EppsNet Archive: Medicine

Great Moments in Socialized Medicine: Charlie Gard

4 Jul 2017 /

If I’m understanding this correctly, socialized medicine really does mean that the government decides if you will live or die, and if your children will be allowed to live or die.

I’m glad to see that the current president of the United States is not on board with the idea of a government being able to decide on the life or death of a baby, and to deny the parents of the baby the ability to counter that decree.

This is a good reminder — since there are people who think that “single payer,” i.e., socialized medicine, i.e., the government runs the healthcare system, would be a good thing to have in the United States — that the government, if you’re very old and/or very sick, is not going to give you all that technology and all those drugs for the last couple of years or months or days of your life to keep you going.

It’s too expensive, so they are going to let you die.


What Would You Charge for an EpiPen?

29 Aug 2016 /
EpiPen

I don’t mean hypothetically, I mean I literally want to buy an EpiPen from you right now. My kid got stung by a bee, his face is swelling up like a balloon and his lungs are about to shut down.

I see a lot of people are mad at Mylan for charging $600 for EpiPens but they don’t seem to be mad at everyone else in the world who won’t sell them an EpiPen at all.

Not to mention, $600 for a life-saving treatment seems like a pretty good bargain to me.

Hillary Clinton has called for reducing the price of EpiPens. Hillary Clinton has never lifted a finger in a productive enterprise in her life. She will not sell you an EpiPen no matter how much you want or need one.

If the amoral profiteers at Mylan have an obligation to sell cheap EpiPens, why doesn’t Hillary Clinton? Why don’t you?


Parents Use “Naturopathic” Remedies to Treat Toddler, Who Dies

11 Mar 2016 /

A southern Alberta couple accused of allowing their meningitis-infected toddler to die four years ago tried home remedies such as olive leaf extract and whey protein rather than take him to a doctor, a Lethbridge jury heard Monday.

David Stephan, 32, and his wife Collet Stephan, 35, have pleaded not guilty to failing to provide the necessaries of life for 19-month-old Ezekiel, who died in March 2012.

CBC News
Ezekiel

First point: If the name “Ezekiel” shows up on a birth certificate, alert the local authorities to be on the lookout for additional crazy behavior in the future.

In a bid to boost his immune system, the couple gave the boy — who was lethargic and becoming stiff — various home remedies, such as water with maple syrup, juice with frozen berries and finally a mixture of apple cider vinegar, horse radish root, hot peppers, mashed onion, garlic and ginger root as his condition deteriorated.

The Stephans run a nutritional supplements company called Truehope Nutritional Support Inc., which distributes a product called Empowerplus. They also tried treating Ezekiel with Empowerplus.

The Stephans have said that they prefer “naturopathic” remedies because of their family’s “negative experiences” with the medical system. Now that they’ve also had a “negative experience” with naturopathic remedies, I’m thinking it’s a good opportunity to reassess their position.

The family has posted on social media that they feel they are being unfairly persecuted and that their approach to health should be respected.

If your son dies because you refused to take him to a doctor even though you knew he was sick, then I’d say that any persecution of you is both fair and appropriate.

As for respecting your “approach to health,” that would require ignoring the fact that your approach to health resulted in the probably unnecessary death of a 19-month-old child. That’s a pretty strong argument against your approach to health.

Remember folks, there’s not such thing as “alternative” medicine. There’s “medicine” and there’s “things that have not been proven to work,” like curing meningitis with maple syrup.


George Washington Died on this Day in 1799

14 Dec 2015 /

On this date, Dec. 14, in 1799, George Washington, the American revolutionary leader and first president of the United States, died of acute laryngitis at his estate in Mount Vernon, Virginia. He was 67 years old. That is according to History.com.

Acute laryngitis is not something that’s likely to kill you today but in 1799, medical “science” was still so medieval that doctors believed that diseases were caused by an imbalance of fluids in the body. In particular, they believed that fevers were caused by an excess of blood and they treated fevers by bleeding the patient.

Not surprisingly, draining off almost half of Washington’s blood not only didn’t cure him, it probably killed him.

The moral of that story is: When you don’t know what the heck you’re doing, just leave well enough alone.


25 Concepts to Facilitate Judicious Use of Psychiatric Drugs

20 Sep 2015 /

I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night . . . I also took a Colgate University class on medicating for mental health and judicious use of psychiatric drugs.

Pills
  1. A psychiatric medication is only one useful tool among a collection of useful tools. Remember to also consider non-drug options for therapy.
  2. The benefits of psychiatric medications are always accompanied by risk. Become familiar with the potential risk of your medication. Be alert to potential risks that might be intolerable to you.
  3. Establishing a diagnosis is a difficult and imperfect task, but it establishes the starting point for determining which treatments are appropriate.
  4. Engage your physician or a psychologist in a dialogue regarding the structure of your treatment program. Be an active participant in establishing the structure of that program. Having confidence that your treatment program will work is important for its success.
  5. Become familiar with the vocabulary of psychopharmacology and with some basic principles of psychopharmacology. It will improve your ability to communicate with your physician or therapist.
  6. Be forthcoming and candid with your physician or therapist when working to establish realistic goals for your use of psychiatric medication. These goals should include the meaningful improvement of symptoms and side effects that are acceptable to you.
  7. A treatment program should aim to not only produce meaningful improvement of symptoms but also should include a plan to prevent relapse.
  8. A psychiatric medication is limited in its effectiveness for improving a problem that has biological, psychological, and social characteristics.
  9. Ask whether the use of your recommended psychiatric medication is supported by published evidence or is an off-label prescription based upon educated guesswork. If your prescribing physician doesn’t know the answer to that question tell him or her to find out for you.
  10. Remind yourself that a psychiatric medication will alter the neurochemistry of your brain and that the effects of medication on the brain can persist and may be permanent.
  11. The ideal dosage of a psychiatric medication is the smallest dosage that is able to provide meaningful relief of symptoms.
  12. Fulfill your responsibilities for ensuring the success of your treatment program. Be fully cooperative regarding instructions for using medication and for taking the advice of the therapist.
  13. Remember that counseling, psychotherapy, or behavioral therapy may enhance the effectiveness of a psychiatric medication.
  14. Remember also that a psychiatric medication may enable counseling, psychotherapy, or behavioral therapy to be more effective.
  15. Newer psychiatric medications are often more expensive medications despite the fact that those newer drugs may not be more effective than older medications.
  16. Newer psychiatric medications have been used for a shorter period of time and by fewer people than older medications. This fact increases the likelihood that newer medications might bring unpleasant surprises.
  17. Herbal remedies and dietary supplements may or may not be effective or safe and very few of those remedies have been studied in well-designed experiments to evaluate their effectiveness and their relative safety.
  18. If possible, avoid using multiple medications in order to minimize the possibility of harmful drug interactions.
  19. Direct-to-consumer advertising of psychiatric medication is principally intended to get you to buy a product. That product may or may not be in the best interest of your own physiological, emotional and psychological well-being.
  20. Be aware that your health insurance provider may structure costs to you, the patient, in a way that provides some incentive to use one drug instead of some other drug or to use medication instead of psychotherapy. If possible, try to make the principal goal of your therapy to be the relief of symptoms, not the lowest cost of treatment.
  21. The elderly present special vulnerabilities for psychiatric medications — for example, enhanced sensitivity, likelihood of polypharmacy, or increased risk of falling.
  22. Exposing the young, still-developing brain of a child or adolescent to a potent psychiatric medication risks creating problems for those brains when they reach adulthood.
  23. The recent trend is to rely more upon psychiatric medication than upon non-drug therapies to treat psychopathology. Resist that trend when you are not convinced that medication is the best choice for you or for a member of your family.
  24. The study of brain and behavior is a frontier science. Thus the use of drugs that alter brain neurochemistry to treat psychopathology is based upon an incomplete understanding of brain and behavior.
  25. Because our current understanding of brain and behavior is incomplete, contemporary psychiatric medications are imperfect tools that are clinically useful until we learn enough to develop better tools.

10 Seconds is Too Long

14 Apr 2015 /

“Starts working within 10 seconds.” Ten seconds seems like a long time in 2015. It should start working in 10 nanoseconds.

Cyanide works within 10 seconds . . . coincidence?

Starts working in 10 seconds


See You in Hell, O Ye of Little Faith

14 Sep 2014 /

Satan

[See You in Hell is a feature by our guest blogger, Satan — PE]

Greetings from the underworld! I was catching up on Facebook this morning and saw that a woman is going in for brain surgery and her family and friends are asking for prayers for her recovery.

Isn’t that overkill — prayer and brain surgery? Why not just pray for her recovery and if she doesn’t make it, you chalk it up to God’s will?

Some “true believer” religions, e.g., the Christian Science church, do that. They believe more in prayer than in medicine. They decline medical care because they believe that God can heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons, etc. as he did in the Bible. These are the folks you hear about when they come up on criminal charges after refusing medical care for their seriously ill children and the children die.

Either God can cure a brain tumor or he can’t. Why ask a doctor to cure a brain tumor if you’ve already asked God to cure the brain tumor? Because when it comes down to matters of life and death, most people don’t really believe in God and prayer the way they believe in doctors.

Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?

See you in Hell . . .


Unintended Consequences: The Death of George Washington

16 Jul 2014 /
George Washington

In 1799, George Washington fell ill with an infection. Doctors at that time believed that illnesses were caused by an imbalance of fluids in the body. In particular, they believed that fevers were caused by an excess of blood, so they treated Washington’s fever with five separate bloodlettings, which together drained off over half the blood in his body.

Not only did the bloodletting not have a healing effect, it probably hastened his death.

The human body is a very complex mechanism. Society is a very complex mechanism. You might decide, with good intentions, to tinker with a complex mechanism thinking that even if your intervention doesn’t achieve the full benefit you’re hoping for, it will at least be better than nothing.

No — tinkering with a complex mechanism when you have no idea what you’re doing is only going to make things worse.

Related Links

“In Praise of Passivity” by Michael Huemer


It’s Not That Hard to Be a Saint in the City

25 Apr 2014 /
Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II is being canonized this weekend because of 667,302 prayers for divine intervention, he miraculously answered two, years after he was already dead.

What sort of evidence is required to certify that an earthly phenomenon was caused by a dead person?

William of Occam would have pointed out that there are simpler explanations for a sick person getting well, e.g.,

  • The disease responded to treatment.
  • The disease went into remission.
  • The patient was misdiagnosed and did not really have the disease in the first place.

I assure you that if 667,302 people with diagnosed medical ailments prayed to my dog, in at least two of those cases (and more likely, thousands), something unusual would happen.

Years ago, a lower GI series revealed that I had a golf ball-sized (4 cm) tumor in my colon. The doctor did a colonoscopy a few days later and the tumor was gone.

It’s a miracle! Unless something was wrong with the production or reading of the x-ray and the tumor was never there at all.

I didn’t say any prayers so no one will be getting a sainthood out of it. Or maybe I myself am a saint!

Update: This.


Is the Medication Working?

17 Aug 2013 /

Fluoxetine (Prozac), an SSRI

“How is your new medication working?”

“I can’t tell yet . . . I’m going to read for a few minutes then I’m going to bed.”

“How is your new medication working?”

“You just asked me that 10 seconds ago.”

“You didn’t answer me.”

“I DID answer you. I said I CAN’T TELL YET.”

“I don’t think it’s working.”


More People I’m Sick Unto Death Of: Alternative Medicine Advocates

8 May 2013 /
Lassa Witch Doctors

Lassa Witch Doctors

Alternative medicine is not a real thing. You don’t have a choice between medicine and alternative medicine. You have a choice between medicine and Things That Have Not Been Proven to Work.

Alternative medicine that works is called “medicine.”

Some people tell me that regular doctors don’t know about alternative medicine because they don’t teach it in medical schools.

They don’t teach it in medical schools? If I didn’t know anything about my job beyond what I learned in school 25 years ago, I’d be in bad shape. I’d be unemployable.

If there are any doctors out there who’ve never learned anything outside of medical school, those are not the doctors you want to be going to.


Overheard

5 Sep 2012 /

Web comic


Look Out, You Rock ‘n’ Rollers!

21 Jul 2012 /

My bizness is taking me to Bangalore, India, at the end of the month. I got vaccinated for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, polio, typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.

I’m now immune to everything, including your consultations.


Sick Day

19 Feb 2012 /

A full day of sleep, systematic overdose of cold medicines, and phlegm reduction techniques (like hocking and nose blowing) that tend to be disruptive to people when practiced non-stop in the workplace can really help in battling a tough cold.

It’s also a perfect excuse to close your eyes, curl up in a ball and hide from the world, which is my preferred leisure-time activity anyway . . .


Diagnosis Please

16 Sep 2011 /

What disease is indicated when a fecal sample smells of menthol?

I’m asking for whoever used the men’s room before me this morning . . .


Twitter: 2010-08-04

4 Aug 2010 /
Twitter
  • RT @WhitneyCummings: Read that NyQuil lessens the effectiveness of birth control pills. The 2 pills I need to have sex don't work together?! #

Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?

1 Mar 2010 /
Super Bacon Sunday #8

Experts say the belief that sexual activities can lead to a second heart attack consists of a little bit of truth, but research suggests that it is largely exaggerated. People can have sex after their heart attacks. In fact, the more you exercise — including having sex — the better your odds.

As a safety precaution, “You sort of have to test yourself on the sidewalk before you test yourself in the bedroom,” says Dr. Gerald W. Neuberg, cardiologist and director of the intensive care unit at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.


The Eternal Footman Held My Coat and Snickered

10 Feb 2010 /
John Murtha

Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania, a longtime fixture on the House subcommittee that oversees Pentagon spending, died after complications from gallbladder surgery, according to his office. He was 77.

The Democratic congressman recently underwent scheduled laparoscopic surgery at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, to remove his gallbladder. The procedure was “routine minimally invasive surgery,” but doctors “hit his intestines,” a source close to the late congressman told CNN.

CNN.com

OMG I HAD THAT SAME OPERATION I COULD HAVE DIED!!!

On a lighter note, how ironic is it that the president loses a pro-ObamaCare vote due to medical error in a government-run hospital?


Twitter: 2010-01-05

5 Jan 2010 /
Twitter

Suck it Up, Liver Cancer Patients!

19 Nov 2009 /

When the government runs healthcare . . .

Liver cancer sufferers are being condemned to an early death by being denied a new drug on the Health Service, campaigners warn. They criticised draft guidance that will effectively ban the drug sorafenib — which is routinely used in every other country where it is licensed. Trials show the drug, which costs £36,000 [$60,000] a year, can increase survival by around six months for patients who have run out of options.

The Government’s rationing body, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) said the overall cost was “simply too high” to justify the “benefit to patients.”


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