If you receive a medical bill dunning you for whatever your insurer didn’t pay, take a closer look before writing your check. The New York Times writes that although balance billing is a common practice, it’s not always legal, and you may be able to ignore it. [More]
A judge just invalidated the patents on two human genes whose mutations have been linked to breast and ovarian cancer. The genes were isolated by a biotech firm called Myriad Genetics, which argued that because it figured out how to isolate the genes outside of the human body then they were patentable. The judge called that “a ‘lawyer’s trick’ that circumvents the prohibition on the direct patenting of the DNA in our bodies.” The company sells a $3,000 cancer screening kit and has maintained a monopoly on the test because of the patents. [More]
Mike was sent to LabCorp for some routine medical tests last week, and what he found was an understaffed, overcrowded dump where patients were arguing that their urine samples were missing, or in one instance stolen while the patient watched. This could just be one badly managed lab, but the Internet is swimming in LabCorp complaints around the country that all repeat the same problems. [More]
Are you tired of forgetting whether you should add creatine or cinnamon to your kale smoothie? Do you worry that the milk thistle you’ve rubbed on your genitals isn’t helping? The “Snake Oil?” graphic at informationisbeautiful.net can help you out–it provides a graphical overview of 166 different health supplements and arranges them according to how much evidence there is that they actually work. [More]
An advisory panel for the Centers for Disease Control has recommended that everyone get flu vaccinations from now on, not just people in special higher risk groups. According to WebMD, “the CDC almost certainly will make universal flu vaccination official U.S. policy for this fall’s 2010-2011 flu season, as it consistently follows the advice of the panel of outside experts.” [More]
The West Texas nurse who went on trial this past Monday for reporting a doctor to the state board was found not guilty after just an hour of deliberation, reports the New York Times. The jurors who spoke to the Times after the case said it seemed pretty cut and dried to them. Now the nurse’s lawyers are focusing on their civil lawsuit against the county, the sherrif, the county attorney–who is described in the article as the surgeon’s personal attorney as well–and the hospital administrator who fired the nurse for going over his head. Hooray for whistleblowers! [More]
In a paper published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences, a forensic pathologist warns self-medicators to be careful when they’re taking unregulated herbal remedies. [More]
In a little less than 12 hours, over 300 skeptics throughout the U.K. will protest the homeopathic medicine industry there by deliberately overdosing on full bottles of homeopathic pills, which technically don’t contain any molecules of the active ingredient. The group’s goal is to highlight the fact that homeopathic cures are about as scientifically valid as your horoscope. I’m all for stunts, but don’t they know that they’ll likely suffer from the memory of an OD? That’s how this stuff works, you know. [More]
An anonymous reader wrote to us to ask what he should do about unexpected bills from a medical clinic. He chose the clinic precisely because he can’t afford hospital bills in the hundreds of dollars, and was led to believe that there’d be no out-of-pocket cost. It turns out there was. [More]
In case you missed it, Senate Democrats managed to succeed at their goal of pushing through some sort of health care reform bill before Christmas Day–the chamber voted this morning 60-39 along party lines and passed the bill. Up next: the Senate and House have to get together and negotiate some final version. If you want to compare what’s in the House and Senate versions, the New York Times has put together an excellent side-by-side comparison tool.
Rob’s local Kroger pharmacy screwed up the prescription on his kid’s TamiFlu. Rob caught the error before any harm was done, and he’s not the confrontational type. In fact, he’s wondering whether he should just drop the whole matter. Here’s your chance to convince him otherwise. [More]
If you’re dumb, you forget that plastic surgery is surgery with an extra word in front of it, a doctor tells CNN in their article on getting nip/tucked safely. As with any surgery, there’s no real way to make it completely safe, but here are five tips from their article that you should follow to improve your odds. In fact, they’re probably good tips for any kind of surgical procedure. [More]
Researchers at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver looked at sales figures and prices for the blood thinner Plavix after direct-to-consumer advertising started in 2001. What they found was that the campaign was largely ineffective at increasing prescribing rates, but that the price of the drug shot up 12% almost immediately to cover the cost of the marketing campaign. [More]
G.’s young son was recently ill with H1N1, but no pharmacy in the city where he lives had liquid Tamiflu in stock. (Even the federal government released its stockpile not long ago.) He writes that nearly every pharmacy he called turned him down. Then he learned that the liquid can be made from Tamiflu capsules by pharmacists, or even by parents at home. Why didn’t the pharmacy staff, or his doctor, tell him this?