drug ads should be banned altogether, saying that it encourages patients to ask their doctors for expensive, brand name prescription drugs. It turns out, their fears may be overblown. NPR's Shots blogs about a recent study looking at the effectiveness of these ads. The numbers, for the pharmaceutical companies anyways, are not encouraging:

Overall, about 8 percent of the people who were ...

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Many prescription medicines are actually two or more medicines combined into one pill or package. True, this packaging is convenient-- but you can often save money by buying your medicine as its separate components. Let's look at some examples: Lotrel blood pressure pills. This is actually a combination of two blood pressure medicines: amlodipine and benazapril. Lotrel, the combo pill, is available in a generic form, as are it's two individual ...

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by Todd Neale One high school student in five has taken a prescription drug without a doctor's order, according to a nationwide survey. Abuse of a prescription drug was most common among white students (23%), followed by Hispanics (17.2%) and blacks (11.8%), according to Danice Eaton, PhD, of the CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Health in Atlanta, and colleagues. Improper use increased steadily from ninth grade (15.1%) to 12th grade (25.8%). Girls ...

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One of my favorite patients in residency was a lady in her seventies who had longstanding high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Each time she visited the office, I would recommend that we start multiple medications to control these conditions, and every time she would politely decline. Her previous physicians had left frustrated notes in her chart littered with terms such as "non-compliant," "against medical advice" and expressing wonderment why ...

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by Todd Neale Levels of tobacco-related nitrosamines -- known carcinogens produced when curing tobacco -- are higher in popular brands of American cigarettes compared with those from other countries, potentially leading to more cases of lung cancer, researchers found. The study of 126 smokers in four countries found that exposure to one carcinogen -- 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK) -- was highest among those from the U.S. compared with smokers from England, Canada, and Australia, ...

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by Charles Bankhead Heroin addicts had almost a threefold increase in negative urine specimens when treated with supervised heroin injection rather than with oral methadone, data from a British study showed. Overall, 72% of patients had negative specimens at least 50% of the time compared with 27% of patients assigned to oral methadone, according to the report published in the May 29 issue of The Lancet. Treatment with injectable heroin almost doubled the ...

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by Charles Bankhead Hot-flash frequency and severity declined by 50% in postmenopausal women treated for six weeks with the antidepressant citalopram, according to data from a placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial. The trial, conducted among 254 women with frequent hot flashes (at least 14 hot flashes a week for a month or longer), found that the lowest of three citalopram doses was as effective as the highest for dousing hot flashes, but the ...

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