Posted in Health, news, Politics

Joe Biden’s Eye Turns “Bloody” During Townhall: Subconjunctival Hemorrhage Explained

Reports of former Vice President Joe Biden’s eye turning “bloody” surfaced this week.  He was speaking at a CNN hosted town hall on climate change when reporters noticed his left eye turned blood red.

 

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The condition however is called a “subconjunctival hemorrhage” and is harmless, but needs some explanation.

What is a subconjunctival hemorrhage?

The conjunctival is a vascular membrane that lines the eye and lids.  When a blood vessel breaks, hemorrhages, it appears dark beefy red over a portion of the white part of the eye.

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Sometimes these hemorrhages occur when one incurs trauma to the eye or rubs it aggressively, but most often it occurs spontaneously within a week or two as the blood gets cleared by body mechanisms.

However, of note, a subconjunctival hemorrhage could happen when blood pressure rises, such as during a sneeze, laugh, strain when stooling, or cough.  It could also happen if one has a bleeding disorder, or inability to clot.

Although the subconjunctival hemorrhage is benign, those who incur one might consider having their blood pressure checked and labs to ensure they have strong clotting abilities.

 

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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.

Posted in Blood, Health, news, Politics

Majority of US Governors Proclaim State Blood Donation Days to Fight Blood Shortage

Multiple governors are proclaiming state blood donation days in response to blood bank shortages throughout the country.

Each year multiple Governors declare state blood donation days to unite during National Blood Donation Week.

This year more are uniting to help bring in more blood supply.

According to the American Red Cross, 36,000 units of blood are needed in the U.S. every day.

Emergency rooms treating trauma victims, hospitals treating anemic patients, and medical clinics replenishing low blood levels in cancer patients require a steady supply of blood products.

38% of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood but less than 10% actually do.

Inconsistent donation patterns during the year result in unpredictable and reliable blood supply numbers, hence donation is requested year round.

Vitalant, formerly known as United Blood Services, suggests donating three times a year.

The summer and holiday season appear to be the “dryest” in terms of donations.  States and regions frequently need to ship blood to areas who are in need.

National Blood Donation Week is September 2-9th and this year National Blood Donation Day falls on September 5th, with many states declaring September 5th their State Blood Donation Day.

U.S. blood drop

States who have already proclaimed September 5th their Blood Donation Day this year include:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Florida
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Arizona has proclaimed September 2-9th Arizona Blood Donation Week

…….with more to come as the date nears.

To donate blood or host a blood drive, please visit the American Red Cross or Vitalant websites.

For a list of governor proclamations visit here.

 

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a board certified Family Medicine Physician and a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.

 

Posted in cancer, Health, news, Politics

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Undergoes Additional Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

Ruth Bader Ginsburg reportedly has undergone pancreatic cancer treatment and is doing well.

The radiation treatment took place at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and began earlier this month when doctors found a tumor on her pancreas.

A statement from the Supreme Court reads:

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg today completed a three-week course of stereotactic ablative radiation therapy at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. The focused radiation treatment began on August 5 and was administered on an outpatient basis to treat a tumor on her pancreas. The abnormality was first detected after a routine blood test in early July, and a biopsy performed on July 31 at Sloan Kettering confirmed a localized malignant tumor. As part of her treatment, a bile duct stent was placed. The Justice tolerated treatment well. She cancelled her annual summer visit to Santa Fe, but has otherwise maintained an active schedule. The tumor was treated definitively and there is no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body. Justice Ginsburg will continue to have periodic blood tests and scans. No further treatment is needed at this time.

 

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Last Fall, the Supreme Court Justice had surgery to remove two cancerous nodules in her lungs.

These were found a few weeks prior when she was undergoing treatment for a fall in which she sustained broken ribs on her left side.

The pulmonary lobectomy surgery occurred at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City as well.

Reportedly her current cancer does not appear to have spread to other parts of the body.

The 86-year-old Justice has previously battled colon cancer as well.

Each year over 56,000 Americans are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, whose 5-year survival rate is 5%.  Older individuals who are healthy can do as well as those who are younger when diagnosed with advanced stage of the disease.  However some sources cite the median survival time is between 2 and 6 months if the cancer is diagnosed at a late stage.

This is a developing story.

 

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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.

Posted in Health, news, Politics

Ending Surprise Medical Bills…Not So Easy

The Trump Administration has vowed to put an end to “surprise medical bills.”  But this may be easier said than done.

Reports of “sticker shock” have exponentially grown over the years and consumers want transparency of what their health care visit is going to cost.  However, the average physician, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, hospital, medical center, etc. don’t know themselves until the insurance company sends an EOB “Explanation of Benefits” delineating what is discounted, what is covered, and what is the patient responsibility.

So to start, President Trump is asking Congress to address those charges incurred by “out of network” facilities to which patients go to in an emergency setting.  Wanting to hold “insurance companies and hospitals accountable,” President Trump wants to put an end to patients getting charged for “services they did not know anything about, and sometimes services they did not have any information on.”

Can he do it?  Politicians on both sides of the aisle want to help curb health care costs, but both sides want to get the credit.  There’s race to see who could do more for healthcare before the 2020 election.

Why can’t health costs be predictable/fixed?

There’s a few reasons why cost transparency in an emergency medical setting is challenging.

Firstly, insurance companies aren’t transparent to hospitals. They only inform the medical facility of the out of pocket costs once they take weeks to review the claim.  This can be streamlined and cut down in time with software, but same day pricing by an insurance company is impeded by the need to see if the patient paid (or will pay) their premiums that month, or if they are still employed and have the same active insurance.

Secondly, patients don’t always know what their diagnosis is when they walk up to the front counter. Some may think they have a “cold,” but actually end up having a bout of pneumonia. Some may think they have a “stomach bug,” but after CT confirmation, learn they have appendicitis. Hence until the medical provider performs the evaluation and testing, a diagnosis and then “cost to treat”, cannot be given.

Finally, patients may not prefer the “cost factor” added into their facilities’ decision making.  If they pay a certain amount for a visit and end up needing more pain control, a repeat breathing treatment, or some extra bandages, they may not want to have to take out their wallet, sort of speak, each time they need more services.

As a physician who, for years, pleaded with insurance companies to give us an idea of what they would want a patient to pay, I’m for any campaign to increase price transparency and offer patient’s more choice.  However, since medicine and health can be unpredictable, coming up with predictable “costs” may prove difficult.

 

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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Health, news, Politics

Medicare For All: Realistic or a Fantasy?

Image above from Getty Images

Senator Bernie Sanders during the 2016 Presidential Election called for a single payer system to cure our healthcare woes. Now Democratic contenders for the 2020 election are calling for the same.  Some voters are salivating at the thought, tired of high insurance premiums and deductibles. Others are cringing at the idea of the government running our healthcare system. Yet most are confused and want more details. So let’s break it down.

What is Medicare?

Medicare is the health insurance offered by the federal government for those over 65 and with disabilities.  According to medicare.gov they breakdown medicare as the following:

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for:

  • People who are 65 or older

  • Certain younger people with disabilities

  • People with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a transplant, sometimes called ESRD)

The different parts of Medicare help cover specific services:

Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance)

Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home health care.

Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance)  

Part B covers certain doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services.

Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) 

Part D adds prescription drug coverage to:

  • Original Medicare
  • Some Medicare Cost Plans
  • Some Medicare Private-Fee-for-Service Plans
  • Medicare Medical Savings Account Plans

These plans are offered by insurance companies and other private companies approved by Medicare. Medicare Advantage Plans may also offer prescription drug coverage that follows the same rules as Medicare Prescription Drug Plans

Medicare Advantage (also known as Part C) is an “all in one” alternative to Original Medicare. These “bundled” plans include Part A, Part B, and usually Part D.

 

What is Medicare For All?

Originally suggested by Senator Bernie Sanders, Medicare for All would essentially allow all Americans to qualify for Medicare.  According to Unitedmedicareadvisors.com:

Medicare for All promises to cover numerous healthcare products and services, including the following:

  • Inpatient and outpatient health care services

  • Preventative, emergency, and nonemergency health care services and treatments

  • Primary and specialty health care, including palliative and long-term care

  • Care for vision, hearing, and oral health problems

  • Mental health and addiction services

  • Prescription medication

  • Medical equipment and supplies

  • Diagnostic tests

The concept sounds nice but Medicare doesn’t currently cover many of the above such as hearing aids, dental exams, and long-term care.

 

How would Medicare For All be subsidized?

Unitedmedicareadvisors.com reports the following:

Medicare for All, estimated to cost around $1.38 trillion a year, would operate with funding from the following sources:
  • $630 billion from a 6.2 percent income-based premium paid by employers
  • $210 billion from a 2.2 percent income-based premium paid by households making more than $28,800
  • $110 billion from progressive income tax rates for Americans with yearly earnings over $250,000
  • $92 billion from taxing capital gains and dividends in line with employment income
  • $15 billion from limiting tax deduction for Americans with yearly earnings over $250,000
  • $21 billion from a new Responsible Estate Tax applied to the homes of Americans inheriting more than $3.5 million
  • $310 billion from savings as health-related tax expenses become obsolete

Unfortuantley tax hikes on employers could lead to price hikes and less employment.

So the concerns I have are Medicare doesn’t currently cover what Medicare for All is touting and the expense may be underprojected.

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The image above from Kaiser Family Foundation predicts beneficiaries will outnumber workers.

Moreover many healthcare providers do NOT take Medicare so access can be an issue.

However, until premiums and dedutibles go down, and more Americans become insured, plans such as this will gain attention and popularity.

 

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Learning Medical Spanish is Easy!!!

 

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.

 

 

Posted in Health, news, Politics

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Undergoes Surgery for Cancer

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has had surgery to remove two cancerous nodules in her lungs.

These were found a few weeks ago when she was undergoing treatment for a fall in which she sustained broken ribs on her left side.

The pulmonary lobectomy surgery occurred Friday morning at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

We’re told margins were clear and the cancer does not appear to have spread to other parts of the body.

The 85-year-old Justice has previously battled colon and pancreatic cancer.

Broken ribs can occur from trauma such as a fall, or as a result of pathological fractures such as those from cancer.

This is a developing story.

Posted in Health, news, Politics

President George H. W. Bush Passes at Age 94

BREAKING NEWS

The 41st President of the United States, George H. W. Bush,  has passed away at the age of 94.  Family spokesman Jim McGrath stated he passed at 10:10 CT Friday in his home in Houston, TX.

The statement from his office reads:

“Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro and I are saddened to announce that after 94 remarkable years, our dear Dad has died,” his son, former President George W. Bush, said in a statement released by family spokesman Jim McGrath. “George H.W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for. The entire Bush family is deeply grateful for 41’s life and love, for the compassion of those who have cared and prayed for Dad, and for the condolences of our friends and fellow citizens.”

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Over the last few years the WWII veteran had battled multiple health issues including Parkinson’s, pneumonia and a neck fracture sustained after a fall.  It’s been reported that he was recently hospitalized with low blood pressure, I suspect from sepsis, a blood infection.

This is a developing story.