policy

Hospitals Are Running Low on Saline; Here’s Why

Hospitals across the country are bowing under the weight of a particularly bad flu season. This week, several news outlets reported a spreading shortage of saline – the lifeblood of most medical centers – across the US. Saline is a fluid comprised of salt and water, that is given to patients intravenously to assist with rehydration. Saline is typically cheap and hospitals are flush with bags of it, so patients are commonly given it prophylactically – or just because “it won’t hurt.”  With a shortage on hand, many hospitals have dialed back their extraneous saline use in hopes of conserving their supplies for patients who truly need it. With it being both influenza and norovirus season, chances are most patients that land in the hospital in the coming weeks are going to be wont for IV fluids. The FDA, well aware of the problem, insists that it hasn’t reached levels to truly impact patient care, but that they are making plans to bump up manufacturing, and bring in supplies from overseas if necessary. If hospitals are running out of the solution, doctors and nurses would certainly not be comfortable with dwindling supplies; when a patient can’t take fluids orally, either due to illness or surgery, saline is essential to preventing complications from dehydration, such as dangerously low blood pressure.  In the very young and the elderly, these complications can...

A Message On Addressing Mental Health in Students

I graduated in May from The University of Pennsylvania. I was pre-med, president of my a cappella group, vice president of marketing for my sorority, a tutor, a mentor…stress was not a stranger to me. Despite the pressure of preparing for, and applying to, medical school there was one thing I didn’t have to deal with – the daily practices, training sessions, games, meets and matches that being a college athlete means not only attending but performing in optimally. While I was not a varsity athlete myself, I dated one for a good part of college and was exposed to, if only vicariously, the stress that comes along with trying to perform your best academically and athletically –this, while still making time for people you care about, the hobbies you promised yourself you’d keep up with in college, and most importantly, your own mental health. As I’m sure many have seen through various social media outlets in the earlier half of this week, last weekend, University of Pennsylvania Track Team member, Madison Holleran, took her life by jumping off of a Center City, Philadelphia parking garage. She was said to have left a note for her parents as well as a gift for each member of her family. I am not claiming to be a reporter — I am only telling you what I read in various news stories....

Intelligence Squared Debate: Is ObamaCare Beyond Rescue?

With the disastrous launch of the HealthCare.gov website, critics of the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” were given more fuel for the fire. Is this political hot potato’s inevitability once again at stake? And is the medical community really on board with the law, or resisting (rewriting?) it from the sidelines? Obamacare Is Now Beyond Rescue from Intelligence Squared U.S....

10 Things the NSA Would Find Out if They Asked for My Personal Records

Last week over at HuffPo, Peter van Buren wrote an article about *gasp* the NSA being able to request medical records (and I’m supposed to be shocked by this revelation?) To reduce any symptoms of mass hysteria this article, or any like it, might cause, here’s my RX: 10 Reasons The NSA Don’t Give A S*** About My Medical Records! #10: I’m a twenty-two year old caucasian female who is five feet six inches tall (I asked if they could round up from 5ft 5 and ¾ inches) and weighs 115lbs (I mean, that’s not a lie, I did weigh that much one time. . .for like a week. . .) NSA’s Interpretation: “A woman lying about her weight? Unheard of. This warrants further investigation.” #9: I currently work in the same hospital I was born in: and the first thing I did after I exited my mother’s womb was poop on the table (isn’t the mom-to-be the one worried about doing that?). NSA’s Interpretation: “Clearly this was a tactic used by the baby to distract the doctor so that the mother could hide national security secrets in her vagina.” #8: When I was like 3, I fell on to one of those plastic toy shopping carts (and was shirtless I guess?) Yeah so the plastic splintered and cut my boob so bad it bled for three days but...

Face It, US Healthcare Sucks. But There’s Still Hope

America is a pretty great country. You may even think it’s the best. But it’s not.   I know you’re thinking, “This girl is so unpatriotic,” but I’m not at fault. There’s no denying the statistics. If you look to where the well-being of our people lie, the healthcare system, you’ll see we are nowhere near the top (well, except for health care costs). Where We Stand A 2013 survey published by The Commonwealth Fund showed that in comparison to 10 other industrialized nations, the United States fared the worst in terms of health care cost, access, and affordability. For example, 37% of US adults did not get the care they needed because of cost while 4% and 6% of United Kingdom and Sweden citizens faced the same issue. Also, 41% of those in the US spent $1,000 or more out-of-pocket regardless of insurance status while only 2% and 3% respectively of Sweden and United Kingdom citizens had to pay similar costs. You can see these data for these countries and others displayed in the graphs below. While our healthcare system is making it difficult for us to get adequate care and costing us a bundle, we’re also overall less healthy. We’re the second most obese of well-populated countries with 31.8% obesity only falling short to Mexico with nearly a third of its citizens packing the extra pounds according...

To Be or Not to Be? That is the Question of M4

Medical school is an extremely difficult endeavor that requires a true passion for its pursuit. Often, this passion is challenged by the sacrifice and struggle that come with a career in medicine. Many of the our contributors have discussed the deterrents , such as substantial student debt, lack of residency positions and the long and rigorous path to become a practicing physician. Still, each year, thousands of applicants are turned away from medical schools, and hundreds of graduating medical students are turned away from residency programs. So it’s clear that are there are enough people who want to go into medicine, and the problem with these deterrents is that they wear down medical students and doctors, often leading to hostile attitudes and negative incentives. Right now, America needs good doctors more than ever. Under the Affordable Care Act, almost 30 million more Americans will gain health insurance, so where are we getting the doctors to address this demand for care? Yes, medical school class sizes are growing, but residency positions are not. Healthcare is reforming so why shouldn’t medical education? A recent article in Kaiser Health News reported on medical schools that are creating accelerated programs, reducing medical school from 4 to 3 years. Some policymakers and medical school administrators believe that reducing medical school to 3 years is a great way to produce more doctors. Others argue that...

What Started Out as Revenge for One Doc Has Turned into Something Beautiful

They didn’t believe we’d do it. But we did it. Turntable Health is open for bid-ness. For REAL tho. We had an insane grand opening. We got a day named after us. And the ZPupp helped cut the cord. And there was all kinds of press, including Morgan Spurlock all up in our grillz. And now that we’re humming, it’s time to get back to the rap game. For REAL tho. Stay...