Dietary Supplements Lead to 20,000 E.R. Visits Yearly, Study Finds

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/10/14/dietary-supplements-lead-to-20000-e-r-visits-yearly-study-finds/?_r=0

A large new study by the federal government found that injuries caused by dietary supplements lead to more than 20,000 emergency room visits a year, many involving young adults with cardiovascular problems after taking supplements marketed for weight loss and energy enhancement…

It was unclear how many, if any, of these cases are fatal because the study tracked hospital visits, not deaths…

The new study found that cardiovascular problems were even more commonly associated with weight loss and energy supplements than prescription stimulants like amphetamine and Adderall, which by law must carry warnings about their potential to cause cardiac side effects…

Inside Corporate America’s Campaign to Ditch Workers’ Comp

https://www.propublica.org/article/inside-corporate-americas-plan-to-ditch-workers-comp

STANDING BEFORE A GIANT MAP in his Dallas office, Bill Minick doesn’t seem like anyone’s idea of a bomb thrower. But backed by some of the biggest names in corporate America, this mild-mannered son of an evangelist is plotting a revolution in how companies take care of injured workers.

His idea: Let them opt out of state workers’ compensation laws — and write their own rules…

The investigation found the plans almost universally have lower benefits, more restrictions and virtually no independent oversight.

Already in Texas, plans written by Minick’s firm allow for a hodgepodge of provisions that are far different from workers’ comp. They’re why McDonald’s doesn’t cover carpal tunnel syndrome and why Brookdale Senior Living, the nation’s largest chain of assisted living facilities, doesn’t cover most bacterial infections. Why Taco Bell can accompany injured workers to doctors’ appointments and Sears can deny benefits if workers don’t report injuries by the end of their shifts…

Unlike traditional workers’ comp, which guarantees lifetime medical care, the Texas plans cut off treatment after about two years. They don’t pay compensation for most permanent disabilities and strictly limit payouts for deaths and catastrophic injuries…

The plans in both Texas and Oklahoma give employers almost complete control over the medical and legal process after workers get injured. Employers pick the doctors and can have workers examined — and reexamined — as often as they want. And they can settle claims at any time. Workers must accept whatever is offered or lose all benefits. If they wish to appeal, they can — to a committee set up by their employers.

In many cases, ProPublica and NPR found, the medical director charged with picking doctors and ultimately reviewing whether injuries are work-related is Minick’s wife, Dr. Melissa Tonn, an occupational medicine specialist who often serves as an expert for employers and insurance companies…

Two months later, Pinckard said, he was pulling a cart loaded with frozen French fries when he slipped on some ice in his trailer and suffered a hernia. He had previously had two hernias on the job that were covered by workers’ comp and figured this time would be no different. But the denial letter said the plan for Reyes Holdings, which owns Martin-Brower, only covers two types of hernias — not the kind Pinckard suffered.

“The only way it was covered was if it was directly under my belly button,” he said. “Mine was slightly above my belly button.”

In this instance, as in others ProPublica and NPR found, the costs of the injury were shifted to the employee, group health or government programs…

Minick was a young lawyer for one of Dallas’ oldest firms in 1989, when some of the firm’s business clients, gambling that the cost of any lawsuits would be cheaper, began dropping workers’ comp. The senior partners assigned Minick and several colleagues to come up with an alternative. They found it in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, a federal law passed in the early 1970s to protect workers as employers were shedding their pensions.

ERISA had been applied similarly to other worker benefits, such as health plans and disability policies. Minick and his colleagues decided it could provide a legal framework for plans covering on-the-job injuries.

Texas courts agreed, even though, compared to workers’ comp, the ERISA-based plans gave employers critical advantages. Under ERISA, appeals are heard in federal court, rather than state workers’ comp courts. And in general, judges could rule only on whether a denial was reasonable — not whether it was fair. This gave employers far greater control…

The fine print of opt-out plans contains dozens of opportunities for companies to deny benefits. Employers can terminate workers’ benefits for being late to doctors’ appointments, failing to check in with the company or even consulting their personal doctors…

Under workers’ comp, employees can’t be fired in retaliation for a claim. But employers that opted out argued that their workers weren’t entitled to that protection, and in 1998 the Texas Supreme Court agreed.

Gillespie, of the insurance association, said such provisions blatantly shift costs to taxpayers, in the form of Social Security disability, Medicare and Medicaid. Some plans state it explicitly: The plan for Russell Stover Candies said its benefits are secondary to all other sources of benefits. Home Depot requires its employees to “take whatever benefits are available,” including enrolling in Social Security disability…

“Sometimes I have to make a choice,” he said, sitting uncomfortably on his worn sofa. “Do I buy my pain meds or whatever other medicine that I need or do I buy groceries?” …

Many companies have further limited the risk by requiring employees to sign arbitration agreements. Instead of going before a jury, workers’ disputes are handled confidentially, out of court, before an arbitrator, typically a former judge or defense lawyer. A 2010 survey of large employers with opt-out plans by a Stanford law professor found that 85 percent used arbitration agreements…

But there’s one big difference. Benefits under opt-out plans are subject to income and payroll taxes; under workers’ comp, they’re not. As a result, 80 percent of the plans actually provide lower benefits, ProPublica and NPR’s analysis found…

Under comments:

abinico • 7 hours ago
During the dark ages people unable to work starved to death – looks like the dark ages are coming back.

https://painkills2.wordpress.com/2015/10/03/pain-patients-on-workers-comp-are-screwed/

Can doctors make chronic pain “go away”?

It’s hard to believe that a pain doctor would suggest that chronic pain can just “go away.” (You know, if you’re proactive, pay for enough treatment, and never give up.) No matter what kind of doctor you see to manage your pain — specialist or not — don’t believe it when they say things like this:

http://nationalpainreport.com/two-essential-things-to-do-if-you-suffer-from-chronic-pain-8827770.html

Chances are your pain will subside, but it will likely take time…

The role of a physician pain specialist is also critical. Physicians have access to a “tool box” that allows them to devise an appropriate treatment plan based on your condition and situation. You should keep in mind that the field of pain management is so well developed that there is never “no option”…

And just remember, chronic pain may take a while to go away, but the best chance for long-term success depends on being proactive, responsive and not giving up.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  Doctors suck. Especially pain doctors, who prey on desperate patients in debilitating pain.

For most chronic pain patients, pain doesn’t subside, it just gets worse as we get older (you know, with time). Not giving up is very expensive, but then it keeps doctors (and Big Pharma) in business. And many patients don’t have access to every option to treat pain because we’re poor and because of the drug war — to suggest otherwise is ignorant, offensive, and wrong. “Never ‘no option'” is just plain horseshit, along with the fact that every option has side effects and can do more harm, leaving patients in even more pain.

Every minute of every day, I live with the fact that my pain will never go away — except in death. All I can do is try to manage the pain (and suicidal thoughts) with ridiculously expensive bud (when I can find it).

Doctors, quit lying to patients and giving them unreasonable expectations and hope about the treatment of chronic pain. This unethical behavior is contributing to the opioid “epidemic.” In other words, it’s killing people.

9 amazing uses for aspirin

http://www.msn.com/en-us/health/medical/9-amazing-uses-for-aspirin/ss-AAc1QL?ocid

2. Are your workout shirts dirtied with sweat stains? Marina Gafanovich, M.D., says that aspirin can effectively remove stains, especially the yellowish underarm ones. “Allowing clothing to soak in water with aspirin can help to release stains before they’re washed the conventional way,” she says. Just mix crushed, uncoated aspirin with warm water, let the mixture sit on the stain for a few hours and then throw the clothing in the washing machine as usual.

5. You may not need to spend extra money on cleaning supplies if you’ve got some aspirin in the medicine cabinet. “It works on any surface with the same exfoliating properties, removing soap scum or other contaminants from your bathroom or counter surfaces,” says Gafanovich. Dissolve two uncoated aspirin pills in warm water and use the paste to cut down on counter grime.