Self-care Tips and Info for New Moms from Texas Health Resources

May 11, 2011 by  
Filed under VIDEO

I just found this health related video on YouTube … and thought you might enjoy it!

Helpful information and tips for women who have just delivered their first baby. There’s a new life in your life, with all the joys and challenges that brings. Texas Health Resources wants to help you approach them with as much confidence and comfort as possible. On behalf of the physicians on the medical staff and the nurses from the postpartum unit, nursery and lactation department, congratulations and welcome to a new and exciting world for you, your baby, and your family. The information presented here is general in nature. If your OB/GYN or Pediatrician has given you other instructions, please follow the advice of your physician. The information in this video covers: -Postpartum Period -Changes to Birth Canal -Menstrual Cycle -Bowel Movements -Hemorrhoids -Episiotomy Care -Cesarean Birth Care -Activities -Swelling -Feeding Baby -Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression -The New Dad -When to Call your OB From the moment your first baby is born, life changes forever. During the postpartum period, don’t be shy about seeking help if you have a question or problem. While no amount of study and practice can guarantee you’re ready for parenthood, the more knowledge you have, the more likely you will enter this new chapter in our life with a confident and positive outlook. 1-877-THR-WELL

Tell us what you think about this video in the comments below, or in the Battling For Health Community Forum!

Health care updates, June 4: what’s going on in hospitals

June 4, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

New docs linked to death spike in July
Deaths  due to medical errors are highest in July in the US and the reason for this, according to  researchers at the University of California in San Diego is the influx of new medical residents at this time of the year.
July is the month when new residents start to get more responsibilities for patient care with less supervision. During this month, cases of medical errors (e.g. drug overdose and mix-ups, surgical mistakes, etc.) peak – 10% higher than in other months. This increase is especially evident in teaching hospitals and is not reflected in increased death rates in the general population. More about this next week.

Mail-Order Pharmacy Use Could Improve Patients’ Medication Adherence
Many of us associate buying medications online as dangerous, not to mention stupid, due to our experience with all the email spams and scams we receive every day. But there are some bonafide mail-order pharmacies out there, and these providers, according to a new study, actually help patients to comply with their pharmacological therapies. Researchers at Kaiser Permanente looked at patients who use the center’s personal electronic health record, My Health Manager, which allows patients to view online lab results, refill prescriptions, schedule appointments and send secure emails to their doctors. The results showed that patients are more likely to adhere to medication regime when medications are sent by mail than those who have to pick up their medication refills personally.

“Our findings suggest that there is a lot that health care systems can do to provide support that makes it easier for patients to take care of themselves and do the right thing.”  

Stanford/Packard study finds surprising disparity in where chronically ill kids hospitalized
Chronically ill children need specialized pediatric care, yet a California study showed that provision of this type of care varies widely. For example, children from San Francisco and San Mateo counties are more likely to be admitted to a pediatric specialty-care center than children from neighboring countries. What is even more interesting is that fact that children with private insurance are actually less likely to received specialized care than those with public insurance. In 2007, for example, 67% of pediatric beds at pediatric specialty care centers were occupied by publicly insured patients. The reasons for this disparity are not clear and might be very complex.

Innovative Software Cuts Costs and Time for States to Report Hospital Quality Information to the Public
Meet MONAHRQ—My Own Network Powered by AHRQ—a free, MS® Windows®-based software application just launched by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).  The software supposedly “significantly reduces the cost and time a State, hospital or other organization would need to spend to compile, analyze and post data on quality of hospital care, its cost and how that care is used. MONAHRQ allows users to create a customized Web site with data that can be used for internal quality improvement or reporting quality information to the public.”

Hospitals are speeding up heart attack care

January 6, 2010 by  

Many of us have seen the chaos in an emergency room, whether on TV or in real life. Overcrowding, too many patients, too few staff who are mostly overworked and lacking sleep. It is more than likely that patients do not immediately get the care that they need. In many cases, however, treatments are time critical and should be delivered within a time window or else it is too late.

This is why many hospitals are speeding up heart attack care. This good news is reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Receiving care in the shortest possible time, such as opening blocked arteries in the emergency room, is crucial to heart attack patients’ survival. When the arteries are blocked, blood supply to the heart muscle is cut off. The sooner the blood flow is restore, the better chances for heart recovery. Long periods of blood and oxy gen depletion can cause long-lasting and irreversible damage to the heart. Thus, hospitals and cardiologists worked to improve “door to balloon time”, with positive results.

“Door to balloon time” refers to the time when the patient arrives at the hospital until he or she gets an angioplasty or nay standard clinical procedure that clears the blocked coronary arteries.

Here’s how angioplasty works (Medline Plus):

“The doctor threads a thin tube through a blood vessel in the arm or groin up to the involved site in the artery. The tube has a tiny balloon on the end. When the tube is in place, the doctor inflates the balloon to push the plaque outward against the wall of the artery. This widens the artery and restores blood flow.”

The shorter the door to balloon time, the better are the chances for survival and full recovery.

Researchers at Yale University looked at 831 hospitals all the US to evaluate whether the ongoing campaign to accelerate care for heart attack patients is working. In 2005, only about 50% of patients get the necessary treatment within 90 minutes of arrival at the emergency room. The current figures estimated by the Yale survey were very encouraging.

Spring 2008: More than three-quarters (76%) of people suffering major heart attacks are getting their blocked arteries reopened within 90 minutes of arriving in the emergency room.

Summer 2009: Nearly 82% of eligible patients had a 90-minute or less door-to-balloon time in those hospitals.

These improvement in providing care however, were only observable in those hospitals participating in the care acceleration campaign. Some “slower” hospitals are now getting the message and are following suit.

So how did the hospitals manage to accelerate heart attack care?

The changes that helped most were simple steps that cut a few minutes here and few there. One such step was letting the emergency room activate the catheter lab upon the patient’s arrival, or even after a call from the ambulance on its way, instead of waiting for a cardiologist to confirm the diagnosis before getting ready for angioplasty. Some hospitals assigned cardiac catheter teams to be on duty 24 hours a day. Others required that on-call doctors arrive within minutes of a page from the ER.

Photo credit: Medline Plus

World Health Day: Making hospitals safe in emergencies

April 14, 2009 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

world-health-dayLast April 7 was World Health Day, a special day around the world when global health is placed in the limelight. World Health Day is sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and partner organizations

This year’s theme is “Save lives. Make hospitals safe in emergencies.” According the WHO

World Health Day 2009 focuses on the resilience and safety of health facilities and the health workers who treat those affected by emergencies. Events around the world will highlight successes, advocate for safe facility design and construction, and build momentum for widespread emergency preparedness.

The year 2008 had one of the highest mortality rates due to natural disasters. According to WHO, 321 natural catastrophes in 2008 killed 235,816 people the world over. The cyclone is Burma alone accounted for about 59% of mortalities while the earthquake in the Chinese province of Sichuan alone accounted for about 37%. This is four times higher than the average of the previous 7 years. The economic impact of the catastrophes was also high – around US$181 billion.

In the light of last year’s high mortality and the recent world events – natural disasters in Australia (bush fires), Indonesia (floods) and Italy (earthquake), casualties due to violent conflicts in India, Israel, and Afghanistan, there is a great need to re-examine how hospitals and other health facilities are prepared for emergencies. Only about 11% of the world population exposed to natural disasters are in developed countries. Yet, 53% of deaths occur in these areas because of the inability of health care facilities to respond to the situation. In addition, many facilities in disaster areas also suffer from structural and infrasctructural damage that can render them non-functional.

As examples:

The 2003 Algerian earthquake rendered 50% of health facilities in the affected region non-functional due to damage. In Pakistan’s most-affected areas during the 2005 earthquake, 49% of health facilities were completely destroyed, from sophisticated hospitals to rural clinics and drug dispensaries. The December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami affected national and local health systems that provided health services for millions of people. In Indonesia’s northern Aceh province 61% of health facilities were damaged.

This is the reason why WHO and its partners have devoted this year’s World Health Day to strengthening health facilities and making hospitals safe and ready to respond to disasters. Here are some WHO recommendations to governments of countries all over the world to achieve this goal:

How Does Your Hospital Measure Up?

August 27, 2008 by  
Filed under CANCER

This week 18 California hospitals were fined for poor care violations, some which led to deaths.

How can you protect yourself from poor cancer care?

One way is to find out if your hospital has The Joint Commission Accreditation.

“The Joint Commission has been accrediting hospitals for more than 50 years. Its accreditation is a nationwide seal of approval that indicates a hospital meets high performance standards. JC accreditation helps hospitals improve their performance, raise the level of patient care, and demonstrate accountability in the rapidly changing health care marketplace.”

The Joint Commission sets national patient safety goals each year and along with accreditation programs has certification programs and awards.

How does your hospital measure up?

Find out how your hospital or health care organization rates per The JC. You can also see if they have won any additional awards. You can also file a complaint here. Additionally you can search for the best health care facility in your area for your particular treatment needs on this site.

Read more

Emergency care for stroke victims: it all depends on how you arrive and where you go

August 14, 2008 by  

My husband and I watched “The Namesake” the other day and I remember that scene where the father Ashoke presented himself at the ER and had to stand in line for a long time, leading to his death due to a heart attack. Unfortunately, this scenario does not only happen in movies but in real life as well. In a  CVD news item last week, I cited that the average waiting time in an ER is almost an hour – 60 minutes which can make the difference between recovery and disability, between life and death.

This study reported in the journal Stroke looked at 15,117 stroke victims from 46 hospitals listed in the North Carolina Stroke Registry (January 2005 to April 2008) and the findings are as follows:

It seems that many factors can influence how timely a patient gets proper care.

Time of arrival and mode of transport

Arrival at a hospital soon after the onset of symptoms is very important, for obvious reasons that the sooner medical help is given, the better. However, there are also very specific reasons having to do with time-dependent medications and diagnostics tools.

The drug tPA helps prevent clots, thereby reducing the likelihood of disability from ischemic stroke. However, it is only supposed to be used within 3 hours after the onset of the symptoms. Ischemic stroke is reported to be the most common type of stroke diagnosed at admission (43%).

Upon a patient’s arrival at the ER, it is recommended by the Current National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) that a computer tomography (CT) scan be performed within 25 minutes. However, this doesn’t seem to be case, with a mere 23.6% getting a CT scan according to the said guidelines.

The manner of arrival seems to matter. Those who simply “walk in” and present themselves are less likely to get the care their urgently need than those who arrived by ambulance. Understandably, the latter mode of arrival seems to send a message of urgency to ER staff so that “arriving at a hospital by ambulance … lead to faster stroke diagnosis and speed treatment.”

Type of hospital

Specialized centers such as Primary Stroke Centers provide timely care and perform CT scans faster than other less specialized hospitals.

Gender and other factors

For unknown reasons, men tend to get CT scan performed faster than women. However, ethnicity, health insurance, and time of the day do not seem to make much of a difference.

The results of the study show that time is of utmost importance in the treatment of stroke victims. For this reason, it is vital that we

Hospital Patients Get Their Say – On a Scale of 0 to 10…

April 17, 2008 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

The US Department of Health and Human Services / Department of Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) provides a website called Hospital Compare that allows potential patients to size up a hospital before they are admitted. Need to know how many heart surgeries are successful at your local hospital? Need to know its mortality rate? The information can be found at

And now, a new addition to the website will make this website even more valuable to those of us who do our due diligence. I love this!

Patients are asked a series of survey questions as they are discharged. CMS will give the survey to 300 patients per hospital, per calendar quarter. Only short-term, acute care, non-specialty hospitals participate (not specialty or one-day outpatient type hospitals.)

Those questions are these:

  1. How often did nurses treat you with courtesy and respect?
  2. How often did nurses listen carefully to you?
  3. How often did nurses explain things in a way you could understand?
  4. How often did doctors treat you with courtesy and respect?
  5. How often did doctors listen carefully to you?
  6. How often did doctors explain things in a way you could understand?
  7. After you pressed the call button, how often did you get help as soon as you wanted it?
  8. How often did you get help in getting to the bathroom or in using a bedpan as soon as you wanted?
  9. How often was your pain well controlled?
  10. How often did the hospital staff do everything they could to help you with your pain?
  11. Before giving you any new medicine, how often did the hospital staff tell you what the medicine was for?
  12. Before giving you any new medicine, how often did the hospital staff describe possible side effects in a way you could understand?
  13. How often were your room and bathroom kept clean?
  14. How often was the area around your room quiet at night?
  15. Did hospital staff talk with you about whether you would have the help you needed when you left the hospital?
  16. Did you get information in writing about what symptoms or health problems to look out for after you left the hospital?
  17. Using any number from 0 to 10 (0 is the worst hospital possible and 10 is the best hospital possible) what number would you use to rate this hospital during your stay?
  18. Would you recommend this hospital to your family and friends?

CMS then uses the results as a part of its hospital compare program, allowing patients to make determinations about which hospital will tend not just to their surgery and care needs, but how well they are treated by the staff at the hospital.

Why do I love this? Let me count the ways!

There is not a hospital in this country that doesn’t take care of Medicare and Medicaid patients. That means all hospitals in the US will be listed, and the experience patients have had with them will be recorded.

The information will be objective. Since patients are being surveyed randomly at the hospital, as they are being discharged, the rankings won’t be skewed like the rankings and input we typically find online. The online ranking systems haven’t found a good way to be objective yet. Disgruntled patients and doctor’s staffs can skew those results in one direction or another.

And yes — I do see some shortcomings. Two things: First, I think they would do well to survey patients’ loved ones, their caregivers, in addition to the patients themselves. Often its the caregiver who knows far more about how that patient was treated.

And second — there is one very important population not being surveyed at all. That’s the person who doesn’t get discharged. We have to imagine that many patients who acquire MRSA or other infections, for example, aren’t making it out alive. Their opinions are important, too. Perhaps the idea of surveying caregivers would make sure the deceased patient’s opinions are represented to.

Are you facing a hospital stay? Check out the CMS Hospital Compare website. And if your doctor is affiliated with the wrong hospital? Then ask him or her what your options are. You need the complete package, and this is one more tool to help you get it.

Looking into my grandmother’s eyes

January 1, 2008 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

I’m not a professional Alzheimer’s caregiver. I’m a grandson. I’ve been recognized for my work in taking care for my grandmother at a home health conference, but I’ve never formally studied the disease. I’ve just studied my grandmother. Through this blog, I’ll be sharing some of what I’ve learned, and what others have learned, about how to face and fight Alzheimer’s disease. My grandmother died in 2006 in her early nineties. We could have done much better for her. You can read more about this blog on our About page.

During the two years that I lived with my 90-year-old grandmother and helped her with her Alzheimer’s, I had to explain her condition to many healthcare workers, respite workers, and well-meaning relatives. I wrote pages and pages of instructions. And what were in those instructions? Of course, I explained her routines and habits, suggesting how to make her feel more comfortable. Like many elderly Alzheimer’s patients, she also suffered from blindness, deafness and arthritis, so she was challenged, as they say.

But what was the most important instruction I longed to give? Just look at her. Don’t look through her. Don’t look past her. Don’t pigeonhole her and walk away. She isn’t just a body in a hospital bed. The accomplishments of her life haven’t vanished just because part of her mind has. She hasn’t stopped being a person worthy of respect.

But usually, even professionals would assume that because she wasn’t saying much, she couldn’t say much. (She wasn’t a morning person anymore.) It didn’t occur to them that maybe the reason she wasn’t answering their questions was because she couldn’t hear them. (She hated wearing her hearing aid.) So they treated her as if she were a comatose invalid instead of a Southern lady who liked to talk about her family and walk around the block.

In other words, they were wrong about her. They weren’t paying enough attention.

The day of her first stroke, which she spent in bed, we noticed that the hospital staff had given her a special wristband, listing all of the life-saving measures that the staff were prohibited from giving her. It included fluids. My uncle politely requested that she not be dehydrated to death, and after a few hours, they brought in an IV. I think she was partly too embarrassed and angry with us for bringing her to the hospital in the first place, so she was holding her tongue. The next day, she was saying, “I’m willing to do anything that’s necessary so I can go home.” They were never sure they could find the brain damage, though she had trouble perceiving things on her left side, so after some rehab, she was back home and doing pretty much what she was doing before. They hadn’t given her enough exercise in the hospital (after all, how much exercise do you expect a 90-year-old lady to need?), so it took a while before she could walk around the block again.

True, if I had walked by her hospital bed on the first day, not knowing her, I might have assumed that she was in a coma or about to die. But I would have been wrong. If my uncle hadn’t intervened, she would have died, sure enough. Most people die when fluids are withheld from them. But who she really was, and what she was capable of doing – that wasn’t visible to the casual observer. Even brain scans couldn’t show that.

One of my favorite lines from C.S. Lewis’ novel That Hideous Strength quotes a university professor, “I happen to think you can’t study people. You can only get to know them.” Since Alzheimer’s is a disease, doctors think they know something about it. But it centers on the human mind, and nobody really knows much about that.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.