When To Go To Urgent Care

Many people struggle to decide whether they should go to the urgent care facility or the emergency room. Both of these centers are designed to treat medical problems quickly. However, there is a difference between the type of care that you can get an emergency room and the type of care that you can get an urgent care facility.

When to go to the Emergency Room

You should pay attention to the symptoms that you are experiencing. If you have any of the following symptoms, then you should go to the emergency room.

  • A severe headache
  • Any type of severe pain
  • Chest pain
  • Breathing problems
  • Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy
  • A newborn baby with a fever
  • Severe heart palpitations
  • Seizures
  • Suicidal thoughts

If you suspect that there is a medical emergency, then you will need to call 911. Paramedics can start treatment for emergency medical problems, such as severe bleeding or heart attack before you get to the hospital.

When to go to Urgent Care

Urgent care is not the same as emergency care. However, there are many conditions that can be treated at an urgent care center. Many people go to the emergency room when their doctor’s office is closed because they do not think that they have another option. If you have any of the following symptoms, then you can go to an urgent care center.

  • Fever without a rash
  • Diarrhea
  • A sore throat
  • Shallow cut
  • Sprain or strains
  • Ear infection

It is important to remember that an urgent care center is not a substitution for your primary care doctor. Your primary care doctor is the one who knows your medical history. However, an urgent care center is a great place to go if you cannot see your primary care doctor.

Be Prepared

You will need to be prepared no matter whether you decide to go to an emergency room or an urgent care center. You will need to have a list of all of the medications that you or your loved ones take. You should also keep a list of your allergies and medical procedures that you have had.

Signs, Symptoms, and Solutions: Lyme Disease

What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness caused by four main species of bacteria. The disease is transmitted by the bite of an infected deer tick. Each year, approximately 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to the CDC. However, research suggests that around 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year.

Prevention
The best way to prevent getting infected with Lyme disease is to wooded, bushy areas with long grass. Other ways to prevent Lyme disease include:

  • Cover exposed skin when spending time in wooded or grassy areas
  • Use an insect repellent with a DEET concentration of 20 percent or higher
  • Check for ticks after spending time outdoors
  • Remove ticks as soon as possible with a pair of tweezers and apply antiseptic to the bite area

Signs
Signs of Lyme disease vary case by case and usually appear in stages. Within a month after being affected, a rash will appear at the spot of the tick bite. The rash, known as erythema migrans, usually forms in a bulls-eye pattern; a clear center with a ring of redness surrounding it. This is typically not a painful or itchy rash. Often, flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills and fatigue accompany the rash.

Symptoms
If Lyme goes untreated, then further symptoms will appear. These can include erythema migrans spreading to other parts of your body; severe joint pain usually localized to knees but can shift to other joints; and neurological problems, such as meningitis, Bell’s palsy, impaired muscle movement, and numbness or weakness in your limbs.

Less common symptoms that develop after several weeks include heart problems, such as an irregular heartbeat, that typically lasts a few days or weeks; eye inflammation; liver inflammation; and severe fatigue.

Solutions
Antibiotics are used to treat Lyme disease. Oral antibiotics are the standard solution for early-stage Lyme disease. If the disease involves your nervous system, a doctor will often recommend intravenous antibiotics for 14-28 days. The sooner treatment begins, the faster and more complete the recovery will be. After treatment, some people still experience some Lyme symptoms, like muscle weakness and fatigue. Known as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome, the cause of this is unknown and is not helped with further use of antibiotics.

4 Ways to Make Big Impacts on Your Health

When people hear their doctors recommend lifestyle changes, they often envision a complete overhaul of their way of living. Making changes in your life to live healthier doesn’t have to be drastic or immediate. You can take things one step at a time and make changes that won’t force you to sacrifice too much, yet these simple changes can have a long-lasting and positive impact on your health.

  1. Create Positive Morning Habits

You can begin to change your life by choosing healthier habits to employ in your daily morning ritual. Again, you don’t have to completely overhaul your lifestyle. Maybe just add a five minute meditation session or get up 20 minutes early, so you can fit in some yoga. Over time, these practices will become second nature and you won’t even remember a time when you didn’t meditate.

  1. Add More Protein to Your Morning Meal

Another good morning practice is to add more protein to your breakfast. In addition to giving us more energy and improving our mood, a high-protein breakfast can actually help us sleep better in the evenings. The ingestion of proteins will promote the production of serotonin in the brain. In addition to elevating our moods, serotonin also helps the flow of melatonin, which is the neurotransmitter responsible for promoting better sleep.

  1. You’re Not Drinking Enough Water

Most people think they do drink enough water, but you’re probably not drinking as much as you should. Bear in mind that our bodies are 70% water and that water is used to fuel virtually every biological process. It can help dilute sugar, which means your glucose levels will be better regulate, and it can improve blood flow throughout the body. You should be drinking half of your body weight in water each day.

  1. Help Your Body Detox

No, you don’t need to add juice smoothies to your routine. In fact, all you really have to do is stop snacking late at night. The liver begins a regeneration cycle between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. each night, but that process can be inhibited, if your body is digesting snacks at that time. Simply laying off the late night snacks and giving your body time to regenerate can help you live and feel healthier.

If you’re drinking enough water, this shouldn’t be a problem, since you will be getting up to use the bathroom more frequently. At the very least, you should be standing up every few hours to get the blood circulating and the heart pumping a little faster. Just by getting on your feet every few hours, you can reduce your risks of weight gain, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease.

While each of these are minor changes, they can have lasting benefits to your health. As you make them a part of your normal routine, you may feel motivated to make other changes as well. Before you know it, you’ll be living a healthier life.

Tips for Senior Workers Seeking Healthcare Coverage

pexels-photo-220723Selecting health coverage at work can seem tedious and overwhelming, this applies in particular to older members of the workforce.

Mature workers in their 50s and 60s require additional time and space to select the right employer-sponsored health coverage so that they can access the most significant benefits for their individual needs. Out-of-pocket costs are on the rise, as well the average deductible for single coverage.

According to Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust survey, single coverage increased from $1,318 to $1,478 in just a year’s time. There are four steps experts recommend to those who are interested in making smart choices and keeping costs down.

Keep health bills down and maintain the quality of your health care. You can do this by choosing a plan that will support your regular prescription needs and your common medical needs. People tend to require more care as they age, which is why it’s so important that adults 65+ gain access to plans that will help to care for chronic and preexisting conditions known to older Americans. A good tip is to calculate last year’s expenditure, including copayments and co-insurance, as well as estimating non-emergency costs, then deduce how much you’re likely to spend in the months ahead.

Take your time and choose the right plan for you. When deductibles were lower, choosing which insurance plan is the right for you was easier for the public. The climbing costs of deductibles have changed the marketplace, so insurance seekers should feel comfortable with taking the time to choose plans that speak to needs and spending limits. According to the 2016 Aflac Open Enrollment Survey, 58 percent of baby boomers spent less than 30 minutes browsing options during the last open enrollment period. More than that, most seniors (93 percent) of user choose the same benefits as they did the year before, simply because of familiarity.

The issue with continuing with service that doesn’t serve you well is that won’t necessarily translate to you having the best deal. Also, it’s important to note that holding on to the same plan doesn’t necessarily guarantee you access to the same coverage and same doctors. The detailing plans and physicians within a network can change from year to year. It’s a fact that many understand their health plans far less than we believe they do. With that in mind, many don’t have the patience, time, or attention span to truly scour all coverage options, plans, and health savings accounts –but you have to set aside at least an hour or two of your time. Online calculators should narrow options.

Comb through the list of out-of-pocket expenses and compare premiums. National surveys indicated that the premiums for PPOs (Preferred Provider Organizations) were much higher than the high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) sold by large employers, which averaged $84 per month for single coverage and $321 for family coverage. Kep in mind that lower premium costs often translates to higher deductibles. Out-of-pocket limits can be exorbitant, especially when HDHPs are concerned. PPO deductibles tend to be two to three times smaller, but deciding what’s right for you is a matter of comparing coinsurance, co-payments, deductibles, and premiums.

Find out if you can save money using a Flexible Saving Account (FSA), Health Reimbursement Account (HRA), or a Health Saving Account (HSA). Both employees and employers can contribute to HSA accounts when employees have high-deductible health plans. All investment gains, deposits, and withdrawals are tax-free, and ownership of the account means that you can carry it with you for years. HSAs are the best option when you have significant health care costs, and HRAs (exclusively funded by employers) can offset health insurance premiums and reduce expenses incurred ahead of meeting the deductible. Deductibles, copayments, co-insurance, dental bills, vision expenses, and additional out-of-pocket costs can be paid using an HRA.

Employees can fund FSA up to $2,600 in 2017, with there being no tax deduction. With that said contributions are pre-tax, and distributions are untaxed. A high deductible plan isn’t needed to secure an FSA.

 

3 Reasons Why We Need Global Health Education

3 REASONS WHY WE NEED GLOBAL HEALTH EDUCATION | Roger stanmoreWhile medical school is a common path for many, few of those students focus on global health. Between the sentiment that we should focus on the problems in our own country to the desire to focus more on the entrepreneurial side, there are many people who are forgoing global health and choosing more “local” paths.

We should not be creating this dichotomy between local and global health. The definition of global health offered by the Committee on the U.S. Commitment to Global Health states that global health involves health issues that transcend national boundaries and might best be solved by cooperative measures. Here are a few reasons we need to emphasize global health in medical programs:

  1. Our world is interconnected

With people constantly traveling internationally, national boundaries don’t carry as much significance as they used to when it comes to disease control. Take the Ebola outbreak, for example. In the U.S, we largely ignored the outbreak until it reached our soil. It is not surprisingly that with the amount of air travel that occurs, a disease cannot be contained nationally or regionally. Technology is making the world smaller and the medical profession needs to accommodate this. Future physicians should all get basic epidemiology training so that they can recognize suspected disease outbreaks.

 

2) Doing residencies abroad can make better doctors

Global health professionals have as much to learn from the communities in which they work as the communities do from them. Doing clinical work abroad requires a level of humility. Another important part of the global health field is cultural sensitivity. Doctors learn the importance of respecting patients of different cultures and working alongside people of different cultures. In addition, much of the work done abroad is in areas with low resources. Research shows that medical students and residents who work in settings with limited resources may become more capable physicians. When a medical student is removed from a technology-intensive environment, he or she learns to think outside the box. If all physicians were trained this way, there would likely be a decrease in the excessive medical testing that is a part of our rapidly increasing healthcare expenditure.

 

3) More and more medical students are interested in global health today.

While it may seem as if medical students don’t have an interest in global health, the truth is they do. It just isn’t as available to them. Many students are taking away years for international fellowships. A number of these students seek out jobs abroad after graduating from residency. But international work is very competitive. Doctors Without Borders, for example, is extremely difficult to get into. There needs to be more emphasis on global health in medical school so that students can fulfill their passions of helping people all around the world.

We should not separate global health issues and U.S. health issues. With the frequency of airplane travel, epidemics do not often stay within particular areas. Furthermore, we should help people everywhere rather than just people who are close to us in proximity because this is the right thing to do. It is important that medical schools and residencies put more emphasis on global health so that people throughout the world can have better healthcare.

The Vivid Pros and Cons of Freestanding Emergency Departments

Roger Stanmore MD, JDFreestanding emergency departments (FSED)  have proven to be the hot, new emergency care model, brandishing all of the expensive, life-saving equipment of traditional emergency rooms.

With that said, some are concerned that these 24-hour facilities, which offer on-site laboratory testing and diagnostic imaging, concentrate their services in high-income areas, predominantly servicing those with private insurance, rather than those with Medicaid.

Nothing stands still. Not time, not emergency care medicine. The surge and gains with regards to freestanding urgent care centers and emergency departments is a mark of progression, signifying the fact that the future of emergency care medicine is happening now. The economics of emergency medicine make sense for a number of communities, making emergency and ambulatory care more accessible.

Freestanding EDs are defined by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) as “a facility that is structurally separate and distinct from a hospital and provides emergency care.” There are two types of ownerships for these facilities: hospital outpatient departments (HOPD), which are owned and operated by medical centers, and independent freestanding EDs (IFECs).

Sources suggest that there are 10,000 urgent care centers, 5,000 hospital emergency departments, 5,000 ambulatory surgery centers, 2,800 retail clinics, and the 500 freestanding EDs. These functions have been enabled by technology and consumer preference, and ideally, both insured and uninsured parents are immunized from overbearing out-of-pocket debt that’s usually due following a visit to the standard emergency department. More than a visit costing about a third of emergency room costs, the wait time is also significantly shorter.

The freestanding ED has gained momentum in recent years, and this can be contributed to the fact that these facilities tend to be open 24/7. They’re equipped with CT scanners, labs, x-rays machines, and sophisticated diagnostic equipment than urgent care centers.

With that said, these facilities have been accused of precluding poor and non-white communities. These standalone ER facilities tend to be located in affluent, growing communities with high incomes, and often welcomes cherry-picked patients with private insurance. FSED have roused concern and criticism due to the fact that this particular type of care access blooms in areas that has higher annual spending, fewer minorities, and diminished need for emergency care access.

“In the states with the most freestanding EDs, it seems less likely that they will expand access to underserved populations,” corresponding author Jeremiah Schuur, M.D., vice chair, Clinical Affairs, Department of Emergency Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said in a statement, “as they are preferentially located in areas where people had more available health services, higher rates of private health insurance, lower rates of Medicaid and higher median incomes.”

The lowered rates of Medicaid users can be attributed to the fact that only HOPDs are able to bill for Medicare patients, influencing the cause for independent facilities to seek out those who are privately insured. On the most part, FSEDs exist in Texas, Colorado, and other states that don’t require a certificate of need.

Expanding nationwide, freestanding emergency departments are equipped to care for those in need of cardiovascular stress test as well as anything from chest pain, asthma attacks, allergic reactions, seizures, gastrointestinal bleeding, infections, and other conditions traditionally cared for at hospitals. FSED have helped to decrease admission at emergency rooms and lower costs nationally. Some researcher suggest that this effort could be furthered if FSED partnered with medical home models and feel the need for community-based medical care.

The Correlation Between the Affordable Care Act and Emergency Department Visits

Emergency_roomThe University of California published a study, titled “Relationship of Affordable Care Act Implementation to Emergency Department Utilization Among Young Adults,” which found that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) extended eligibility for health insurance for young adults aged 19 to 25 years. It’s fairly unclear how expanded coverage has changed health care behavior, as well as how it promotes efficiency for emergency department services.

Researchers indicated that the objective of the research was to use population level emergency department data to characterize changes in diagnoses noticed by emergency departments among young adults since the incorporation of ACA dependent coverage expansion. Difference-in-differences analysis of 2oo9 to 2011 ED visits from New York, Florida, and California was performed, and they utilized all-capture administrative data to calculate just how the use of emergency department services have changed for clinical categories following the implementation of ACA provisions among those aged 19 to 25, compared to those slightly older (26 to 31 years).

Approximately 10,158,254 emergency department visits made by 4,734,409 patients were analyzed, and after implementation of the 2010 ACA provision, it was found that there was a .5 percent emergency department decreased for younger adults per 1,000, compared to the older group. Young adults’ rates and rate and risk of visits didn’t know change relative to the slightly older group following the implementation of the ACA. With that said, young adults’ emergency department visit significantly increased by 2.6 percent and there was a 4.8 percent increase in visits for diseases of the circulatory systems (eg, nonspecific chest pain).

There was a 3.7 percent decrease for pregnancy-related diagnoses and diseases of the skin (eg, cellulitis, abscess), compared to the 3.1 percent for the older group. The results indicated that coverage increases have kept young people out of the emergency department for conditions that are being cared for elsewhere. Conclusively, the report established, “As EDs face capacity challenges, these results are encouraging and offer insight into what could be expected under further insurance expansions from health care reform.”

Alabama Ranked one of the Top States for Being Employed as a Physician

physiciansThe state of Alabama has grappled with a number of health care challenges; nonetheless, it has managed to rank as one of the top states for being employed as a physician.

According to rankings published by Medscape, a medical specialist site, Alabama has been identified as the third best state in the nation to practice medicine in 2016. Chiefly, the rankings looked at the financial aspects of working as a physician in Alabama, as well as the malpractice environment, cost of living, and tax burden. Only North Carolina and Texas surpass Alabama as states that ranked higher.

For physicians living in the state of Alabama, the average salary is approximately $296,000, which is four percent higher the national average. That fact coupled with the state’s exceptionally low cost of living means that physicians in that state are faring well. The cost of living in Alabama is 10 percent less than the national average and there’s a tax burden of just 8.7 percent, which means that wages have a great lifespan in the state.

The Medscape study also revealed that malpractice payouts, suggesting a favorable malpractice environment. In Alabama, malpractice payouts only reach $4.15 per capita each year, which is the fourth lowest among all states. Birmingham’s physicians, specifically, are thriving due to good schools, growing suburbs, and premium health care facilities like the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital. The state may have ranked even higher if it weren’t for slow economic growth and above-average unemployment (6.2 percent vs. 4.9 percent nationally).

The report identified Birmingham (the state’s economic engine) and Hoover as the best cities in the state to practice medicine. Hoover happens to be one of the most in-demand suburbs in the state with ample shopping and good schools. However, there are a few cons for Hoover, including the fact that the housing costs are more than twice the state’s average.

What The Zika Virus Means For Blood Transfusions

Blood TransfusionThere is a lot of concern swirling around about Zika virus, but it is important in times like this that we stay informed. The American Medical Association has provided us with a Resource Center to keep us in the know about Zika Virus and what to do if it occurs. We may know that Zika virus comes from Aedes mosquitos, but there is much more to know about Zika virus and how to prevent it in our lives. There are many questions regarding blood transfusions and Zika circulating around, and it is important that we educate ourselves on the matter. Here are a few common questions and their corresponding answers.

Can Zika be transmitted through donated blood?

The knowledge regarding the ways Zika virus can be transmitted is limited. There is, however, evidence that implies there may be a risk to blood safety. For example, the virus has been detected within blood donors in locations where Zika is circulating. Related viruses such as dengue, West Nile virus, and chikungunya have been transmitted through blood transfusion. In addition, Brazilian health authorities have found two possible cases of transmission of the Zika virus via blood transfusion. This information points to the idea that there is a risk of transferring the Zika virus through blood transfusion.

What precautions can we take to avoid this?

As far as prevention is concerned, a number of precautions can be taken to ensure that the blood supply is safe in countries that are being affected by the Zika virus. Some recommendations include implementing top notch management programs throughout the transfusion process. We also need to ensure that blood donation is repeated, voluntary, and from low-risk populations. There also needs to be proper training for blood services staff and blood products users. Most importantly, blood services must be well organized.

Will blood donations still occur in areas that are affected?

It may be necessary for blood collection to continue in order to meet the needs for blood and its components. This need may arise when a large area of the country is being affected by the outbreak and it is not possible to get blood from unaffected regions.

How could blood donation be tested for the presence of Zika virus?

In some cases, it may be possible to test blood donation for the presence of Zika virus. This would be done using viral inactivation or pathogen reduction technology (PRT) for plasma and platelets. There also may be selective testing in some cases, such as nucleic acid testing for the presence of the virus in blood donors who have recently returned from affected countries. This testing may be considered as an alternative to the deferral that would otherwise occur.

Zika virus is spreading, and it is important to gather all of the facts. If you are thinking about donating blood, or if you or someone you know needs a blood transfusion, make sure that you get all of the facts regarding Zika virus and blood transfusions. Blood Transfusions will still occur, but precautions are being taken to make sure that the Zika virus does not spread through blood transfusions.

 

Putting A Stop To Prescription Drug Abuse: It Starts With Our Doctors

 Putting A Stop To Prescription Drug Abuse: It Starts With Our Doctors

Scientists have made leaps and bounds in the world of medicine, but there are still kinks in the medical field that will need to be worked out. One of those problems is the over-prescribing of painkillers.

While the drug abuse problem in the U.S. will not be single handily fixed with this change, working against over-prescribing will make a large difference. The way health professionals prescribe drugs is a large cause of prescription drug abuse, and tackling this problem from its source will work a lot better than simply pointing the finger at those who abuse the drugs.

Scientists became aware of the prevalence of over-prescribing through a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. The study was led by Jonathan Chen, MD, a professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine. The study examined Medicare claims from 2013 to see which doctors prescribed opioids. The researchers also looked at how many prescriptions were filled. The term “opioids” refers to a class of drug that includes OxyContin, morphine, and codeine.

The study had some truly eye-opening results. These drugs are being prescribed by all different types of medical professionals, such as doctors, dentists, physician’s assistants, and nurse practitioners. The researchers were surprised to find that the majority of health professionals are contributing to the problem of overprescribing opioids, an issue which was originally thought to be caused by only a small minority of healthcare professionals.

Abuse of prescription painkillers has been a problem throughout the nation, causing concern among policymakers, law enforcement officials, and public health experts. According to the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 19,000 people died from overdosing on prescription painkillers in 2014. According to previous research, about 80% of opioids are prescribed by medical professionals. Dr. Chen’s research went further in depth to find that 57% of these opioid prescriptions were filled by 10% of doctors, nurse practitioners, dentists, and physician assistants. This figure implies that the pattern for the opioid prescription is in line with the patterns for other medications, including those that are not typically abused. This means that 10% of doctors and responsible for 63% of medical prescriptions. This shows that the opioid crisis is fueled by more than just a few doctors. The frequency that a doctor prescribes these painkillers is about the same as the frequency that a doctor recommends any other type of medication.

So, what are the real world implications of this research? Chen states that any public health initiatives that set out to end prescription drug abuse need to target all doctors, thus taking a systematic approach. This change can not be brought about unless medical professionals throughout a number of fields are informed about the prevalence of overdosing on opioids. The target needs to shift from a small percentage of doctors that were believed to be causing the crisis to the wide spectrum of medical professionals who are actually causing it. All healthcare professionals need to work to solve this issue in order to change the medical field, and the world, for the better.