Coughing into your elbow is a good idea … But for God’s sake, wash your hands

Everyone is still coughing into their elbow crook, but is it evidence-based? A recent article in DETAILS explained:

“Researchers have seen that a fair number of respiratory particles still escape into the surrounding air, even when an barrier like a tissue, sleeve, hand, or surgical mask is placed in front of the cougher’s mouth, … Plus, the droplets that sneak past cough-blocking barriers are the tiniest ones, which are light enough to hang around in the air for hours and small enough to penetrate your cube mate’s respiratory tract.”

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Cancer patients may learn that some of the best cancer hospitals are off-limits

Recently the New York Post reported “An Associated Press survey found examples coast to coast. Seattle Cancer Care Alliance is excluded by five out of eight insurers in Washington state’s insurance exchange. MD Anderson Cancer Center says it’s in less than half of the plans in the Houston area. Memorial Sloan-Kettering is included by two of nine insurers in New York City and has out-of-network agreements with two more”

“Doctors and administrators say they’re concerned. So are some state insurance regulators. In all, only four of 19 nationally recognized comprehensive cancer centers that responded to AP’s survey said patients have access through all the insurance companies in their state exchange”.

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Choosing Wisely: Technology to help you make a list of questions to ask your doctor

To get the most benefit out of a visit to your doctor, you should prepare beforehand! It really pays off to write down your questions in advance. Now there are resources available to help you get ready.

In my campaign to encourage patients to talk openly to their physicians I came across CHOOSING WISELY.

“Choosing Wisely is focused on encouraging physicians, patients and other health care stakeholders to think and talk about medical tests and procedures that may be unnecessary, and in some instances can cause harm.”

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“…You can prevent a medical error by simply asking the right questions”

A recent ivillage.com article offered some advice on what to do and not do to when getting started with a physician.

“The doctor should ask thorough questions but the patient needs to be honest and not withhold information, even if it’s embarrassing or hard to talk about. Know your – and your family’s – medical history and bring in any medications you are taking, even if you think they are unrelated. If the doctor doesn’t have all the information, the likelihood of a misdiagnosis increases.

Don’t be shy: Whether it’s voicing concerns or mentioning tests you’ve read about or asking about drug interactions, patients need to speak up. It’s ok to do your own homework, just don’t get too caught up in self-diagnosing online before your appointment …”

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Drug Interactions – Check for yourself & before you go to the doctor?

If you have a really good PCP, she or he will monitor all the prescriptions you take as well as any over-the-counter (OTC) vitamins and supplements you use.

But we have all heard about family members and friends who have been affected by adverse drug interactions.

This may occur because: you go to several physicians who each give you prescriptions; a prescription is changed; you buy and use OTC products; and/or you do not read the warnings on the prescription.

REMINDER: Always bring a list of all your prescriptions and OTC products to every doctor’s visit.

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Should you check your symptoms before your doctor’s appointment?

If you are like me, you may occasionally “Google” your medical symptoms. Now apps are available to help you check your symptoms systematically rather than randomly.

Recently, a WSJ article noted “Now more health-care providers are… steering patients to new and improved computerized symptom-checkers that make it easier for them to get reliable information about possible diagnoses, research their condition and even connect directly to a doctor. Doctors are adding these tools to their websites and incorporating them into electronic medical records, encouraging patients to use them before office visits to save time and make consultations more productive. Another benefit: Results turned up by a symptom-checker may actually help doctors think of something they hadn’t considered.”

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Tell your doctor about your travel history

A recent Modern Health Care article noted “The key is getting that travel history right up front when you’re interviewing the patient and then as soon as you suspect MERS—even before you do the testing—you should make sure you have that patient on isolation precautions so they don’t spread to any other patients or healthcare workers.”

“The major lesson from this first MERs experience in the U.S. for other healthcare providers is “to think about MERS you really need to get a good travel history..,”.

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Compliance for Influenza Vaccinations Sets Record

After launching a much-publicized campaign in October to promote the influenza vaccination for faculty, staff, and students, the Mount Sinai Health System will report a record rate of vaccination compliance to the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) for the 2013 – 2014 influenza season.

Typically, vaccination rates for health care workers are around 60 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Health System’s overall compliance rate was 82 percent at the start of April.

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