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Health Headlines 8/21/09

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This Week's Radio Show: 736 Health Care Overhaul
Overhauling the health care system is high on the President's list of to-dos. But it has become a political hot potato. Why are so many people so excited about this policy issue? We talk with Howard Dean, MD, about...
http://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2009/08/20/736-health-care-overhaul/

Health Headlines:

Flu Season Comes Early

Unlike most influenza outbreaks, the H1N1 Swine flu did not disappear during the summer. Flu made the rounds of summer camps and is already showing up on college campuses as young people reconvene for sports teams and orientation. The vaccine...
http://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2009/08/20/flu-season-comes-early/

Osteoporosis Drugs May Help Fight Flu
Antiviral medications such as Tamiflu and Relenza may help shorten the severity and duration of the H1N1 flu virus, but neither drug is a miracle cure for this influenza bug. Help may eventually come from an unexpected source. Two injectable...
http://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2009/08/20/osteoporosis-drugs-may-help-fight-flu/

Fracture Rate Rising
Over the last decade or so, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of fractures resulting from osteoporosis. In 1995 55 people out of 100,000 were hospitalized with a broken bone brought on by osteoporosis. The comparable...
http://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2009/08/20/fracture-rate-rising/

New Osteoporosis Drug Under FDA Scrutiny

A new drug for treating osteoporosis is up for approval by the FDA. An advisory panel of experts has recommended that denosumab, a biotech compound made by Amgen, be approved for treating postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. These are the...
http://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2009/08/20/new-osteoporosis-drug-under-fda-scrutiny/

DASH Diet May Protect Kidneys from Stones

The DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension has been making headlines of late because it has been linked to a lower risk of dementia. Now a new study suggests that it may also reduce the...
http://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2009/08/20/dash-diet-may-protect-kidneys-from-stones/

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Regarding health care reform, the topic of your excellent program this morning, 8/22:

In addition to the much debated topics, three critical issues need to be dealt with:

1) The fee-for-services scheme for payment to health-care providers is an incentive to provide more services in order to get more payment. This scheme has to be replaced if we are to reduce costs. Sorry, but there may be no better replacement than paying health care providers a salary. This works fine in the VA, in many medical school hospitals, in the Mayo Clinic, in HMO's, in many developed countries, and so on. How it will work in small towns with individual practitioners is a challenge.

2) Because of the fear of extremely high malpractice suits, health-care providers often practice "defensive medicine" by providing excessive diagnostic tests and excessive treatments. Torte reform or any other scheme to reduce expensive legal fees and expensive malpractice insurance is needed.

3) Excessive, ineffective, and risky practices, need to be replaced by practices based on on scientific evidence and "recommended best practices." A new system can be modeled after what has worked in certain HMO, certain hospitals, the Mayo Clinic, the VA, other developed nations, etc. The solution may well be local review committees that can monitor health care providers for providing evidence-based and best-practices services. How to also consider the needs of individual cases versus the average case in outcome studies will be a challenge that the local committees will have to consider.

John B.

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