Ha-ha, only serious: McSweeney's on price-gouging in the emergency room

Emergency rooms at for-profit hospitals are notorious price-gougers, where an ice-pack and a bandage can cost $5,000, and where no one will tell you how much your care is costing until months after the fact. Read the rest

Deadly Disneyland Legionnaire's outbreak blamed on this weird source

An outbreak of Legionnaires' disease that killed one person and sickened 22 near Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California last year may have been caused by an unexpected source. Read the rest

Obamacare study: 25% decline in home delinquencies among newly insured poor people

Poor people were not the primary target of Obamacare; as a group, their care is more likely to be "non-compensated" (trips to the emergency room while classed as "indigent" and unable to pay), so insurance shouldn't make a big difference to them, right? Read the rest

What happens if you drink a liter of soy sauce (spoiler: nothing good)

In this chilling video, YouTuber oncologist Chubbyemu tells the story of a woman who colon-cleansed by drinking a liter of soy sauce—which would be about 200g of sodium on top of whatever other crap is in there, five times the lethal dose. The internet has long been a place to go for bad advice, but now more of it is malicious and no-one can tell. Things did not go well for her. Read the rest

He Jiankui, scientist who gene-edited 'Crispr babies', detained in China

He Jiankui, the scientist who claimed to have produced the world’s first gene-edited babies using CRISPR technology, is missing. Reports indicate he has been detained by Chinese authorities. Read the rest

Sculptor diagnosed with heavy-metal poisoning after years of grinding mussel shells

Since 1991, Canadian sculptor Gillian Genser has used shells to make her artwork. The mussel shells she grinded released dust filled with heavy metals, which got into her body and poisoned her. Now she is permanently disabled. Let this serve as a warning to people who say natural materials are always better.

From Toronto Life:

The symptoms worsened. After a few hours of grinding mussel shells, I would become immobilized. My muscles ached. My hands would cramp when I held my tools. I became combative and fatalistic, declaring that my life was over. My husband was afraid to the leave the house, worried he’d come home and find me hanging from the chandelier. He found friends to babysit me. These symptoms continued, on and off, for 15 years.

One day in 2013, I cleaned out my ventilation system, which had trapped years of fine dust. As I swept out the particles, I suddenly felt weak and unable to stand. For the next week, I lay in bed, my mind in a fog. I couldn’t string full sentences together, and my speech was slurred. My whole body was in excruciating, paralyzing pain—my neck, abdomen, arms—and I had suddenly lost all hearing in my left ear.

Image: Shutterstock/Ingrid Maasik Read the rest

New York hospitals illegally billed rape survivors for their rape kits, then sent debt-collectors after them

New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood has concluded that seven New York hospitals illegally billed rape survivors for their rape kits, at least 200 times, for sums ranging from $46 to $3,000, and then sent collections agents after survivors who could not pay. Read the rest

Climate change is fueling wildfires, warns National Climate Assessment

Climate change is why California is burning, and thousands of its citizens displaced, injured, or killed by the wildfires that spread with never-before-seen intensity. Read the rest

Insurance companies gouge on CPAP machines and consumables, use wireless modems to spy on your usage

Sleep apnea is a fast-growing health complaint among Americans, and that has triggered a set of deceptive and unethical measures by US health insurers to shift the cost of using CPAP machines (the forced air machines that sleep apnea patients rely on to stay healthy) to the people who use them, with the effect that it's often much cheaper to pay cash for your machine and its consumables than it is to get them through insurance. Read the rest

Insurer won't pay murdered gunshot victim's family because he didn't disclose his high blood-sugar

In March 2018, Nathan Ganas was murdered in his driveway in Durban, South Africa, during a botched hijacking; now Momentum, the insurer who wrote the 2.4m Rand (USD 170,700) policy on his life, is refusing to pay out because they say he didn't disclose his elevated blood-sugar levels when he took out the policy -- instead, they will refund the premiums Ganas paid during the four years he held the policy. Read the rest

Thousands of sleep apnea sufferers rely on a lone Australian CPAP hacker to stay healthy

An Australian developer named Mark Watkins painstakingly reverse-engineered the proprietary data generated by Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines and created Sleepyhead, a free/open piece of software that has become the go-to tool for thousands of sleep apnea sufferers around the world who want to tune their machines to stay healthy. Read the rest

A plant so spicy it can destroy nerves, giving pain relief

The Moroccan Euphorbia resinifera plant produces a resin so spicy that it attains a whopping 16,000,000,000 on the Scoville scale, 10,000x hotter than a Carolina reaper chili. Read the rest

China reinstates ban on using tiger and rhino parts in traditional medicine

After the whole damn planet declared its disgust with China's lifting the ban on using tiger bones and rhino horn in medicine, the Chinese government has decided to back peddle on its declaration: using the exotic, endangered animals bits and pieces will remain off limits to the world of eastern medicine.

From The New York Times:

Making a rare concession, the State Council, China’s cabinet, said that it had decided to postpone an order made last month to undo a 25-year ban on the trade.

“The Chinese government has not changed its stance on wildlife protection and will not ease the crackdown on illegal trafficking and trade of rhinos, tigers and their byproducts,” Ding Xuedong, a top official with the council, said in remarks published in the state-run news media on Monday.

I'm having a hard time believing that anything to do with any government would be good news this year, but here we are.

It is worth noting, however, that the Chinese ban on slapping bones and horn into medicine isn't permanent. It could be rescinded at any point in the future. However, as The New York Times points out, China's working hard to sort out a greater share of respect on the world stage. Not murdering rare animals for their bits and pieces? That's an easy win.

Now if we could just get them to knock off the shit they're pulling with Muslims in their nation, we'll be getting somewhere.

Image by Soumyajit Nandy - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link Read the rest

New study discovers why coffee can protect the brain, and it has to do with the kind of roast you drink

Although scientists already believed that drinking coffee could possibly reduce the risk of neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, a new study by Krembil Brain Institute in Toronto, Canada suggests that the kind of roast you drink might determine how much protection your cup of joe might actually give you. Read the rest

The dialysis industry just set a campaign spending record to fight California limits on pricing

At $111,000,000, the California dialysis industry's campaign spending against Prop 8 (which caps the price of outpatient dialysis) is now the most expensive in US history. Read the rest

Old dentists' office walls are full of thousands of "buried teeth"

For at least the third time, construction workers in Georgia have opened up the walls of a former dentist's office only to discover thousands of teeth in the wall cavity. Read the rest

Probiotics are poorly regulated, just like other supplements

Probiotics are as likely to surprise you with their contents as they are to fulfill their marketing promises.

Via the NYT:

Probiotics have the potential to improve health, including by displacing potentially harmful bugs. The trouble is that the proven benefits involve a very small number of conditions, and probiotics are regulated less tightly than drugs. They don’t need to be proved effective to be marketed, and the quality control can be lax.

In a recent article in JAMA Internal Medicine, Pieter Cohen, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, urges us to consider the harms as well as the benefits. Among immune-compromised individuals, for instance, probiotics can lead to infections.

Consumers can’t always count on what they’re getting. From 2016 to 2017, the Food and Drug Administration inspected more than 650 facilities that produce dietary supplements, and determined that more than 50 percent of them had violations. These included issues with the purity, strength and even the identity of the promised product.

I have more confidence in my dog's veterinarian supplied supplements than I do in my OTC ones. Read the rest

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