Insurance Should Pay For End-of-Life Conversation, Most Patients Say

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

Today’s post first ran yesterday on Health Populi.

aging 18 in 10 people in the U.S. say that Medicare as well as private health insurance plans should pay for discussions held between patients and doctors about hatlhcare at the end-of-life.

The September 2015 Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll asks people their opinions about talking end-of-life with their doctors. The vast majority of people support the concept and physicians being paid for holding such conversations in doctor-patient relationship.

The question is germane because the Obama Administration has announced plans to pay doctors for office visits to discuss end-of-life (EOL) issues with Medicare patients. (more…)

Mom Has Alzheimer’s: Coping Strategies for Caregivers

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Image via Pixabay

September was World Alzheimer’s Month so it’s a great time for all of us to reflect on the hardships faced by the nearly 5 million Americans diagnosed with this horrible disease, a figure comprised of a startling one in six women versus one in eleven men ages 65 and older.

But it’s also a time for us to honor the daily struggles of the selfless, compassionate individuals who act as their caregivers. It’s an especially difficult endeavor for all of the women who take on the role, as they often juggle this effort with raising a family, running a household, and holding down a full-time 9 to 5 career.

Caregiving is a round-the-clock occupation in which one’s responsibilities continuously change as the illness progresses from its early stages to its debilitating late stages. And while it’s certainly a difficult job, there are actually many ways to make caregiving tasks more manageable. Here are a few ways to smooth the transition to life post-diagnosis. (more…)

In the Operating Room There Are No Politics

Lisa-Suennen-photoThe post below first appeared on Venture Valkyerie on August 23.

I rarely tread into the political, but during this time of extreme political rhetoric bordering on insanity, I have seen two things in the last week that brought home what is such an important and ironic point. The first was this poster, which I happened across in the lobby of the American Heart Association’s national headquarters:Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 12.04.01 PM

It’s a poster that I suspect was created during a time of debate about the ACA, focusing as it does on lifetime limits on benefits, which were eliminated with passage of the ACA. The focus of the poster, of course, is how important it is to write policy by starting with patient needs and putting politics aside.

The other item that got me to this particular blog post was a Huffington Post story today about candidate Rand Paul, who happens to be an opthamologist. The article talks about how, while other candidates were at the Iowa State Fair giving farm kids helicopter rides and eating meat on sticks, Dr. Paul was giving free cataract surgeries to Haitians. The quote that caught my attention was this, “In the operating room there are no politics,” according to the candidate. I’m sure his visit to Haiti was timed for political reasons, but the words still matter because they are right. (more…)

How Many More Annas Must Die?

anna gunnIt’s been over a year since my older sister Anna died, so I choke up less readily while speaking about it.  The raw anger is less, but the frustration of losing someone to a preventable medical mistake will always remain with me.   Anna was five years older than me, my only sister, and the one I often turned to for advice. We were close despite living 600+ miles apart.  She was smart and insightful; she was at ease in most social situations. I, on the other hand, was the nerdy kid sister who loved science, who became a physician in my early 40’s.

In 2012, Anna’s world turned upside down when she was diagnosed with bone marrow failure (myelodysplastic syndrome) at 58.  This disease stemmed from her previous treatment for breast cancer. At the time of diagnosis, everything else in her life seemed to be going well.  She loved being a (single) mom; she had a wonderful job; and they had just adopted an adorable Lab. She actually felt great. (more…)

The Flu Shot: It’s Not Just for Kids

swhr_icon-2-solidThe following post first ran on Huffington Post Healthy Living on September 23 and can be accessed here. The author is Liliana Losada Brown, PhD, Associate Director, Scientific Programs at the Society for Women’s Health Research.

Think back to the last time you got a shot. Did the doctor cover the wound with a cartoon character-printed bandage and treat you to a lollipop? If so, you are way overdue for a flu shot — but that’s OK, we all are! Adults, children, pregnant women — everyone! –older than six months should get a flu shot every year.

We all know the flu: the serious, contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus that infects nearly 20 percent of Americans every year. Do you want to be among those that don’t get the flu? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that every person over the age of six months, especially pregnant and breastfeeding women, get the influenza vaccine (“flu shot”) every year. (more…)

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