Saturday, February 24, 2007

Disparities: Global Health and Clean Water

An idealistic and hard-working group of young women are sponsoring the Disparities: Global Health and Clean Water conference on March 2-3, 2007 @ Smith College. Check it out at or at Smith College's news.

I’ll be moderating as well as giving a talk on Ethical Aspects of Global Care & Drug Development. Being somewhat OCD, I googled moderating panels and came up with some great sites.

Perhaps the best suggestions are from Barry Eisler’s “The Moderator’s Manifesto.” Great info and visually stunning website.

Check it out for useful tips on marketing as well.

More coming about ethics and global care soon.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

How to Survive Your Hospitalization

Health care isn't what it used to be. Having just spent a week guarding my mother during her hospitalization, I have a few suggestions for the less medically experienced:
a) You have to have an advocate. Really sick patients can't do it alone.
b) Have a family member* stay as close to 24-7 as possible.
*This should not just be any family member. You need someone with common sense, who can stay relatively calm and pleasant, rational and assertive. Tall order, I know. But if you are angry and abrasive, you will drive staff away or anger them, resulting in worse care. Human nature.
c) The biggest problem we encountered was lack of communication between shifts, and the lack of continuity of the staffing. You can provide that vital link of continuity, alerting staff to something that appears new or alarming.
d) You or your advocate need to ask what each medicine being administered is. If it is something new or unexpected, insist on understanding what it is for before taking it.
e) Ask about blood draws, too--especially those that are painful, like blood gases. Request that the blood draws be coordinated and, if possible, be limited to one or 2 times per day.
g) Remember-you can refuse labs or treatments. You want to be sure that the reasons for your refusal are rational and are recorded accurately in the progress notes, so that you are not perceived as just being difficult.
f) If you know your loved one is not normally confused or agitated and anxious, and there is a change in behavior, insist that there be an attempt to find a "physical" or metabolic reason.
I heard repeatedly that mom was "anxious" and that this made her short of breath. In fact, her blood oxygen was very low and she felt like she was drowning, making her understandably anxious. Understanding the source of the problem is critically important.
More to follow as I recover from being a guard dog. . .

Monday, February 12, 2007

Patients take research into their own hands

Patients with multiple sclerosis are joining together to fund research that they find promising.
Naltrexone is a drug, an opioid receptor antagonist, which is sometimes used for treating addictions. Naltrexone was discovered 20+ years ago, so is off-patent, and therefore no longer highly profitable nor of interest to large drug companies. Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) was anecdotally found to be helpful for treating multiple sclerosis. A number of MS patients banded together, forming their own research group to review current knowledge and direct studies. They held a fund raising benefit; the $25,000 proceeds were awarded to UCSF to conduct a small, double-blind, cross-over trial this spring, according to LDNers. Sounds like a carefully designed study. Way to go!

The folks at "accelerated cure" also have a terrific brochure on working with MS. This handy booklet gives lots of suggestions for dealing with workplace issues that are applicable to those with any chronic disease.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Lost in Limboland

Ever since the hellish conditions created by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Drs. Anna Maria Pou and two nurse co-workers, Cheri Landry and Lori Budo, have been in limbo. In July, 2006, they were accused of murder by Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti, arrested and charged with homicide, but they have yet to be formally charged. They have had their careers needlessly destroyed and endured incredible and unnecessary stress, when they should have been regaled as heroes for staying and caring for their patients.

New this week is that toxicology reports from Orleans parish coroner, Frank Minyard, failed to show lethal amounts of medication in the patients' bodies. Despite this lack of evidence, the theater of the absurd continues, with a grand jury being called to weigh the murder charges against the healthcare workers. According to CNN, Assistant District Attorney Michael Morales said, "There is no legal bar in going forward with a homicide prosecution just because a coroner has not classified it as a homicide."

No doubt our taxes and energies would be better spent investigating the botched response of the government to Hurricane Katrina, or the suspicious motives of Mr. Foti and the District Attorney's office in pursuing this witch hunt, than in continuing this travesty of justice.

Please support Dr. Pou, Ms. Landry and Ms. Budo. If you would like to help or receive more updates, please check Dr. Pou's new website.