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Posts Tagged ‘health & safety’

Next time you are in a teaching hospital, consider this: The doctor-in-training swho are attending to you may be so exhausted that they are a danger to you and others.

Medical residents work shifts as long as 30 hours as frequently as three times a week. Extensive research shows that this leads to car crashes (they fall alseep at the wheel after leaving work), depression, needle sticks and pregnancy complications.

Enough is enough. The federal government is so concerned about the relationship between fatigue and safety that it limits the work hours of people in other industries, including long-haul truckers, pilots, barge captains and railroad engineers. Doctors should be similarly protected.

So say Public Citizen, the Committee of Interns and Residents/SEIU Healthcare, the American Medical Student Association and several experts. Together, we petitioned the Occupational Safety and Health Administration today to limit medical resident work hours.

OSHA responded quickly, issuing a statement later in the day acknowledging the link between sleep deprivation and an increased risk of needle sticks, puncture wounds, lacerations, medical errors and motor vehicle accidents.

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Occupational safety is the number one workplace concern and Congress should pass legislation aimed to protect the health and safety of workers, according to a new poll and study by the National Opinion Research Center and the Public Welfare Foundation.

The study [PDF] found that a safe job site trumps other important labor standards such as maternity leave, minimum wage, the right to join a union, with 85% of respondents rating workplace safety regulations as very important for workers.

(more…)

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Sid Wolfe discusses weight loss drugs on ABC World News.

Last night, our own Sid Wolfe was on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer to discuss the dangers of weight loss drugs. Check out the video by clicking the photo above.

Remember to check out worstpills.org for comprehensive information on the safety of the drugs you take every day.

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We’ve written about the dangers of the diabetes drug Avandia and have told Congress about an unethical international clinical trial, requested by the FDA, being performed by Avandia’s manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline.

Now Public Citizen and Canadian researcher/physician David Juurlink go straight to the source, sending a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg asking her to halt the study, which pits Avandia against its competitor, Actos.

From the Reuters story:

“A wealth of data now suggests” that Avandia carries greater risks than Actos, the researchers said. Patients are also not adequately informed about the safety differences between the two medicines when deciding whether to participate in the trial, they added.

But FDA officials, who have said they are already taking a closer look at Avandia, are not likely to act so quickly.

And the Los Angeles Times:

In act, both drugs [Avandia and Actos] have been tagged with safety issues: In addition to raising rates of cardiovascular events, the class of Type 2 diabetes drugs known as thiazolidinediones (or TZDs) have been linked in studies to higher rates of edema, macular edema, bony fractures, anemia and acute liver injury. Older diabetes medicine such as metformin and sulfonylurea are widely believed to be safer alternatives.

But to no avail — the FDA likely won’t examine the study until July, FiercePharma reports.

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The President and Republicans sparred over health care in yesterday’s “bipartisan” meeting. One of Republicans’ favorite talking points is so-called “tort reform”- or restricting patients’ ability to hold negligent doctors and hospitals accountable for injuries they cause. They argue that liability limits will reduce health care costs.

The news out of Texas is that its comprehensive liability restrictions have not lowered costs at all. Despite its efforts to shield bad doctors, Texas health care costs have risen dramatically over the last six years.

Access to court is the only way that individuals can hold more powerful, sophisticated industries, such as doctors and hospitals accountable for wrongdoing.

Public Citizen sent a letter to Congress yesterday urging that it not include malpractice system changes in the health care bill, and to focus instead on the patient safety crisis facing the country.

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by John Sparks

There was no Senate vote on the single-payer health care amendment on the floor December 16, thanks to the parliamentary obstruction of amendments by Republican senators in their battle to prevent any and all health care reform this year.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) attempted to introduce his Medicare-for-All, single-payer health care substitute amendment, but when he requested the usual unanimous consent to dispense with the reading of the entire bill, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) objected, and under Senate rules, clerks were obligated to read aloud the entire 700-plus page amendment – a process that would have consumed nearly eight hours.

After 2 hours and 43 minutes, Sen. Sanders withdrew his amendment in order to allow the Senate to proceed with other business in the dwindling days before the Christmas recess – but he then gave a rousing, blistering speech on the Senate floor, condemning the insurance cartel, anti-reform obstructionists in Congress, and promising that the day will come when America has true universal healthcare.

Had Sen. Sanders’s amendment been allowed to proceed to debate and vote, it would have been the first time a complete single-payer plan had been considered on the Senate floor, a milestone in the history of nearly 60 years of effort to reform the nation’s health care system.

Sanders was proposing the amendment as a substitute for the compromise bill put together by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and other Democrats, and supported by the Obama Administration. That bill has been so watered down in an effort to please enough Senators to reach the 60 votes necessary to stop a Republican filibuster that some progressives now say (more…)

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By John Sparks

This morning, in spite of strong support from health care advocates like Public Citizen, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) agreed to withdraw his single-payer health care amendment from consideration as the House approaches a floor vote on the major health care package supported by the Democratic leadership and President Obama.

This news may not surprise many who believed single-payer to be dead on arrival in today’s healthcare reform debate. But even political insiders were stunned by the resurrection of the possibility of a single-payer vote. Over the past week, activists across the country and the coalition of pro-single-payer organizations in Washington got behind Weiner’s campaign to offer an amendment and forced the leadership to seriously reconsider a floor vote.

Weiner acknowledged that last-minute developments caused him to make the difficult decision to withdraw the proposal. The chief reasons stemmed from pressure on (more…)

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Merlyna Adams of Louisiana sported a large round button on her lapel as she addressed reporters at a press conference yesterday. The button simply said: “I am not frivolous.”

Merlyna and eight families who have fallen victim to medical malpractice traveled to Washington, D.C., to ask their members of Congress to oppose proposals that would limit patients’ legal rights in the health care reform legislation.

Merlyna is a school principal whose medical treatment for a kidney stone in 2007 led to a lengthy stay in a hospital’s intensive care unit, congestive heart failure, renal failure, pulmonary failure and amputation of both her hands and her legs below the knee. (more…)

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Former Public Citizen research associate Jonas Hines and his medical school friends put together this video lampooning the pharma industry’s corrupting influence on doctors. It’s a great follow up to their earlier hit Still Just Some Guy (Not a Doctor Yet). While the video is fun, the message is serious. Big Pharma spends big bucks wooing doctors with cash, gifts, trips and other perks. In 2003, the pharma industry spent $25.3 billion on marketing to doctors. This is from Public Citizen’s 2007 testimony to a Senate committee:

Physicians typically claim that they are unaffected by such interactions (although they are willing to acknowledge that their colleagues might be influenced). But pharmaceutical companies would not be catering to the culinary and travel preferences of physicians if they thought their efforts were for nought. The evidence strongly suggests that the companies are right. For instance, contact with pharmaceutical company representatives is associated with changes in the prescribing practices of residents and physicians and more rapid adoption of new drugs by prescribers.

It’s encouraging that medical students recognize this problem and want to do something about it. Check out the American Medical Student Association’s Web Site, PharmFree to learn more about their campaign to bring accountability to the medical profession.

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By David Arkush

Arguing with the likes of the Manhattan Institute about medical malpractice litigation isn’t much fun anymore. We’ve proved them wrong time and again, and it looks like they’re running out of gas. The Manhattan Institute’s latest piece misrepresents our analysis and accuses us of an odd mistake: responding to arguments about medical malpractice litigation in the terms in which they are made.

A little history: For years, enemies of the courts – doctors, liability insurance companies, and groups like the Manhattan Institute – have argued that a torrent of frivolous lawsuits against doctors have been driving up the costs of medical care. As everyone knows, medical costs have skyrocketed, with yearly spending increasing from $1.2 trillion to $2.5 trillion in the last ten years alone. The dream of these court deformers was to pin with the problem on lawsuits. But the math just doesn’t work. We’ve shown year after year that medical liability, even generously defined, is a tiny fraction of overall health care costs. Currently it’s at historic lows – just 0.58 percent of health care costs – while those costs are still skyrocketing.

With the evidence overwhelmingly against them, many deformers have changed the subject. They talk about so-called “defensive medicine,” which has extremely little empirical support – meaning that they can (more…)

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