Month: December 1999

Medicine’s Top 10 Advances of the Past 1,000 Years reports today on the top 10 advances in Medicine. I found the top two advances to be the most interesting and you’ll want to read what ABCNEWS has to say about #1.

ABCNEWS surveyed “leading experts” from a variety of medical specialties. The top ten are listed below, please visit for a complete description of each choice.

10: The Microscope
9: Discovery of the Circulatory System
8: Sanitation and Clean Water
7: Organ Transplants
6: ‘Germ Theory’ of Disease
5: Genetics, and the Double Helix
4: Anesthesia
3: The X-Ray : 1895*
2: Vaccines
1: Discovery of Antibiotics

This is their paradigm gang. Look at the list closely and ask yourself the question; which of these are actually advances? What changes will I see in the next 100 years? What role will I play in making those changes? The choice is up to you.

Source: ABCNEWS, Medicine at the Millennium @ 07:04 | Article ID: 946652680

Lessons Sought in the Origin of AIDS

A Writer of a recent book says that AIDS may have jumped from chimps to humans via an experimental polio vaccine yet the scientific community has expressed little interest in the theory.

British writer Edward Hooper, is the author of a new book on AIDS. Hooper is on a campaign to persuade the medical world that the deadly HIV virus may have been unleashed more than 30 years ago by medical doctors giving experimental polio vaccines to African children.

The River by Edward Hooper“The River,” is a 1,100-page examination of the history of AIDS that took Hooper nine years to research and write. Hooper says an oral vaccine given to about a million people in central Africa from 1957 to 1960 was cultured from the cells of primates. Scientists have concluded in recent years that AIDS originated in a primate: the chimpanzee. Hooper believes that cells from infected chimpanzees may have been part of the polio vaccine. The earliest known sample of the human AIDS virus is from 1959–after the polio vaccine had been administered.

Although the book has had favorable reviews, apparently few in the scientific world have shown much interest. “People don’t want to know about this, that it could be a physician-caused catastrophe” says Hooper.

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, during the late 1950s, researchers administered an experimental live-virus polio vaccine known as CHAT throughout a region that is now Rwanda, Burundi and Congo — areas that ultimately became a hotbed of AIDS. “Starter” samples of the vaccine are still stored in a locked freezer. Some say the samples should be tested for the presence of simian immunodeficiency virus, which in chimps is similar to HIV in humans.

A researcher involved in the African experiments fears that resurrecting this controversy “will make people afraid of polio vaccines and hurt the global eradication effort”, according to the same article.

“There is no concrete physical evidence, as yet, to prove the theory, even if the anecdotal and circumstantial evidence is highly persuasive,” Hooper said. @ 08:09 | Article ID: 946390195

Medical Doctors Not Educating Patients

University of Washington researchers found that doctors do not conduct discussions that enable patients to understand fully their treatment options.

“Do patients really know what they’re getting when they take that new drug or agree to that ground breaking surgery?” is the question asked according to a recent study in the latest Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers found that the answer may be no.

According to the study, most patients have too little decision-making dialog with their doctors. It was reported that with patients, there is very little discussion about the understanding of treatments or procedures they are about to receive.

Doctors Don’t Talk, Just Push Drugs
The study found that there was little to no discussion with doctors and patients, they just pushed prescriptions. “Get this prescription filled” is what was said. When the patient asked what the prescription was for, the doctors answer was “Oh, you’ve taken it before.”

Communication The Key To Success
Most agree that doctor-patient communication, is what is needed most. “Take two aspirin and call me in the morning” is only recently being realized as an ineffective method of caretaking.

ABC News – Uninformed Consent: New Concern About Patients’ Decision-making
MSNBC – Doctors leaving patients uninformed @ 07:14 | Article ID: 945868474

3,000 medical mistakes and mishaps

Nando media and associated press report that Federal investigators have documented almost 3,000 medical mistakes and mishaps in less than two years at veterans hospitals around the United States. More than 700 patients have died in those reported cases.

This report is the result of a new policy that requires employees to report medical errors and “adverse events.”

Medical error ranged from problems including medication, the failure of medical devices, the abuse of patients, and surgery on the wrong body part or the wrong patient.

The comprehensive report is believed to be the first of its kind by any health care system in the nation and shows what could be expected if all hospitals had to report their errors. Hospitals are not required to report medical error.

This is one more incident brought to light after last months report that medical errors are killing 44,000 to 98,000 people a year in hospitals alone. It is said that more people die from medical mistakes each year than from highway accidents, breast cancer or AIDS. For many, that is the entire population of the city you live in, dying each year.

Click here for Nando Media:
Medical errors in Veterans hospitals documented @ 16:00 | Article ID: 945640816

More Rezulin Drug Deaths Despite Warning

he Los Angeles Times reports that Deaths are climbing since the FDA received a warning on the dangers of Rezulin.

Although FDA officials were publicly warned that “every patient taking the diabetes pill Rezulin was at risk of sudden liver failure and no reliable way existed to protect them” by their own experts, the FDA decided to keep the deadly drug on the market.

FDA records now show that the number of deaths associated with use of Rezulin has climbed to 215. These are reported fatalities linked to the drug since it was introduced in March 1997.

The L.A. Times website has the entire series of articles on this topic.
Click the link above to follow the FDA and Pharmaceutical money trail. @ 09:03 | Article ID: 945356604

Women and Alternative Medicine

MSNBC reports today on the alternative medicine bandwagon and women.

“There’s a health trend that’s making big gains among women: alternative medicine.” More than 83 million Americans are using alternative medicine and the majority are women. Every day, more people are embracing alternative methods of healthcare. The number one reason in doing so is taking control and responsibility of your own health.

Of course the medical profession is skeptical. The article is written with outside-in thinking but is available so that you can better educate your patients.

MSNBC: Treatments popular despite lack of scientific evidence @ 09:02 | Article ID: 945356572

Drugs, Side Effects, and Death

According to new reports, government uncovers too few of the injuries and deaths caused by prescription drug side effects.

Recent studies suggest that an estimated 2 million Americans are hospitalized annually from drug side effects, and 100,000 die.

Interestingly, the FDA does not require injuries and deaths caused by prescription drug side effects to be reported. All events are done so voluntarily.

The new reports have discovered that new drugs are tested on only a few hundred to a few thousand patients before they’re sold to millions of people. Rare side effects that didn’t show up in small clinical trials may easily wind up hurting hundreds of people.

Get this link and print it for your office.
ABC News: Tracking Drug Side-Effects @ 15:25 | Article ID: 945293135

Doctor visits by youngsters with ADHD up 90%

Medical doctors are seeing more visits of youngsters diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a report published in the December issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

The proportion of youth visits to physicians that were for ADHD increased steadily from 1989 to 1996, and so did the number of visits that involved drug treatments. For example, the proportion of ADHD youth visits that involved prescription for stimulants increased from 62% to 77%.

Interesting quotes from the article:
“In the future, we will need to demonstrate that the treatments make a difference in how the children behave”

“it will be difficult for us to provide realistic and effective practice guidelines and we will not be able to answer the continuing public concern about to what extent is current stimulant medication use appropriate”

Source: Yahoo News @ 23:12 | Article ID: 945234755

Employers adding health benefits like chiropractic care, despite rising costs

In efforts to keep workers happy in a tight labor market, US employers are sweetening health benefits packages even as the cost of providing that coverage is rising at a rate nearly triple that of general inflation, results of a new survey suggest.

More employers are embracing programs that save money by improving health, such as programs that target specific chronic conditions like diabetes.

Employers also reported sharp increases in coverage of alternative treatments, like chiropractic care, offered by 78% of employer health plans – up 17 percentage points.

Fox News
Yahoo News @ 23:02 | Article ID: 945234174

Pension funds may drop HMO coverage

The Los Angeles Times and Nando News report that two of California’s largest pension funds may drop the managed health care coverage for their members and contract directly with doctors and hospitals.

The California State Teachers Retirement System and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System are both considering dropping HMO’s and together represent about 1.5 million people.

“We have to look at how we can shift the marketplace. And with direct contracting, we can provide services in a more economical fashion,” said state Treasurer Phil Angelides.

Contracting directly with doctors has been shown to be effective in other programs.

MSNBC: Big pension funds may ditch HMOs
Nando: California pension funds may drop managed care (printer friendly) @ 22:53 | Article ID: 945233588