American Medical Association takes a stand against gun violence


Jim Watson/AFP

❝ With frustration mounting over lawmakers’ inaction on gun control, the American Medical Association on Tuesday pressed for a ban on assault weapons and came out against arming teachers as a way to fight what it calls a public health crisis.

At its annual policymaking meeting, the nation’s largest physicians group bowed to unprecedented demands from doctor-members to take a stronger stand on gun violence — a problem the organizations says is as menacing as a lethal infectious disease.

The action comes against a backdrop of recurrent school shootings, everyday street violence in the nation’s inner cities, and rising U.S. suicide rates.

❝ “We as physicians are the witnesses to the human toll of this disease,” Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency-medicine specialist at Brown University, said at the meeting.

RTFA. Nice to see a leading body of successful, well-educated professionals stand in responsible commitment to fighting a social disaster. Ain’t always the case.

Swallow “bacteria on a chip” — diagnose gastrointestinal ailments

❝ MIT researchers have built an ingestible sensor equipped with genetically engineered bacteria that can diagnose bleeding in the stomach or other gastrointestinal problems.

This “bacteria-on-a-chip” approach combines sensors made from living cells with ultra-low-power electronics that convert the bacterial response into a wireless signal that can be read by a smartphone…

❝ In the past decade, synthetic biologists have made great strides in engineering bacteria to respond to stimuli such as environmental pollutants or markers of disease. These bacteria can be designed to produce outputs such as light when they detect the target stimulus, but specialized lab equipment is usually required to measure this response.

To make these bacteria more useful for real-world applications, the MIT team decided to combine them with an electronic chip that could translate the bacterial response into a wireless signal.

RTFA for, literally, the gory details.

98% of Fed Grant dollar$ to fight opioid addiction – going to counties that voted for Trump


Unloading sharps at the Mountain Center in Española, NM

❝ Despite Rio Arriba County having historically high opioid overdose rates, it did not make a list of 220 counties the federal government will focus on when allocating $100 million in grant money to create prevention, treatment and recovery programs for people suffering with opioid addiction.

The U.S. Department of Health and the Human Services Health Resource and Services Administration will use a 2016 Centers for Disease Control study that identified 220 counties vulnerable to an outbreak of HIV and rising of Hepatitis-C. Of the 220 counties on the list, 215 of them voted for President Donald Trump in the 2016 general election. All of the counties have majority white, non-Hispanic populations…

❝ Rio Arriba County is about 70 percent Hispanic and 13 percent white, non-Hispanic.

❝ Instead of focusing on rural communities with the highest opioid overdose rates, the 2016 study identified six indicators that were associated with increased HIV and Hepatitis-C infection rates. These included drug overdose deaths, prescription opioid sales, per capita income, unemployment, potential buprenorphine prescriptions and being a white, non-Hispanic county.

You could look at the details of this administration’s decision and wonder what exactly are they trying to do? Are they focusing on a single demographic and arbitrarily deciding these folks are the only ones worth trying to save from addiction?

Or are they applying Trump-level ignorance and over-simplification? Trump gets lots of votes from white junkies and their families; so, they get the dollar$ in social and medical aid for their addiction.

Chimps or Humans…Who Has The Cleaner Bed?


Click to enlarge

❝ By swabbing abandoned chimpanzee nests in Tanzania’s Issa Valley, scientists learned that just 3.5 percent of the bacteria species present came from the chimps’ own skin, saliva, or feces. In human beds sampled in a previous study in North Carolina, the number was a whopping 35 percent.

Parasites, such as ticks and fleas, were also scarce in chimp beds.

❝ Now, before you burn your linens and start building a bed out of leaves, there are a few things you need to know.

Here’s where you go to learn the answers

Trump sent bodyguard to rip all his files out of doctor’s office!


“Which one gets to live?”

❝ NBC News just reported on what might be the craziest White House story you’ll read this week. It involves Trump’s colorful longtime personal doctor, Harold Bornstein, who claims that Trump’s bodyguard, a Trump Organization lawyer and a third man conducted a “raid” of his office in February 2017, seizing 35 years of Trump’s medical records.

❝ The biggest question is whether any laws were broken with the seizure, which Bornstein said left him feeling “raped, frightened and sad.” Bornstein said he wasn’t provided a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) release signed by the patient, Trump, which would be a violation…

The second-biggest takeaway here, though, is how heavy-handed all this was. That may speak to why we still don’t have a completely sober-minded review of Trump’s health.

Trump continues to lead the Republican Party along the path to becoming his version of La Cosa Nostra. The procedure for transferring medical records from doctor to doctor, facility to facility is nothing new. No big deal. Unless you’re a low level-Mafioso character who’s afraid of [1] journalists getting a peek at his prescriptions or [2] the Feds – namely Special Prosecutor Mueller – finding some damaging information in subpoenaed medical records.

Sending in your muscle to force removal of records shows how unstable and fearfilled our Fake President really is.

Yes – more research declares a bit of caffeine is okey-dokey

❝ Many clinicians advise patients with atrial or ventricular arrhythmias to avoid caffeinated beverages, but recent research has shown that coffee and tea are safe and can reduce the frequency of arrhythmias…

Arrhythmias, or abnormal heart rhythms, cause the heart to beat too fast, slow or unevenly. While some arrhythmias may be harmless or even go unnoticed in patients, others can increase risk for sudden cardiac arrest. Atrial fibrillation (AFib), the most common heart rhythm disorder, causes the heart to beat rapidly and skip beats, and if left untreated, can cause strokes.

A single cup of coffee contains about 95 mg of caffeine and acts as a stimulant to the central nervous system. Once in the body, caffeine blocks the effects of adenosine, a chemical that can facilitate AFib…

❝ “Caffeinated beverages such as coffee and tea may have long term anti-arrhythmic properties mediated by antioxidant effects and antagonism of adenosine,” Dr. Peter Kistler said. “In numerous population-based studies, patients who regularly consume coffee and tea at moderate levels have a lower lifetime risk of developing heart rhythm problems and possibly improved survival.”

One of those cultural questions I try to stay up-to-date with. Over the past 40 years, a bit of caffeine consumption seems to be staying well ahead of the abstinence crowd.

‘Complaining’ now an Official Vital Sign in Patient Care

❝ After extensive deliberation, the American Medical Association (AMA) has decided to make complaining a vital sign…According to Merriam-Webster, to complain is “to say or write that you are unhappy, sick, uncomfortable, etc., or that you just don’t like something.”

The research that led to the AMA’s change demonstrated that 100% of patients (within a margin of error of 0%) meet the criteria for complaining. “The prevalence is astounding,” said lead researcher Mike Weber, PhD. “It’s amazing we didn’t add complaining to the vital sign lexicon before.”…

❝ Healthcare providers report hearing complaining even when they can’t assess other vital signs. “Sometime I can’t hear any reparations or a heartbeat, but I don’t even need a stethoscope to hear the complaining,” explained Jodie Marcus, RN.

Complaining is even more prevalent than the controversial former fifth vital sign, pain. The data reflect that patients often forget they’re in pain, but they never forget to complain.

Patients are thrilled with the recent designation.

Of course.

AI diagnosis to make medical decisions is just about here


AP Photo/M. Spencer Green

❝ The US Food and Drug Administration approved this week the first software powered by artificial intelligence that replaces the need for a specialized doctor to interpret medical imagery.

The software is called IDx-DR, made by diagnostic AI startup IDx, and specifically analyzes images of the retina to detect whether a person with diabetes has a complication from the disease called diabetic retinopathy…

❝ Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes where blood sugar damages the back of the eye, according to the FDA, and is the main cause of the loss of vision for those with diabetes…

By allowing this software to be marketed in the US, the FDA is setting a bar for the accuracy needed in order for AI to take over for human doctors. When validating that the AI system worked, the FDA used images from 900 US patients. The software correctly detected more than mild diabetic retinopathy 87.4% of the time, and identified when patients did not have more than mild retinopathy 89.5% of the time. Accuracy for humans naturally varies from doctor to doctor, but for the FDA to approve the technology it “must provide for more effective treatment or diagnosis of a life-threatening or irreversibly debilitating disease or condition.”

No doubt a predictable percentage of Americans will demonstrate fear of this technology to a greater degree than any other educated nation. Part of that education and, more important, political processes, electoral politics, religious folderol, come together to work harder than anywhere else – to keep citizens from modernizing their lives and thinking. Why – we might even question authority.

Was our healthcare system created to enrich Big Pharma?

❝ An Irish drugmaker has jacked up the price of a painkiller to nearly $3,000 a bottle. The drug is 22 times more expensive than when the company acquired it in late 2013.

The sticker shock for Horizon Pharma’s Vimovo drug is magnified by the fact that the painkiller’s two main ingredients can be purchased separately — for just $36.

❝ Although patients typically pay just a fraction of the price for Vimovo, the dramatic price increase underlines what critics describe as a murky and wasteful system that ultimately leads to higher health care costs for all Americans.

Everything from corporate taxes to transport to insurance hustles are constructed around optimizing profits for pharmaceutical companies. We shouldn’t call this “healthcare” — it’s “profitcare”!