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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 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.
June 27, 2011 | By Steve Dudley, Special to the Los Angeles Times
I've begun seeing a new patient, a retired delivery driver named Donald. Nice guy, friendly and chatty, and a little mystified as he tries to navigate his way through the constantly changing world of healthcare. He had been my patient many years ago, but we parted ways when I left that office. Donald tracked me down because his former doctor had switched to a concierge-style practice. Concierge medicine — you may have heard of it — is gaining in popularity. Patients pay a monthly fee directly to the doctor, on top of their regular health insurance premiums and co-pays, to secure better access to the physician.
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.
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.
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.
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.
May 21, 2013 | By Hailey Branson-Potts
The injured children came into the Children's Hospital at the Oklahoma University Medical Center in Oklahoma City fast. So fast that the hospital set up a triage center in its own facility. "Every once in a while, a trauma trickles into the emergency room at OU Children's," said Bob Letton, pediatric trauma medical director at the hospital. But not Monday. In the wake of a powerful tornado that ripped through the area, he said, "a facility used to seeing one or two traumas a day all of a sudden had over 50. " PHOTOS: Powerful tornado slams Oklahoma Doctors and other staff almost immediately treated the "walking wounded" -- those with lacerations and other minor injuries -- so the emergency room could handle the more seriously injured, Letton said.
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 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...
May 31, 2012 | By Thomas H. Maugh II
Transplants of healthy skin from a patient's own body can improve discoloration caused by vitiligo, researchers from the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit reported Thursday. The procedure was developed in Saudi Arabia, and the Ford researchers are the first U.S. team to attempt it, according to Dr. Iltefat Hamzavi, a Ford dermatologist. Although the study involved only about 30 patients, the pilot trial suggests that the procedure could be beneficial to many patients, he said. Vitiligo is a disease that occurs when the body's immune system kills cells called melanocytes in the skin.
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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