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April 25, 2013 | By Melissa Healy
In the days when American physicians dispensed oracular commands and their judgments were rarely questioned, a doctor could take it upon himself with few ethical qualms to keep from a patient the bad news of a terminal diagnosis. For better or worse, those days may be well behind us. But physicians have not ceased debating one of the stickiest and most universal ethical quandaries of medical practice: How, when and why does one inform a patient that he or she is dying? The latest evidence of that ongoing discussion was published Wednesday in the British Medical Journal.
April 27, 2014 | By Homero Aridjis
The first time I met Gabriel García Márquez, then an unknown writer in Mexico, was on July 6, 1962, in the office of the producer of Luis Buñuel's movie "Viridiana. " I remember the date well because after noticing the headline, Gabo asked to borrow the evening paper I had just bought, exclaiming "Dammit, today my master died," referring to William Faulkner. Faulkner famously detested intrusions in his private life, and the funeral in his native Oxford, Miss., was sparsely attended by several dozen family members, his publishers and a few writers.
April 5, 2013 | By Lisa Zamosky
When Keith Yaskin and his wife, Loren, rushed their 2-year-old son to the hospital with a dangerous infection in his neck, they weren't thinking about how much his care would cost. After his three-day inpatient stay with nonstop intravenous antibiotics, they were hit with $8,900 in charges. But the toughest lesson for the Scottsdale, Ariz., couple came a month or so later when they began to sort out the hospital bills. Their insurance policy had a $10,000 deductible. So they scrutinized every item, made some calls and had a few surprises.
April 26, 2014 | By Laura King
CAIRO - With the appearance of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, in the Arab world's most populous country, health officials face a tough new challenge in confronting the often lethal virus. Egypt's Ministry of Health said Saturday that the country's first case had been discovered, identifying the patient as a 27-year-old Egyptian man who had been living and working in Saudi Arabia's capital, Riyadh. He was placed in quarantine at a Cairo hospital immediately upon his return.
March 8, 2011 | By Michelle Andrews, Kaiser Health News
Just about everyone agrees that the way we pay for primary care needs fixing. Under the current insurance model, doctors get paid for procedures and tests rather than for time spent with patients, which makes doctors and patients alike unhappy and increases costs. Now some medical practices are sidelining health insurers entirely, instead charging patients a moderate membership fee each month. The approach gets a nod in the health overhaul law. But not everyone agrees it's the right way to go. Seattle-based Qlianc Medical Management's three clinics typically charge a patient about $65 a month for unlimited access to the practice's 12 physicians and nurse practitioners.
April 6, 2011 | By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times
Borderline personality disorder usually goes away over time, but patients can be left with lingering "scars" that continue to hold them back in life, according to a major study on the disorder published Monday. Borderline personality disorder is a severe condition marked by chronic difficulties with mood and emotional control, relationships and self-image. Therapists often dislike treating such patients because they seem to defy treatment at times. "[A] firmly entrenched pessimism about the prognosis of patients with BPD has persisted," noted the authors of a new study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.
January 4, 2011 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
You might have heard already that surgeons who miss out on sleep make more mistakes in the operating room. Now the editors of Anesthesiology want you to know about another potential patient-safety pitfall: physician burnout. The journal published two studies on medical-staff burnout on Tuesday.  In the first, a Vanderbilt University School of Medicine team administered an online survey to all the members of one perioperative unit -- that is, the doctors, nurses and other staff to tend to surgical patients before and after their operations.
October 9, 2013 | By Melissa Healy
Having a stroke, or even a transient ischemic attack (a TIA, often called a "mini-stroke") can be a costly watershed in a person's life. Statistically, it deducts years from patients' lives. But it claims another toll too: in quality of life after the stroke has happened. New research tallies the combined cost of those two very different measures, and suggests that current treatments for stroke aren't doing nearly enough to minimize strokes' true cost. The study, published Wednesday in the journal Neurology, is an exercise in health economics that seeks to generate a fuller picture of a disease's cost.
July 20, 2011 | By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
If you see groups of people walking around San Diego next weekend - July 29-31 - encouraging each other to reach into trash cans, it's all good. The exercise is part of the annual International Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Meeting. Manifestations of obsessive-compulsive disorder include fears of contamination, hoarding disorder and Tourette syndrome. Just over 1% of people have some form of OCD The conference is unusual because it combines presentations of new research data from scientists as well as educational forums for therapists, people with OCD and their family members.
August 17, 2011 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times / for the Booster Shots blog
Most people who go under general anesthesia for surgery don't perceive or remember their operations.  But a few do -- and accounts of the experience are unsettling.   In search of the best ways to prevent unintended intraoperative awareness, as it is called, a team of researchers recently conducted a randomized trial, involving 6,041 patients at high risk for the complication, to determine whether monitoring electrical activity in the brain during surgery was a more effective tool for keeping patients unconscious than a standard and less expensive monitoring method that measures the concentration of anesthesia in exhaled breath.
April 23, 2014 | By Melissa Healy
Over a five-year period, a government-mandated tracking system in France showed that physicians in that country treated 1,979 patients for serious health problems associated with the use of marijuana, and nearly 2% of those encounters were with patients suffering from cardiovascular problems, including heart attack, cardiac arrhythmia and stroke, and circulation problems in the arms and legs. In roughly a quarter of those cases, the study found, the patient died. In the United States, when young and otherwise healthy patients show up in emergency departments with symptoms of heart attack, stroke, cardiomyopathy and cardiac arrhythmia, physicians have frequently noted in case reports that these unusual patients are regular marijuana users.
April 22, 2014 | By Chad Terhune
University of California regents agreed to pay $10 million to the former chairman of UCLA's orthopedic surgery department, who had alleged that the well-known medical school allowed doctors to take industry payments that may have compromised patient care. The settlement reached Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court came just before closing arguments were due to begin in a whistleblower-retaliation case brought by Dr. Robert Pedowitz, 54, a surgeon who was recruited to UCLA in 2009 to run the orthopedic surgery department.
April 21, 2014 | By Melissa Healy
When oxygenated blood needs to squeeze through a narrowed space to get to the brain -- a condition called asymptomatic carotid stenosis -- mental performance may suffer, even in the absence of stroke, a new study suggests. In patients with diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and worrisome cholesterol readings, physicians may test for buildup of plaque in the carotid artery, peering into the vessel at the nape of the neck with ultrasound. As plaque either builds up or breaks off and lodges deeper into the brain's vasculature, it can cause a stroke, a major cause of death and disability.
April 19, 2014 | By Colleen Mastony
The nurses on the 20th floor were the first to see them. "Oh my goodness," declared Colleen Forrester, 29, a nurse dressed in green scrubs, who pointed to the windows. Other nurses came to look and laughed. Were the children strong enough to come see? Soon, parents and nurses were leading kids out of their rooms. The children were small and frail-looking. Most were undergoing treatment for cancer and other serious disorders. But on this cold April morning, they had a precious moment of distraction.
April 17, 2014 | David Lazarus
Dr. Theodore Corwin, a plastic surgeon in Thousand Oaks for the last 30 years, has had run-ins with insurers before, but never one so aggravating - and pointless - as this. A 26-year-old woman recently came to his office complaining of back, neck and shoulder pain, as well as numbness in her hands and arms, resulting from her unusually ample bust. She's 5-foot-6, not overweight, Corwin said. She wanted a breast reduction. "There seemed to be no question that her pain and numbness was caused by her carrying this excessive weight," Corwin told me. "It seemed like a straightforward diagnosis.
April 16, 2014 | By Karen Kaplan
Free samples of prescription drugs may seem like a great deal for patients. But even when doctors think they're doing patients a favor by handing out the freebies, the real beneficiaries are the drug manufacturers, according to new research in the journal JAMA Dermatology. Medical groups have grown increasingly wary about free drug samples, and they've already been banned by Kaiser Permanente, many academic medical centers, the Veterans Health Administration, the U.S. military and plenty of private medical clinics.
September 13, 2012 | By Karen Ravn
Until now, doctors have pretty much called the shots in the doctor-patient relationship. But change is on the way. Patients, say ahhhhh - it's about to be all about you. The new approach is called patient-centered care, and it's a very good thing, according to Dr. James Rickert, the founder and president of the Society for Patient Centered Orthopedics in Bedford, Ind. "It will mean better outcomes, more satisfied patients and lower costs," he...
March 21, 2014 | By Maura Dolan
SAN FRANCISCO - Records for nearly 56,000 San Francisco patients, some with Social Security numbers, were stored in computers stolen last month from a medical billing firm in Torrance, said San Francisco's Department of Public Health on Friday. “We are working to ensure that all patients are notified and provided with resources to help them protect their privacy,” said Barbara Garcia, San Francisco's health director. Most of the San Francisco patients whose records were stolen were uninsured and visited the city's public health offices, including San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, between August 2012 and November 2013, the department said.
April 15, 2014 | By Melissa Healy
In the netherworld that lies between death and full consciousness, some grievously injured or ill patients will remain suspended indefinitely. But others, given time, will eke their way out of the twilight and toward recovery. Accurately predicting which group an apparently vegetative patient falls into could bring comfort, solace and sometimes hope to their families--and also to the patients involved, who may wish to convey they are still "in there," or may feel pain that is not being addressed.
April 13, 2014 | By Soumya Karlamangla
For nearly two decades, Barbara Garnaus maintained a modest, delicate life balance: keeping her part-time Orange County school district job and juggling her bills and credit card debt. Now 63, living alone, she counts every dollar, has no cellphone and commutes an hour in traffic so she can keep an affordable apartment in Laguna Woods. Having good health helped. Garnaus got by without medical insurance, relying on yearly exams at a free clinic. But that changed last year: Garnaus now needs treatment for cancer, and she bought insurance under Obamacare.
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