We are afraid of Heart Disease, but what about the “Unknown Killer”?

May 1, 2008

*Note: This post is at least partially intended to infuriate doctors and those studying medicine… hehehehe : ).

Recently, my uncle was hospitalized after having a shortness of breath… they soon found that he was very, very sick. Upon seeing what goes on at hospitals, it got me to thinking. This post is the result of my (very brief and not at all scientific) studies…

We are all very aware that heart disease is published as the leading cause of death in the U.S. (652,486 deaths in 2004 according to the CDC). Cancer comes in at a close second at 553,888 deaths. Strokes are third at 150,074. This is all very eye-opening, maybe even scary (those numbers are pretty intimidating), but what kills even more people (as best anyone can tell) than heart disease? The answer is a little-known condition called Iatrogenesis… what is Iatrogenesis, you ask? It is officially defined as “a state of ill health as a result of medical treatment”. Almost unbelievably, doctors are one of the leading causes of death in the modern U.S.!!!

Estimates range from 220,000 a year to 750,000 deaths a year, depending on your source. This fact (that various sources do not agree on the exact number) is disturbing in itself. Is it really possible that 500,000 people are dieing per year as a result of seeing a medical professional?

A quick search on the internet will yield a plethora of well documented cases regarding Iatrogenesis.
I can almost hear doctors rushing to there own defense now… “Medicine is a field in which an inherent amount of danger is present as a result of the limited amount of knowledge that we have of the human body/immune system!”.

At first, I could sympathize… after all, they are doing their best, right?

This is where the story gets interesting… again, estimates vary, but a common number among a variety of sources seems to indicate that almost 100,000 people a year are hospitalized unnecessarily. On top of that, 12,000 people a year die as a result of unnecessary surgery. UNNECESSARY SURGERY?! What the heck is that? Is it possible that doctors recommend surgery as a result of economic motivations?

I used to support the concept of tort reform… I used to think that doctors had it rough due to their own insurance costs… but 500,000 people die a year after seeking their services?

This may sound harsh, but I cannot fathom any other profession in which 500,000 “errors” that result in deaths a year would be acceptable…

Before we scream for tort reform in the area of medical practice liability, maybe it is time for the doctors of the U.S. to get it together!

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A Small Step in the Right Direction

February 8, 2008

Today, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that the electric chair satisfies the criteria for ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment, eliminating its use on a state-wide basis. Nebraska was the only state remaining that used the electric chair as its sole means of execution.

I have written about the topic of capital punishment before (https://goingbald.wordpress.com/2008/01/22/are-we-there-yet/) and I am adamantly against the use of capital punishment, so needless to say I feel that this is a small step towards a more civilized U.S. society.

Why outlaw the electric chair? How is it cruel and unusual punishment? Here are a few brief examples from the Death Penalty Information Center (WARNING: If you are sensitive to graphic writing, skip this section and then ask yourself how you can justify punishing people this way if you can’t even read about it!):

Frank Coppola, 1982, Virginia: Two 55 second jolts of electricity were required to kill Mr. Coppola. During the second, Coppola’s head and leg caught fire and the sizzling sound of burning flesh could be heard in the room.

Allen Lee Davis, 1999, Florida: Mr. Davis was the first man to be executed in Florida’s new electric chair. Before he was pronounced dead, blood seeped onto his shirt from his mouth (reports state that the spot it formed was the size of a dinner plate). Florida’s senator, Ginny Brown-Waite, admitted that she was shocked to see the blood until she noticed that it was forming what she thought was a cross on his chest, indicating that “God approved of the execution.” (I have to interject and say that Ms. Brown-Waite sounds like a real wacko)

These are just a couple examples of what amounts to state-sponsored torture. Run a search for ‘botched executions’ and you will find dozens more. Unfortunately, other forms of capital punishment are still legal in many states. The most common currently used is lethal injection. It too is a real gem.

Joseph Cannon, 1998, Texas: After beginning the procedure, the vein in his arm collapsed and the needle popped out. When he saw what happened, Cannon had to tell the executioners “It’s come undone.” The officials closed the curtain to the witness room, re-opening it 15 minutes later to reveal a sobbing Cannon, who made a second last statement before the procedure resumed.

I think that it is important to understand that I in no way sympathize with these people… they murdered others to receive this sentence. I simply question whether it is appropriate to punish the crimes that these people have committed by committing the same crime against them. I also, like the Nebraska Supreme Court, question whether the methods used are appropriate… no human deserves to be tortured at the hands of another.

These methods, and capital punishment in general, have been condemned by other countries, scholars, philosophers, and even the Pope. What will it take for the people of the U.S. to acknowledge this cruel and unusual practice for what it is?


Honey, does the beer have its seatbelt on?

February 6, 2008

Here is another amazing (ridiculous, idiotic) story from today’s news…

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080206/ap_on_fe_st/odd_secured_beer;

_ylt=AjxtOIu87OXObX9xfZkdaJftiBIF

It seems that this lady has her priorities out of order.

If you didn’t read the story, here is a brief summary:

This lady got drunk, had to go for a “beer run”, and couldn’t leave her kid at home alone, so she hopped in the car and went for a drunken drive with her toddler. She arrived at the store, bought a 24 pack of Busch beer (yuck), strapped it into the passenger seat with a seatbelt (just in case), and left the toddler to run wild in the back seat for the drunken drive home.

She was pulled over by a deputy, wouldn’t take a breath test, and they found drug paraphernalia in her possession. She is now jailed with bail set at $31,000. When asked why the beer was buckled up and the kid wasn’t, at least she responded honestly: “I don’t know.”

So basically, she got hammered, went to get more beer, and decided that it was more important to strap in her 24 cans of Busch than her kid. I swear, I couldn’t make this crap up if I had to.

If you are making sure that your brewskis are buckled up, you might have a problem.


Tuesdays with Tyson – Feb. 5th, 2008

February 5, 2008

tyson3

Welcome back to another Tuesday with Tyson.

This week features a couple pretty funny ones. No one ever said Mike had perfect grammar or the largest vocabulary!

“I really dig Hannibal. Hannibal had real guts. He rode elephants into Cartilage.”

“I guess I’m gonna fade into Bolivian.”

What a guy!


Is this a joke?

February 1, 2008

Yesterday, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the city of Akron’s law regarding the ‘cop-in-a-box’ speeding cameras is not unconstitutional. Basically, the law says that if one of these cameras catches you speeding, you are definitely, absolutely going to get a ticket. Anyone ever heard of ‘due-process’?

It gets better:

It doesn’t matter if you were driving… just that it was your car (parents, don’t let your kids drive your car).

Here is a quote from their opinion:

“While the state statute punishes the driver of the vehicle directly, the Akron ordinance imposes a fine on a vehicle’s owner, who may or may not be the driver at the time of the violation. Ultimately regardless of the actor who performs it, the actual conduct prohibited — exceeding speed limits — is the same. When a municipal ordinance does nothing more than prohibit the same conduct prohibited by state statute, there is no conflict between the two.”

You’ve got to be kidding me. If someone steals my car and goes whizzing down the road, I can get a ticket? This almost has to be a joke. What if my girlfriend (or parents) takes my car to the grocery store and speeds past one of these things?

I am dumbfounded by this one. Clearly the ordinance was enacted to make a few bucks off of people who are speeding, and the Supreme Court has no issue with it.

Unreal.

(see the full opinion here http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/Communications_Office/summaries/2008/0131/062265.asp)


The Hidden Costs Behind Tornados

February 1, 2008

We all know that big corporations can be heartless, soulless, evil organizations, but this one is almost unbelievable… almost.

It seems that Time Warner Cable decided to bill a lady in Wisconsin $2000 for cable equipment (her cable box and accessories) damaged in a tornado that demolished (and I really mean demolished) her home a few weeks ago.

(full story here http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080201/ap_on_fe_st/odd_cable_bill_tornado;_ylt=AhYgbNQ56dJA56KnZvJcPF.s0NUE)

The lady called TWC to have the charge removed because a tornado leveled her home and she was informed by a manager that she would have to turn it in to her insurance company.

When asked what in the world they were thinking, TWC’s spokeswoman said it was a misunderstanding (I don’t know what you can misunderstand about “my house was leveled by a tornado”). Also, when asked whether anyone else had actually had to pay the charge, she replied that those in the area who didn’t mention the tornado were billed.

WOW. Can we say ‘unethical’?

Here is a company with a history of terrible customer service (almost legendary for their terrible customer service, actually) doing nothing to repair their image.

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised.


Series on Leadership Part 2 – Defining Characteristics

February 1, 2008

In Part 1, some questions were posed regarding what leadership is, what makes a good leader, and whether or not an individual can actually develop and improve their leadership skills (as opposed to a leader being ‘born’ rather than ‘made’).

In Part 2, I hope to move closer to defining leadership by taking a look at what characteristics and qualities make a good leader. Perhaps by listing and examining some of these qualities (which are often easy to observe), it will be easier to define the concept of leadership. As the Series on Leadership progresses, we will examine some of these traits in greater detail.

So what traits do excellent leaders usually possess? A fairly large amount of academic research work has been done on the subject, and most researchers agree on a few characteristics.

Daniel Goleman, author, researcher and co-chair of The Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligece in Organizations at Rutgers University, has identified five traits that are commonly noted in research papers on the subject of leadership. They include self awareness, self regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill. Broadly, I feel that a strong argument can be made that these traits are the basic necessities for good leaders.

This list, however, is very broad in definition and possibly lacks the clarity and detail necessary to truly define what constitutes each of these ideas. For example, what exactly constitutes empathy, and what qualities make someone who is ’empathetic’ different from someone who is not?

The list is also possibly lacking in other traits that may be crucial to the job of ‘leading’. ‘Trbpublising’ commented in yesterday’s post that critical thinking, along with the ability to communicate clearly and effectively, is an extremely important trait. I would tend to agree. Another is the ability to make quick, snap decisions – while it is important to be able to think things through in a logical, thought out sense, many front line leaders (especially in the military) would indicate that taking your time while making decisions is not always an option, so the ability to rapidly make good decisions is extremely important. The ability to motivate and inspire those around you is another trait that frequently makes the list.

It quickly becomes obvious that there is no real consensus on which traits are vital to good leadership and which are not. Now that we have a basic list of traits, over the next few weeks we will take a look at these traits in greater detail. Again, feel free to list traits, concepts, or ideas that you feel may add to our understanding of the topic.