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Category: Big Medicine

Is the Opioid Epidemic Black and White?

A Closer Look at the Opioid Epidemic Is It Black and White? by Tanya Feke, MD I took personal offense when I first heard someone call the opioid epidemic a white man’s disease. My father became an addict in his youth and unfortunately suffered an overdose in middle age. He was not a black man or a Hispanic man. He was a white man. My father came from humble beginnings. He was not rich, he was not privileged, and he did not graduate from high school. He worked like a horse and did everything he could to make…

Are You Influenced by Prescription Drug Ads?

Are You Influenced by Prescription Drug Ads? A High-Pressure Industry By Tanya Feke, MD Today’s Worst Prescription Drug Ads My kids get a kick out of how agitated I get when I see pharmaceutical ads on TV. What a scam! As a family physician, I know firsthand how many people come into a doctor’s office asking for the “latest and greatest” drug they saw on television, a drug they probably don’t need and that would likely cost them a small fortune. You may remember my rant last year about the weight-loss drug Contrave. Of course…

6 Facts You Need to Know About Guns in the USA

6 Gun Facts You Need to Know The Gun Control Debate by Tanya Feke, MD The debate over gun control is heated. Advocates of the Second Amendment fear their personal freedoms are at risk, that their guns will be taken away. At the same time, victims of gun violence and proponents of gun control fear mass shootings will continue if stronger laws are not put on the books. Who’s right and who’s wrong? Before we get started, let me say that I do not own a gun, and I have no intention of getting one. It…

Patient Shaming Has Got to Stop

Patient Shaming Has Got to Stop Doctors Are Doing More Harm than Good by Tanya Feke, MD A World of Victim Shaming Victim shaming is all around us. Sadly, it almost feels like the new norm. The issues of sexual assault and sexual harassment come to mind. People blame women for taking too long to speak out. They blame women for what they wear, whether they drink alcohol, or if they choose to go anywhere on their own. Worse, they call them liars, saying they made it up or are trying to profit off their abuse. When it comes to…

Are Medicare and Social Security Entitlements?

Are Medicare and Social Security Entitlements? The Debate Wages On by Tanya Feke, MD Paying into the System “They’re coming for your entitlements.” You hear it time and again, perhaps more these days than in the past. With the passage of a GOP tax bill that adds a whopping $1.5 trillion to the deficit over the next decade, the GOP eyes cuts to federal “entitlement” programs to make up the difference. That puts programs like Medicare and Social Security in the crosshairs. More to the point, it raises the question of what it…

Enough With All the Blood Work

Do You Really Need Those Routine Labs? A Waste of Medical Resources by Tanya Feke, MD The Law of the Land Many people are frustrated by the growing number of doctor visits they attend every year. Worse, they resent the amount of blood drawn as if vampires are running the laboratories. Do they really need all that monitoring? The answer is yes and no. Office follow-ups are intended to keep you safe — to make sure your condition is stable, to show that your medications are working properly, and to review alternative treatment options, if necessary. Blood work is collected…

How Cookie Cutter Medicine Fails You

How Cookie Cutter Medicine Fails You Doctors Take on Modern Medicine by Tanya Feke, MD Cookie Cutter Medicine Imagine the perfect cookie. Perhaps it is crispy or soft, round or bar-shaped. Maybe it is sweet with chocolate or butterscotch chips, decorated with frosting or cream. On the other hand, it could be on the savory side, peppered with cheese and herbs, a hint of cardamom. Odds are the cookie you are thinking about is different than mine, and it should be. We are individuals. Our tastes and preferences are as unique as our genes and life experiences. Now imagine…

Will Gene Editing Lead to Designer Babies?

Should We Edit Our Genes? Designer Babies and The Slippery Slope of Gene Therapy by Tanya Feke, MD The More That Changes, The More That Stays the Same I know a thing or two about gene therapy. Not that I have done it myself, but because I wrote a dissertation, Ethical Guidelines for Human Gene Therapy in Medical Practice, for my Masters of Arts degree in 1998. Back then, gene therapy was in its infancy and clinical trials were in the early phases. The Human Genome Project was still in full swing, and it would take another 5 years to…

Gun Control and Mental Health in America

Gun Control and Mental Illness America’s Public Health Crisis by Tanya Feke, MD We Are All at Risk When the tragedy at Sandy Elementary Hook took place in 2012, I lived in Connecticut about 40 miles away. I was a practicing family doctor, and I was working that day. My schedule was full of sick visits and physicals, but somehow I had found a moment to write a progress note at my desk. That was when my nurse rushed into my office to tell me the news. I could not believe what I was hearing. My instinct was…

The GOP Health Plan Is a Tax Break for the Rich

Medicare Taxes and You How the American Health Care Act/Better Care Reconciliation Act Tried to Change Everything by Tanya Feke, MD The Taxes You Need to Know When it comes to healthcare, there are certain taxes you need to know about. — Medicare Tax — Additional Medicare Tax — Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT) The Medicare Tax has been around since 1966 but the Additional Medicare Tax and the Net Investment Income Tax came to pass under the Affordable Care Act in 2010. The addition of these taxes actually extended the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by 11 years. The American…

Breaking Down the American Health Care Act

Breaking Down the American Health Care Act Four Key Points You Need to Know by Tanya Feke, MD When the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) on May 4, 2017, Americans collectively held their breath. It wouldn’t be the first time they had been taken by surprise these past 12 months. By the narrow vote of 217-213, the GOP put forth a plan that would decrease affordability and health care access to millions of Americans. They didn’t wait for the Congressional Budget Office to do an analysis of the…

Pre-Existing Conditions Affect Us All

Pre-Existing Conditions Why We Need to Put an End to Medical Underwriting by Tanya Feke, MD I have a pre-existing medical condition. Odds are you do, too, and if you don’t, you know someone who does. Pre-existing conditions affect us all one way or another. It doesn’t matter how old you are. It doesn’t matter how healthy you look. The Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight, a division of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, estimated that 50 percent of Americans had a pre-existing medical condition in 2011…

Private Insurers Aim for Profit, Not Care

Is It Time for Universal Health Care? Not Before Private Insurance Makes a Money Grab by Tanya Feke, MD America Ranks Last A harrowing report was put out by the Commonwealth Fund in 2014. Out of 11 industrialized countries, the United States came in dead last for its health care system. It was not one issue that led to its embarrassingly low ranking. America placed 5th for quality care, 9th for access to care, and 11th in each of three categories: efficiency, equity, and “healthy lives”. Healthy lives takes into account infant mortality, preventable deaths, and overall life…

How Trump’s Executive Order Hurts Veterans

Trump’s Executive Order Strains the VA The Doctor Shortage Continues by Tanya Feke, MD When you serve in the military, you hope your country will honor you for your efforts. That respect should at the very least come in the form of accessible and affordable health care. Healthcare at the Veteran’s Health Administration (VHA), however, has been anything but reliable. The Wait Times Scandal Breaks Regulations require the VA provide care to veterans within 14 days of an appointment request. Controversy exploded in 2014 when it was found that staff at the VHA in Phoenix, Arizona…

IUDs and Birth Control in the Trump Era

The Rise of IUDs Birth Control in the Trump Era by Tanya Feke, MD It is scary when the man who is President guides your choice for birth control. Yet that is exactly the kind of decision-making many women face across the United States today. Under the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, birth control became free for millions of women. Whether it was birth control pills, IUDs, or other long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) like Implanon or Norplant, a women’s reproductive choices were covered. Private health plans were required to offer birth control without co-pays or…

Don’t Fall for Big Pharma’s Weight Loss Pills

Weight Loss Pills Big Pharma’s Big Fat Lie by Tanya Feke, MD Big Pharma is at it again, this time with weight loss pills. They are doing whatever it takes to drive in profits while taking advantage of your insecurities. It is not bad enough that they pick at your wallet, they pick at your pride. Don’t fall for it. “New” Weight Loss Pills Are Really “Old” I sat watching a television program the other day and a pharmaceutical commercial came on. Weight loss pills are all the rage on the television…

The 28 Hour Work Day

The 28-Hour Work Day Residency and The Plight of Medical Training by Tanya Feke, MD How often do you hear people say they wish there were more hours in the day? Apparently, if you are training in medicine, that is about to happen. Oh, you lucky interns! 2003 Duty Hour Regulations Back in 2003, I was in the first intern class (translation: a first-year medical resident, also called a PGY-1) to be trained under the 80-hour work week. Concerns about patient safety and resident well-being spurred the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) to…

Who Controls Your Health Care?

Who Controls Your Health Care? Not Your Doctor, That’s for Sure by Tanya Feke, MD The American healthcare system is in turmoil. The government, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies are stirring the pot while doctors and patients sweat it out in the hot water. Patients may not exactly see it that way, but the truth is that doctors don’t have much control of the system either. Few solo practices exist these days thanks to the big business of medicine. It simply costs too much to run an office these days. Instead, hospital systems buy them out…

Epipen: A Sign of a Broken Healthcare System

The Epipen Saga America’s Health Care Is Sick by Tanya Feke, MD It has been going on for years. The difference is that now the media is hopping on the story. Now America is paying attention. In 2015, the price of doxycycline, a generic antibiotic, was up to $5 per pill, an increase from $0.03 in 2014. The antibiotic is the gold standard treatment for Lyme disease. In 2015, the price of Daraprim (pyrimethamine), was up to $750 per pill, an increase from $13.50. The antiparasitic medication is used to toxoplasmosis, an infection acquired in people…

How Doctor Rating Sites Hurt Medicine

The Truth About Doctor Rating Sites What You Don’t Know Might Hurt You by Tanya Feke, MD Finding the right doctor takes some doing. You want someone you can trust with your health and even your secrets. You want someone with a great bedside manner who will listen earnestly to your concerns. You want Ben Casey, Marcus Welby, or Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. No worries, the internet is here to help you! If you think that’s true, then you have a lot to learn. A quick search on the internet will land you doctor rating sites…