"Christian" hospital charges its own nurse $900,000 for her premature baby

Lauren Bard works as a nurse at Dignity Health, a "Christian hospital" (motto: Hello humankindness). In 2018, Bard went to UC Irvine hospital to deliver her very premature (21 week) baby. Read the rest

When the company that made your prosthetic feet won't repair them

Erin Ehm's insurance company will buy her a new set of prosthetic feet every three years, but her $6,000/foot Echelon VT hydraulic prosthetics break down every 10 months. Read the rest

Crowdfunding "Vital," an sf anthology about the future of health care

"Vital: The Future of Healthcare" is a crowdfunded anthology of short science fiction stories about the future of health care, with contributions from top writers like James Patrick Kelly, Seanan McGuire, Annalee Newitz, Paolo Bacigalupi and Caroline M. Yoachim (they're also open to submissions!). Read the rest

Ticks that spread infectious brain disease reach Britain

Ticks that spread encephalitis have been found in Britain, say researchers. Encephalitis can cause confused thinking, seizures, and problems with senses or movement, but is only rarely serious.

Public Health England (PHE) says it has confirmed cases of tick-borne encephalitis virus in ticks from two parts of England - Thetford Forest and an area on the Hampshire-Dorset border.

PHE says the risk to people is still "very low".

It is monitoring the situation to check how common the infected ticks may be.

Is this a Brexit story? This explains everything. Read the rest

Nearly all Americans' taxes will go down under Medicare for All

Elizabeth Warren fumbled at the latest Democratic leadership debate when she was pressed on the question of whether Medicare for All would raise taxes, and she refused to answer, creating a soundbite that made her look like a sneaky, evasive politician, to the delight of right wingers who've struggled with her image as a straight-shooting, super-competent, quick-witted daughter of the soil. Read the rest

Hospital staff hang a banner celebrating the transfer of their "mischievous tyrant" boss

When Eunice Adekemi Olamijuwon was transfered from her job as nursing leader at Wesley Guild Hospital in Osun, Nigeria, her staff celebrated by hanging a (now-viral) banner calling her a "mischievous tyrant" and accusing her of a litany of sins, from "arrogance" to "power intoxication" to "sadism" and "witch hunting." Read the rest

6 years after expose revealed docs taking millions from pharma companies, it's only getting worse

In 2013, Propublica published an incredible story revealing how pharma giants laundered bribes to doctors in exchange for commitments to prescribe their expensive, proprietary and often dangerous products. Read the rest

The appendix is not a useless organ

The appendix has evolved in different animal species at least 29 times, according to this SciShow video, which means it probably serves a function. Scientists who studied appendixes in animals have come to the conclusion that it is a part of the immune system. In humans, the appendix is full of immune cells, including T cells, B cells, and natural killer cells, and good gut bacteria. Read the rest

In Kansas's poor, sick places, hospitals and debt collectors send the ailing to debtor's prison

Kansas is a living laboratory for far-right experimentation with extreme economic cruelty: a state where Medicare expansions were thwarted, where xenophobia has penetrated the state bureaucracy, where a grifty, incompetent lawyer has apologized for slavery and driven women out of his own party, even as neighboring states thrive by tending to the needs of working people, rather than the super-rich. Read the rest

The first-ever mandatory California drug price report reveals Big Pharma's farcical price-gouging

In 2017, California passed a state law mandating disclosure of wholesale drug prices, something the Big Pharma companies fought tooth and nail. Now, the first of those disclosures has taken place, and it reveals spectacular levels of price-gouging from the pharmaceutical industry's greediest monopolists: an overall rise of 25.8% in the median drug price since 2017. Read the rest

The target date for eradicating Guinea worm has been delayed 10 years, and that may be overly optimistic

Humans contract the Guinea worm parasite by ingesting water containing fleas infected with guinea worm larvae. The devastating and nightmarish symptoms don't show up until around a year later:

a stringy worm that is 60 to 90 centimetres erupts through the skin on the leg or foot. Its excruciatingly painful journey out of the body can take weeks. To relieve the burning sensation, many people wade into the nearest body of water — often the same pond from which they drink. When an adult worm enters the water, it releases larvae, and the cycle starts anew.

Because scientists thought the parasite required on humans for transmission, it was believed that Guinea worm could be eradicated. In 1986, The World Health Assembly endorsed a plan targeting the parasite for extinction through the use of larvicides, and by educating people to use water filters and stay out of bodies of water if infected. The plan largely worked:

An international partnership — led by the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia — has reduced the number of new infections from 3.5 million per year in 1986 to just 28 in 2018.

Unfortunately, new cases indicate that animals might be able to transmit guinea worms after all. Cases in Chad may be related to dogs in a way scientists don't yet understand. Other pockets of contamination have also been discovered:

The discovery in 2013 of infected baboons — a first — in a small forested area in southern Ethiopia also has researchers scratching their heads.

Read the rest

Visualizing herd immunity

The parents who refuse to vaccinate their children are taking a calculated risk; they're weighting whatever doubts they have about the efficacy of vacItcines against their doubts about vaccine safety and their doubts about the seriousness of infectious diseases, basically betting that either vaccines don't work and/or vaccines aren't safe and/or the diseases just aren't that big a deal. Read the rest

Weekend Tunes: Mojo Nixon--You Can't Kill Me

So, a gaggle of doctors discovered that I had an 80% blockage in one of my arteries: the result of bad genetics and my former attempts to kill myself with food and booze. There's a stent in me now and, although my mind is still right fucked up with all of the medical goings on, I'm still here. They found the issue without my having to have a heart attack first. I dodged a bullet.

You can't kill me.

Image via Wikipedia Read the rest

Beware this marijuana vaping cartridge brand

'Dank' is definitely not dank.

Bernie Sanders had artery blockage, stents inserted, off the campaign trail for now

Senator Bernie Sanders is off the campaign trail "until further notice" after physicians discovered a blockage in one of his arteries and inserted two stents. He had experienced "chest discomfort" last night. From CNN:

"Sen. Sanders is conversing and in good spirits," (said senior adviser Jeff Weaver.) "He will be resting up over the next few days. We are canceling his events and appearances until further notice, and we will continue to provide appropriate updates..."

Sanders, who is 78 years old, felt the "discomfort" during a campaign event. Despite his age, he has been one of the most active campaigners in the 2020 Democratic primary field.

Read the rest

Water isn't the most hydrating beverage according to new scientific study

Plain water isn't the most hydrating drink around, according to a new study from health researchers at the UK's Loughborough University. Better are beverages with some fat, protein, or sugar. But not TOO much sugar. From CNN:

For example, milk was found to be even more hydrating than plain water because it contains the sugar lactose, some protein and some fat, all of which help to slow the emptying of fluid from the stomach and keep hydration happening over a longer period of time.

Milk also has sodium, which acts like a sponge and holds onto water in the body and results in less urine produced.

The same can be said for oral rehydration solutions that are used to treat diarrhea. Those contain small amounts of sugar, as well as sodium and potassium, which can also help promote water retention in the body.

"A randomized trial to assess the potential of different beverages to affect hydration status: development of a beverage hydration index" (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition) Read the rest

Sleuths discover the source of $28m in dark money lobbying in favor of emergency room "surprise bills": private equity firms that own doctors' practices

Even if you're insured and even if you assiduously verify that the emergency rooms you visit when undergoing a medical crisis are "in network" for your insurer, you can still end up with thousands of dollars in "surprise bills" from ER docs and anesthetists who don't work for the hospital -- instead, they work for private "physician staffing firms" who can and do charge whatever they want for your care. Read the rest

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