When most people think of the leader of accidental deaths in America, it usually involves car crashes. The numbers would be high considering it takes into account accidents related to impaired driving as well as those who are just careless. However, according to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, car crashes are no longer the leading cause of accidental deaths in the United States. In fact, it is something that a large majority of people partake in everyday in order to be productive in their lives.
When using prescription drugs, mostly people who use them have no intention of dying; yet, this is something that happens more than 20,000 times in a year. On average, this breaks down to someone dying because of an accidental overdose every 19 minutes. In 2007, accidental drug poisoning became the leading cause of death in Ohio, more than motor vehicle crashes for the first time on record. This trend continued in 2010. Right now, accidental overdoses of prescription drugs has passed car crashes in being the leading cause of accidental deaths in the United States.
In doing his research, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent and associate chief of neurosurgery at Grady’s Memorial Hospital, spoke with a doctor in Washington State who told him that accidental death from prescription drug overdoses is the largest man-made epidemic in the United States. Gary Franklin, the medical director for Washington’s state Department of Labor and Industries, described to Dr. Gupta terrifying cases as well as saying it was the saddest thing he had ever seen.
In one case, he mentioned how a teenager lost his life due to taking too much narcotic medication after having a dental procedure. Dr. Franklin went on to say that was usually happens is a man, typically in his 40’s or 50’s, visits a doctor and leaves with a prescription for a pain pill. Roughly three years later, that same man would typically die in his sleep as a result of mixing his pain pills with alcohol or just taking too many of them.
For Dr. Gupta, his profession has made him aware that the problem was expanding but even to him the numbers boggle the mind. The main ingredient in popular painkillers is morphine and its’ distribution has increased 600% from 1997-2007, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. We now prescribe enough pain pills in the United States to give every man, woman and child one every four hours, around the clock, for three weeks.
Though it is our neighbors, our friends and even our family members that are dying, we usually do not pay as much attention unless it happens to a celebrity. Ironically, Dr. Gupta says that it was former President Bill Clinton who called him and helped bring attention to the issue. He could tell over the phone that Clinton was broken up over something and that was two of his friends had both lost their sons to accidental overdose.
In a way that he will never forget, the former president said, “Look, no one thinks having a few beers and an Oxycontin is a good idea, but you also don’t expect to die.” It was at this moment Dr. Gupta realized that they needed to do their part in the media to make people aware of this issue and to find solutions that would work.
According to the 2011 congressional testimony from the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, 80% of the world’s pain pills are consumed in the United States. It starts seemingly harmless with a prescription for pain medicine that is in a small dose and a small amount. However, in just a few months, something changes in the body where the effectiveness starts to wear off and patients typically report only getting 30% of pain relief from when they first started.
A greater concern for some patients is that they end up with a condition where they develop an increased sensitivity to pain, known as hyperalgesia. At this point, the individual begins to take more and more of the pain medicine and though they no longer provide much pain relief, they still can decrease the body’s drive to breathe. Too many pills in your system can lead to a person not waking up. The addition of alcohol only makes the problem worse and anyone who takes sleeping or pain pills with a couple of glasses of wine might as well be playing Russian roulette.
This may sound as if Dr. Gupta is being dramatic or scary in which case you would be right; however, it is something he is not sorry for and wishes he had been this dramatic years ago. In his upcoming documentary, he explores how we arrived in this deadly situation as well as exploring solutions to deal with this, which is the most important.
In doing his research, Dr. Gupta has crisscrossed the country in an attempt to see what works and what didn’t He spoke with patients, doctors and families who lost a loved one. In one case, he even spoke with a man who shares his last name. Former President Bill Clinton is also in the documentary explaining his thoughts about the issue and how he has dedicated a large part of his post-presidency domestic efforts to this cause. He also speaks on how he has identified areas where everyone can make a difference.
Throughout Dr. Gupta’s career, he says how he has traveled the world and seen problems where people were so stubborn that solutions would never be discovered. In dealing with accidental deaths due to prescription drugs, this is something where the opportunity is there to solve this problem and to put an end to this large man-made epidemic.
Prescription drug overdoses on the rise in the U.S.
In a new documentary, “Deadly Dose,” Dr. Sanjay Gupta investigates the rise of prescription drug overdoses in the U.S.
Prescription Pill Deaths on the Rise
Rebecca Jarvis discusses the alarming rise in prescription drug abuse among baby boomers with Dr. Barbara Krantz of the Hanley Center.
Trump Signs Executive Order On Disclosing Health Care Costs
Trump signs an executive order that makes health care providers and insurers to disclose costs information on services to make patients and families aware of what and how much they are paying Click To Tweet
President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday aimed at the US health care system along with his promise of “putting Americans first” by curbing costs and revolutionizing the current system.
The new law will direct the Department of Health and Human Services to establish regulations on health care providers and insurers that they work, alongside patients and families, with more transparency on costs by disclosing negotiated rates for services, as well as, provide patients with out-of-pocket expenses before offering services.
“This is bigger than anything we’ve done in this particular realm,” Trump said during the signing of the new law at the White House. “It’s pretty much going to blow everything away.”
The current health care system works by providing patients medical services related to their situation without going over the costs or the fees associated with the service. Furthermore, it is not directly disclosed which service/s the insurer pays. This method allows hospitals and insurers to assign the same set of health care plans but at varying costs depending on the patient.
Also, in this system, neither the patient nor the family is made aware of the costs they are going to pay until a billing statement is given before paying at the cashier.
“Often, prices differ drastically between providers and hospitals for the exact same services and there is no consistency; there is no predictability. There’s frankly no rhyme or reason to what’s been happening for so many years,” Trump said.
“Everyday American patients are being taken advantage of by a system that hides critical information from them that they need to make decisions for them and their families,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said.
The executive order, which discloses information both to the patients and the federal government, would allow patients and families make sound decisions on which health care plan best suits them and at which prices.
According to Trump, “the cost of healthcare will go way, way down” as price transparency will create greater competition.
Furthermore, the executive order will also pave the way to put an end to “surprise billing” instances where patients are made known weeks to months after that insurance companies cannot cover a provided service.
“The president has a clear vision for American health care,” Azar said. “Today, the president is delivering on that historic promise,” and that this will “go down as one of the most significant steps in the long history of American health care reform.”
The reform, still in its early days, remains unclear how the federal government will put information out to the public. A senior administration official said that whether patients would have access to a full database of specific prices or something closer to a range of prices would be decided during the regulatory process. What is most likely is that privacy will be maintained on individual patient information.
“Exactly what information hospitals and insurers will have to disclose is not specified in the executive order, which has no force of law on its own,” The New York Times reported Monday. “White House officials said the details would be worked out during the rule-making process. Hospitals and insurance companies are likely to lobby to make any disclosures as general as possible.”
Meanwhile, critics are saying that instead of creating more competition, the executive order will discourage more insurance companies instead and drive prices higher.
“Publicly disclosing competitively negotiated, proprietary rates will reduce competition and push prices higher — not lower — for consumers, patients, and taxpayers,” said Matt Eyles, CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans in a statement. He says it will perpetuate “the old days of the American health care system paying for volume over value. We know that is a formula for higher costs and worse care for everyone.”
When discussions began earlier in the year on the topic, Thomas P. Nickels, executive vice president of the American Hospital Association, said that the proposal is “a radical idea, requiring the disclosure of privately negotiated rates between two parties in a contract,” the Times reported in March. “It would be impractical because a hospital may have contracts with a dozen insurers, and each insurer may have four or five different health plans with different terms.”
Prenatal Surgery Could Make Abortion Obsolete?
Innovation in the medical industry paved a new way for prenatal surgery to be available to the general public. In light of the situation, pro-life advocates are praising the ability to improve the quality of life rather than putting an end to it—claiming that abortion can now be rendered obsolete.
Prenatal surgeries or fetal surgeries are medical procedures where a practitioner operates on the baby before it is even born. The surgery would allow the fetus to develop in better circumstances as compared to having the operation after labor. Specifically, doctors would recommend this for fetuses with specific life-threatening congenital abnormalities.
Prenatal surgery is a relatively new and growing branch of medicine. However, the procedure was first introduced and performed in the early 80s, but the complexity and lack of needed technology hampered its growth. In 2019, the situation is looking better with new technological advancements.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), congenital disabilities affect one in every 33 babies born in the United States each year. Out of that number, 20% of all infants die, making the problem the leading cause of infant mortality.
Accurately, in cases of Spina bifida (myelomeningocele), which can render a person quadriplegic, can be detected and treated during pregnancy. However, once untreated, the defect can be incredibly hard to manage because the damage is taking place from the womb up until the fetus is born and continues with the child’s growth. The defect affects 1 in 2,858 cases and 1,460 cases a year.
Pro-life activists claim that because of cases like these, parents opt to have their fetus aborted than raise them with poor quality of life. However, with the rise of prenatal surgeries that can prevent or correct these said defects, children can grow with better chances and should hamper abortion rates.
The claim boomed after a recent New York Times feature, where a 17-month old baby was successfully operated for Spina bifida via prenatal surgery when he was only six months old.
Doctors explained the fetal surgery used an advanced approach called a fetoscopic operation, a surgical procedure developed at Texas Children’s Hospital by Dr. Michael A. Belfort, the obstetrician and gynecologist in chief, and Dr. William Whitehead, a pediatric neurosurgeon.
Notably, a fetoscopic operation allows doctors to make a small incision on the uterus and insert tiny cameras to function as the surgeon’s eyes while operating inside the mother’s womb. The “experimental” procedure is said to be a better alternative to a hysterectomy where the mother’s womb is opened to expose the baby and perform the surgery partially.
“Fetal surgery is not a cure,” Lexi Royer, the mother, said. “Damage was done before the surgery, and all they can do is close it up so the damage doesn’t get worse. He’ll have to be monitored for the rest of his life. He’ll have this condition for the rest of his life. His outcome is great. But things could change.”
In other news, surgeons at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio also say that a baby girl was born healthy after undergoing the hospital’s first-ever fetal surgery for the same defect.
Dr. Darrell Cass, director of fetal surgery at Cleveland Clinic’s Fetal Center, led the multispecialty team. Cass has performed more than 160 fetal surgeries for other conditions since 2002, the Daily Mail reported.
Meanwhile, according to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s website, a host of conditions can be treated with fetal surgery, including:
-Amniotic band syndrome
-Bronchopulmonary sequestration of the lung
-Congenital cystic adenomatoid malformation of the lung (CCAM)
-Congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH)
-Congenital high airway obstruction syndrome (CHAOS)
-Intrauterine transfusion (IUT)
-Lower urinary tract obstruction (LUTO)
-Spina bifida (myelomeningocele)
-Twin reversed arterial perfusion sequence (TRAP sequence)
-Twin-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS)
Prenatal surgeries are growing to be a procedure with increasing success rates and are partnered with parents’ success stories. It is a revolutionary milestone for parents seeking a good quality of life for their children. However, the claims of this science rendering abortion obsolete remains vague.
Based on the latest state-level data, approximately 879,000 abortions took place in the United States in 2017—down from around 892,000 abortions in 2016 and 913,000 abortions in 2015. However, only a small 3% of which decided on abortion with consideration of their fetus’ health. Another 3% accounted for the mother’s health and capability of giving birth.
Meanwhile, 25% still claim that they get an abortion because they are not ready to have a child, and 23% do because they cannot afford to raise one.
Cannabidiol From Cannabis Could Be A Powerful New Antibiotic
New research has found that the non-psychoactive compound extracted from the cannabis plant or Cannabidiol could potentially become a powerful new antibiotic.
The research presented at the ASM Microbe, an annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, found that Cannabidiol is active against Gram-positive bacteria, including those responsible for many serious infections such as Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae, with a potency similar to that of established antibiotics such as vancomycin or daptomycin.
Cannabis is considered legal across ten states in America because it promises to be a new source of drugs due to its medicinal properties that researchers are still to develop. Furthermore, it has shown that people can benefit from it for a variety of illnesses.
Since becoming legal, CBD is found to be effective against inflammation, anxiety, and some cases of Parkinson’s disease. Recently, researchers published a study indicating that the drug can help former drug addicts transition back to regular day-to-day life with the aid of CBD drugs. Furthermore, it has encouraged a slew of enterprises and businesses to focus on Cannabis and CBD to create new products.
Today, researchers are adding CBD as a possible powerful antibiotic to the list of medical benefits that the drug can offer. In a study, scientists found that CBD killed all the strains of bacteria that they tested it with on a lab, including some that are highly resistant to existing antibiotics.
In the experiment, scientists used CBD as a topical antibiotic (medicine placed on the skin’s surface such as creams) against Gram-positive Staphylococcus aureus—causes conditions including the hospital bug MRSA—and Streptococcus pneumoniae—which leads to pneumonia—as well as E. faecalis, which can be life-threatening in those with weak immune systems.
In addition to the results, the researchers also found that the bacteria did not become resistant to the drug after being exposed for 20 days: the period when bacteria can survive some currently used drugs.
Study leader Mark Blaskovich, a senior research chemist at the Centre for Superbug Solutions, told Newsweek: “We still don’t know how it works, and it may have a unique mechanism of action given it works against bacteria that have become resistant to other antibiotics, but we still don’t know how.”
“So far, we have only shown it works topically, on the skin surface. To be really useful, it would be good if we could show that it treated systemic infections e.g. pneumonia, or complicated tissue infections, where you have to give it orally or by intravenous dosing. A very preliminary study didn’t show that it works in these more difficult models.”
Nevertheless, the study’s findings pose as another possible benefit factor to the drug in light of the current “global crisis” that antibiotics are facing says the World Health Organization (WHO). Particularly, bacteria is growing immune with the current antibiotics that’s available to the general public.
Ever since the WHO announcement in 2015, pharmaceutical companies have been finding ways of devising new antibiotics from different sources to combat the impending crisis that’s threatening thousands of lives.
In related news, researchers discovered that antibiotics levels found in the world’s rivers were at unsafe levels. This is largely a result of human waste ending up in the water systems. However, scientists warn that it could boost the current problem with how bacteria are growing resistant to drugs because of wildlife intervention.
CBD could help close the door on the threat with further development, given that it is already proving to be a pharmaceutical investment because of its health benefits.
In other publications, CBD is found to be the most proven with its effectiveness in treating some of the cruelest childhood epilepsy syndromes, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), which typically don’t respond to anti-seizure medications. Harvard Health Publishing wrote that “in numerous studies, CBD was able to reduce the number of seizures, and in some cases, it was able to stop them altogether. Videos of the effects of CBD on these children and their seizures are readily available on the Internet for viewing, and they are quite striking. Recently the FDA approved the first-ever cannabis-derived medicine for these conditions, Epidiolex, which contains CBD.”
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