New blood test detects cancers

Randy Cassingham gave a heads-up about this sort of technology on his page. Here’s some more of the same.

I may be looking into this, since having one form of cancer is no guarantee against developing another.

Fox Business:

Mayo Clinic developing blood test that can spot more than 50 types of cancer

Galleri, which is not covered by insurance, costs $949 and must be ordered by a licensed health care provider

Galleri looks for signals present in the blood stream that may be associated with cancer at the time of a blood draw.

The test uses next-generation sequencing and machine-learning algorithms to analyze methylation patterns of cell-free DNA (cfDNA) in the bloodstream, which can carry cancer-specific information. DNA methylation is a process used by cells to regulate gene expression. If a cancer signal is detected, Galleri will pinpoint where in the body the cancer is coming from to help health care providers determine the appropriate next steps for patient treatment.

Source: New blood test detects cancers

Covid Munchausen by Proxy?

If you’ve ever heard of the psychological disorder Munchausen Syndrome, you have probably also heard of a related disorder called Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, defined as

a mental health problem in which a caregiver makes up or causes an illness or injury in a person under his or her care…

Source: Munchausen Syndrom by Proxy

Munchausen by Proxy also shows up in TV shows and movies. Perhaps most notably in “The Sixth Sense” where the ghost of a child alerted the ghost seer to the evidence of his being slowly poisoned.

But what if the syndrome also affects public health officials — including the person leading the U.S. response to COVID-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci?

Does that sound preposterous to you?

….

I watched a clip recently of a weather person talking about a tropical storm heading toward Texas. It’s not a hurricane, the person admitted, but then she quickly added that we should still be terrified. It could turn into a hurricane before landfall! There could be flooding! There could be tornadoes!

And yes, I rolled my eyes.

Not that I object to being warned when there’s a notable weather system headed in my direction. But there’s something about being in the disaster-warning business that incentivizes people toward behaviors that feel vaguely unbalanced.

And here’s the thing: I’ve picked up on that same vibe when I’ve watched people talk about the COVID pandemic.

And then I came across a link to an old article titled “AIDS and the AZT Scandal,” published by Spin in 1989.

….

As you may know, some of the same health authorities who were in charge during the AIDS crisis are still in charge today. Anthony Fauci — yes, that Anthony Fauci — would later come under criticism, in fact, for over-hyping the dangers of “casual” AIDS transmission.

That’s not an overstatement. Anthony Fauci was “the guy” who started an AIDS panic media feeding frenzy by suggesting in a Journal of American Medicine article that HIV could be transmitted by casual contact. (Per the link, Fauci would later call that very claim — the unsubstantiated claim that he, himself, propagated — “preposterous.” Remind you of anything yet?)

….

What concerns me is that I see a pattern.

How to catch an abusive “caregiver.”

Let’s go back to that Psychiatric Times article on Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy that I referenced at the beginning of this post — the one that told us how good abusive caregivers are at hiding what they’re doing.

The most effective way to identify abusive caregivers, writes this article’s author, is to look at a patient’s medical records. Look for clues or patterns that indicate a caregiver is misleading clinicians. Give preference to data submitted by clinicians who directly observe documented information, rather than relying on accounts provided by the suspected abuser. Think about whether records make clinical sense.

Chronologically summarizing each medical contact into a table reveals patterns of health care utilization and parent/caregiver behavior in a format that is easy to analyze.

—“MUNCHAUSEN BY PROXY AND FACTITIOUS DISORDER IMPOSED ON ANOTHER,” PSYCHIATRIC TIMES

 

That’s what we need to do.

We need to look for patterns.

….

Here are some of the patterns I see.

Fauci seeks media and public attention. He clearly relishes being viewed as a caring, even sacrificial person.

He often makes statements that seem careless — and that throw the public into a panic.

He has, on more than one occasion, touted unproven drugs as being magical cures. These drugs later turned out to be useless at best. At worst, they exacerbated peoples’ suffering.

So what we should be asking…

Are “patients” who accept Fauci’s “care” better off than patients who do not?

PICC Line Works

Friday, I got a PICC line installed. I was told the procedure would take 45 minutes, and technically, it did.
This did not, however, count the set-up and the follow-up. It took about an hour to assemble the mise en place, and then after the line was in, it took another hour for a chest x-ray and to generate the appointments for the weekly dressing change.

However, the line seems to be accomplishing its purpose. Right after the line was installed, it was used to draw blood for my lab tests, and today it was used for the infusion of my monoclonal antibodies. I decided to accept the offer of a PICC line the day it took five tries to get a working IV started. Today, no tries at all because there was a line sticking out of my arm. No need to make new holes.

Alas, there are entities in Kaiser that aren’t allowed to hook up to the PICC. So over Thanksgiving Weekend, I’ll probably have to take myself to a clinic lab, and they’ll have to make a fresh hole in me. Hopefully, after the veins have had a rest, it’ll be easier for them. (Actually, they haven’t had much trouble with a blood draw.)

The PICC (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter) line is a catheter that’s installed into a vein, and then threaded up to the superior vena cava. This spot is chosen because it’s nice and wide, and when strong drugs are injected, there’s time for some dilution to occur before they reach the wall of the vein. I’m under the impression that the current drugs, a monoclonal antibody and a bone-strengthening agent, aren’t that nasty. But they’ll be diluted anyway.

And so with this, my exploration of 21st Century medicine continues.

The True Reasons Why Medical Costs Are So High

While it’s easy to see some of these problems from a logical perspective, it’s very hard to actually fix them.

Source: The True Reasons Why Medical Costs Are So High

The Insurance Dilemma

….

Over time, health insurance became popularly provided by employers in the United States and unions fought hard to make insurance available to all full-time workers.

While on the surface, this may seem like a good thing — after all, why should only some people be insured? — it led to a problematic pricing environment. Doctors and healthcare organizations would be inclined to charge more for services when they knew insurance was going to be billed; it didn’t add more financial strain to patients but generated more revenue. In turn, insurance companies caught on and imposed policies that stated they wouldn’t pay more than standard prices paid by uninsured patients.

In effect, this led to a constant push to move prices higher; insured patients barely noticed, since they weren’t the ones footing the bill, but uninsured patients began having to pay more and more for their services.

Lack of Price Transparency and Competition

The lack of price transparency and lack of competition means that organizations in the healthcare industry aren’t incentivized to offer lower prices to consumers.

….

The Doctor Shortage and Costs of Professional Services

Administrative Waste

 

COVID Bed Check

(Steven Hayward) California has passed the 25,000 mark for COVID deaths: LOS ANGELES (AP) — California surpassed 25,000 coronavirus deaths since the start of the pandemic and officials disclosed Thursday that three more cases involving a mutant variant of the virus have been confirmed in San Diego County.

I don’t doubt that hospitals are badly strained at the moment. But is this really unprecedented? Check out this Los Angeles Times story from January 2018:

California hospitals face a ‘war zone’ of flu patients — and are setting up tents to treat them

Or have a look at the situation in Britain over the last decade, as compiled from Guardian headlines:

Source: COVID Bed Check

Why does the US spend so much on health care? My long-read Q&A with Amitabh Chandra

President-elect Biden will likely enter office with an interest in improving Obamacare at the margin, perhaps by adding a public option. On his left, progressive activists insist on pushing Medicare for All. On his right, the Republican Party seems to lack any coherent health care plan at all.

Source: Why does the US spend so much on health care? My long-read Q&A with Amitabh Chandra

Safe and Effective

(Don Boudreaux) Tweet I’m sure that someone must have already posed this question, but, if so, I’ve not yet seen it: Why do not the Covid-19 lockdowns and other nonpharmaceutical interventions have to meet the same strict standard in the United States that the FDA requires new drugs and medical devices to meet?

Source: Safe and Effective

I think the question has been posed, just not in those exact words.