I Just Want To Fly

Last week on a flight home to snowy New Hampshire, I was thinking about the 22nd Winter Olympic Games that had just started in Sochi, Russia.  As I flipped through a sports magazine, I was stunned by an advertisement that showed a picture of Josh Dueck, a T-11 complete paraplegic athlete, mid-air performing a sit-ski back flip.  While a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is even better.

Next month, the Winter Paralympic Games will begin in Sochi and include men’s and women’s events such as downhill skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, sled hockey and wheelchair curling.  See the schedule here.

Ace of Spades

This past Sunday, as our nation readied itself to partake in the annual Super Bowl ritual of food, spirits, commercials and, of course, football, a man lay dead in his apartment across the river from MetLife Stadium. Too many chicken wings, Bud Lights and blue-green Skittles? Not at all. This man died from a presumed heroin overdose, possibly from a batch of heroin laced with fentanyl, which has caused numerous deaths in the past few months.  See the CBS News report here.

One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer

I heard an interesting report on the radio last week dealing with alcohol use in the baby boomer generation.  While underage drinking is often a focus of discussion for public health officials, law enforcement officials and healthcare providers, it appears that alcohol use in the middle age population is more common than previously believed.  See the New Hampshire Public Radio report here.

Reform is in the Eye of the Beholder

Medical liability reform is one of the major issues for many state medical associations and societies in 2014, according to the American Medical Association this week.  See the AMA wire article here.

New Hampshire is one of those states, and there are a few bills currently in this year’s legislative session dealing with medical liability reform.  One of these, HB 583, is relative to the proceedings of medical injury claims screening panels, the RSA 519-B panels. 

Pink is the New Black

Mondays at work are usually never fun, especially when you find out that your close friend in her mid-40s has been diagnosed with Stage 2 invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast.  She had missed her regular mammogram last year.  It immediately took me back to July 2010, when my older sister, Ivy, passed away at the age of 53 after the recurrence of an aggressive breast tumor.  Two years prior, she had gone through chemotherapy, radiation treatments and a mastectomy with reconstruction and was doing well for approximately 12 months.  It made me wonder how medicine is faring in 2014 in the fight against breast cancer.

Head Games

As you read this, the college football season of 2013 will be over.  Florida State has been crowned the final BCS national champion.  The NFL playoffs are in full swing, with the Patriots and Colts playing in Foxboro yet again.  And all the while, even though a major lawsuit dealing with concussions was somewhat settled back in August 2013 (see N.Y. Times article), the hits keep coming.  A look at the NFL’s official injury report for Week 17 showed that 18 players on 32 teams were being treated for concussions.  In this past weekend’s wild-card playoffs, with eight teams playing, at least five concussions occurred, three on the Kansas City Chiefs alone (see SB Nation article).

"Physician, Heal Thyself"

On a cold and crisp December day, hundreds of friends, family and colleagues, myself included, crowded into the small church to pay their last respects to one of the great physicians of our generation.  As I waited in line, looking at the multitude of floral arrangements, awards, photos and letters from an outstanding medical career, I wondered how many doctors take care of their patients better than they take care of their own health.

Physician Shortage in the Future: Fact or Fiction?

A recent op-ed article in The New York Times looked at the issue of whether there will be a physician shortage in the United States.  The article was written by two doctors closely involved with either the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services or the White House during their careers.  Read article here.

The Refugee Healthcare Experience

Three days before I was born in 1964, Nelson Mandela was found guilty of sabotage against the South African National Party in the Rivonia trials. Two days after my 12th birthday, the Soweto Uprising occurred, which eventually led to the African National Congress taking a lead role in the anti-apartheid struggle.  As I have watched the memorials last week after the passing of Nelson Mandela, it is an appropriate time to look at the healthcare experience of African (and other) refugees in our state.  

The N.H. Department of Health and Human Services has an Office of Minority Health and Refugee Affairs, which was initially established in 1999 as the Office of Minority Health.  It has three main focus areas:

The Gift of SGR

As we head into the holiday season, one gift that most, if not all, physicians would enjoy is a permanent fix to the Sustainable Growth Rate formula, or SGR.  The current SGR formula, introduced in 1997, has threatened to cut physician Medicare payments by up to double digits.  The last proposed cut for 2013 was 26.5 percent, but was postponed due to a last-minute congressional “patch” known as the American Taxpayer Relief Act, which was passed on this past New Year’s Day.

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