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Inquirer Daily News

Archive: August, 2010

POSTED: Wednesday, August 25, 2010, 8:29 AM
Filed Under: Robert Field

By guest blogger Robert Field:

No sooner had the health reform law passed Congress, than the attorney general of Florida filed suit to have it declared unconstitutional. The proceeding has since been joined by 20 states, while the attorney general of Virginia has filed a separate suit of his own. Most legal scholars believe that, whatever the underlying wisdom of the legislation, the suits are not likely to succeed. However, some disagree. In the end, the Supreme Court will probably make the final call, and its decisions are not always easy to predict.

What are the legal claims involved and how might they play out? The Virginia suit is the easiest to explore. It claims that the new law conflicts with a recently enacted Virginia statute that exempts residents from any requirement to purchase health insurance. Since this contradicts the federal law’s mandate requiring that everyone obtain coverage, the suit alleges that the mandate is nullified. The problem with this argument is that Article VI of the Constitution explicitly makes federal law supreme, leaving the states no power of nullification. This is one of the clearest and most settled aspects of constitutional law. While the judge in the case has rejected a motion to dismiss the suit outright, he has yet to make any ruling on the merits of Virginia’s claims.

POSTED: Tuesday, August 24, 2010, 12:47 PM

I should have known that being married would benefit my health. My wife definitely watches out for me, and I eat better and exercise more regularly since we’ve been together.

Apparently there is more to the benefit than that. A study by researchers at the University of Chicago suggests that marriage and other committed long-term relationships change peoples’ hormonal response to psychologically stressful situations.

Published in the journal Stress, the researchers examined 501 masters degree students (348 men and 153 women) at the University of Chicago’s business school. Forty percent of the men and 53 percent of the women were married or in long-term romantic relationships. The researchers tested the participants’ economic behavior using several computer games and measured hormone levels and changes before and after they played.

POSTED: Tuesday, August 24, 2010, 3:03 PM

In June, California declared a whooping cough epidemic as cases surged to four times the normal number. Now a small increase in cases of the illness in suburban Philadelphia has prompted the Pennsylvania Department of Health to urge residents make sure their vaccinations are up to date.

In an article in The Inquirer Tuesday, my colleague Don Sapatkin wrote that there was no notable increase of the illness in Philadelphia (which requires booster shots for children entering 6th grade) or other parts of Pennsylvania or in New Jersey Still several suburban counties have seen a rise in the last two months. Here's some of what he wrote:

The significance of the increases - in Bucks, Chester, Montgomery, and in particular, Delaware Counties - is not clear. Although the short-term trend is up, health officials in some of the counties said the numbers this year were not much different from the same period last year. ...

POSTED: Monday, August 23, 2010, 10:38 AM
Filed Under: Michael Cohen

By guest blogger Michael Cohen:

As a pharmacist, I sometimes hear health care consumers express concerns about the possibility of getting the wrong medication when they have a prescription filled at the pharmacy. Here’s a tip that will vastly reduce that possibility:

Along with each prescription, make sure your doctor includes the reason for each prescribed medication.

POSTED: Monday, August 23, 2010, 3:00 PM
Former Philadelphia VA Medical Center director Richard S. Citron, who retired on April 30 after 42 years of government service.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission levied a $39,000 fine Monday against the Department of Veterans Affairs for violations of federal regulations of the use of radioactive materials at prostate cancer programs in VA hospitals across the country.

The NRC cited two violations that came to light in inspections after problems were found in the prostate brachytherapy program at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. Those mistakes led to investigations at other VA hospitals of the treatment that involves implanting tiny radioactive seeds into the acorn sized gland to kill tumor cells.

Although the NRC said it was particularly concerned about the VA’s failures to identify problems nationwide that were similar to those in Philadelphia, the nuclear agency decided against taking away the VA’s ability to oversee radiation safety at all its hospitals.

POSTED: Sunday, August 22, 2010, 8:55 AM

The New York Times had an interesting article about the combination of factors that have led to sometimes deadly errors involving tubing used in hospitals on Friday.

The Time’s Gardner Harris wrote about a mistake involving the use of a feeding tube in Robin Rodgers pregnant women hospitalized with vomiting and weight loss 35 weeks into the pregnancy.

Here’s an excerpt:

POSTED: Friday, August 20, 2010, 2:58 PM

In Monday’s Health & Science Section my colleague Marie McCullough has a short item on the how people who with fibromyalgia - a complex pain syndrome - benefited from the tai chi, an ancient, slow-movement martial art from China. Here's a preview of that item for Check Up readers:

If you suffer from the common, complex muscle-bone pain syndrome known as fibromyalgia, try tai chi.

Tai chi, a combination of meditation, relaxation and slow, graceful movements, originated in China as a martial art. Now, a study led by Tufts University shows that the mind-body practice can be therapeutic for fibromyalgia.

POSTED: Friday, August 20, 2010, 8:30 AM
Filed Under: Daniel Hoffman

By guest blogger Daniel Hoffman:

As an industry facing lower revenues, pharma has suffered the common fate of falling into the hands of its finance officers. Finance direction can be a good thing if the board is looking to sell a company because those managers will make the financial statements look better in the short term, even if it requires sacrificing the company’s future, by cutting R&D and marketing. In this effort to quench pharma’s thirst by giving it sea water, finance relies on at least two handmaidens: 1) purchasing and 2) human resources (HR).

Finance as a discipline relies on quantifying a large number of cases or processes to develop formulas and ratios. Production processes represent one area where this approach has achieved some success. Where the process involves hundreds of products and millions of final units, each with numerous commodity components, quantitative analysis can yield efficiencies and savings.

About this blog

Check Up covers major health events in our region and offers everything from personal health advice to an expert look at health reform. Read about some of our bloggers here.

For Portions of this blog may also be found in the Inquirer's Sunday Health Section

Michael Cohen id the president of the Institute for Safe Medication Practices in Horsham.

Daniel Hoffman is the president of Pharmaceutical Business Research Associates (PBRA) in Glenmoore, Pennsylvania, a healthcare research and consulting company specializing in key account positioning and messaging.

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