Entries in Doctor (4)


Doctors See Surge in Newborns Hooked on Prescription Drugs

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Medical authorities are witnessing a growing epidemic of babies born hooked on the same powerful painkillers their mothers are abusing, most commonly OxyContin and Vicodin, according to USA Today.

The growing trend reflects a bigger problem of just how deeply rooted the abuse of "legal" drugs is in the U.S.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prescription drug abuse is classified as an epidemic, as it is the nation’s fastest growing drug problem.

The American Academy of Pediatrics convened a committee this year to revise its treatment guidelines for the newborns, but the guidelines are not set to be published until next year.

A major problem is that national statistics on the number of babies who go through withdrawal are not available, and the states with the worst problems have only just begun to collect data. The data that is available in scattered reports, however, shows the number of addicted newborns has at least doubled over the past decade.

Dr. Lewis Rubin, neonatology chair at the University of South Florida, is seeing more children born addicted.

He told ABC News, “the problem of addicted newborns has exploded during the last decade...The majority of babies who are addicted to drugs are babies whose mothers have been addicted to prescription drugs that are obtained illegally.”

Dr. Lewis Rubin is one of many American doctors seeing a spike in babies born hooked on powerful drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin. “There's been a 7-10 fold increase in the number of babies who receive the diagnosis,” Dr. Rubin said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Chronically Ill Adults in US Worse Off than in Other Countries

Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Americans who are chronically ill are much less able to pay their medical bills and have to forego medical care because of the cost more often than their counterparts in other countries, according to a new survey by The Commonwealth Fund, an independent foundation that supports health care research.

The results, the researchers say, highlight some of the biggest flaws in the U.S. health care system.

The study data, reported in this week's Health Affairs journal, also found adults in the U.S. who suffer from chronic illnesses reported the highest rate of medical errors and most often said their medical care isn't well-coordinated between their doctors compared with adults in other countries.

Researchers at The Commonwealth Fund surveyed 18,000 "sicker adults" in the U.S. and 10 other countries – including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom – and asked questions related to health care costs, access to care, coordination of care and medical errors.

Forty-two percent of Americans said the high costs of health care kept them from seeing doctors, getting medications and avoiding recommended treatments, a significantly higher percentage than in the 10 other countries.

"The number one finding is that the U.S. spends more on health care than other countries, but it doesn't get the most out of the health care system," said Karen Davis, president of The Commonwealth Fund. "The U.S. performs the most poorly on access to care and the financial burden that comes with chronic illness."

The study also found that people who have a "medical home" – a primary care physician or practice that coordinates treatment across specialties – felt better about their care and were less likely to report medical errors.

Chronically ill adults from the United Kingdom and Switzerland reported the most positive health care experiences, and were also more likely to have a medical home.

The data, said the researchers, suggest that all eleven countries need to step up their efforts to provide more organized primary care and can learn lessons from each other. In addition to focusing on developing medical homes, the U.S. can look to other nations for guidance on providing more affordable care.

The survey also found that American patients were the most satisfied with how doctors interact with them and help manage their care.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Florida Pain Doc Suspended; 34 Patients Dead

Comstock/Thinkstock(LAKE CITY, Fla.) -- A Florida pain doctor could be charged in the death of many of his patients.

Dr. Joseph Hernandez was suspended July 6 by the Florida Department of Health for overprescribing opiate painkillers, addictive drugs that can be lethal in high doses.

Of the 761 patients Hernandez saw at his Lake City clinic between January and April 2011, 34 are dead, according to a Florida Department of Health report.

"I mean, people are going to abuse drugs," Gilbert Schaffnit, Hernandez's defense attorney, told ABC News affiliate WCJB. "The question is, how is any doctor, Dr. Hernandez or any health care provider, going to be able to control against that?"

Schaffnit, who advised his client not to speak to the media, said Hernandez prescribed extra pills to spare his patients the cost of follow-up visits.

"The basic reason he prescribes the amount that he prescribes is because every time these people come back for refills, of course they're charged another doctor visit," Schaffnit told WCJB.

The Department of Health claims those extra pills led to fatal overdoses.

Hernandez is the fifth highest prescriber of oxycodone, the main ingredient in OxyContin, in Florida, a state notorious for "pill mills" that sell prescription drugs under the guise of clinics.

Prescription drug abuse has reached epidemic proportions in the United States, according to the Gil Kerlikowske, White House director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. With 28,000 deaths in 2007, Kerlikowske said, it has surpassed the crack cocaine problem of the 1980s and the heroin epidemic of the 1990s combined.

In April 2011, the Obama administration released a national plan to cut the rate of prescription drug abuse by 15 percent within five years by establishing state drug-monitoring programs, take-back initiatives that safely dispose of prescription drugs and education programs for patients and health care providers.

Hernandez's clinic, which investigators considered a pill mill, is closed until further notice. No hearing date has been set.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Nine Questions You Need to Ask Your Doctor for Good Care

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- ABC News' chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser has compiled a list of nine essential questions to ask your doctor in order to make more informed decisions about your care, along with a couple more helpful tips for good measure:

Questions You Should Ask Your Doctor

What is my condition called?

What are my treatment choices, and what are the pros and cons of each one?

What's the LEAST treatment I can get for this? What would the effects be? Will I feel better? Will I live longer?

What's the MOST treatment I can get for this? What would the effects be? Will I feel better? Will I live longer?

Knowing the "least" treatment and the "most" treatment, which would you recommend for me, and why?

What does medical science say is the best answer for me? In other words, what's the most up-to-date recommendation for people who have the same issue I do?

How can I get a second opinion on this? (You're not being rude, you're being thorough. Ask about websites, medical centers and another doctor with whom you could have a consultation.)

Do you have written information about my condition that I can read? Can you recommend a good website or support group?

Can I follow up with you by phone if I have any additional questions?

More Tips for Your Doctor's Visit

Take someone with you. They can take notes for you, help you ask questions or ask questions you find embarrassing.

Get answers in plain English. What you can't understand can't help you. Make sure you know what your doctor is saying.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio