Don’t Go To The Hospital

Now is not a good time to go to the hospital unless it is an emergency event.  Put off surgery for a few months until the current mess of unsanitary conditions is resolved.

The Food and Drug Administration has issue a recall of many lots of (supposed) sterile equipment already in hospitals across the country.  Iodine swabsticks, prep solutions, scrub solutions and many more make up the suspected list of antiseptic preparations that every patient depends upon during a hospital stay.  This means if you are a patient over the next few months you will be at high risk for infection.

The FDA recall states that “Patients undergoing medical and surgical procedures, including those who are immunocomprimised, have a high risk of infection from antiseptic surgical preparations that have been prepared, packaged, or held under unsanitary conditions.”

More and more we must take responsibility for own health and safety.  Ask the right questions before submitting to services inviolving your health.  It is your most precious asset.

Doctors Making House Calls?

Would you believe that some doctors are now making house calls?  Alas, it’s only for the chronically ill, actually those with multiple chronic diseases.  The Department of Veterans Affairs is leading the way in this new-old idea.

Dr. Bruce Kinosian, associate professor of medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennslyvania in Philadelphia, is the most prominent supporter of the Independence at Home ( IAH)  program .   He calls on his patients with more than one chronic disease at their homes rather than giving them access only to his office as most of us have.

The  program now serves veterans in nearly every state and shows that, on an average, hospital stays dropped by 62 percent and nursing home days by 88 percent in 2002, the latest figures available.  Congress included funding for a new demonstration project similar to IAH in their passing of the health care reform law.  This will effect only Medicare patients with multiple chronic conditions and is scheduled to begin on January 1, 2012.  A study by Johns Hopkins University estimated that 98 percent of Medicare expenditures involve beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions.

The IAH program has been in effect for nearly thirty years at the VA and has been keeping our veterans alive longer, as well as saving taxpayers big money.  Now with Dr. Kinosian’s backing and the savings to the Medicare program, we may see this privilege of house calls extended to more of those who desperately need this care and maybe even to some of the rest of us when needed.

Ouch! My feet hurt!

I just returned from a vacation and my feet hurt. We pay so little attention to our feet even though they hold us up day in and day out and often well into the night. Happy feet are so important for our good health.
All this reminded me of an article I saw in the Mayo Clinic Health Letter sometime in June. It was called “If the Shoe Fits”. Here are some suggestions it made that we could all follow:

1. Select lace-up or strap-on shoes with a snug, but not tight fit.

2. Look for low-heeled shoes, no more than an inch high, with a wide-based sole.

3. Get a non-slip sole that’s moderately stiff.

4. Shop toward the end of the day when your feet are the largest.

5. Have both feet measured while standing and try on both shoes.

6. Select shoes based on how comfortably they fit, not the size on the box.

7. Get a shoe that fits, and ask about modifications – such as stretching – that can be made to reduce irritation of a painful area.

I also noted that the Mayo Clinic doctors urged caution for older adults considering a double rocker shoe because walking safely in them requires a level of balance that many older adults don’t have, which may increase the risk of falling.

Follow these few rules and you’ll have happy feet.

Fighting Infections With Duct Tape

Would you believe that hospitals are using duct tape to keep caregivers away from patients who are contagious? No, it’s not to protect the patients in any way; it’s to protect the caregivers!
Hospitals in the Quad Cities area in Illinois and Iowa are now marking off an area with red duct tape near the door to rooms where patients with infectious conditions are housed, and nurses and other caregivers are instructed not to venture further into the room. The explanation is that it takes the nurse too much time to don the protective gear of gown, mask, and gloves in order to answer a patient’s call bell. The area is a 3-foot by 3-foot floor space in front of the door into the patient’s room. It is from this space that the nurse must tend to the patient. If they venture beyond this box, they must put on the required gear.
It is estimated from a recent study done by Janet Nau Franck, a registered nurse and independent consultant at Trinty Medical Center, that the hospital would save more than 2,700 hours and $110,000 over the course of a year. No one has asked the patients how they like this arrangement. People in isolation already get fewer routine attention, like vital signs taken on a regular schedule, less cleaning service, and fewer doctors’ visits, as well as briefer notes from doctors. The fact that these patients already feel alone and isolated is not taken into consideration.
If you are planning a hospital stay, check to see if that hospital is adopting the red duct tape system. With many more drug-resistant infections around today, you could end up in just such an isolation room. A hospital is the most likely place to catch such an infection.

How Much of Your Prescription Drug Use is Private?

In a first step to retain some privacy of your records at your pharmacy, the Supreme Court struck down a Vermont state law that allowed your personal information to be available to drug makers. In my opinion they didn’t go far enough. In the past, pharmaceutical companies have been allowed to use a form of marketing called ‘detailing’. Detailing is using information received from pharmacies concerning which doctors prescribe the individual companies’ drugs. This allowed them to market to the doctors they now know as prescribers of their products. The new law allows drug companies to market their products in a more limited fashion without being privileged to the names of individual doctors.
Marketing to individual doctors by drug companies has been a point of contention with patients for a long time. You have seen (and perhaps waited for) the drug representatives in your own doctor’s office with their bags of goodies and free samples offered to the physician as incentives to prescribe their latest medications. You no doubt have also seen the numerous items displayed around the office with the signature of a pharmaceutical company or colorful pictures of their newest drugs. Recently, as I waited for my appointment, a pharmaceutical representation arrived with six boxes of pizza which would be lunch for the entire staff as soon as they rushed me and others who waited for our 10-minute visits with the doctor.
We all have to wonder how much influence these free items have when the doctor opens his or her prescription pad in choosing which drugs to send home with us.

Keep Both Eyes on Your Kids

Summer is here and it’s time to drag out that wading pool and set it up in the back yard. Can’t you just see the two and three year olds jumping for joy? But it is not all fun and games. It’s time for extra caution. An article in Pediatrics journal this week pointed out that a child dies every five days during the hot months of summer in such pools. We’re talking the tiny inflatable wading pools for the toddler set! You can turn your back for a second and a little one can slide into the water and turn over with the face in the water and not be able to get up. You can be watching one child while another unexplainably gets her face under a few inches of water.
The article gave statistics for 2001 to 2009 when 209 deaths and 35 near-drownings of children under 12 were reported. Most of these children were under 5 and 81 percent of the accidents happened during the summer months. The study, done by Nationwide Hospital and Independent Safety Consulting of Rockville, MD., focused on portable pools, from small wading pools less than 18 inches deep to inflatable pools and other soft-sided pools that can reach as much as 4 feet in depth.
Constant supervision is of course a must whenever water is involved no matter the age of the children, especially those in the toddler set. There are no regulations for these small wading pools. There is no way to fence them in. Ignore the cell phone, the doorbell and any other distraction while your child is in a pool no matter how shallow. The safety of your children depends on you.

Are You Getting The Drug That Was Prescribed?

When we leave the doctor’s office with a prescription in our hands, we feel confident that we have been helped, and rightly so. But sometimes that should not be taken for granted. Today the FDA made a disturbing announcement. Two drugs with similar names (even their generic names are similar) are often confused with each other by doctors and pharmacists, as well as by patients like you. These drugs are also packaged in similar boxes with look-alike labels. Since they have similar characteristics, such as drug strength, dosage forms and dosing intervals, it is easy to understand how the druggist, the patient, and even the doctor can be confused.
The important point to note, however, is that the drug, Risperidone or (Risperdal) is an antipsychotic medication used for mental illnesses like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, while Ropinirole (Requip) is used for Parkinson’s disease and also for Restless Legs Syndrome.
Be sure to check with your doctor to be sure what he or she has prescribed for you and for what condition it is prescribed. When you pick up your prescription from the pharmacy, check the package promptly and ask the doctor if that prescription is prescribed for your condition.
We all must begin to take charge of our own health. Doctors and Pharmacists are only human. They make mistakes. Realize that you are responsible for your own treatments. You can say yes or no to tests, treatments and drug which are prescribed. Take advantage of the information available and check out the drugs and treatments you are considering. It is your health that is at stake.