News & Information
Shinseki Resigns in Wake of VA Scandal
Written by Editor   
Thursday, June 05, 2014 08:04 AM

Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned in the wake of the unfolding scandal over long wait times for care at VA health facilities.  In a news conference, President Obama said he had accepted Shinseki's resignation "with considerable regret." A growing chorus of voices on Capitol Hill -- including both Democrats and Republicans -- had been calling for the secretary to step down.

Shinseki's resignation comes in the wake of an ongoing investigation by the inspector general of the VA into alleged criminal misconduct at a veterans' healthcare facility in Phoenix. Allegations against the facility "include gross mismanagement of VA resources and criminal misconduct by VA senior hospital leadership, creating systemic patient safety issues and possible wrongful deaths," the inspector general's office noted in its interim report.

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Richard III: Shakespeare Blew It
Written by Editor   
Thursday, June 05, 2014 07:32 AM

Shakespeare got almost everything wrong about Richard III's physical appearance.  An examination of the recently discovered skeleton of the ill-fated English king shows he had scoliosis, which is probably the root of the perception that he was a malformed -- and therefore malevolent -- hunchback.

But the scoliosis would have had only a slight effect on his appearance, so slight it could have been minimized by "a good tailor and custom-made armor."  His right shoulder was probably slightly higher than his left, but it's unlikely he limped.  Contrast that with the words Shakespeare puts into the future king's mouth in his opening speech in "Richard III": He describes himself as "rudely stamp'd ... deform'd, unfinish'd" -- so ugly, in fact, that he cannot "prove a lover" and therefore decides to be a villain.  Richard also says he was: "Sent before my time into this breathing world scarce half made up and that so lamely and unfashionable that dogs bark at me as I halt by them."

After the skeleton was excavated in 2012, from the long-lost Greyfriars Minor Friary in Leicester, the investigators used CT imagery to create three-dimensional reconstructions of each bone.  Using that data, they created polymer replicas and built a model of the spine to study its alignment in life.

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Medicine in the 19th Century
Written by Editor   
Thursday, June 05, 2014 07:14 AM

"I knew nothing about medicine, but I had sense enough to see that doctors were killing their patients; that medicine was not an exact science; that it was wholly empirical, and that it would be better to trust entirely to Nature than to the hazardous skills of the doctors."  -- Dr. James Marion Sims, who is often referred to as the father of modern gynecology in the U.S. 

Prior to the use of x-ray technology, it took a couple of tools from an American gynecologist to save an Italian hero's bloody ankle after surgeons spent 2 months searching for an alleged lead bullet.  In 1862, Giuseppe Garibaldi, a man hailed as a hero of the Italian Unification, suffered a serious gunshot wound to his right ankle on the battlefield at Aspromonte, and the international health media of the day covered a 2-month long debate between French, British, Italian, and Russian surgeons over whether or not the bullet remained intact and how to manage Garibaldi's worsening condition.

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Obesity Up Around the World
Written by Editor   
Thursday, June 05, 2014 07:04 AM

More than 2 billion people in the world are now overweight or obese, up from less than a billion a few decades ago, according to a new global report.  The new figure more than doubles the 857 million overweight or obese people that were estimated in 1980.

The problem started with the advent of wider availability of food in the late 1970s.  "Over the past decades, the modernization of our world, with all the technology around us, has led to physical inactivity on all levels. It is well known that people who stop exercising lose the control of their food intake, whereas those who continue exercising eat adequately in relation to their energy needs.

"Especially in developed countries, the availability of food increased everywhere in the late 1970s and this was further exaggerated in the following decades -- with a substantial increase in the influence of 'fast food.  The result of these developments are that in today's society many children -- and indeed adults -- no longer build up enough muscle mass and functionality, and have lost the culture of 'classical eating,' which has instead been replaced by uncontrolled food intake with a snacking and eating culture spread over the whole day."

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Exchange Plans Creating Administrative Headaches for Many Practices
Wednesday, June 04, 2014 05:11 PM

The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) recently conducted research to explore the impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act exchange plans on medical practices. The results indicate that many practices are experiencing difficulty when patients with coverage under an exchange plan come in for their appointment.

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