March 14, 2019

2019 Patient Safety Awareness Week

"Patient safety" issues might bring thoughts of leaving a sponge behind during a surgery or allowing a patient to fall while in the hospital, but it's so much more than that. A "medical error" occurs anytime there is an unintended action that results in additional treatment, disability or death.

For instance, when the doctor misdiagnoses your condition because he or she doesn't have enough information about you, that's a medical error. If you make the wrong treatment choice because you don't have enough information about your options for care, that's a medical error. Failing to have a process in place for effective patient-provider communication and shared decision making is a failure in patient safety. 

It's interesting to note that the five most frequent medical errors could all be prevented by practicing the fundamentals of health literacy. See my TARGET: MEDICAL ERRORS for a quick reference guide on how you and those you care for can be safer.

March 10, 2019

I could not make this up

You may be familiar with the term "tele-medicine," but I bet you're not picturing this. At Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Fremont, California, a "tablet on wheels" was brought into this patient's room so the doctor could tell him that his disease is no longer treatable and that he will probably not live to go home for hospice care.


I got nuthin'. 

February 15, 2019

Don't shoot the messenger

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found in a PET scan study of 205 individuals aged 20 to 82 that 1) the women had brains that were an average 3.8 years younger than their actual age and 2) the men had brains that were an average 2.4 years older than actual age. Researcher Dr. Manu Goyal said that younger brains may account for the lower prevalence of cognitive decline in women, but more studies are needed. Washington University School of Medicine study

I'm just the reporter. 

December 12, 2018

This cannot be good

The CDC has just released data showing that average life expectancy in America has gone down--not up--for the second time in three years. This, in spite of all our medical advances. And wait until you see the reason. So sad. Jo's VERY SHORT video on life expectancy in America.

Not everyone's holiday season is merry. Let's watch out for each other out there. Peace.

October 31, 2018

Will your advance directives be honored?

There was a time (the 1970s) when we were most concerned that the medical profession would keep us alive artificially--using feeding tubes and ventilators--against our wishes. Now we have advance directives to spell out instructions for the use of life-extending measures. But do health care professionals always understand what we want?

In a series of "TRIAD" studies, Dr. Fred Mirarchi of the University of Pittsburgh has shown that a great majority of Emergency Department personnel are confused about what it means when a patient has a "Living Will" and when it is appropriate to forego CPR for comfort care only.

Watch Jo's VERY SHORT video on advance directives in the ER to understand how important it is to have an effective advocate with you in every health care situation, in case you are unable to think or speak for yourself. Words matter.

October 8, 2018

What the heck is "White Coat Hypertension"?

Have you ever noticed that your blood pressure seems to be elevated when you're at the doctor's office? Watch this video for a possible explanation:  Jo's VERY SHORT video on White Coat Hypertension

It's a push for me, but I work hard to go to my Zen place while I'm in the waiting room and then stop gabbing while my blood pressure is being taken.

Guess what? It works. Who knew? 

September 25, 2018

Be honest: Have you ever asked Siri or Alexa a medical question?

You know I am all about using the World Wide Interweb for health care research, as long as you know who you're dealing with as a resource. Northeastern University did a study on the reliability of Siri and Alexa for health care advice. JO'S VERY SHORT VIDEO on SIRI and ALEXA.

Busted, gals. The key to accessing reliable health care information as a building block of health literacy is the reliable part. 

August 29, 2018

Osteopenia is not just a chick thing

Think osteoporosis is a chick thing? Think again. Jo's VERY SHORT video on osteoporosis.

The risks for osteopenia and osteoporosis are not exclusive to women. Check out this Mayo Clinic guide to see if you should be keeping an eye on your bone density levels:  
Mayo Clinic Guide to Bone Density tests.

For an overview of bone density issues (whether or not you have a known risk), this comprehensive guide is available from the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ): GUIDE TO BONE DENSITY ISSUES.

Praemonitus, praemunitus: To be forewarned is to be forearmed. 

August 27, 2018

Sorry, but no ancestor shaming allowed on this one

Sometimes ancestors can be the convenient scapegoat for bumps in the road. It's tempting to look at family members and think, "Well, it's easy to see where I got my [fill in the blank]." But having a chronic medical condition is not one of those times.

Watch my short video to see what I mean: Jo's VERY SHORT video on genetics vs. lifestyle choices.

August 6, 2018

Is COPD really the third leading cause of death?

Chronic respiratory disease is the third leading cause of death in America if you don't include the 251,000 people who die from medical errors every year--and the National Centers for Disease Control don't.

It's frustrating that almost all medical errors could be prevented using the tools of health literacy, such as sharing accurate information, being medication aware and practicing effective advocacy--for yourself or someone else.

Take a moment to watch and share this short video: Jo's VERY SHORT video on preventing medical errors

July 20, 2018

Wondering whether to buy green bananas?

Google's artificial intelligence group, "Medical Brain," has developed an algorithm that analyzes a person's entire medical records to make all sorts of interesting--and potentially crucial--predictions about health care outcomes and even life expectancy. Jo's VERY SHORT video on predicting your expiration date.

I am all about using every credible tool in the box to practice fully informed and shared decision making--as long as we remember that the computer only knows what humans tell it, so health literate decision making still comes down to effective patient-doctor communication. 

June 25, 2018

Have a modesty issue?

I just might have landed on a solution for you. You know, we are about to experience a dramatic increase in the health care labor shortages already being felt. Check this out: Jo's VERY SHORT video on the robot dresser

June 18, 2018

The secret to a long life? Don't fall.

It's one of those things that seems too simple to be true, but it is: falling is a leading cause of death as we age. And it's getting more prevalent, not less. Now, you would expect the numbers to go up, just because of our aging population, but guess what? The rate is also increasing, as shown in this brief video: Jo's VERY SHORT video on falls.

June 11, 2018

Overnight epidemic of High Blood Pressure

This may be hard to believe, but the number of American men under age 45 with high blood pressure has tripled--over the past six months! For women under 45, the number has doubled.

How can that be?  Just watch this: Jo's VERY SHORT video on high blood pressure
Well, in November of 2017, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association adjusted their guidelines for the treatment of high blood pressure ("hypertension"). They started by lowering the threshold for "high blood pressure" from 140/90 to 130/80. Overnight, nearly half of all American adults were classified as having high blood pressure.

So, when was the last time you had your BP taken? You know that funny looking machine at your pharmacy? Have a seat and check it out. 
To make sure you get an accurate reading, follow these steps:  GETTING AN ACCURATE BLOOD PRESSURE READING

If your numbers are high (and the machine's chart may not have been updated with the new guidelines), make a doctor's appointment to see what's what.

June 5, 2018

Good news for those with chronic medical conditions

There are 117 million Americans with two or more chronic medical conditions. Of those aged 65 and older, 75 percent are dealing with the multiple specialists, medications and lifestyle adjustments that come with chronic disease. 

A recent survey* showed that only half of physicians are aware that Medicare will reimburse their services as the care coordinator for qualifying patients with chronic diseases. And yet we know that when we monitor patients' compliance with medication and treatments, it pays off big time in improved health care outcomes. 

If you or a loved one has a chronic condition, such as high blood pressure, COPD, diabetes or depression, visit with your primary care provider about how you can make sure that patient and providers are all rowing in in the same direction!

* "Hidden Hazards", Quest Diagnostics, as conducted by Regina Corso Consulting, February 2018,