A man referred to only as Rafael was the recipient of the first full face transplant. The operation, which was done in March, was performed by 30 Spanish doctors in Barcelona. Mr. Rafael underwent the transplant after nine previous operations failed to help his neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that caused benign tumors to grow on his face.
Viewing items tagged:
Silk Brain Implant Could Aid Spinal Injuries, Epilepsy
Reuters posted a very compelling article about a silk chip that adheres to the brain that has the potential to help people with epilepsy or spinal cord injuries. The water-soluble silk dissolves onto the brain leaving only the electrodes behind. Going forward, this technology could have the potential to help other disorders like Parkinson’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis.
Weighing the Evidence on Exercise
This is an important article from the NY Times of April 18, that outlines the relationship between exercise and weight. In a nutshell, it cites research that suggests that dietary intake is the determining factor on weight and the exercise in the absence of intake reduction will have little long-term impact. Mechanisms exist that lead individuals to eat more following exercise, negating the caloric of the activity. Gender differences making loss harder for women is also described.
“Wellness” – A Word I dislike
The New York Times Magazine of April 18 carried this article that addresses one of my pet peeves – the abuse of our beautiful language. Actually the article is too kind to the word, focusing on the first use and evolution of the term. What benefit is there to a word that has a perfectly fine equivalent called – health?
Wellness has become a buzzword and a marketing term to promote all sorts of expensive maneuvers and services, often in the workplace, to improve the health of individuals, often involving incentives, paid consultants and the like. I have yet to see a scholarly report that establishes the effectiveness of such programs and their cost benefit. I believe it most likely that those who wish to be healthy need no external incentive or program, and are already taking care of themselves, and those who can’t or won’t engage in healthy choices in their lives are unlikely to be significantly persuaded by a workplace program.
How many people are in the dark about what it takes to be healthy, especially adults in the workforce?
A Remedy for Troubled Doctors
Physicians from time to time have issues impacting their ability to practice. Many of these issues are temporary, relating to health or substance abuse, skill deficiencies and other matters. Others may become permanent. At MCN in the course of credentialing consultants, we review cases where regulatory action has taken place. This Wall Street Journal article describes one program’s approach to assessment and remediation of physicians who have practice issues leading to regulatory action in California.
Managed Care: Get Used to It
From the New York Times on Sunday March 14, this article states the obvious; that avoiding change in the health care system is not an option and that payers will exercise some decision-making and control over what is paid for and permitted. An inherent challenge in any system where the payers are not the consumers is that usual marketplace controls are not present. When we pay ourselves, we generally exercise restraint. In health care it is the rare service that is paid for by the patient. The patient has no particular motivation to not consume, or to shop for price, and the providers have motivation to treat and sell services to the degree that they can be medically justified. An interesting thought experiment would be to imagine a patient seeking or being advised to obtain a given treatment, and then instead of being given the treatment, they are given the money that the treatment would cost at the place they were considering, and told that they have a choice of getting the treatment, keeping the money and foregoing the treatment, shopping for the treatment at a lower cost and keeping the difference, or changing the type and extent of the treatment (for example switching from a brand name to generic drug). Obviously the complex nature of diagnosis and treatment would make decision-making a challenge for many. Furthermore, irresponsible behavior combined with the perverse incentive of keeping the cash would mean that many would take the money and not vaccinate their kids, and generally be more resistant to preventive care where they are not currently suffering or in pain. Health reform proposals as best we can tell, are not meaningfully addressing the excess utilization trends that occur regularly.
The Nothing Cure
By Matthew Herper and Robert Langreth, From Forbes Magazine, Issue Date March 29, 2010
Instead of ignoring the placebo effect, doctors should try to enhance it, says a Harvard Medical School professor.
This interesting discussion on the placebo effect is worth a read. The presence of the placebo effect is well-known and generally accepted in medicine, though it may be frequently argued as to when it is taking place or not – especially when one’s own treatment is being questioned.
From a policy standpoint, a legitimate question is whether those treatments that have a significant placebo component are ethical to the degree there may be conscious deception on the part of the practitioner – on behalf of helping their patient. In addition, should third parties such as insurance or government be asked and expected to pay for placebo interventions?
Welcome to MCNtalk – a discussion group for you
MCNtalk, which has existed for many years as an email broadcast, is being converted into a blog. Advantages include the ability for prior articles to be stored, indexed and accessed by readers, as well as a robust ability to include many features and full user control of how or if they receive notifications of new postings or comments.
In addition, this blog will be readily available on the web for subscribers and non-subscribers alike.
It is a work in progress and we hope to add many enhancements over time.
The address is http://www.mcntalk.com
Your comments and ideas are welcome as well as requests to add a particular site or blog to the featured list. We also welcome links to articles of interest, or even your own idea pieces.
Our goal is to present articles of interest and potential relevance to those who deal with medical issues in claims management, disability, injury and related legal and administrative issues, as well as those who have a general interest in health-care issues. I am linking to blogs that focus on health care politics but we will do our best to steer clear of partisan and acutely political matters. We recognize that our readership is diverse and that there is no shortage of good sources for thoughtful comments, reflections and positions on current political issues.
This does not mean that the occasional article will not be controversial, and we welcome divergent comments. Inclusion of a particular article does not necessarily imply agreement with the stated position by MCN or it’s staff.
The original MCNTalk email list will be used for periodic reminders about the blog and recent articles. But we encourage direct subscription via the button on the upper left, which will provide immediate notice of new postings. You may change your subscription preferences or unsubscribe at any time.
We welcome comments but they should be signed, courteous and relevant to the posting. We will tread gently into the world of comments and initially screen them before posting, perhaps opening them up to non-screened postings for repeat commentators or all.
If you have ideas or thoughts about making MCNTalk more effective and relevant – send them to us at MCNTalk@mcn.com.
Brian L. Grant, MD
Chairman and Medical Director