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Welcome to DOCTOR PUNDIT. Awesome!

Originating from Saint Paul, MN, DOCTOR PUNDIT is about the intersection between healthcare policy, science, politics, and all surrounding points and issues.

Although the entire scope of healthcare delivery and policy is much too encompassing for just one blogger to cover, I’ll try my best. Enjoy! From time to time, you’ll also see other items of interest that probably have nothing to do with health policy in the least. Try and keep an open mind. :)

Proprietor & Editor — Michael Douglas, MD, MBA




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The Morning News



  • September 27, 2014 10:01 am

    I’m a joiner

    I’ve done it. I’ve officially joined NaNoWrimo — not as a participant, but as a follower. More details, soon.

  • August 4, 2014 12:44 pm

    "The protesters say they’re opposed to abortion because they’re christian. It’s hard for them to accept that I do abortions because I’m a christian."

    -Dr. Willie Parker, the sole physician providing services at the only abortion clinic in Mississippi, the location that recently escaped the threat of closure.


  • August 4, 2014 12:28 pm

    Google, Novartis team up to create medical device

    Blood glucose monitoring is getting a second look. Well, sort of. A Pharma company is joining forces with tech giant Google in developing a rather novel approach to monitoring. The device is a small lens that mirrors the look of a standard ocular contact. It’ll be used to obtain pertinent information for diabetics.

    Information about blood sugar levels, which is particularly useful for people with diabetes, could be uploaded to smartphone devices and used by doctors and patients to monitor the data almost in real time…

    It’s all part of the plan. An increasing number of tech companies are sprinting toward innovations in which patients are being empowered to control and monitor their health. | LINK

  • July 30, 2014 10:06 am

    Survival doc imparts gnarly wisdom

    Pretty cool Q&A with a Mississippi family physician who wants you to know that you can treat many emergencies yourself.

    Is it really a good idea to use duct tape in first aid?

    Dr. Hubbard: I started thinking about duct tape initially when investigating ways to close a wound if you can’t get to a doctor. I should mention that you always need to do other things first — stop the bleeding and clean the wound. Once you get to that point, you can use strips of duct tape.

    A lot of people have had great success using duct tape to remove a ring from a swollen finger without cutting it off. Either the ring, or the finger.

    There’s also a lot of stuff you can do with safety pins.

    Being equipped with medical knowledge may help people to tell when it really is time to go see a doctor. I’ll have people come into my practice that are in serious condition and should have come sooner. And then I’ll also have people who come in with no real need for medical attention; home remedies could have taken care of their ailments. I’ve got a new book coming out this year called, “When Help Is Not On the Way,” for when you can’t get an expert opinion or reach 911.

    What’s your take on self-administering antibiotics?

    Dr. Hubbard: Antibiotics are overused. My advice for anyone who plans to use them on their own is to read up on the facts — side effects, how to administer them, what to look for, when not to take them. Anything that helps the system can also potentially hurt the system. You need to know what they interact with. Antibiotics, for instance, can even react with herbs. There are also natural antibiotics like Manuka Honey and medicinal herbs to consider.

    Cool. Decreasing unnecessary ED visits, one patient at a time. | LINK via Gizmodo

  • July 30, 2014 9:58 am

    Radiology political action committee rallies against its own

    Political committees come in all stripes. Within healthcare, well-funded physician organizations can easily contribute to candidates willing to benefit them if elected. In today’s increasingly polarized healthcare political environment, a PAC with deep pockets can make all the difference. 

    A group of radiologists, via its PAC, has spent almost a quarter of a million dollars in support of two key senate races in ‘16, throwing support for two long-term GOP senior senators up for re-election. Not so unusual, right?

    Well, a closer look at the race shows that this particular PAC is spending money to keep a Tea Party candidate — who just happens to be a Republican — from gaining a foothold in Kansas, home of current senior senator, Pat Roberts.

    Roberts is in a competitive primary race against radiologist Milton Wolf, a tea-party candidate who’s under scrutiny from the state’s medical board for posting private photos of patients’ X-rays on Facebook. In Tennessee, Alexander is up against a handful of distant challengers, including radiologist George Flinn, who won the PAC’s support in a 2012 race against Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen.

    Burnes said the decision to back Roberts and Alexander rather than its own members was a gesture of support to two incumbents with whom the group wants to maintain a good relationship. Roberts, in particular, he said, has long been a champion of the radiology industry, and Alexander is an investment.

    Ahh, much clearer now. | LINK

  • July 30, 2014 9:40 am

    Osteopathic medical schools are increasing the numbers of quality grads

    As the ACA continues its labyrinthine course into the nation’s political boilerplate, talk almost always returns to the issue of primary care supply for the demand that many healthcare policy pundits assert that will occur as a by-product of the legislation.

    Utilization of mid-level providers (NPs, PA’s, etc.) have entered into that discussion. But not has much has been said about that other degree of physician provider — the osteopathic physician provider. Patients may or may not have thought about the difference in designation — which is largely in nomenclature, only. A doctor is a doctor. But, as more attention is turned to the level of primary care penetration within the healthcare marketplace in the short term, doctors of osteopathic medicine (DO’s) are getting a bigger share of the spotlight.

    Osteopathic skills were first consolidated by a 19th-century frontier physician, Andrew Taylor Still, who decried the overuse of arsenic, castor oil, opium and elixirs and believed that many diseases had their roots in a disturbed musculo-skeletal system that could be treated hands on. He founded the first osteopathic school in 1892 in Kirksville, Mo. — A.T. Still University. Critics have, from time to time, assailed the techniques as pseudoscience, though the medical establishment has come to accept the approach. And osteopathic schools offer the same academic subjects as traditional medical schools and the same two years of clinical rotations.

    But an image problem remains. A survey last year by the American Osteopathic Association found that 29 percent of adults were unaware that D.O.s are licensed to practice medicine, 33 percent didn’t know they can prescribe medicine and 63 percent didn’t know they can perform surgery.

    A physician is a physician. Increasing the numbers of those who can provide quality care in this age of 21st century care delivery only benefits the patient. Just ask your average veteran.

  • July 30, 2014 9:23 am

    More news comes to light in VA scheduling scandal

    The hits just keep on coming. As there promises to be a bipartisan approach in Congress to deal with the issue of patient access to providers, there is news that more VA employees were told to falsify data, by hiding the the true times it took to see a medical provider.

    Mechanisms — such as lengthy spreadsheets and dense “tracking logs” — were used by managers to conceal long delays by allowing employees to bypass the computerized entry which is required to track patient appointments.

    Scheduling staff training has been controversiale throughout recent investigations of VA management. The audit also showed that half of schedulers surveyed could not remember the date of their last training.

    The findings also showed there were attempts to coach and prepare staff and schedulers in a number of cases before they were questioned by auditors.

    As a new VA sec’y has been confirmed, the VA will be the beneficiary of proposed legislation that will infuse some $17B to — among many other provisions — allow the hiring of more medical staff, procure new facilities to increase care access, and give vets the ability to access privatized care. | LINK

  • July 28, 2014 3:13 pm

    CNN: No clear GOP frontrunner for 2016

    No big surprise here. (Actually, perhaps a small one — as NJ gov, Chris Christie is on top in this particular poll, relatively speaking.)

    Thirteen percent of Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP say they’d likely back Christie, with Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a 2008 Republican presidential candidate, each at 12%. Perry – who ran for the White House last time around – and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin – the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee – are both at 11%. Christie and Perry have each jumped five percentage points from CNN’s last Republican nomination poll, which was conducted in June. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas are both at 8%, with Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida at 6%, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin at 5% and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who battled Romney deep into the 2012 GOP primary calendar, at 3%.

  • July 27, 2014 7:38 pm

    Tentative agreement reached on improving VA healthcare delivery

    From the AP:

    The chairmen of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees have reached a tentative agreement on a plan to improve veterans’ health care.

    Florida Rep. Jeff Miller and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders scheduled a news conference Monday to talk about negotiations on a compromise bill to reform the Veterans Affairs Department.

    A spokesman for Sanders confirmed the agreement Sunday.

    The pair said in a joint statement Sunday that they had “made significant progress” toward agreement on legislation “to make VA more accountable and to help the department recruit more doctors, nurses and other health care professionals.”

    Sanders proposed a bill last week that would cost about $25 billion over three years. Miller’s proposal would approve $10 billion in emergency spending.

  • July 27, 2014 1:53 pm

    Unethical physician engaged in very questionable treatment for dementia sues not based on defamation, but “false advertising”

    Interesting post about a physician engaging in questionable treatments for Alzheimer dementia. What appears to be more distressing in the article is the action the less-than-ethical physician is taking against the whistleblower in this situation, who is also a physician (who is the proprietor of a blog focusing on science-based medical treatment). A snippet:

    Dr. Edward Tobinick was the subject of an LA Times article in 2013 — I’d link to it, but it appears to have disappeared, though I don’t know why — which highlighted his (apparently now discontinued) practice of prescribing a particular drug, Enbrel, for Alzheimer’s patients. Enbrel is approved for the treatment of arthritis. Steven Novella, a physician at Yale and who maintains the ScienceBasedMedicine blog which (you guessed it) focuses on playing up science-based medicine while criticizing more quackery-based medicine, wrote a critical blog post about Tobinick’s practice. Novella carefully lays out his arguments as to why Tobinick appears to be engaged in what he believes is quackery. It’s actually fairly even-handed, laying out various possibilities, and noting that there is some gray area for off-label uses of the drug. 

    Tobinick was apparently upset about this and asked Novella to take down the blog post. Novella, quite reasonably, refused. Thirteen months later, Tobinick sued Novella and Yale University. Over what, you might ask? Well, there’s clearly no defamation claim here, so Tobinick claims that Novella’s blog post is an advertisement and represents “false advertising.” He also claims that it’s trademark infringement, and then demanded the blog post be taken down via an injunction. Novella is fighting back in court and on his blog

    Quite worth the read. | LINK