Difficult Patients: Patients used to accept doctors’ orders without question. Today, more are asking questions and challenging their doctors’ opinions. However, even those who do it politely are likely to be labeled “difficult.” A doctor whose late wife nearly made a career of being a difficult patient discusses how patients can do it respectfully and fruitfully.
Rudeness: Studies show a rudeness epidemic in the US, and that people are profoundly affected when they experience or even witness it occurring to someone else. Two experts discuss.
Since the introduction of antibiotics in World War II, doctors have prescribed courses of treatment that typically ran longer than necessary. Bacterial resistance is forcing a reevaluation, shortening courses sometimes to just a few days and even prompting doctors to advise not using all pills if patients feel better.
People who’ve gone to the hospital for treatment of a mental health disorder have an increased risk of stroke for months afterward. A study presented to the International Stroke Conference in Houston shows that people going to the hospital for psychiatric disorders like depression, anxiety and PTSD have triple the risk of a stroke in the next month and double the risk for the next year or more. Scientists speculate that mental illness may provoke the body’s “fight or flight” mechanism which can raise blood pressure and stroke risk.
Early risers may be healthier than people who sleep in. A study in the journal Obesity shows that early birds tend to eat more balanced diets than night owls. They also eat earlier in the day, which helps with weight loss and lowers the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
And finally, many Americans are working from home at least part of the time and a new poll shows we like it that way. However, a little bit of office camaraderie is a good thing. The Gallup survey finds that 43 percent of employees work remotely at least part of the time and that the most engaged workers are those who spend three to four days a week working from home. People who work in the office all the time or at home all the time are the least engaged employees.
And that’s Medical Notes this week more in a moment.
Many people sing badly and think they’re tone deaf, but a surprisingly low proportion of them truly can’t tell one note from another. They not only can’t sing, they also can’t enjoy music, may have trouble with certain forms of language, and may be unable to communicate emotion in their speech.
Government statistics are now quantifying the huge increase in drug overdose deaths. A report from the National Center for Health Statistics shows that the drug death rate in 2015 was between two and three times what it was in 1999. During those 16 years, overdose deaths rose an average of 5.5 percent per year. Researchers say heroin deaths tripled and now make up a quarter of the total, while deaths from prescription pain medications declined slightly.
Millions of people take vitamin C to ward off colds and infections, but a new study finds that vitamin D is also important. The study in the journal BMJ shows that getting enough vitamin D cuts the proportion of people who get an acute respiratory infection by about 12 percent. Researchers say the study supports public health measures such as fortifying foods to increase vitamin D at least in locations where deficiency is common.
And finally, are pharmaceutical companies “getting away with murder” in relation to high drug prices? The president thinks so and about 75 percent of people agree. The Zogby poll for the organization Prescription Justice shows that 45 percent of people think the prescription drug supply system needs a major overhaul to reduce prices. About 30 percent of respondents say they’ve failed to get a prescription filled at some time in their life because it cost too much.