Tuesday, September 04, 2007

migraine news roundup 43

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According to an article in the October issue of the American Journal of Public Health, living in damp, moldy homes may lead to depression. Whether there is a cause-and-effect relationship remains to be seen, however.

Damp, Moldy Homes May Cause Depression
The possible link was uncovered in an analysis of mold and health conditions in several cities in eastern and western Europe. And it could one day lead to the addition of emotional problems to the list of health woes caused by mold, the study authors said.

But, the researchers cautioned, it's still too soon to tell if exposure to mold is directly related to depression, or whether an already depressed person might simply relinquish control of their surroundings to the degree that mold may develop.

A recent federal court decision will allow broader access to Medicare doctor records. This change will help patients find the most experienced, proficient doctors in many specialties.

Ruling May Unlock Key Data on Doctors
In a little-noticed decision last week, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled in favor of a consumer group that sued the Health and Human Services Department to allow disclosure of specific data about doctors from the Medicare claims database.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan concluded that releasing the data would be "a significant public benefit," and ordered the department to turn it over by Sept. 21.

With information on more than 40 million patients and 700,000 doctors, the Medicare database is far richer than any private insurer's. Though it does not have information on some doctors, such as pediatricians, who don't treat Medicare patients, it is considered the mother lode for data on those who treat adults, because Medicare recipients are a mainstay of most practices.

The database's usefulness has been limited by a decades-old government policy that protects the privacy of doctors, who fear the information could be used to micromanage the practice of medicine. But as the cost of medical care has skyrocketed, employers, insurers and consumer groups have pressured the government to open up Medicare's files on individual doctors.

Last week National Public Radio reported on why the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has been less successful than hoped.

NPR: Portable Health Insurance Faces Challenges
by Joanne Silberner, Morning Edition, August 29, 2007 · Holding on to health insurance can be a big challenge if you have a chronic disease or history of illness. But it wasn't supposed to be that way. Eleven years ago this month, Congress passed a law intended to free people who felt trapped in their jobs because they were afraid of losing their health insurance.

Lifehack.org shares advice on how to embrace the power of positive thinking.

Master the Simple Science of Positive Thinking
When you are truly at peace within yourself, you are naturally thinking positively. You don’t have to fight off negative thoughts, or search desperately for more positive thoughts; it just happens on its own.

A cool 2005 article from New York Magazine about how a visual artist redesigned the standard pill bottle.

The Perfect Prescription: How the pill bottle was remade-sensibly and beautifully

The New York Times reports that an increasing number of doctors are offering no-interest loans to patients.

Doctors Offering No-Interest Loans to Patients

But as the price of health care continues to rise and big lenders pursue new areas for growth, this type of medical financing has become one of the fastest-growing parts of consumer credit, led by lending giants like Capital One and Citigroup and the CareCredit unit of General Electric.

Big insurers, too, are devising new financing plans with various payback options. Upstart players have also aggressively cut deals with doctors.

The room for expansion looks ample, as rising deductibles, co-payments and other costs may force more of the nation’s 250 million people with health insurance to finance out-of-pocket expenses for even basic medical care.

“As more and more of the costs of care are shifted to consumers, people are going to need more credit,” said Red Gillen, a senior analyst at Celent, an insurance and banking research firm. “They are still going to need health care.”

A study published in the August 28 edition of the journal Neurology indicates that zolmitriptan (Zomig) is an effective treatment for cluster headaches. However, it should be noted that the study was funded by the maker of Zomig, Astra-Zeneca.

New Treatment Explored for Cluster Headaches

An AlterNet article explores the connection between corporate influence and FDA approval of new drugs.

What's Missing on Your FDA Drug Warning Label

A reaction to the idea of patient-controlled medical records from Over My Med Body!

Patients Should Not Control Their Medical Record

A new and unique Minnesota law is shedding much-needed light on ties between doctors and drug companies, exposing what could often be considered conflicts of interest.

Financial Ties Link Some Docs, Drug Companies
A groundbreaking Minnesota law is shining a rare light into the big money that drug companies spend on members of state advisory panels who help select which drugs are used in Medicaid programs for the poor and disabled.

Those panels, most comprised of physicians, hold great sway over the $28 billion spent on drugs each year for Medicaid patients nationwide. But aside from Minnesota, only Vermont and Maine require drug companies to report payments to doctors for lectures, consulting, research and other services.

An Associated Press review of records in Minnesota found that a doctor and a pharmacist on the eight-member state panel simultaneously got big checks — more than $350,000 to one — from pharmaceutical companies for speaking about their products.

A list of natural pain relievers from Spine-Health.com. Nothing revolutionary, but some good ideas, nonetheless.

15 Natural Pain Relievers

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