Saturday, December 29, 2007

Never Challenge The Power of Doctors

It seems that doctors can never get enough money, enough power or enough control. In Texas the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons has filed suit in federal court to stop the Texas Medical Board from even accepting anonymous complaints.

It seems the 4% of complaints that are filed against doctors are anonymous and that's simply too much for doctors to put up with since they know everything about everything and no one should ever question their decisions. The fact that the average person is intimidated by the money and power doctors have in their communities doesn't justify the ability to file an anonymous complaint from the doctor's perspective. They want to know who to retaliate against!

I'm reading "OVERTREATED - Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer" (a Christmas gift) and it's incredible how doctors refuse to admit mistakes no matter how horrific the circumstances. No matter how blatant their errors, no matter how callous they are in taking advantage of patients, they still think they deserve the right to continue at any cost.

I can only hope the courts are beyond the usual political influence of the medical associations and throws the case out of court to protect OUR rights and OUR lives.

If you've ever wondered why most practitioners of complementary and alternative therapies try to keep under the radar, this is the reason. No one wants to become a target of the medical associations, their lawyers and lobbyists. Remember it was only 20 years ago that the federal courts had to protect chiropractors from the American Medical Association.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Upside Down Priorities

One of the main advantages of a government-run medical system (the norm in most industrialized countries) is that it catches problems early when they're most treatable. This saves everyone money, literally saves lives and contributes to a healthier population.

News from the American Cancer Society points out that uninsured in this country die of cancer sooner, probably because they delay getting the tests which might save their lives. Dr. Elmer Huerta wrote: "The truth is that our national reluctance to face these facts is condemning thousands of people to die each year."

Why is this important to complementary and alternative therapies? Because a medical system controlled by the pharmaceutical industry does not want to lose their monopoly and the current system. Government run health care systems prohibit direct-to-consumer drug advertising and control the costs of prescription drugs. Government health care also is more open minded when it comes to utilizing CAM when it can save money and improve the quality of life for its citizens.

In this upcoming political season health care in America is going to be a more important issue than the war because it affects every family in our country.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

California Protecting Patients

California has abolished its 27-year-old program to protect the identities of alcoholic or drug-impaired doctors. Since 1980 a doctor in a treatment program can continue to work and his/her identity is kept secret from the public. A review last summer concluded that the program failed to protect patients or help addicted doctors get better. The current program will end June 30th and unless a new program is put in place the state will probably revert to the previous zero tolerance policy.

There are an estimated 8,000 impaired doctors in this country ... do you have one? I've known some who were courageous enough to admit their problems and become champions for patient protection. The stories they tell are terrifying and only the secrecy-shrouded medical system allows it to continue.

The good news is the trend is beginning to turn as a result of the hideous mistakes by these few bad apples. Slowly there is more transparency coming into the system so patients can learn more about their doctors and protect themselves. It's long overdue.

Friday, December 14, 2007

New Medical Credit System

Hospitals want to know if you're going to pay them so they're developing a new credit scoring system to judge your ability to pay. The new medFICO score could be in use by next summer. There are concerns that a patient with a low score will receive low-quality medical care.

Hospitals claim they'll only check the score after the patient checks out to better evaluate what type of relief may be needed. (This falls into the "check is in the mail" category of fairy tale.)

The Consumer Federation of America says it found that 29% of credit scores in their survey were 50 points lower than they should have been. There are enough problems with the current Fair Isaac credit score system from identity theft and inaccurate scoring that a medical version is a bad idea.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Senior Sales Pressure

It's that time of year again when seniors are almost attacked by insurance sales people trying to get them to buy private Medicate Advantage insurance. The overly aggressive and deceptive tactics have brought warnings by Medicare and state regulators.

One of the problems not explained to seniors is that many doctors and hospitals won't accept private Medicare plans so they should check with their doctor to be sure he'll accept it. These private insurance programs are sold as an alternative to Medicare for better benefits.

In many cases the insurance "salesman" is actually just looking to steal their social security number for identity theft. If you have any questions or concerns contact Medicare at 800-633-4227.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Drugging The Elderly

We've all heard about the problem of over-medicating seniors but the problem has become very serious in America's nursing homes. Today they're using powerful antipsychotic drugs to chemically subdue residents. According to research from the federal government nearly 30% of the total nursing home population in this country is being given antipsychotic drugs. It's an "off-label" use but very common, even though many of the drugs carry "black box" warnings.

Did you know Medicaid spends more on antipsychotic drugs than any other type of medication? Yep, more than antibiotics, more than AIDS drugs, even more than high blood pressure medications. Drug sales last year were $11.7 billion up from $6.6 billion in 2002. Sound like a problem that's out of control to you?

As usual drugs are a fast, simple solution ... much easier than treating the source of the problem or using some type of complementary or alternative therapy.

Interview with Jacqueline Marcell

Had a fun, and very fast, interview with Jacqueline Marcell yesterday afternoon. Her show, Coping With Caregiving, focuses on the needs of the caregiver community in our country. You may have heard of her book Elder Rage or Take My Father ... Please!

Jacqueline has 4 guests on her 1-hour show so it's only a 9 or 10-minute interview but we got a lot of information in about the world of hope called complementary and alterantive medicine. I'll be posting a link to her archive shortly.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Costs of Medicine

For those of us who think an insurance policy with $1 million lifetime coverage makes us safe from financial problems related to health care ... think again. That number was industry standard in the 1970's and treatment costs have soared since then. Today it's not uncommon to max out your insurance and still have huge medical bills.

According to a 2005 study 34% of adults have problems with their medical bills or have debt caused by medical expenses ... and 62% of those people had health insurance.

You've seen or heard about hospital bills that charge $20 for an aspirin, what's called bill padding. Hospitals claim it's their only defense against the aggressive cost-containment efforts of insurers and government agencies. Careful or you can get left holding the bag ... that holds your bill from the hospital.

The soaring cost of health care today is the reason it's going to be a major political issue in this election cycle ... and the reason more and more people are turning to complementary and alternative medicine.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Standards of Doctors

Interesting study done by Massachusetts General Hospital recently about the ethics of doctors. It seems 45% of those responding admitted they hadn't always reported impaired or incompetent colleagues or significant medical mistakes. And these are the same folks complaining about the safety of complementary and alternative medicine?

1/3 admitted they'd order an unnecessary and expensive MRI scan just to get rid of a complaining patient while 25% said they'd refer patients to an imaging center in which they had a direct financial interest ... and not bother informing the patient of the conflict of interest. Ethics, anyone?

Monday, December 3, 2007

Books For Sale ... Really!

If you've tried to order UnBreak Your Health and been told it's out of stock or unavailable it's because I'm having a problem with Ingram, one of the largest book distributors in the country. For some reason they've coded my book as Out Of Stock from the very beginning and they refuse to change it ... regardless of whether it's in stock or not.

Book stores can actually order it and it'll arrive in just a few days, not the 4-6 weeks that is the standard reply for an Out Of Stock book. How I'm getting any orders for my new book at this point is a miracle.

If anyone knows anybody at Ingram please help me get this situation fixed! For the last TWO MONTHS my publisher and printer both have tried to get Ingram to correct the listing but without success.

If nothing else, Amazon always seems to get the job done.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

More and More Drugs, Nothing But Drugs

Think Americans aren't using enough prescription drugs? Well, the FDA is going to help solve that problem! On Monday, Dec. 3rd they're going to have a public meeting to discuss a plan to allow the pharmaceutical companies to promote off-label uses of drugs.

Courts have been pushing the FDA to not inhibit the free speech rights of drug companies ... gee, can we take a guess at how many high-paid lawyers, lobbyists and consultants were needed to make that happen? What about the rights of consumers to health care that isn't totally controlled by the drug industry?

Meanwhile a group of FDA advisors warned that the agency suffers from "serious scientific deficiencies to meet current or emerging regulatory responsibilities."

And so the show goes on, and on, and on.

Meanwhile the world of complementary and alternative medicine keeps their head down to avoid showing up on the radar of the AMA and the drug companies. You don't want their high-paid gunslingers coming after you!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Dirty Hospitals vs. Dirty Dishes

Why are restaurants inspected for cleanliness more often than hospitals? In New York restaurants are inspected without warning at least once each year. In L.A. it's three times per year and as you know restaurants must post their ratings at the door for all to see. While the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 2,500 people die each year from a food-borne illness from a restaurant or supermarket nearly 40x that number or 100,000 people die each year from infections contracted in health care facilities.

We used to inspect hospitals regularly but that changed in 1970 thanks to the CDC and the American Hospital Association. Today hospitals are looked at by the Joint Commission every three years, and that's not enough to guarantee they're clean. A study in California this year found 25% of hospitals surveyed as a result of complaints were unsanitary, even though they'd been accredited the previous year. When do we get to see the cleanliness rating of a hospital at the front door?

Not to make you feel any worse but doctor's offices aren't inspected at all. Think about that the next time you're sitting on that examination table with almost nothing to wear.

Is it any surprise many people feel their lives are being put at risk to protect a doctor's livelihood? Could it be the financial (and resulting political) muscle of the medical community is influencing the regulations which determine how clean our hospitals are today?

Is it too much to ask our elected officials to make our hospitals as clean as our restaurants?