Saturday, November 7, 2015

Anti-Vaccine Sites Rely on False Information, According to Study

The article remarks that 65.6% of the anti-vaccine websites studied say vaccines are dangerous, 62.2% say that they cause autism and 41.1% say they cause brain damage.  64.7% used scientific evidence and 30% used anecdotes to support the statistics.  Also, some of the websites seemed to promote alternative medicine.  Ultimately, the authors believe that officials should communicate with the anti-vaccine movement differently, possibly by involving health discussions that both sides agree upon, in order to address their concerns. 

In my opinion, while anti-vaccine sites may not use as much evidence based reasoning, I think there might be a point to the anecdotes.  Though they might represent a very small proportion of the population, some people might not react well to vaccines, especially if they have weak immune systems.  I think, if possible, it might be best to check a patient's immune history before prescribing a vaccine.  With children, perhaps it would be better to start with safer, more accepted vaccines first to see if they have any adverse reactions.  I do think, as the article mentioned, that many diseases have been eradicated due to the usage of vaccines.  In 2014, the highest number of measles cases occurred since 2000, and these were mostly in people who did not get vaccinated.  Furthermore, in regards to the authors' conclusions, I'm uncertain that promoting unrelated healthy behaviors will convince the anti-vaccine movement that vaccines are safe.  Rather, the picture should focus mostly on vaccine data that has already been generated.  Is lax regulation of the production of vaccines part of the problem?  And is there some vaccine research that has yet to be done?  Feel free to comment.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Umbilical Cord Blood Can Cure Diseases, But Not Frequently Used

My opinion: I think this is a great, easy way to contribute to healing others' illnesses, but I was not aware that this was possible until reading the article.  Cord blood from the umbilical cord contains stem blood cells that can replace blood cells in leukemia, sickle cell anemia, as well as other diseases.  It is simple to obtain, unlike extracting blood from bone marrow, and they also are less likely to be rejected by the body's immune system.  They can even be put in cryogenic storage indefinitely, which cannot occur with bone marrow.  Currently, only 5-6% of cord blood is saved in the United States.  After birth, the moms probably just want to focus on the health of their child, so I think hospitals might have to ask mothers beforehand if they are ok with donating the cord blood. They also need to be more connected to cord blood banks.  This way, it is possible that blood will be more accessible to those who need it, and blood drives may not be as necessary in the future.  I really believe that this is a fairly simple solution, which is not an easy find in medicine, and that administrative issues need to be overcome to deliver it.  Feel free to comment.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Need a prescription? Pay more in the USA

My opinion:  Though the article is short, its message is strong - people in the USA pay three times that of what the British pay for prescription drugs.  And in many other countries, the price is even less expensive.  The article argues that government control of prescription prices is what helps lower costs.  In the USA, pharmaceutical companies have more power to raise prices, and claim that it is necessary for research purposes.  I'm wondering if this is the same reason college tuition has increased so much in the last couple of decades.  Companies figure that Americans are willing to pay more and hence raise the price of the product.  I've also noticed that a some healthcare, for example, radiology, is being outsourced to other countries.  Is it possible for Americans to buy prescription drugs in other countries and have them shipped for an overall lower price?  I also wonder if less popular drugs, which were not included in the study, also are priced higher in the USA than in other countries.  Have any opinions?  Feel free to comment.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

How Necessary Is Medical Tourism?

My opinion:  According to the case in the article, many people may seek out medical tourism because physicians in America cannot adequately treat certain patients.  While I have heard of this before, many people travel in order to save money on their medical bills, since care is less expensive in other countries.  Some companies exist just to provide medical tourist services to Americans.  Unfortunately, like in the article, patients may still end up paying hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Now, I wonder how possible it is to outsource healthcare to other countries.  Already, medical images are being sent to radiologists in India.  However, in this case, these physicians must have a license to practice medicine in the U.S., even though they are located in a different country.  I believe that, while many people may try to take advantage of medical tourism, most will not.  This is because they may not have access to air travel, have most of their conditions treated well by American doctors, and that doctors in other countries may not be able to take on foreign patients.  This is especially true in Canada, where doctors have tight schedules, since universal healthcare resulted in high demand for services.  Feel free share your thoughts on this topic.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Could Deportation of Illegal Immigrants Cause a Medical Crisis?

My opinion:  I think the sudden deportation of immigrants could cause a lot of unintended problems, and this article has a great perspective on the issue.  Deportation could lead to mental health issues, as it is associated with stress and depression.  But besides that, immigrants might refuse to visit doctors, for fear that they will report them to the government.  Should medical ethics dictate that a patient's immigration status is confidential information?  Usually, from an ethical standpoint, if the information could cause harm to the patient or others, it should be withheld.  Not only could this information result in a lack of access to care, but it could cause a large spread of infectious diseases if a large portion of this group is not treated.  At the same time, many feel that these people should not receive healthcare as they are not legal citizens, and they have not paid taxes to support our healthcare system.  Is there a way to fund these immigrants?  How should these immigrants be sought out if deportation efforts increased?  And lastly, what other problems would arise from mass deportation?  Please feel free to comment.


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Doctors May Overrate Their Foreign Language Skills

I'm sure some people reading this may think that doctors overrate their skills in general.   While possible, I think this also reflects that doctors, when listing their foreign languages, usually don't describe their proficiency in such languages.  Indeed, many doctors who attend medical schools in foreign countries like China list their only language as English!  I think doctors, whether in private practice or in hospitals, should list all of their languages along with their skill level, possibly with a description of their experience in that language.  This will better enable foreign patients to determine if that doctor is adequate for them.  Again, my new website,, allows patients to search for doctors by language.  Doctors may include a description of their practice in which they rate their foreign language skills.  Feel free to comment or ask any questions! 


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Doctors Often Don't Use Translators When Necessary

A very intriguing read indeed.  The article comments that doctors tend to use translators more for discussions that they interpret as important, like explaining a complex medical problem.  However, for more basic talks, like check-ups, translators may not be called in.  Sadly, research has shown that patients who don't speak English well are hospitalized for longer periods of time and are misdiagnosed at higher rates.  Many physicians feel that they don't have the time to use an interpreter, or hospitals don't have enough room in their budget to hire them.  I hope that, with my new website,, some of these issues can be alleviated.  The site aims to connect patients with doctors who speak a common language, which can help in areas that lack translators.  This would also save the doctor time, without having a third party interrupt the appointment.  Doctors can add their contact information to the site if they wish.  Any comments are appreciated.