Daily Rounds: Health Spending Flattens; Prostitution Upside; Seniors Over-Drugged; Doc-Author Sued

In hopeful sign, health spending is flattening out (The New York Times) – “The growth of health spending has slowed substantially in the last few years, surprising experts and offering some fuel for optimism about the federal government’s long-term fiscal performance. Much of the slowdown is because of the recession, and thus not unexpected, health experts say. But some of it seems to be attributable to changing behavior by consumers and providers of health care.”

The scandal behind the Secret Service ‘Scandal’ (The Boston Globe) – “The irony here is that it is probably safer for men to go to escorts similar to the ones a few Secret Service agents brought back to their hotel in Columbia than it is to pick up non-prostitutes for casual sex. Studies show that the majority of escorts regularly check themselves for disease and insist on the use of condoms. As one Massachusetts escort I interviewed recently said, ‘We’re much more likely than the general population to be advocates of safer sex and to be very knowledgeable about it. I haven’t had unsafe intercourse in 10 years.'”

Use of antipsychotic drugs raises alarm (The Boston Globe) – “Federal data show that roughly 185,000 nursing home residents in the United States received antipsychotics in 2010 contrary to federal nursing home regulators’ recommendations – often elderly people like Murphy who have Alzheimer’s or other dementias. The drugs, which are intended to treat severe mental illness such as schizophrenia, can leave people in a stupor. The US Food and Drug Administration has issued black-box warnings – the agency’s most serious medication alert – about potentially fatal side effects when antipsychotics are taken by patients with dementia.”

Doctors can risk lawsuits when writing about patients (amednews.com) – “Experts say physicians who aspire to be authors should pay close attention to privacy laws before writing about past medical cases, even if they plan to change a patient’s identity. A recent lawsuit before a Rhode Island federal court highlights the risks physicians may encounter. In the suit, former patient Gabrielle Lisnoff claims that Michael Stein, MD, caused her emotional distress when he allegedly chronicled her case without permission for his 2009 book, The Addict: One Patient, One Doctor, One Year. The book is described as a window into the world of prescription drug abuse and the personal account of a doctor ‘on the front lines of an epidemic.'”

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