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News + Insights from Around the Web + The Patient's Playbook Bottom Line


The 7 Most Burdensome
Emergency Surgeries  

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"The surgeries that topped this list all involved the abdominal area. There are several reasons for this."

—Just 7 emergency operations account for about 80% of all hospital admissions,
deaths, complications, and inpatient costs nationwide. (CBS News)

Bottom Line: More than 3 million U.S. patients are admitted to hospitals for emergency operations every year. When researchers at Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston noticed that their emergency-surgery patients were not faring as well as patients who had the same surgeries done electively, in a planned fashion, they studied emergency operations across the country, and ranked them by total "burden," looking at frequency, complications, mortality rates, and financial costs. Colectomy, or removal of part of the colon, was the most burdensome operation, with the highest mortality and complication rates when performed on an emergency basis. Even gall bladder removal, a fairly safe and common operation, can become problematic when done on an emergency basis. 


Do You Have Computer Vision Syndrome?

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"An expanding list of professionals [are] at risk...all of whom cannot work without the help of computer. And that’s not counting the millions of children who spend many hours a day playing computer games."

—Up to 70 million workers are at risk for computer vision syndrome. (New York Times)

Bottom Line: If you are experiencing symptoms of computer vision syndrome (eye strain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, neck and shoulder pain) follow the ophthalmologist-recommended “20-20-20” rule: Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away. Also, as this helpful article notes, be sure your computer screen is 20 to 26 inches from your face, with your eyes level with the top of the monitor. Having your eyes examined regularly—at least once a year—and keeping prescriptions up-to-date are important preventative measures. 


5 Tips for FiNDing medical bill mistakes

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"By one estimate, over $68 billion of health-care spending is erroneously charged."

—Avoid medical-billing errors by following these helpful steps. (NBC News)

Bottom Line: Medical bills commonly contain errors, including double-billing of procedures, charges for tests that should be covered by insurance, and bills for treatments you may have never received. This helpful video and checklist provides steps to take to fix billing errors, including a dispute letter template and a list of advocates who may be able to help.


Antibiotic-resistant Superbugs are Back

Typical e. coli bacteria

Typical e. coli bacteria

"These bacteria can shrug off almost any antibiotic you throw at them."

—Although they're responsible for far fewer deaths than other deadly bacteria,
there's just no treatment for superbugs. (FiveThirtyEight)

Bottom Line: Superbugs are here, and they're a real risk. But what are they exactly? As noted in this gripping article, superbugs can be microorganisms that develop resistance to antibiotics or, like with the recent case of E. coli bacteria taken from a Pennsylvania woman’s urinary tract infection, superbugs can also be mechanisms that create antibiotic resistance in other organisms. The MCR-1 gene present in the Pennsylvania woman's E. coli made her bacteria resistant to colistin, an antibiotic that is used as a last resort for patients with multi-drug resistant infections. The big fear is that MCR-1 will spread, from bacteria to bacteria, person to person, creating a pan-drug-resistant bacteria. Here are 8 ways to protect yourself from superbugs.