Doctor’s fees, a bitter pill to swallow, especially for the doctor

Tuesday, 14 February, 2017

Seventy dollars may be a lot to fork out for a relatively short consultation with a doctor, but even as someone who balks at the thought of such a cost, I wouldn’t consider my doctor to be making easy money. If fortunate, a doctor might end up with a little over a third of that money, as Sydney doctor Elizabeth Oliver explains:

If I had billed the building contractor the private fee of $70.00, $37.05 would be refunded directly into his bank account by Medicare. Of that $70.00, thirty-five per cent goes to the practice for rent, insurance, the receptionist and nurse, software, electricity and equipment. Of my $45.50 I would pay around 37% tax plus the Medicare levy (total $17.75), and 7% for my HECS-HELP debt ($3.19). So for eighteen minutes of my time I would take home $24.56. I bulk billed him, and therefore made $13.01 after tax. That dizzying sum has to cover sick leave, holiday and maternity leave, superannuation, and around $8,000 per year in registration fees, indemnity insurance and continuing professional development.

The entire article is well worth reading though. Many of us probably do not realise just how demanding the work of a doctor, especially one in a general practice, or a medical centre, is.

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Watching pills dissolve, more fun than watching paint dry

Friday, 29 July, 2016

Ever given any thought as to exactly what happens to the medications you may take in pill, or tablet form, after you’ve swallowed them? This video clip, of pills dissolving in water, might give you some idea.

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Major diseases are in decline in some places. But why exactly?

Thursday, 14 July, 2016

Disorders such as colon cancer, dementia, and heart disease, appear to be in decline in well-off nations, and the medical profession seems stumped as to why. The reason, if it can be identified, may reduce the numbers of people who are still succumbing to these ailments.

But Dr. Cummings, intrigued by the waning of disease, has a provocative idea for further investigation. He starts with two observations: Rates of disease after disease are dropping. Even the rate of “all-cause mortality,” which lumps together chronic diseases, is falling. And every one of those diseases at issue is linked to aging. Perhaps, he said, all these degenerative diseases share something in common, something inside aging cells themselves. The cellular process of aging may be changing, in humans’ favor.

The focus also needs to turn to reducing, eliminating even, errors in diagnosis and treatment of diseases. Such mistakes see people administered incorrect medications, or undergoing the wrong surgical procedures, that ultimately results in a large number of unnecessary deaths.

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A sort of handy checklist should you need to see a podiatrist

Thursday, 18 February, 2016

I don’t go to podiatrists all that often, so I guess it’s useful to know what do to prepare, should you ever need to see a foot doctor. I thought it would be as straightforward as making an appointment, but apparently not…

List all the medications, vitamins and supplements you’re taking and wish you could take, including non-medical marijuana, if it were legal in your state or didn’t require a humiliating meet up with a local high school student in the grocery store parking lot.

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Treat every visit to the hospital emergency room as if it’s your last?

Tuesday, 10 November, 2015

Ashleigh Witt, a Melbourne based doctor, talks in frank terms about how emergency rooms at hospitals might go about assessing the best treatment, or care, options for critically ill patients, especially where the prognosis is not so hopeful. It’s thought provoking stuff, particularly when you place yourself in that category.

You see, as doctors, we have the ability to keep a person alive indefinitely. If our lungs fail, we can put a tube down your throat and have a machine breathe for you. If your kidneys fail, we can attach you to a machine that filters the toxins from your blood. We can even mimic the function of the heart. We can fill your veins with tubes and lines and attach you to life support. If the patient in front of me is 21, we usually do all of those things. If the patient in front of me is 101, I probably would do none of those things and focus on their comfort.

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I’m live tweeting my #surgery, it sure beats an anesthetic

Tuesday, 27 October, 2015

If anesthetics aren’t your thing… engaging in an exchange of text messages with a stranger during a minor surgical procedure may reduce the amount of pain medication that is required. Not so much the case for those close to you though, it seems there’d be too much focus on the procedure, and that might ramp up discomfort levels.

Guillory expected the strongest effect to occur while texting with a loved one, but that wasn’t the case: playing a game or texting a loved one did reduce the amount of medication needed, compared to doing nothing, but those who texted with a stranger saw the best results, requiring only one-sixth of the pain medication as individuals with no intervention. That may be because the conversations with strangers – designed to be a sort of “get to know you” exchange – included more positive emotion words and self-affirming topics than conversations with loved ones, which tended to be centered on the surgery and focus on the body and negative emotions.

Maybe a network of strangers needs to be established so that we have access to unknown persons, who we can text at such a time.

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A universal vaccine for influenza, is that even possible?

Wednesday, 2 September, 2015

It was once said that a vaccine could never be developed for influenza, or the flu, as the virus was capable of constantly mutating, quickly rendering any serum ineffective. Is it possible then that a universal flu vaccine, one capable of combating any and all strains of the virus, has been developed?

To solve this problem, two teams of researchers independently focused on a protein called hemagglutinin, found on the surface of the flu virus H1N1. It has two major components: the head – the portion of the virus that mutates and changes from strain to strain – and the stem, which is similar across most flu strains. The teams tried to remove the variable head region and keep the stem as the base of their vaccines. But hemagglutinin turns out to be rather feeble. Once beheaded, the stem falls apart, and antibodies can no longer bind to it.

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The end of syringe and needle injections? Here’s hoping…

Friday, 24 July, 2015

We may be about to see the end of vaccinations, and the like, being administered by syringe and needle. There is a now a small patch like object, made up of several hundred minute spikes, or needles, containing medicine, that painlessly dissolves into the skin. This I look forward to.

At first all the needles are sticking straight up, and by the end of the “injection”, the patch is completely smooth. The needles dissolve when they’re exposed to the water in your skin cells, and you’re vaccinated without any pain at all.

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Our viral history is contained in every drop of our blood

Friday, 12 June, 2015

I know that our immune system can sometimes mount a resistance to certain diseases we’ve had before, such as measles, but I didn’t realise that a record, as it were, of these disorders is stored in every drop of our blood.

Nor did I know that finding out what we have been afflicted with in the past, and may have forgotten about, is a relatively straightforward process.

You’ll probably remember the last time you had the flu, but what about that time you had measles – or was it chicken pox? Your blood knows: it keeps a record of every virus you’ve ever been infected with. A tiny drop of the stuff can now be tested to reveal a person’s viral history.

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Beer has medicinal uses, but we all knew that already, right?

Thursday, 14 May, 2015

With all the beer microbreweries that can be found the world over, there’s bound to be one or two crafting a beer actually intended to aid in the treatment of a particular ailment. Otherwise a trip to the off-licence these days is unlikely to yield a medicinal ale.

That’s not to say such a brew was not prepared in the past though, it appears to be something that the Dutch were doing in the eighteenth century:

Another option was to add the herbs during the brewing process, either when boiling the malt, or just slightly heating them in the beer after the boiling has taken place. Van Lis mentioned over fifty kinds of herbs to prepare medicinal beer, ranging from ginger, lavender, cardamom, hyssop, cinnamon, aniseed, rosemary, nutmeg, gentian, juniper and lemon grass to plants such as absinth leaves, sweet flag, germander sage, and eye worth.

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