Nearly one-third of MRI referrals are inappropriate, an expert physician panel says – and MRIs for low back problems are particularly overused.
MedPage Today reports that 29% of MRI referrals to two large teaching hospitals were deemed… more »
Getting more than one blood pressure check a year may hurt rather than help, a new study suggests.
According to Reuters Health, researchers reviewing five years of patient data concluded that the practice of receiving screened at every doctor’s… more »
Advocates for increased Alzheimer’s research say that deaths linked to the memory-robbing disease have gone up in the last decade, while those for stroke, breast cancer and HIV have dropped, Bloomberg (via Employee Benefits News) reports.
Researchers… more »
MedBen conducted its annual Government Roundtable for current and prospective municipality clients omn March 21. And just like at its hospital-focused seminar a week earlier, Vice President of Sales and Marketing Brian Fargus had some good news to… more »
Physical therapy can prove just as effective for repairing the knee as surgery, a new study concludes.
The Associated Press reports that a torn meniscus – one of the crescent-shaped cartilage discs that cushion the knee – can improve… more »
A new study suggests that women age 50 and over can safely get a mammogram every two years without increasing their risk of developing advanced breast cancer. Biennial screenings was also associated with a lower risk of heaving a false-positive result… more »
Only about 1 out of 10 Internet users consult online rankings of hospitals, says a Pew Research Center Survey – and those who do may come away confused.
According to Kaiser Health News, multiple nonprofit groups now offer online evaluations of… more »
As the number of Americans with diabetes has grown, so, naturally, has its cost – 41% over the past five years, USA Today reports.
A recent study commissioned by the American Diabetes Association found that diabetes cost the U.S. $245 billion in… more »
Aspirin is sometimes referred to as a “miracle drug” – and exaggeration though that may be, there’s no denying that research repeatedly suggests it contains multiple benefits. The latest example is a study linking the drug to a… more »
There’s a growing concern among cardiologists that heart patients are being overmedicated, and some think that certain drugs could be eliminated without risking patient health, Reuters reports.
At recent scientific sessions of the American… more »
Looking to save yourself and your company money on health care spending? A new study says it pays to be informed.
According to Modern Healthcare, patients who scored high on a self-reported survey of “knowledge, skill and confidence” to… more »
A new study finds that getting a colonoscopy may reduce the risk of developing advanced colon cancer by 70%, including hard-to-detect forms of the disease.
HealthDay News (via WebMD) reports that the research team set out to answer a simple question:… more »
Corporate employers expect to spend $521 per employee on worksite wellness incentives in 2013, according to a new survey by Fidelity Investments. That is 13% more than the employee average of $460 reported in 2011, and double the $260 average reported… more »
Maximizing your health care dollars means getting the most out of your physician visits. Typically, your doctor has a packed patient schedule, and may resort to an established set of questions to ascertain your condition. So it’s important to take… more »
A stroke treatment that uses a device to clear a blocked artery is not as effective as hoped, three separate studies suggest.
According to NPR, endovascular (within-the-artery) treatment combined with an intravenous dose of a clot-busting drug called… more »
Consumer Reports may be best known for putting autos and big-screen TVs through their paces, but it sometimes turns its critical eye towards medical matters as well – including, recently, cancer screening tests.
According to WebMD Health News,… more »
A majority of workers whose employers sponsor a company wellness program believe it benefits them, a new survey finds.
Employee Benefits News reports that in 2012, 62% of workers agreed that a worksite wellness improves health while reducing health… more »
Immunizations in the news, courtesy of Reuters Health:
A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concludes that adult vaccinations should not be limited to the flu – immunizations to prevent prevent diseases… more »
The Associated Press’ Mike Stobbe examines the impact that smokers and overeaters have on national health care spending, and the pros and cons of penalizing them with higher out-of-pocket costs:
“Annual health care costs are roughly $96… more »
On the KevinMD.com blog, Dr. Davis Lui says there is more to the family doctor than meets the eye… and the numbers agree:
“If you view your primary care doctor as a person to simply get referrals from to get better care, think again.… more »
As more Americans have grown comfortable sharing personal information over the Internet, the medical profession is testing the waters a bit. Some physician’s offices now offer “e-visits", in which patients complete online forms and a doctor… more »
What employees think about their personal health often differs from reality, based on the results of a new survey from Aon Hewitt, the National Business Group on Health and The Futures Company. But the survey also revealed some positive news for… more »
Fewer Americans are dying from cancer, a new report finds.
According to WebMD, the report – which includes contributions by the American Cancer Society, Centers for Disease Control, National Cancer Institute, and the North American Association of… more »
We’ve noted on this blog that regular vision exams can help to identify the onset of diabetes. Now, new research emphasizes just how crucial early detection can be.
According to Employee Benefit News, a study in the Journal of the American… more »
Got plans for the weekend? If you’re a MedBen Health FSA member, we’d like to suggest the following itinerary:
Visit MedBen Access and select “FSA/HRA Online Inquiry” to check your current account balance. (Alternately, you… more »
Endoscopy is frequently administered for sufferers of acid reflux. But according to new advice from one of internal medicine’s main professional groups, doctors rely on the procedure more than necessary.
“Overuse of upper endoscopy contributes to… more »
A new study reveals that men who are diagnosed with cancer are more likely to die from it than women, Reuters Health reports.
In an analysis of cases of cancer that could be contracted by both men and women, researchers found men with any type of… more »
If you’ve been dragging your feet about getting a flu shot, it’s time to take some action. According to the Centers for Disease Control, this year’s flu season is arriving early – and it’s shaping up to be a bad one.
The… more »
The continuing popularity of consumer-driven health plans and worksite wellness programs have contributed to the lowest health care inflation in the past 15 years, according to the latest National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans.
Employee… more »
Employers trying to help their workers kick the tobacco habit may get the green light to spend a little more on the effort. According to Employee Benefit News, the Department of Health and Human Services has proposed new wellness rules – among… more »
As 2012 quickly winds down, The Los Angles Times has put together some end-of-year tips to maximize your health care benefits. Among them:
Make the most of your deductibles. If you’ve met your annual deductible for 2012, now may be a good time… more »
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently recommended that all Americans aged 15 to 65 receive routine HIV screening, Reuters reports. The government-backed group of doctors and scientists also called for all pregnant women to get tested for the… more »
A recent study of colon cancer surgeries suggests that the increased use of colonoscopies have contributed to a significant decline in the disease, according to MedicineNet.com.
While colorectal cancer cases and deaths have been falling for decades,… more »
Did you know that one in four adults over the age of 65 have lost all their teeth? Pretty shocking statistic, there.
If you would prefer to remain part of the other 75%, it’s in your best interest to take care of your pearly whites. WebMD… more »
Writing for KevinMD.com, internal medicine physician Toni Brayer reminds us that our risk of cancer is not “all in the genes”:
Smoking, of course, greatly raises one’s odds of developing lung, throat, kidney, stomach and other… more »
Despite rising obesity levels, the cholesterol levels of Americans have improved significantly over the past 20 years, according to a new government study.
USA Today reports that the favorable trend may be attributable to a decreased intake of trans… more »
In the battle of the bulge, the team approach increases one’s odds of losing weight, a new report suggests.
“Group-based weight-loss treatment produced weight loss, whether delivered by a professional or peer counselor,” said study… more »
An outbreak of fungal meningitis was apparently caused by tainted steriod injections, WebMD Health News reports.
As of October 10, about 13,000 people in 23 states got the fungus-contaminated steroid pain shots, resulting in a total of 137 people who… more »
“PalMD”, an internal medicine physician, explains “Why I want to ration your health care“:
“In the U.S. we practice medicine with complete irrationality. There are thousands of lives that can be saved by simple practices that so many… more »
Marty Makary, a surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital, believes that doctors and hospitals should be held more accountable for their mistakes. In The Wall Street Journal, he lists five “relatively simple – but crucial – reforms” the… more »
An analysis of skin cancer patients revealed that the use of tanning beds significantly increases one’s risk of developing the disease, USA Today reports.
Indoor tanners are 67% more likely to develop squamous-cell carcinomas – a… more »
Taking an extra vitamin D supplement to keep colds at bay? Research from New Zealand suggests it may not benefit you much.
Reuters Health reports that the study randomly assigned two groups of adults to receive either a monthly dose of vitamin D… more »
As more and more Baby Boomers are entering their golden years, the number of body parts in need of major repair has shot up accordingly. So a new study showing that the number of knee replacements for Medicare enrollees have almosr doubled in the last… more »
The Wall Street Journal Health Blog recently reported on efforts by health care providers to educate people about diabetes – management for those with the disease, and lifestyle changes for those in danger of developing it.
Many states now offer… more »
Zumba has quickly risen to the top ranks of popular fitness options. The combination of music, Latin-inspired dances and a good calorie-buring workout attracts a wide variety of participants, including many who have fell off the wellness bandwagon for… more »
A new European study demonstrates the value of getting a mammogram – or, at the very least, supports the idea that the benefits of finding early breast cancers outweigh its risks related to false positives.
According to Harvard Health Blog, a… more »
Phil Galewitz of The Washington Post reports on the rapid growth of urgent care centers across the U.S.:
“Such centers treat the most common injuries and illnesses – including colds, ear infections, cuts and back pain – in addition to… more »
A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that American children consume too much salt.
According to the Associated Press, over 6,000 kids between the ages of 8 and 18 were interviewed about their eating habits. Based on… more »
One would think that with the widespread availability of the Internet, people would be pretty knowledgeable about what’s healthy and what’s not. Instead, the enormous amount of information – often contradictory – only serves to… more »
Regular eye exams are critical for maintain good vision, but your optometrist can’t be with you 24/7. Between checkups, it’s also important to be aware of warning signs that your eyesight may be deteriorating. Cool Health Tips offers these… more »
For even the severest conditions, a little physical fitness can prove therapeutic. And studies have repeatedly shown that cancer patients benefit from regular workouts. But a new Mayo Clinic study shows that many cancer patients are reluctant to… more »
A classic rationalization for not working out: “My schedule’s packed… I can’t set aside a whole hour for exercise". Well, along come a new study that may put that excuse to rest.
Medical News Today recently reported that Danish… more »
Americans apparently have been slow to embrace better health, based on the results of a recent National Center for Health Statistics study. HealthDay News (via Yahoo! Health) reports 21% between 21 and 64 years old had at least two chronic health… more »
Here’s a worthwhile project for the new work week: Keep your job as stress-free as possible. In doing so, you can increase productivity and make your workplace environment a little more pleasant. And as a bonus, reduced anxiety helps to keep your… more »
A new study brings into question the long-held belief that organic foods have more nutritional value than their conventional counterparts.
According to USA Today, the four-year research project looked at 240 studies conducted from 1966 to 2011 covering… more »
More than half of Americans with high blood pressure don’t take steps to control it, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control.
An analysis of data from 2003 to 2010 found that of the nearly 21,000 adults interviewed and tested,… more »
As we’ve noted here recently, one huge obstacle in a successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act is the higher demands that an additional 30 million insureds would have on the physician pool – in particular, primary care doctors. As… more »
A saavy consumer knows that “expensive” doesn’t necessarily equal “better". And a new Consumer Reports review confirms that goes for health care as well.
As WebMD reports, “Independent investigators compared quality and… more »
If dozing off to the glow of your iPad has become a nightly ritual, you may want to rethink the habit. According to a new study, the bright light emitted from tablet computers may mess up your sleep patterns.
WebMD reports that when a tablet sits close… more »
WebMD reports on a new test that measures blood flow through clogged arteries. Called fractional flow reserve (FFR), the technique could potentially help physicians determine if heart patients need angioplasty and stenting to open clogged heart… more »
If you consume fewer calories in hopes of living longer, a new study won’t make your day. But it may offer enough good news to encourage you to say the course, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Following earlier studies which showed that rats and… more »
Following a recommendation earlier this year by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force that doctors abandon prostate cancer screenings for most male adults, defenders of the test have voiced their disagreement. And last week, a new study provided them… more »
The US Food and Drug Administration has approved a once-a-day pill to treat the virus that causes AIDS, according to AFP (via Yahoo! Health).
The new pill, Stribild, is actually a combination of the previously approved drug Truvada and two new ones,… more »
Michelle Andrews looks at the gender benefit gap in the Affordable Care Act. Why does the law greatly expand women’s access to free preventive services – particularly, for sexual and reproductive health – while giving men little by… more »
Keeping fit at midlife may not better your odds of living much longer, but it will increase your chances of avoiding chronic disease, new research suggests.
According to the Los Angeles Times, a study of 18,670 men and women spanning from 1984 to 2010… more »
The animal and insect kingdoms have kept the the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention busy as of late. Earlier this month, the government agency reported on a new strain of “swine” flu, spread from the pigs to humans. And this… more »
Regular checkups from your family doctor are a key to maintaining good health. But a new study reveals that many patients are bypassing general practitioners for specialty care.
According to Reuters Health, researchers found 41% of adults in the U.S.… more »
Rosie O’Donnell’s recent health scare has brought the subject of women and heart attacks into the news. The 50-year-old comedienne and former talk show host revealed earlier this week that she underwent artery-opening angioplasty when tests… more »
Need another reason to practice good oral hygiene? Okay, here’s one – a new study suggests that people with healthy teeth and gums have a lower risk of developing dementia later in life.
According to Reuters Health (via the Chicago… more »
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force will likely recommend the addition of HIV screening to a routine patient checkup, Reuters reports. Currently, the government health panel leaves the decision to test for the presence of the virus up to doctors.… more »
Depending on which scientist you talk to, aspirin is either a versatile wellness aid or an overrated pill best left to relieve minor aches and pains. The latest study on the effects of the drug suggests that its benefits may include helping to ward off… more »
No matter what state you venture into, you’re going to run into a lot of obese people. That’s the finding in a new report from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Mississippi and Louisiana, over one-third of the population are… more »
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has declined to recommend hearing tests for older adults without symptoms of hearing loss, The New York Times reports.
“We just don’t have enough evidence to show there would be a benefit,” said Dr. Albert Siu, a… more »
If you’ve got insomnia, better you read a book than reach for a pill, suggests sleep expert Leon Lack of Flinders University.
According to Medical Xpress, Lack said that “hypnotic drugs” may provide short-term relief, but in the long… more »
More Americans are walking around, but not for nearly as long as they should, according to the results of a new survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
USA Today reports that about 62% of adults in 2010 said they took at least one… more »
While far from an epidemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is taking a new strain of “swine” flu seriously.
HealthDay News reports that the H3H2 strain has thus far only been spread from pigs-to-humans, rather than… more »
Kevin Pho, a primary care physician and blogger – and whose KevinMD.com website we frequently highlight here – recently wrote a column for USA Today regarding patient access to lab test results. He observes that while having to wait days or… more »
Many Americans live in denial regarding their excess weight, reveals a new study from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
According to HealthDay News, the researchers are concerned about the national health… more »
HealthDay News reports that nearly half of American adults have at least one risk factor for heart disease, such as uncontrolled high blood pressure, uncontrolled high levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and smoking.
The U.S. Centers for… more »
On August 1, 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services adopted women’s preventive health care services guidelines developed by the Institute of Medicine. The services listed in these guidelines are added to the required covered preventive… more »
Has watching the Olympics motivated you to exercise more? If so, it’s not surprising – two weeks of morning-to-night competition brings out the superjock in some individuals. And just like the Olympic athletes, many people fuel their… more »
The United States Preventive Services Task Force has advised against the use of treadmill testing with electrocardiograms (EKG) for people who have no known risk factors or symptoms of heart disease, The New York Times reports.
Once a regular part of… more »
The debate regarding the usefulness of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests rages on, with separate research offering evidence for both the “pro” and “con” camps:
According to WebMD, a study suggests that routine PSA tests… more »
Anyone who has had to wait for important medical test results knows how stressful the experience can be, as thoughts alternative between hoping for the best and fearing for the worst. Increased online availability of test results speeds up the process,… more »
The rise in U.S. obesity over the past several decades has been accompanied by a increase in Type 2 diabetes. The best strategy for reducing the risk of the disease is a sensible weight loss program. But for those already afflicted, the solution is less… more »
Electronic cigarettes are gaining in popularity among smokers, as both a tobacco substitute and a tool to hopefully wean them from the habit.
According to WebMD, the devices resemble regular cigarettes but work by means of a vaporizer filled with a… more »
With two new weight loss drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration within three weeks of each other, questions about their comparative effectiveness are inevitable. In response, WebMD has developed a Belviq/Qsymia FAQ. Here, we highlight their… more »
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that 2012 will probably experience the highest number of whooping cough cases since 1959, USA Today reports.
Known formally as pertussis, whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial disease that… more »
The best way to detect and treat prostate cancer – and whether either course of action is even necessary – has come under a fair amount of debate lately.
Earlier this week, an expert panel refuted U.S. Preventive Services Task Force… more »
According to HealthDay News, a new national survey found that 55% of U.S. doctors now use some type of electronic health record system. And among those don’t, nearly half said they plan to implement a system in the coming year.
Other findings in… more »
For over a decade, the pharmaceutical industry offered only one option for severely overweight people desiring a weight-loss drug – Xenical, which was rarely prescribed and only somewhat effective. But within the last three weeks, two competitors… more »
Smoking and obesity frequently get linked to reduced mortality. Now, a new study suggests that physical inactivity also factors into premature deaths – and is the primary contributor in about 10% of cases.
USA Today reports that a Harvard Medical… more »
Recently, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended that physicians no longer offer prostate cancer screenings to male patients. The panel’s rationale was that far more men would receive false positives than would actually benefit from… more »
The Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of the drug Truvada for individuals who have tested negative for HIV, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Clinical studies have shown that if taken once a day, Truvada could reduce transmission of HIV,… more »
If you’re in the market for sunscreen, there’s a lot of options available. And just grabbing for whatever’s on sale usually isn’t the best solution.
According to HealthDay News, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends… more »
Reuters reports that online access to medical records may spur patients to stay up to date on recommended preventive care, according to a new study.
A clinical trial at eight primary care practices found that 25% of patients who could personally check… more »
When the weather gets as hot as it’s been lately, most of us crank up the air conditioner – or, lacking that, an electric fan. But the latter option may do more harm than good, according to a new review published in the Cochrane Library:… more »
As we grow, we’re frequently reminded that milk builds strong bones. But as we age, bones become weaker and need some reinforcement, in which case we should turn to… booze.
Well, if the findings of a new Oregon State University… more »
“The Crushing Cost of Care” is a sobering look at the financial realities of extended major care by The Wall Street Journal. The article follows the final months of Scott Crawford, a 41-year-old man who endured a heart transplant, various… more »
A joint statement by American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association says that sugar substitutes may help people lose weight and help people with diabetes control blood sugar. provided they’re used wisely.
Non-nutritive… more »