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Tag Archives: research

New information from the CDC says ‘blacks’ and ‘gays’ are more likely to be newly infected with HIV. At least this is how it is worded by a CNN article. However, HIV is mostly a lifestyle infection, and so they are only more likely to partake in a risky lifestyle than to actually be infected. A young ‘black,’ ‘gay’ male who does not partake in risky behavior would have the same chances of being infected as any ‘straight,’ ‘white’ male. They are trying to attribute HIV to a group of people rather than to a lifestyle of which those people do not have to be involved. This is futher evidenced by claims such as “AIDS in America continues to be a black disease.” Doing so is a hindrance to society, and to the ‘black’ and ‘gay’ community. If HIV is attributed to lifestyle, maybe they would come to see the unnecessary risks rather than accept the risks. If HIV were to be attributed to lifestyle maybe society as a whole would come to better accept the ‘gay’ community and the ‘black’ community (Citation: CNN).

To stop smoking is the single most important thing a smoker can do to improve their health. To never smoke is one of the most important things a non-smoker can do to maintain their health. Yet, over 45 million people in the U.S. alone still smoke. People use excuses like stress and coolness to justify their choice to start or continue smoking. But there is no reason that justify destroying your own lungs, and many people will suffer in the future because of their decision to smoke. Even those who say they only smoke a little, or only socially, are putting themselves at risk.

This is overdue. I thought I posted a blog about this, but it seems I left it on draft. After I made an entry on WordPress about overdoses, I decided to make another sonic sez health video about using medications. I think my voice acting as improved a little bit, but I’m still hoping for more people to watch or comment on the videos. This one has a lot of meaning with the fairly recent release of The Dark Knight. A report came out shortly before I wrote the script about the increase in accidental overdoses and deaths caused by improper use of medications. The coincidence is eerie that research over 20 years in the making was released the same that Heath Ledger’s death brought the issue to the forefront. This video is dedicated to Heath Ledger, and to the promise of better knowledge about medications.

What happened to Heath Ledger was not a fluke. Research done over ten years showed that fatal medication errors have increased almost 4 fold since the early 1980s. The release of this information is merely coincidental, but if the death of a celebrity can’t get people to educate themselves about medications, then this research certainly won’t. Ledger did not die of some strange circumstance, and people need to be aware of the reactions they might have to their medications, changing their medications, or consuming street drugs or alcohol in addition to medicine. Just as importantly, doctors, nurses, other hospital staff, and pharmacists need to help inform patients about how to properly deal with using medication and the seriousness of the possible consequence from deviation (citation: medline plus).

Citing fiction is merely a round-a-bout process of citing non-fiction. That is, the reference to another person’s thoughts, which are real whether fact or opinion. It is certainly a mistake to believe fiction can give us statistics, but to assume information based on the fictional works of a number of authors is not really different from assuming something based on a yes/no poll. In fact, the former may be more useful in a number of situations since yes/no polls offer no explanations, no additional input, and no interpretation on part of the sample. Reality is much more complex than a simple yes or no, and fiction is deeply embedded in reality.

The idea of citing fiction often can easily be criticized as too abstract. One can only try to understand what an author was truly thinking or what a passage  truly meant. Yet, one reason for citing a literary work of fiction or non-fiction is to back up a statment or presented argument. Words and numbers have a strong history of being pulled out of context or twisted. Other proof, aside from the hard facts, other proof must be coupled to make the strongest argument possible. in this way, fiction can be just as effective. And depending on the audience maybe more so, considering the impact of the fictional styles on human emotion as compared to the raw language often used with words of fact.

This is the transcript from a presentation I gave about the connection between Homeland Security and the field:

            Good Afternoon, I’m speaking about a connection between Homeland Security and the field of medicine that is generally ignored. The two fields are often thought of as completely separate, although cooperative. My presentation is a basic overview on the subject.

 

The field of Homeland Security conjures thoughts about counter-terrorism, infrastructure protection, and intelligence analysis. The field of medicine brings about images of treating patients; surgery, diagnostics, cardiology, neurology and so on. But, the two are linked by a large number of factors that need to be acknowledged.

 

            The National Strategy for Homeland Security lists six critical mission areas, in this order. Health Care mostly fits under the Emergency Preparedness and Response category. However, it can be shown that, pending the circumstances, it can fit under the other categories as well.

 

            Emergency Preparedness & Response is most often associated with first responders. By the nature of their title, they are usually the first to arrive at an emergency situation. EMTs, and if the circumstances warrant it, hazmat units, are the first to provide medical care. Planning is a basic foundation of preparedness. In 2005, the Homeland Security Council published the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza. The plan sets aside the department of health and Human Services as one of the lead agencies to implement the strategy. Also, in 2007, President Bush issued Homeland Security Presidential Directive 21 to establish a national strategy for Public Health and Medical Preparedness. A few weeks ago, it was discovered that the water supply of Alamosa, Colorado was contaminated with Salmonella. The cause remains unknown. It is unlikely that it is an act of terrorism, but in an area with a population of about 10,000 almost 400 people have been treated for Salmonella. Jim Martin, director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Hans Kallam director of the Colorado Division of Emergency Management worked together closely to solve the problem. The water system has been thoroughly cleaned, water bottles have been brought in with the aid of helpful companies, and an investigation as to the cause of the situation has begun.

 

The Medical field holds high stakes in the planning for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear incidents. After an incident of this kind, health care would be a high priority and capability would be stretched to its limit. Bioterrorism does have a small history in the United States including an incident of salmonella poisoning intended to affect an election and the Anthrax attacks. In the case of an attack today, the Department of Health and Human Services is charged with deploying medical personnel and equipment to aid other agencies. The Department of Homeland Security works with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with the Department of Veterans Affairs to detect biological and chemical attacks.

 

The relationship between Homeland Security and Health Care is a two-way street. Healthcare serves the purpose of Homeland Security and Homeland Security also serves the purpose of Healthcare. As a critical infrastructure sector, public health is important to the daily functions of the U.S. Public health services need security and an insurance of continuity of operations.

 

The area of intelligence and warning is important for taking preemptive, preventive, and protective measures. The field of medicine can be involved here through medical surveillance. David Siegrist from the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies describes medical surveillance as the prospective statistical analysis of health-related data for rapid detection of anomalies that indicate the outbreak of disease in a population. This information can be used to detect a natural epidemic or act of terrorism. It can be useful for medical response and for the capture of a perpetrator. The shooting last year at Virginia Tech has highlighted a need to work more closely with the mental health system and to improve mental illness interventions. It is always helpful to know who is a threat to the security of the nation or the safety of citizens. Any actions in this area must maintain patient confidentiality. This is not necessarily an important term in Homeland Security but it is very important to the area of health care. Trust between a health care provider and a patient has become one of the bases of the U.S. health system, and patient confidentiality should be respected by Homeland Security and other fields that begin to work with mental health organizations.

 

May 24, 2007 a potential threat to the health and safety of United States citizens crossed the border from Canada to the U.S. Andrew Speaker, diagnosed with multi-drug resistant Tuberculosis was allowed freely into the U.S. despite an alert that he should be restrained and health officials should be notified. In this situation, border security had direct involvement with public health; failing in their responsibility to contact health officials could have put numerous people in danger of contracting TB. Fortunately no one is known to have contracted TB from Speaker and his diagnosis has been downgraded to a less resistant form.

 

            Domestic Counterterrorism is essentially a law enforcement field. However healthcare professionals can provide helpful skills and resources. The Department of Health and Human Services, for example, offers training to protect workers from infection or contamination. Psychologists and Psychiatrists can be called on to help with interrogation. A new, controversial tool for interrogation and lie detection involves Neuroimaging. A medical technique that, in this case, uses Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Extensive research and testing has been, and continues to be done on effective countermeasures to biological, chemical, and radiological agents. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a sub Health and Human Services agency, has computer simulation models for response planning and training modules on bioterrorism.

            The connection between Homeland Security and the field of Medicine is expansive and essential. For the field of Homeland Security, securing the nation requires a partnership with the medical community; and for the field of medicine maintaining the health of citizens requires a partnership with Homeland Security.

 

          

While I attended the Summer Medical & Dental Education Program at UVA I wanted to do something to give the program more publicity. It is an excellent program for anyone hoping to enter med or dental school, but very few people know about it. Many of the applicants, including myself, only found out about it by searching the net. The program has more than high enough quality to be recommended by advisors and publicized through schools. I tried to get the local news channel to do a short piece about the program, but that fell through. I should have also tried the newspaper, but I didn’t get around to it. However, I recently realized that a blog entry might possibly reach as many people as any other method I had considered:

There is a committment to the medical field and a service to the health of people, in the present and in the future that constitutes duty beyond expectation. The Directors of the Summer Medical & Dental Education Program (SMDEP) at the University of Virginia have devoted many years, in some cases 2 decades, to the education of future doctors.  The attending undergraduate students have sacrificed six-weeks of the summer to gain knowledge for the benefit of others. They come from all around the country and all over the world to join for a shared cause. Every weekday a minimum of nine hours, and often more, are devoted for learning different subjects, preparing for medical school, experiencing different career opportunities, and focusing on serving people. But the story does not end there. Even though the students originate from aound the world, they were prepared to dedicate their time and energy to Charlottesville and the surrounding community. The feat performed by the students, the directors, the speakers, and other particpants deserve recognition.

Research is a slow moving process. Dr. Robert B. Herberman has taken the initiative to voice concerns based on early research. His actions in making a warning about the use of cell phones is plausible and respectable considering their wide use and the true nature of their uncertain effects. The Electromagnetic fields created around cell phones have recently become a big concern, especially for children who tend to use cells more and more every year. What kind of long-term effects do electromagnetic fields actually have? Are their any other items or technologies, such as laptops, that could be of concern as well? There are many questions that fit within the issue, and almost no answers. If cell phones do cause problems, the problems may not be small issues. The brain uses electrical charges on a regular basis, and electromagnetic fields could alter the function of the brain resulting in tumors. Headaches will not be the concern here (citation: AP).

It has been discovered that some granite kitchen countertops contain a dangerous amount of uranium. There is enough of the radioactive substance to exceed the yearly standard for visitors to nuclear facilities. It has been suggested that 85% of granite countertops are safe, but that is unacceptable. Granite countertops are fairly common, and many people have been unknowingly and unwillingly subjected to something that could possibly drastically increase the possibility of cancer. Any company making countertops should now check their materials thoroughly, recall unsafe counters, and allow testing and replacement for concerned consumers. How much of a concern is the situation really? It is unlikely cancer would be caused in a short amount of time for exposure, but ten years or more down the road a consumer who gets cancer may not know what the cause was. It is better to be safe than sorry; companies should respect that and consumers should project that in their actions.

The benefits of exercise are innumerable. Reseachers have discovered that, in patients with early Alzheimer’s disease, exercise helped minimize the progression of the disease. I was not surprised by the findings since exercise seems to keep the mind clear and sharp, but for physically fit Alzheimer’s patients to actually have less brain shrinkage is interesting. It appears that the increased flow of blood to the brain during exercise allows for a healthier brain by delivering more oxygen & nutrients. The connection between exercise and the function of the brain may also point to a future increase of dementia that corresponds with an increase in obesity (citation: WebMD, BBC)