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HealthCare.com News Roundup: The Opioid Crisis Origin Story & a Baking Soda Shortage

Image: Flickr / bestofbakingsoda

In this week’s HealthCare.com News Roundup: the importance of healthcare proxies, the roots of the opioid crisis, and a run on sodium bicarbonate.

Baking Soda in Short Supply

  • Hospitals in the US are postponing surgeries and turning away patients due to a drug shortage, the New York Times reports. Which medicine is in short supply? Sodium bicarbonate—aka, baking soda. Solutions of sodium bicarbonate are used in all sorts of treatments, from chemotherapies to blood transfusions and fixes for organ failure. According to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, our nationwide shortage of an injectable form of baking soda is the result of both increased demand and manufacturing delays. The United States only has two manufacturers of sterile sodium bicarbonate solution: Pfizer and Amphistar; both are unable to provide the drug at this time. Drug shortages in the US have become more commonplace following a prolonged period of consolidation in the industry.

CA state Senate Passes Single-Payer Healthcare Bill

  • California’s state Senate passed a bill on Thursday that would create a single-payer health care system in California. The measure, which passed 23-14, would largely do away with private health insurance and set up a state bureaucracy to pay for all medical care. The bill, SB 562, now moves to the Assembly.\

Concerns Re: Healthcare Cybersecurity

  • Harvard Business Review published “11 Things the Health Care Sector Must Do to Improve Cybersecurity.” HBR’s recommendations follow in the wake of several recent, high-profile healthcare data breaches. Earlier this year, Molina Healthcare, a Medicaid and Affordable Care Act insurer, shut down its patient portal in response to a security flaw that exposed patient medical claims data without requiring authentication. Even worse – no authentication was required to access patient claims information online.

The Roots of the Opioid Crisis

  • A Letter to the Editor in the forthcoming coming issue of The New England Journal of Medicine asserts that our present-day opioid crisis can be traced back to a paper written in 1980 by Dr. Hershel Jick at Boston University’s School of Medicine. In his article Hershel claimed the risk of dependency or addiction is low in patients treated with narcotics.

Trump’s Limited Vocabulary = Early Signs of Dementia?

  • An article in STAT confirms that Donald Trump was not always so linguistically challenged. Author Sharon Begley reviewed decades of Trump’s on-air interviews, comparing them to Q&A sessions since his inauguration. The differences “are striking and unmistakable,” writes Begley. Changes in speaking style are often symptomatic of cognitive decline. Begley consulted with “experts in neurolinguistics and cognitive assessment to compare Trump’s speech from decades ago to that in 2017; they all agreed there had been a deterioration, and some said it could reflect changes in the health of Trump’s brain.” The article echoes the findings of a 2003 research study, which analyzed the vocabulary and language used in Agatha Christie’s writing.

BCBS Says Bye-Bye to Obamacare in Nebraska

Healthcare Proxies: What You Should Know

  • NextAvenue published an article entitled, “Why You Need A Health Care Proxy And How To Choose One.” The piece examines the benefits for patients and their physicians to understand under what conditions a person wants to be resuscitated, be intubated or receive comfort care only.
Erica Block: Erica Block is an Editorial Fellow at HealthCare.com, where she gets to combine her interest in healthcare policy with her penchant for creating online content. When she isn't reading or writing, Erica can be found wandering around Brooklyn, playing softball, or listening to podcasts. She counts music, rescue dogs, and lumberjack sports among her greatest passions. Follow Erica on Twitter: @EricaDaleBlock

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