Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What You Need to Know About the Possible Health Risks of the Gulf Oil Spill

By Dr. Elaina George

It has been almost three months since the oil spill in the Gulf, yet there has been little attention given to the health effects of exposure to the various components present in the spill or the chemical used to disperse the oil. The contents of the oil spill contain several components; each has the potential to cause health risks to those who are exposed to them. It is clear that the oil spill in the Gulf is a toxic mixture that has the potential to not only destroy the ecosystem of the Gulf, but to harm the short and long term health of both the residents of the Gulf and people living in neighboring states who can be adversely affected by toxins carried in the jet stream and rain carried from the Gulf. It makes one wonder how long it will be before we see a rise in illnesses from not only the workers and volunteers who are cleaning up the spill without proper protective equipment such as respirators and protective clothing, but also those in neighboring states. [more...]

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The President’s Health Care Proposal: Trying to Get Blood From a Stone

By Dr. Elaina George

If the goal of the President’s proposal was to drive doctors into hospital-based practices or community health centers; or if it was to break the spirit of providers and bend them to the will of the government that holds the threat of criminal prosecution over their heads if they are found to be Medicare cheats; or if the goal was to dumb down the practice of medicine by ramping up the power of the HHS secretary and the evidence-based medicine posse, then the President’s proposal for health care reform was successful. However, we as physicians are individuals. There approximately 890,000 doctors currently practicing in the U.S. Those of us who want the autonomy to practice medicine the way we were trained, those of us who run a private practice who are entrepreneurs at heart, those who are tired of being pitted against our patients and other physicians, and those who are just sick and tired are NOT going to take this. Those of us who can will retire or leave medicine all together. Those within the system will simply opt out. [more…]

The Moral Compass of Health Care

By Dr. Evelyn Higgins

How do we define social morality within the context of political morality? Can we even mesh the two? How do we do what’s best for the greater good in the realm of health care? In an area of history, which will come to define us as a nation, health care is at the core of our heated debate. Many claim it’s partisanship at best. I see it as individual political agendas. After all, it would appear that good judgment would look at long-range implications of today’s decision and see that a complete overhaul of a system that is not without fault could be improved upon greatly by some honest politics, such as tort reform. Ah, but that makes the hair on the back of a lawmaker stand straight up. After all, many career bureaucrats and/or career politicians hail from the halls of institutions of higher learning in the area of law. Nepotism perhaps, or cover your back is at risk. But then again so is your seat at risk as a representative of your constituents. [more…]

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Changing the Healthcare Paradigm: A Physician and Patient-Centered Approach

By Dr. Elaina George

We are at a crossroads. As a practicing physician, I am really concerned about the state of our healthcare system if the Congressional reform bill gets passed. Even if it is an amalgam of both the House and Senate bill, there are so many negatives that the basic tenets that are good, like coverage for pre-existing conditions and not being dropped from an insurance plan, will not make any significant difference in our healthcare overall. Some have said that the reform effort is a stepping-stone to a single payer system and I agree that is possible. What physician would want to enter a system where their freedom to practice medicine is controlled by government task forces, and where the final medical decision is made by a government administrator who will be all about cost savings, and NOT what is best for the individual patient? [more…]

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Are High Health Care Costs Tied to Evidence-Based Medicine?

By Dr. Elaina George

Did you ever wonder exactly what evidence-based medicine is? The National Center for Clinical Excellence bases it in on the philosophy "that as much medical practice as possible ought to be carried out using proven algorithms based on empirically valid evidence from controlled scientific experiments, rather than individual clinical judgment." Congressional health care reform relies heavily on both 'evidence-based guidelines' and 'evidence-based individual decision making' to set the standards of care for medical treatment and outcomes. In fact, House bill 3962, in an effort to control costs, creates a new layer of government bureaucracy that inserts itself between the doctor and the patient. [more…]

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Duality of the Heart and Washington

By Dr. Evelyn Higgins

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in the U.S. The ridiculous part is that the largest killer is PREVENTABLE! And, by the way, we consider ourselves to be an educated, evolved society. Preventable, yet what we “prescribe” culturally as the answer is Big Pharma. The statin drug market is a $20 billion-a-year racket alone. In an industry that spends $50 billion on advertising alone, with an additional $20 billion on lobbying, the first action step requires an honest inventory of the relationship of Big Pharma and the politicians it gets elected to run “our” government. You can afford $50 billion in advertising when you make $20 billion just on statins. And, I would totally agree with the statin mentality if it solved the problem. We wouldn’t have a $500 billion tab for heart disease yearly if the stuff was the answer! [more…]

Monday, February 8, 2010

Why Are We Ignoring The Role of the Food Industry in Healthcare Reform?

By Dr. Elaina George

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the epidemic rise in the number of Americans young and old who are either overweight or obese account for 67%. The number of obese people has more than doubled since 1980. When you take into account the number of diseases like breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes and osteoarthritis, to name a few that are linked to obesity, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the link between healthcare costs and obesity is strong, and changes can go a long way to both bringing down the costs and helping us live longer healthier lives. Over the past two decades we have gotten fatter and sicker, but there has been another change. Our food, by and large, is no longer produced by the small farmer; corporate farming has taken over our food supply. The farms have gotten larger and techniques to increase the amount of food while making it cheaper and produce it more quickly have been the goal of the food industry. The argument can be made that the changes in the way our food is produced has had a direct correlation with the rise in obesity, diabetes, heart disease and the ever increasing cancer rate. In addition, it can also be argued that government policies have empowered the food industry to adopt policies that are making us sick. [more…]