For most people, when you’re at a point in life where you need surgery, you’re not feeling exactly empowered or willing to grill your doctor on his or her exact qualifications. But you should, says—of all groups—the American College of Surgeons. Thomas Russell, the organization’s executive director and a surgeon, says, “Patients should feel free to ask their surgeon anything they want answered about the operation or the surgeon’s competency to perform it. There are no questions that should be off the table.”
The FDA has a set of specifications on proper eye care, and apparently people who buy their contact lenses online are less likely to follow those rules, reports a new study. The gap comes from having less trained, in-person medical attention and up-to-date prescriptions, and not poorer cleaning habits (although we wouldn’t recommend using dollar store saline solution just to save a few bucks).
According to a survey by the University of Chicago, 48% of doctors said “they have given at least one treatment when there was no evidence it would work.”
It’s okay for drug companies to spend oodles on advertising because they spend even more making sure their drugs are safe and effective, right? Not so much, according to a study in PLOS Medicine.
If you’re black, Hispanic, or “Asian/other,” you might want to make sure your voice is heard loud and clear the next time you have to make a trip to the ER. Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that over the past 13 years, white patients were prescribed powerful opioid painkillers 31% of the time, versus 23% for blacks, 24% for Hisanics, and 28% for Asians and “others.”
On December 12th, the U.S. District Court of New Jersey sentenced Elizabeth Lerner, a.k.a. Elizabeth Cooperman, to 33 months in prison for “falsely claiming that she could cure amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly called ‘Lou Gehrig’s Disease.'” Her crime partner, former osteopath Charlene C. DeMarco, was sentenced to 57 months back in September.
As much as we’d like to believe that pharmacists have an X-man-style power that allows them to correctly read the worst handwriting imaginable… they don’t.
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital surveyed 1500 doctors, asking whether or not they reported incompetent colleagues. 90% said that they should always report incompetent doctors or serious medical mistakes, but 45% said that hadn’t always done so.
The latest SmartMoney list of insider secrets and unpleasant truths is just as bleak as every other news item about health care these days, starting with the fact that a primary care doctor—”someone to coordinate your health care, help choose your specialists and be the first to diagnose just about any problem”—is getting harder to find, and fewer med students are showing any interest in the (comparatively) low-paying profession: “the number of primary-care internal medicine residency positions dropped by more than 50% in the past decade.”
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is cracking down on drug reps, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Details are still sketchy, but the general idea is that drug reps will no longer have direct access to doctors, but will instead drop off samples via a central office that will then distribute them to the staff.
“Most people spend more time picking out a can of beans than a new doctor,” says one expert in a Chicago Tribune article about how to find a properly licensed doctor that you’ll get along with. He and other experts recommend you arrange for a “first date” sort of interview, so you can ask general questions and get an overall feel for both the doctor and the practice, before the time comes when you need a doctor and don’t have the luxury of shopping around.
ABCNews asked a optometrist to write a bifocal prescription and have it filled at Costco, Target, LensCrafters and Walmart, then they asked him to rate the quality of the glasses.
Tomorrow, CNBC will be airing a story on the program Business Nation about the swarms of drug reps who buzz around your doctor’s office trying to convince her to give you Lipitor or Requip or whatever.
The New York Daily News is reporting that a phony dentist dumped an ill patient on the curb after botched oral surgery. The patient, Colette Villemin, is on life support after suffering what may have been an allergic reaction during surgery. She’s suffered heart and brain damage and may not survive.
Due to a fairly awesome article in Smart Money awhile back, we’re now under the impression that Zagat ratings are sort of a scam to sell plaques, but we’re apparently in the minority. Now WellPoint is adopting the Zagat method to rate doctors. Yes, doctors.
Microsoft beat them to the punch, but Google has announced that they, too, are planning to roll out a service that lets consumers store their medical records online and transfer them between health care providers as needed. Marissa Mayer at Google said the idea was spawned after reports of lost or damaged records in the wake of Hurricane Katrina: “It doesn’t make sense to generate this volume of information on paper. It should be something that is digital. People should have control over their own records.” Mayer says they hope to include things like x-rays, and that it “will take a lot of breakthroughs in digitization.”
Woman undergoes unneeded double mastectomy. [AP]
Did you know it’s illegal for a doctor to charge you for giving you your contact lens prescription? Yup, it’s against federal law. The Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act mandates that a doctors must provide you with a copy of your prescription after a contact lens fitting.