August 13, 2019

How intense is Intensive Care?

Intensive Care, also called Critical Care, is for those with life-threatening injuries and illnesses, and implies close, constant attention by a team of specially-trained health care providers. How does modern medicine define "intensive"? Just watch. Jo's VERY SHORT VIDEO on tele-ICUs.

July 30, 2019

Is Osteoporosis just a chick thing?

Osteoporosis means "porous bone." It's a disease causing weak or brittle bones that may more easily break from a fall, a bump or even just coughing. What causes osteoporosis? Other illnesses, medications, family history, age and even race can affect risk. Because hormones may have an impact, we often think of osteoporosis as exclusively for women. Not really. Just watch Jo's VERY SHORT VIDEO on Osteoporosis

July 16, 2019

Siri is way smarter than Alexa, right?

It's so darn handy to ask those go-to gals, Siri and Alexa, for information on the fly or to turn on the living room lights. Are they equally qualified to answer your health care questions? Just watch Jo's VERY SHORT VIDEO on Siri and Alexa

July 2, 2019

It takes a village to prevent ADEs

An Adverse Drug Event (ADE) is unintended, unexpected and/or dangerous harm from the use of medications (prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs and supplements). Because there's loads of potential causes for ADEs, how can we best prevent them? Just watch Jo's VERY SHORT VIDEO on Adverse Drug Events

June 25, 2019

To Alice Cooper and my Million Dollar breakfast

[I'm revisiting this blog post, originally published on July 13, 2014.]

Last Friday, I had a breakfast meeting and I arrived early because you can never be sure about the traffic and I just figured I'd read the paper and have a coffee while waiting for my companions.  At the only other occupied table in the hotel cafe' sat three gentlemen. I thought, "I wonder if that man knows how much he looks like Alice Cooper."  And the more I discreetly stared, the more I thought maybe it really was him but, you know, it seemed so very unlikely that Alice Cooper would be having breakfast in a hotel in downtown Des Moines, Iowa that I didn't trust my judgment.  So I asked the waiter and he smiled and confirmed that it was, indeed, Alice Cooper. (Okay, I guess I'm not as hip as I thought I was, since I didn't know he was performing at the Wells Fargo Arena that night.)

And then I did what I always swore I would never do to a celebrity:  I interrupted his meal.  I turned into a gawking sycophant and I went over to that table and I said, "I always said I would never do this but I just wanted to thank you for 'Mary Ann.'"  And a young rocker at his table clearly didn't know what I meant and he asked if I was Mary Ann but Alice Cooper knew exactly what I meant and right there and then he sang the first line of that wonderful song.  Alice Cooper sang to me. And I said, "God, I miss the '70's" and Alice said he did, too. And then he said, "They tell me I was there."

Over the past three days, I've thought a lot about that chance meeting. Tomorrow is my birthday. Later this month, it would have been the 39th anniversary of my marriage to Roy Z. Fort.  We had been married barely four years when he died, in 1979. I was 28, he was 29.

At the time of Roy's death, we had two copies of Alice Cooper's "Million Dollar Baby" in our record collection--we each brought one into the marriage.  A few years ago, I bought the CD as well so I could listen to it in the car. Clearly, we liked that album and all it represented about the 1970's and having fun and good friends and rocking out and being young.


Meeting Alice Cooper was no coincidence.  It was a bittersweet reminder that time is so fleeting, that 35 years can fly by, and that the loved ones who are no longer with us are always with us.

Thanks, Alice. And thanks, RoyBoy. And Happy Anniversary.

June 18, 2019

Seen one patient, seen 'em all?

Preventive care and periodic screening tests are crucial in detecting--and hopefully treating--medical conditions in their early stages. Can my annual checkup be just the same as yours? Well, that all depends on our ages, life experiences and family histories. Just watch 
Jo's VERY SHORT VIDEO on unique preventive care.

June 4, 2019

No advance directives? No big deal, right?

Advance directives are a record of 1) your appointed substitute medical decision maker if you lose capacity and 2) your wishes for care if you are terminally ill or irreversibly unconscious. But it's okay if you blow this off, because your state's law will recognize a loved one to step in as your advocate, right? Just watch Jo's VERY SHORT VIDEO on Elder Orphans.

May 28, 2019

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

A fundamental of health literacy is preventive care--doing what we can to head off health care issues at the pass. It seems so logical. Wouldn't anyone prefer to spot a problem as soon as possible in order to treat it as effectively as possible? Maybe. Just watch Jo's VERY SHORT VIDEO on Preventive Care.

May 24, 2019

Tsk tsk on the ancestor shaming

Sometimes ancestors can be the convenient scapegoat for bumps in life's road. It's tempting to gaze around at the family reunion and think, "Well, it's easy to see where I got my [fill in the blank]."

Is having a chronic medical condition one of those times? Just watch Jo's VERY SHORT video on genetics vs. lifestyle choices to learn. 

May 15, 2019

Seriously? Is anybody listening?

This is more than a little disturbing. Iowa's position in U.S. News & World Report's annual rankings fell from No. 1 to No. 14 overall, and from No. 3 to No. 20 in the "Health Care" category. Best States RankingsConsidering that "health care" and "elder issues" were  conspicuous by their absence from both the Governor's Wish List and her I Got My Wish List, this is not really surprising.

When older Iowans gather, they talk about 1) their health and 2) how politics, taxes and the weather affect their health. By 2030, Iowa will be home to 144,000 more seniors than today. That means even greater demands on a health care system already straining to meet Iowans' needs. 

Is anyone listening? 

May 7, 2019

The secret to a long life?

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.

April 30, 2019

When is it most dangerous for a patient?

It seems like being in an Emergency Room, in the midst of a medical crisis, would be the most dangerous time for a patient. With so much multi-tasking going on, doesn't that setting hold the highest risk of a medical error occurring? 

Not so much. Moving between types of care--the time known as the "hand off"--is where a lack of communication is most likely to risk our safety as patients. For instance, going from the ER to a hospital room, or being released from acute care to rehab or going home. Just watch Jo's VERY SHORT VIDEO on the risks of the "hand off" to learn a shocking statistic. 

April 23, 2019

Once and for all: What is palliative care?

We'd like to think that all health care takes the patient's comfort into consideration, but in case it doesn't, there is a medical specialty that does: palliative care. 

Watch Jo's VERY SHORT VIDEO on palliative care to learn when palliative care may be appropriate for you or a loved one. 

April 16, 2019

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--since November of 2017! For women under 45, the number has doubled.

How can that be?  Just watch: Jo's VERY SHORT video on high blood pressure
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.

April 10, 2019

Health care's panacea: Electronic Health Records

A local provider, Iowa Clinic, has just been handed a $12.25 million verdict due to an Electronic Health Records (EHR) screwup. The pathologist used a bar code scanner with too many records lying on her desk and the report showing prostate cancer was attributed to the wrong patient (resulting in a mistaken prostate removal for one patient and we don't know what for the other patient.) 4/5/2019 Des Moines Register story on malpractice verdict

On the same day, we learn that two Battle Creek, Michigan doctors have closed their practice because hackers wiped out their entire records system (patient charts, billings, test results, etc.) when they refused to pay the ransom. 4/5/2019 story on medical clinic hacking

That's a lot to take in.