Strictly Personal (1/2): US Women’s Army Corps Training Film – Hygiene, Grooming, Health (1963)

March 25, 2011 by  
Filed under VIDEO

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

1963 Watch the full film: The Women’s Army Corps (WAC) was the women’s branch of the US Army. It was created as an auxiliary unit, the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) on 14 May 1942, and converted to full status as the WAC in 1943. Its first director was Oveta Culp Hobby, at the time a lawyer, a newspaper research editor and the wife of a prominent Texas politician. In 1942, the first contingent of 800 members of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps began basic training at Fort Des Moines, Iowa. The women were fitted for uniforms, interviewed, assigned to companies and barracks and inoculated against disease during the first day. A physical training manual was published by the War Department in July, 1943, aimed at bringing the women recruits to top physical standards. One section of the manual satirized a notional recruit named “Josephine Jerk” who does not participate wholeheartedly: “Josephine Jerk is a limp number in every outfit who dives into her daily dozen with the crisp vitality of a damp mop.” The manual begins by naming the responsibility of the women: “Your Job: To Replace Men. Be Ready To Take Over.” About 150000 American women served in the WAAC and WAC during World War II. They were the first women other than nurses to serve with the Army. While conservative opinion in the leadership of the Army and public opinion generally was initially opposed to women serving in uniform, the shortage of men necessitated a new

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

Diabetic drug Avandia in trouble

September 23, 2010 by  

The antidiabetic drug rosiglitazone is in big trouble as the decisions from major regulatory bodies were announced today.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced today that it is recommending the suspension of the marketing license of antidiabetic drugs that contain rosiglitazone. This includes the drugs marketed in Europe as Avandia, Avandamet, and Avaglin.

The EMA suspension will take effect within the next few months and “will remain in place unless the marketing authorisation holder can provide convincing data to identify a group of patients in whom the benefits of the medicines outweigh their risks.”

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) decided that Avandia stays on the US market but under strong restrictions. According to an FDA statement today:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it will significantly restrict the use of the diabetes drug Avandia (rosiglitazone) to patients with Type 2 diabetes who cannot control their diabetes on other medications. These new restrictions are in response to data that suggest an elevated risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke, in patients treated with Avandia.

Rosiglitazone has been under scrutiny due to the side effects of fluid retention and increased risk of heart failure which came out during postmarketing studies. Avandia is a product of the UK drug marker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

What should patients in Europe who are taking rosiglitazone do?

The European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) issued the following press statement earlier today:

EASD urges patients who are currently taking any of the above medications to contact their medical advisors for advice concerning alternative treatment options.

Patients should be aware that stopping a diabetes medication without consulting a doctor can result in higher levels of blood glucose that may cause serious short term health problems and increase the risk of long-term diabetes-related complications.

Optimal control of glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure is needed in order to limit the risk of long-term complications, and several alternative types of treatment are available to help those with type 2 diabetes achieve these objectives.

 In any case, this may be the end of rosiglitazone. Even if its stays in the US market, its cardiovascular safety is seriously suspect that no clinician will ever consider prescribing the drug to patients.

Photo source:

Why the US spends more on healthcare than other countries

October 22, 2009 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

pills dollarsDisparities in health expenditure across OECD countries: Why does the United States spend so much more than other countries? This is the title of Mark Pearson’s before a US Senate Committee on Aging in September this year. Pearson is the head of the health division at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In his testimony, he provided information and insights on how the US health care system compares to those of other OECD members. OECD has currently 30 member countries, mostly developed. These countries are committed to “democracy and market economy2 and their governments come together “to compare policy experiences, seek answers to common problems, identify good practice and coordinate domestic and international policies”. In previous post, I highlighted the fact that the US is in the frontline of cancer treatment but lags behind in other chronic diseases.

According to Pearson (source MarketWatch Blog):

“What you’ve got in the U.S. is a very large range of care. When people say U.S. care is the best in the world, if you’re talking about the really good hospitals, yes it is. But when you’re talking about the average the population faces, it’s middle-of-the-pack on lots of things but very, very good on cancer.”

Pearson presented the following statistics:

  • The US spent the most (15% to its GDP) on health care in 2007. OECD average was 8.9%.

  • US life expectancy (78.1 years) is lower than the OECD average of 79.1.

  • Japan seems to be getting the most out of its money –spending 8% of its GDP on health care to have a life expectancy of 82.6 years.

  • As a point of comparison, the US spent in 2007 $7290 per person for healthcare. France, which has a universal health system, spent $5365 per person in the same year.

So why does the US spend so much but get little in return? Pearson gives the following reasons:

US is best in cancer care but bad in others

October 14, 2009 by  
Filed under CANCER

health medicalGood news for cancer patients in the US, bad news for those with diabetes and asthma.

Mark Pearson is the head of the health division at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and he testified before a Senate Committee in September on how US health care compares to other OECD members (a total of 30, mostly developed countries).

He revealed in his testimony that US health care is very strong in cancer treatment but lags far behind in treating two very common chronic conditions: diabetes and asthma.

Taking the example of breast cancer, patients have the highest chances of survival in 5 years in the US (90.5%), followed by Canada, Japan, and France. All these countries have 5-year survival rates for breast cancer above the OECD average of 81%. In colorectal cancer, US ranks third after Japan and Iceland.

However, the US ranks quite low when it comes to diabetes and asthma. Lower limb amputations due to diabetes is very common in the US at 36 amputations per 100,000 people. This is more than twice the OECD average of 15. On top of the rankings are Austria (7), South Korea (8), and the UK (9). Hospitalization due to diabetes complications is 57 per 100,000 in the US, again more than double the OECD average of 21. The Netherlands has an incidence of 8.

According to Pearson (Source: MarketWatch Blog):

“Other countries are managing to pick up diabetes earlier, avoiding lower-limb amputations, preventing obesity even. All these things the [U.S.] health system could do something about if it was structured differently.”

Asthma management is also another field where the US seems to lag behind. US hospitalization due to asthmas is highest at 120 per 100,000 compared to the OECD average of 51.

Management of stroke and heart disease in the US is about average compared to other OECD countries.

Pearson’s testimony summarizes:

The United States stands out as performing very well in the area of cancer care, achieving higher rates of screening and survival from different types of cancer than most other OECD countries. At the same time, many other countries, such as the United Kingdom and Canada, are doing much better than the United States in providing good primary care to their population, thereby reducing the need for costly hospital care for chronic conditions such as asthma or complications from diabetes which should normally be managed outside hospitals.

Coming next in Battling Health Care: More about Pearson’s testimony (Title: Disparities in health expenditure across OECD countries: Why does the United States spend so much more than other countries?)

Newsbreaker in health care: public health emergency due to swine flu in the US

April 26, 2009 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

As of Sunday, April 26, 2009, the number of confirmed cases of swine flu in the US has reached 20. In view of the current situation, the federal government has declared a public health emergency, according to major news networks.

However, health officials emphasize that there is no cause for panic. According to the New York Times, the emergency declaration frees government resources to be used toward diagnosing or preventing additional cases, and releases money for more antiviral drugs.

The breakdown of the 20 confirmed cases of swine flu are as follows:

  • 8 in New York
  • 7 in California
  • 2 in Kansas
  • 2 in Texas
  • 1 in Ohio

The swine flu could possibly have come from Mexico where about 1,300 people have been infected and resulted in 80 fatalities.

Canada has also confirmed 4 cases in Nova Scotia. Other countries which have reported suspected but unconfirmed cases are New Zealand, Hong Kong and Spain. Many countries are watching out and are considering about travel restrictions to and from North America. So far, the cases in the US and Canada presented with very mild symptoms and only resulted in one hospitalization. However, the health officials all over the world, coordinated by the World Health Organization, are on alert for a possible pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has set up a site to inform the public about swine flu:

Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza that regularly cause outbreaks of influenza among pigs. Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans, however, human infections with swine flu do occur, and cases of human-to-human spread of swine flu viruses has been documented. From December 2005 through February 2009, a total of 12 human infections with swine influenza were reported from 10 states in the United States. Since March 2009, a number of confirmed human cases of a new strain of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection in the U.S. and internationally have been identified. An investigation into these cases is ongoing.

Here are some recommendations from the CDC on how to protect yourself from swine flu:

According to the CDC, the symptoms of swine flu are very similar to the seasonal flu and “include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.”

Swine flu is mainly transmitted from person to person through coughing and sneezing. It is advisable to stay away from people with flu symptoms. If you experience symptoms, stay at home. If the symptoms worsen, see your doctor.

To learn more about swine flu, check out this podcast with CDC’s Dr. Joe Bresee.

Doctors, Apologies – People are People on Both Sides of the Border

May 1, 2008 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Unlike the other work I do, this blog crosses the border, back and forth, between Canada and the US. You may not realize it, but our host, Hart and the HEN Network, is based in Canada. What I enjoy about my participation here is that it encourages me to think more globally than I typically do with my US-focused work. (thanks Hart!)

I explain all that today because news a few weeks ago about what the laws in Canada will allow, or not allow regarding the legal permission for Canadian doctors to apologize to patients for mistakes they have made, forced me to think of doctors and their apologies on a much broader basis.

You see — to this point, the question about doctors apologizing for their mistakes has never really been about right and wrong. The question has been about lawsuits. No matter where in the world a doctor harmed a patient, regardless of that doctor’s intention, the problem is never about the mistake or the mistake’s medical results. No, the question becomes one of whether the doctor can be sued, and how much money the lawyers will make in the process.

Let’s consider point of view for a moment:

When a patient has been hurt by the mistakes of a doctor, or if a patient has died and the family is left to grieve, then dealing with that hurt or grief happens first. But, like suffering from any error, we also look for places to lay the blame, as if finding the right target will help us handle the suffering better. THAT’s a basic of human nature — looking to offload our pain on to someone or something else. The next step is to expect that whomever we have blamed will at least own up to it — take responsibility for causing our pain and suffering.

And so (foolishly, perhaps) we expect an apology. An apology is the evidence that the doctor is taking that responsibility, and feels remorseful. Hearing a doctor say “I’m sorry” means we can now give up some of the pain and hurt because we know that the perpetrator has now taken some of that onto his/her shoulders.

[And, as an aside, please know that when I write this, I do so from my own experience. Having suffered a heinous misdiagnosis, and then, years later, having benefited from an apology. This is REAL personal, and very few people understand it as well as I do.]

From the doctor’s point of view — we can only imagine how difficult the situation is for them, because, until the past few years, doctors were taught never to apologize. Not only could they not apologize, they weren’t even allowed to disclose an error had been made! That was true in the US, Canada and other corners of the world. And yes, you know why. They could not apologize because that would give the patient or the patient’s family the evidence they needed to prove malpractice in a court of law. the policy even had a name, “Shut Up and Fight.”

Now, we know of course, for some doctors that was OK. We all know doctors with egos so large that there’s no room to admit they’ve made a mistake. THEY would never make a mistake! The problem was something the patient did wrong! Not only that, they don’t report other doctors’ mistakes either… they cover up for their colleagues, perhaps believing “there but for the grace of God…”

But for many doctors, and I believe the great majority of them, not being able to apologize was just as problematic for them as it was for the patient or his/her family. How do you sleep at night when you know you’ve killed someone, or caused them a lifetime of medical problems or debilitation? Being able to apologize would help them conquer some of their grief, too….

Then, just a few years ago, the University of Michigan did an informal study within its own academic hospital system, letting its doctors apologize for adverse events, and arrived at a startling (to them) result. The amount of money asked for in lawsuits dropped to one-third what it had been before.

Fast-forward — it’s six years later and — finally — doctors are being encouraged to apologize for their mistakes. On both sides of the US –Canada border. Mind you — it’s not for the cathartic or value-driven reasons — but for the money. More apologies = fewer lawsuits.

But in this case, it’s win-win for patients, doctors and the hospitals or other organizations involved in mistakes. Patients get the relief that comes from off-loading some of their pain to the apology. Doctors and others involved get the relief that comes from addressing their value systems and their need to offload some of their guilt by apologizing.

Now the laws are following the studies. Many states in the US, and now several provinces in Canada are allowing doctors to apologize without fear that their apologies will affect lawsuit outcomes. And yes, it seems that fewer lawsuits are being filed.

So yes. Everyone wins when a doctor is allowed to apologize. Well, except for the lawyers. Fewer lawsuits would mean less work for them, I suppose.

Well. OK. Maybe that means the ability of doctors to apologize is even sweeter?

Learn more about doctors and apologies for adverse events at Sorry Works.

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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.