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Over 250,000 die from potentially preventable medical errors under Medicare. PDF Print E-mail
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)
Written by Roman Bystrianyk   
Monday, 17 April 2006 00:00

It has been over half a decade since the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released its first reports on health care quality and medical errors. In that report they noted that, “serious and widespread problems occur in small and large communities alike, in all parts of the country.” 

A 1997 study in the Journal of the Medical Association (JAMA) showed that Adverse Drug Events (ADEs) were responsible for as many as “140,000 deaths annually in the United States.” A 2000 statement in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) showed that secondary infections acquired in hospitals accounted for “88,000 deaths” each year and that secondary infection problems also occur in “nursing homes, outpatient clinics, dialysis centers, and other sites of healthcare delivery.” 

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services the Medicare Program is the second-largest social insurance program in the U.S., with 42 million beneficiaries and total expenditures of $309 billion in 2004. An April 2006 report by HealthGrades (http://www.healthgrades.com/) examines the current state of medical errors. 

The report starts, “there are several estimates on the number of medical errors and associated deaths. Most of these estimates would rank medical errors as a leading cause of death in the U.S. However, these well-accepted figures likely represent only the tip of the medical-error iceberg.”


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Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 September 2009 02:12
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Curbing corruption in medicine PDF Print E-mail
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)
Written by Roman Bystrianyk   
Tuesday, 04 April 2006 00:00

Pharmaceutical companies spend between $12 and $18 billion every year marketing to physicians and residents. This amount of money includes approximately 60 million annual visits by pharmaceutical representatives as well as most of the $1.5 billion spent annually on continuing medical education. 

In the January 25th issue of Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), 11 authors of a paper call for a reexamination of health industry practices that create conflicts of interest throughout the medical field. Financial conflicts of interest occur when doctors deviate from their professional obligations for economic or other personal gain. 

“Approximately 90% of 21 billion marketing budget of the pharmaceutical industry continues to be directed at physicians, despite a dramatic increase in direct-to consumer advertising.” In 2000, the pharmaceutical and medical device industry sponsored over 300,000 events specifically for physicians. Industry also contracts with many doctors to serve on advisory boards. The obvious purpose of all these actions is clearly for drug companies to promote the use of their products. 

It’s long been assumed by many that doctors can remain objective if the cost of the gifts is small. However, social science research shows that the desire to reciprocate for even low cost gifts is a powerful force on behavior. “Individuals receiving gifts are often unable to remain objective; they reweigh information and choices in light of the gift. The rate of drug prescriptions by physicians increases substantially after they see sales representatives, attend company-supported symposia, or accept samples.” Unfortunately, studies show that the overwhelming majority of these influences “had negative results on clinical care.”


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Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 September 2009 02:12
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Omega-3 fish oil improves patient survival 37% PDF Print E-mail
Written by Roman Bystrianyk   
Sunday, 26 March 2006 00:00

Long-term use of omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to be beneficial in patients with heart disease and those with cancer. Newer evidence is now showing that omega-3’s can have beneficial effects in other areas such as fighting infection. 

A recent study in patients with acute respiratory syndrome showed improvement after only a few days of administration of omega-3 fatty acids. Other studies have shown the improved immune function in animals treated with omega-3 fatty acids against bacteria. One randomized study in patients after surgery found that patients treated with fish oil had less severe infections due to reduced immune suppression. They also had shorter stays in the ICU [Intensive Care Unit] and in the hospital. 

A study in the April issue of Critical Care Medicine, examines the effect of omega-3 fish oil on a large patient population. The study authors examined over 660 patients from 82 hospitals. The study included patients that had major abdominal surgery, sepsis (blood infection), trauma, head injury, and other conditions. The authors wanted to determine if survival, length of hospital stay, and antibiotic use would be affected. 

The authors found that giving fish oil to patients resulted in a “reduction in hospital mortality from 18.9% to 11.9%”, which is equal to a 37% reduced death rate. Use of fish oil was also associated with a significant decrease in length of stay in the ICU and in the hospital. The patient need for antibiotics was also reduced significantly in patients who were given fish oil.


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Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 September 2009 02:13
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Preparing for an uncertain future – economy of illusion PDF Print E-mail
Written by Richard Martin   
Tuesday, 21 March 2006 00:00

We are living through the biggest financial bubble in history. According to estimates by The Economist, the total value of residential property in developed economies rose by more than $30 trillion over the past five years. Not only does this dwarf any previous house-price boom, it is larger than the global stock market bubble in the late 1990s or that of the late 1920s. 

San Diego County resale house prices fell in December by the largest monthly amount in 18 years. The median resale price for existing single-family homes dropped $15,000 from November to December to stand at $550,000, the largest month-to-month decline since Data Quick began keeping records in 1988. The San Diego Association of Realtors, which monitors about 60% of the housing market, reported that properties took longer to sell in 2005 than in 2004 - remaining on the market for an average of 62 days last year, compared to 54 in 2004. Housing starts soared this January, growing at their fastest pace in almost 33 years. This would seem to be good news. Unfortunately, however, supplies of new, unsold houses are rushing onto the market at the fastest rate in 21 years. Inventories are piling up.


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Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 September 2009 02:13
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More than 5 fruits and vegetables per day reduce stroke by 26% PDF Print E-mail
Written by Roman Bystrianyk   
Friday, 17 March 2006 00:00

Stroke is the third leading cause of death and the most common cause of disability in most developed countries. According the American Heart Association, stroke killed 157,804 people in 2003 in the United States alone. A reduction of 25% in the number of stroke deaths would result in saving almost 40,000 lives each year. 

The authors of the study analyzed eight well designed studies that examined the relationship of fruits and vegetables and stroke. The combined studies had a total of over 257,000 individuals over an average duration of 13 years. They standardized all studies into fruit and vegetable consumption categories of less than 3 servings a day, 3 to 5 servings a day, and more than 5 servings a day. 

All the included studies were prospective studies which should eliminate selection and recall bias. All the studies were of large sample sizes and were over a long period of time that also adjusted for a variety of lifestyle factors. 

The authors found that, “compared with individuals who have less than three fruit and vegetable servings per day, those with three to five servings per day have an 11% reduction in the risk of stroke, and those with more than five servings per day have a reduction of 26%.”


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Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 September 2009 02:21
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Study links vaccines containing mercury with autism PDF Print E-mail
Written by Roman Bystrianyk   
Friday, 10 March 2006 00:00

A 1948 article in the journal Pediatrics opens with, “Inflammatory reactions involving various parts of the nervous system following injections or various sera or vaccines have long been known”. In that paper they discuss 15 instances in children at Boston Children’s Hospital that developed “acute cerebral symptoms within a period of hours after administration of pertussis vaccine.” 

During the same time, the 1940s to the 1950s widespread use of the DTP vaccine (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis – more commonly know as whooping cough) came into use. Analysis of the historical data available shows that the recorded rate of whooping cough slowly fell coinciding with the use of the vaccine. However, using additional historical references from England – which maintained the most accurate historical disease mortality records – shows that before widespread vaccination the death rate from whooping cough had already declined by approximately 98.8 percent from its peak recorded in the 1860s. 

A 1996 article in Pediatrics noted that a large controlled study, the NCES or National Childhood Encephalopathy Study, found that, “a significant association exists between the occurrence of acute neurologic illness and DTP vaccination with the preceding 7 days.” In 1994, an IOM (Institute of Medicine) committee concluded that the, “balance of evidence is consistent with a causal relation between DTP and chronic nervous system dysfunction in children whose serious acute neurological illness occurred within 7 days of DTP vaccination.”


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Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 September 2009 02:21
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Can aloe and probiotics help reverse IBS? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Roman Bystrianyk   
Wednesday, 08 March 2006 00:00

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is a chronic condition characterized by abdominal pain, cramping, constipation, and diarrhea. According to the website www.ibsgroup.org IBS has been reported by 10 to 20% of the adult population of the United States and IBS symptoms are responsible for over 3 million visits each year to the doctor. It is considered one of the most common functional GI disorders with 70% of the sufferers being women. 

According to the FDA, “Nearly all people with IBS can be helped, but no single treatment works for everyone. The first step is a personal evaluation of history, stress level and diet. People who can identify particular foods or types of stress that bring on the problem should avoid them. For most, especially those who tend to be constipated, regular physical activity helps keep the gastrointestinal tract functioning normally.” 

“A substantial number of Americans with IBS have more severe symptoms that often do not respond to dietary or lifestyle changes alone. Drugs that slow the function of the gastrointestinal tract and are considered to be antispasmodics, such as Bentyl (dicyclomine hydrochloride), are frequently prescribed. Antidiarrheal drugs, such as Lomotil (diphenoxylate) and Imodium (loperamide), may help people with diarrhea.” 

However, with the risks of medications such as Lotronex, people have sought out alternatives to treat their illness. According to the British medical journal the Lancet, “GlaxoWellcome withdrew Lotronex from the market after the deaths of five patients taking the drug. There had been 49 cases of ischaemic colitis and 21 of severe constipation, including instances of obstructed and ruptured bowel. In addition to the deaths, 34 patients had required admission to hospital and then need surgery.” The same article chided the FDA for their failure to act appropriately in reviewing and approving Lotronex accusing the FDA as being a “servant of industry”.


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Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 September 2009 02:22
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Soy with added soy fiber decreases baby’s spit up PDF Print E-mail
Written by Roman Bystrianyk   
Thursday, 02 March 2006 00:00

Regurgitation is a common problem in infants. Approximately 50% of infants regurgitate one or more times per day during the first 3 months of life. The peak is frequently at 3 months of age and usually resolves by 6 to 12 months of age. Most infants do not suffer from long-term problems, but symptoms can result in infant discomfort and anxiety for the parents. Therapy for the problem ranges from no intervention, to medication, to anti-reflux surgery. 

When basic measures fail to control the problem, two types of medications are generally used – acid-blocking medications such as Pepcid, Zantac, and others, and medications that strengthen the tone of the lower sphincter and increase gastric emptying such as Propulsid, Reglan, and others. 

Nutritional approaches that can decrease this problem carry little risk, are non-invasive, and can reduce parental anxiety. For more severe cases nutritional approaches may work with other therapies. 

A study in Clinical Pediatrics, examines whether fiber-supplemented soy formula can reduce regurgitation in infants. The study was randomized and double-blinded. One group of infants received a standard milk-based formula or received a soy-based formula with 6 grams of added soy fiber.


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Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 September 2009 02:22
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Scientists have shown that breastfeeding lowers the risk of heart disease in adulthood and, in a separate study, have shown that it could also help raise IQ. Nisha Parikh of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston, found that people...

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“CONTEXT: Laboratory findings have suggested that oxidative stress may contribute to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer disease. Therefore, the risk of Alzheimer disease might be reduced by intake of antioxidants that counteract the detrimental effects of oxidative stress.” “OBJECTIVE: To determine whether...

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