Category Archives: Health/Medicine

Structure of Sodium Channels

In an exciting development, in the online version of the journal Nature this new significant study has been published

The crystal structure of a voltage-gated sodium channel

A couple years back, R. McKinnon received a nobel prize for determining the crystal structure of the potassium channel–if that

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helps explain the potential magnitude of this discovery.

I’m going to see if I can get my hands on a copy of this paper to read it!

Were I to tweet

Here’s some of the things that I would’ve tweeted today from the Office:

–“Who comes to a doctors appointment deliberately without their insurance card?”

–“No-show patients…why can’t you at least give the office the courtesy of a phone call?”

–“Please do not take your gripes with Medicare regulations out on me or my staff…call your congressperson”

And that’s just some of the fun from today

This is why vaccination is important

DIA Travelers Warned Of Possible Measles Exposure

/Vaccines…no, they don’t

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cause autism!

Not so great moments at the doctors office

Patient this morning on the phone:

Mr. Meds: “My pharmacy says that Dr. Sleep hasn’t responded to their calls for a prescription refill”

Me: “What was the medication?”

Mr. Meds: “They’ve called twice and he hasn’t called it in”

Me: “Sir, what is the medication”

Mr. Meds: “[drug considered “controlled” by

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NYS]”

Me: “Mr. Meds, that medication is considered a controlled substance by the State. It can’t be called in….”

Mr. Meds: “Why didn’t you say so”

Me: “Mr. Meds,

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I have your chart here and we mailed the prescription to your pharmacy at 123 Pharmacy St”

Mr. Meds: “Oh…have a nice day”.

Blast from the past

Yesterday, for work, I was surfing the web on a 56K dial-up internet connection.

It was s…….o…….s…….l……o……w

No Carrier

It brought back memories of my early days online. Freenet anyone? Dialing into the SHPL/CCPL to do research for school.

Especially since I had to use it to download casino online files in order to access a new web based FTP client (go figure). Apparently the previous (stand alone special FTP client) wasn’t sufficient or something, so users had to migrate to a new portal.

All this had to be done over a special VPN, hence the dial-up. Yes, there is a broadband option available but for an office like the one I work in, it’s not cost efficient.

Oh, and why yes, of course this technology was for Medicare claims

Once a fraud…still a fraud

CNN: Retracted autism study

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an ‘elaborate fraud,’ British journal finds For further note, i agree with the pediatric neurologist who was quoted in the

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Deductible Season

With the new calendar year about to start, it’s the time of year when patient’s health insurance deductibles reset.

Thus starting tomorrow the headaches from patients will begin–over their deductibles.

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The biggest problem is, those who complain the most about the deductibles seem to be the ones who don’t realize that their insurance policy has one. In turn, they decide that this is the fault of the doctor’s office and expect for the doctor (or their staff) to magically do something about it [Referring people back to their HR department only seems to make them angrier–even though it’s the proper recourse].

A reminder to patients, it’s not the physician, pharmacy, DME supplier who makes the guidelines to your medical insurance coverage–it’s the insurer. IF you’ve got an issue with it, please

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take it up directly with the insurance–you’ll be saving yourself and others a bit of a headache.

Trip to the doctor

As part of my attempt to be productive today, I made an appointment with the doctor for this afternoon.

I get a call from the office inviting me to come in earlier, as I’m overdue for my annual physical (which is true), so it’s a win-win. I get to have my problem(s) addressed by the doctor and at the same time get to have my annual physical done. The doctor’s office wins because a physical brings in more revenue than a standard follow-up visit.

At the appointment, I also got myself a flu-shot. I had to for work. Do you hear that Jenny McCarthy, Andrew Wakefield et. al? I got vaccinated!

Now to make some more phone calls….

’tis the season

This week marked the start of the arrival of gift baskets* from vendors at the office. The girls at the office love the baskets (though in a week or two they’re going to be complaining about their weight–mark my word! They’ll even admit to such). To me, all the sweets and junk food are a nice gesture, but it doesn’t change my opinion.

What I look for is quality customer service both for our office and to our patients. That’s what makes the difference to me. If you are able to satisfy our patients and reduce my workload–I appreciate it a lot more than any basket or sticky notes/pens/notepads.

Thankfully we don’t really deal with any drug reps at the office, otherwise things would be worse!

Death by Caffeine

No, seriously. Man Dies Of Caffeine Overdose The man who is now deceased was very stupid for doing what he did. He should have known better than to consume such a large amount of caffeine anhydrous. It’s a readily available and very inexpensive product–but if one is going to buy the powder to dose–use a freaking scale! Alas, the first thing that came to mind when I

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saw the headline as the Death By Caffeine calculator [Does that make me a bad person?]

Chart notes

Everything we do in the office has to be documented in the patient’s chart. No matter how small or insignificant, we have to document it.

One of my least favorite things to do is write chart-notes. I think it stems from my aversion to hand writing things. With my self taught cursive penmanship (they only had practice tools for the right-handed kids in school) my not) my notes appear to have come from the hand of a physician. (The doctors are still worse! I swear!)

On a daily basis, I have to make these notes, and it starts driving me a bit crazy. How many times a day can you write “message received from patient. Returned cal and ____” and things those lines?

Perhaps I’d be a bit less averse to doing it if it was done electronically? (Can we get an EMR platform yet?) Even still it can be a bit tedious. Perchance it’s my aversion to busy work?

Just a random thought from work today.

Eat, Train, Sleep

Insufficient Sleep Undermines Dietary Efforts to Reduce Adiposity While I have yet to read the full study linked above–from the abstract, it seems to confirm the idea preached in training

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Double negative

This sucks both as an employee and a health care provider:

Health costs to $oar

As an employee this isn’t good as it means more money out of pocket for my insurance coverage

As an employee of a health care provider, if people are going to have less coverage, they’re less likely to seek our services. Not only that, but it may mean amongst those who do, we’ll have to chase

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after people for their deductibles and co-insurances (which is far from easy or pleasurable)–which are also going to be substantially higher. It also means that we don’t get the money from the insurers and then have to wait for the cash to come in….

Allergic to…work?

Both The Sister and I have been battling some seasonal-allergy meets a cold type of condition lately. I’ll spare the icky details. My symptoms seemed to

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Coincidence?

Not the whole story

The Sister was actually home last night and had on the

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Emmys. The Sister seems to like keeping the TV volume up rather high, so I could hear it in my room. No biggie. I barely watch network TV, so I didn’t really know what most of the shows winning awards were. Let me rephrase that, I know of them but I doubt that I’ve watched them.

At one point during the commercials, an ad for United Healthcare ran. It featured people lamenting how they always have to fill out the same kind of paperwork at different doctors offices.

I groaned.

True, the paperwork is a pain for both the patient and the office staff (the latter having to try and get the patients to complete the forms)> Alas, they’re somewhat necessary (registration, privacy rules, etc)–but still a pain.

The commercial seemed to be hinting at an electronic repository of sorts of information that would be available to all providers. That would be nice from a providers standpoint. Alas, it also alluded to the idea of seamless EMR intergration.

As I’ve learned, that’s easier said than done. EMR systems for doctors are rather pricey (for the software alone–not including the hardware to host and run the systems). Include the cost of migrating to electronic records, staff training, physician training, the hours spent in training and migration. The costs add up! Furthermore in an industry where costs are rising but reimbursements are staying level or decreasing–for many a provider an EMR platform is but a dream.

Economy Watch: Healthcare Sector

From the Boston Globe:

Health care, job engine

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The stalwart of the state economy is struggling these days as expenses

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rise, patient visits decline, reimbursements shrink…

QFT! This phenomenon isn’t isolated to MA either.

Correlation does not equal causation

Here’s a story the anti-vaccine crowd is sure to jump on:

“Finland Suspends H1N1 Vaccine

The Finnish National Institute for Health (THL) proposed suspending vaccinations for H1N1 swine flu, due to suspected links to increased narcolepsy in children and adolescents, the body announced this week.

Six cases of narcolepsy, a chronic disorder causing excessive daytime sleepiness and extreme fatigue, have been reported after patients had been receiving the Pandemrix vaccine.

Six cases of narcolepsy is consistent with annual averages, reports THL, but all of these patients were affected after being vaccinated, and there are nine additional cases that have not yet been confirmed.

Now since this is a mainstream media article versus a scientific publication, there are some questions that definitely need to be answered.

Was the diagnosis of Narcolepsy made by combination of history plus multiple sleep latency test?

Were any of

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said patients displaying any symptoms preceeding vaccination?

Did these individuals have either lumbar punctures or blood tests performed to detect the HLA-DQB1*0602.marker?
[This while not a diagnostic tool per say would however provide interesting immunological evidence]

What makes this all interesting, is that increasing research seems to be pointing towards Narcolepsy having an auto-immune origin in the body. In the simplest terms, individuals with narcolepsy commonly lack hypocretin/orexin [hcrt/ox] producing neurons. The lack of hcrt leads to a disruption in the normal neuro-chemical functioning of the brain which leads to the symptoms of the disorder. [A discussion of which is beyond the scope of this blog–however I can provide references]

New Procrastination Tool

It was pouring and windy beyond compare today….killed any motivation I had to go outside this afternoon. The weather plus my inexpiable falling asleep on the couch that is.

So I spent some time on PubMed today–something I’ve not done in way too long. Found two papers of interest which I’ll look into later.

Pubmed–countless hours of querying fun!