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HealthCentral buys WellSphere, but did they get a lemon?

The medical blog aggregator WellSphere has been coming under fire for distributing blogger content without sharing traffic or revenues with the authors. 

Online health site HealthCentral recently announced that it was buying WellSphere, as the consolidation in online health sites continues.  
Val Jones writes about the treatment she received from WellSphere, and discusses the controversial fine print in the Terms of Service agreement.  She also notes a distict …

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Beware of Clostridium difficile hospital outbreaks

Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, is one tough bug.

A study looked at how the bacteria is spread (via Hospital Medicine Quick Hits) throughout the hospital during an outbreak.

Disturbingly, it was found in 15% of non-isolation patient rooms, 31% of physician work areas, and 21% of portable medical equipment, including pulse oximeters, medication carts, and bar code scanners.

The moral? Wash your hands frequently, …

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Can you find a kidney through a Craigslist personal ad?

Patients are circumventing the traditional waiting time to find an organ donor by using Craigslist.

In some cases, years have been cut off the waiting times. But are hospitals prepared for the legal and ethical questions that accompany such a non-traditional means of organ donation?

Few medical institutions even consider such cases, with only 10 percent of transplant centers willing to do cases from an altruistic …

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What are the recommended vitamins that patients should take?

Recent studies have disproved the benefit of taking many vitamins.

Internist Matthew Mintz goes over the data, and finds that vitamin E has not been shown to improve dementia, and vitamin C does not prevent colds.

Some, like increased doses of vitamin A, can be even dangerous and increase the risk of death.

This is what works: i) folic acid for pregnant women, which prevents neural …

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Should parents who refuse to vaccinate their children be held accountable?

The return of diseases that were previously eradicated is an emerging public health emergency.

Minnesota is currently dealing with an outbreak of Haemophilus influenzae, a disease that should have been eradicated with the appropriate vaccine. There were 5 confirmed cases, with 3 children not vaccinated against the disease.

A 7-month old infant tragically died, becoming the first Haemophilus fatality in the state since 1991.

Two physician-bloggers …

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The sad state of pediatrics in California

What did you expect?

Despite a marked population increase, hospitals are contracting pediatric beds, forcing patients to travel longer distances for hospital care or be admitted to a hospital hundreds of miles from home.

The simple reason is money.

Pediatric reimbursement rates in California rank dead last in the country, and hospitals are shifting their resources into more financially viable services, like adult care. And this …

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How should we pay for primary care?

There’s little doubt that strengthening our primary care system is a priority in health reform.

But how do we pay for it?

The WSJ’s Ben Brewer (via the WSJ Health Blog, which has an excellent discussion in the comments) comes up with a few ideas, and not all of them are going to go over smoothly.

One involves moving money earmarked for the Medicare Advantage …

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Should pediatricians care about the manners of children?

Some say the Miss Manners approach to parenting is outdated.

But rename “manners” to “social skills,” a popular buzzward in autism circles, and things change. Pediatrician Perri Klass wonders about some of the rude kids she sees, “and when you are in the exam room with a child who seems to have [no manners], you begin to wonder what is going on at home and at school, …

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Does the President need blood stored in his limousine?

Apparently, the Presidential limousine has a compartment that stores pre-crossmatched blood, just in case.

How necessary is this, considering the fact that a designated emergency department will never be far off for the President?

And in case the unforeseen happens, is transfusing blood in the field the best option for fluid resuscitation, rather than simply giving intravenous saline or crystalloid?

If anything, emergency physician Shadowfax writes, …

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Will Sanjay Gupta stand up to the lobbyists as Surgeon General?

The controversy surrounding the potential pick continues.

Maggie Mahar has some real concerns about Dr. Gupta’s history, including his propensity to support the products and treatments he reports on. With lobbyists having the potential to obstruct health reform every step of the way, the Surgeon General should “serve the interests of patients-ahead of the interests of those who profit from our bloated $2.3 trillion health care system.”

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The best way for hospitals to improve themselves

During the recession, how should hospitals spend their money?

If this recent report is to be believed, many are spending it to upgrade their service and amenities such as upscale food, a pleasant environment, and attentive staff.

Isn’t the money better spent on, say, clinical indicators and quality measures?

Well, no. Data has shown that patients respond positively to amenities, and sadly, “from the patient …

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Her hands and feet amputated, a Brazilian model dies from Pseudomonas aeruginosa sepsis. What happened?

Mariana Bridi da Costa, a 20-year old Brazilian model, tragically died early Saturday morning from Pseudomonas aeruginosa urosepsis.

How can this happen?

Miss Bridi da Costa initially presented on December 30th, and was diagnosed with kidney stones. An ultrasound, plain film, or CT scan likely would have been done to confirm the diagnosis. I assume that a urinalysis was also performed, and if …

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How online support groups help patients with psoriasis

Patients with dermatological disease often find it difficult to participate in patient support groups.

Online support options may be particularly helpful in these cases.

MedPage Today reports a small study that looked at patients, mostly with moderate-to-severe psoriasis, who participated in an online support group. Almost half reported an improvement in quality of life, with those who were most involved benefiting the most.

With the …

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Is The Dark Knight’s Two-Face a realistic depiction of third-degree burns?

The answer is no.

Patient-blogger Duncan Cross takes exception to the cavalier treatment director Christopher Nolan gives to third-degree burns in Aaron Eckhart’s super-villain.

“There is no way that eye would have survived intact, much less be able to function without a lid and tear ducts,” he writes.

And his refusal of pain medications in the film? “The idea that someone could suffer Dent’s injuries, …

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First day in the hospital, a trauma to remember

A medical student’s first day in the hospital turns into a day to remember.

She gets called in to observe a trauma involving a mother and three children involved in a motor vehicle accident, and this is part of her account of what happened (via WhiteCoat):

Soon the patient’s blood pressure fell into the 30s and then into the 20s. The anesthetist, constantly frowning, tried more blood, epinephrine. The …

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Why controlling health care costs is so difficult

Because there are very strong forces interested in maintaining the status quo.

Washington Post columnist Robert J. Samuelson finds that American health care system (via Robert Centor) is a reflection of our society: “It’s highly individualistic, entrepreneurial and suspicious of centralized supervision. In practice, Medicare and private insurers impose few effective controls on doctors’ and patients’ choices. That’s the way most Americans want it. Patients understandably desire …

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Our broken health care system, should we start all over from scratch?

If you’re a staunch single payer supporter or a free market advocate, you’re likely going to be disappointed with how health reform is going to play out.

In an excellent piece, Atul Gawande discusses the history of health reform (via Ezra Klein) in other countries that have universal care, like Canada, the UK, France and Switzerland, and how those systems came to be.

Completely scrapping our …

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How the government is banking on prevention to save money

The common refrain is that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

However, numerous studies have concluded that prevention doesn’t really save health care dollars. That’s because preventive medicine allows people to live longer, which will make them consume more health resources as they age. That may be a noble goal, but at least let’s be honest about it.

New York Governor …

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The best medical blog of 2008

I’m humbled by the honor.

KevinMD.com has been voted the best medical blog in the 2008 Medical Weblog Awards.

Whether your vote was for me, or for one of the other worthy finalists, your participation in the Awards further cements the status of medical blogs as an influential voice to be reckoned with in the national health care dialogue.

Thanks especially to Jeffrey Parks for the nomination, and to …

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Poll: Do gifts from pharmaceutical companies influence how physicians prescribe?

As if January 1st of this year, drug companies have voluntarily agreed to stop providing branded gifts to physicians.

Do gifts from pharmaceutical companies influence how physicians prescribe?

Trust in the pharmaceutical industry is at an all-time low. Numerous reports have described lavish events at which the latest, most expensive medications are marketed to doctors. and there is suspicion that clinical studies backed by drug companies have …

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