Reflecting on the Semester

This course was a pleasant surprise to say the least. I didn’t expect to learn so much about the history of health care as I did. I more or less expected to learn strictly about the current challenges we have in our health care system and how the people in the United States are affected by it. Additionally, I thought we would learn about how people in turn affect the health care system. Both of these were covered extensively, but so much more was covered to my great excitement.

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End of Life Talk

Imagining a family member dying is something nobody wants to do. However, death is one of the few things that is guaranteed in the world. Many times, a person’s loved one will die or be put on life support unexpectedly, and it is the duty of their closest loved one to make all the big decisions… whether to resuscitate, pull the plug, or perform a risky procedure. This stressful decisions can be alleviated by having an “end of life” talk in which you talk to family members and loved ones about what action they would prefer to be taken if they are ever in such a dire situation. Many families are encouraged to have this talk, and my question is, what are the benefits to having this talk? Are there consequences? When is the best time to talk about this?

How Much Care is Really Going into the ICU?

Robert Zussman, author of  “The Patient in the Intensive Care Unit”, presents ideas about how  a patient is treated in their final moments in the ICU and how they feel being apart of this treatment. Many times, doctors are criticized for seeming to lack empathy when their patients are in the ICU, especially as this is often seen as a patient’s last moments before passing. However, it can be argued that doctor’s really can’t do anything more once their patient enters ICU, so dedicating time to them rather than somebody who could be prevented from entering the ICU would seem unnecessary. My question is, do you think that there are additional means that can be taken to ensure the patient feels comfortable (well, more comfortable) in the ICU and make their, possibly last, hospital stay easier and less depressing?

Alternative Medicine and Mainstream Medicine

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/15/nyregion/wary-of-mainstream-medicine-immigrants-seek-remedies-from-home.html?ref=health

In recent lectures, we have learned about the rising popularity of alternative medicines and their predominance in immigrants and minority cultures. In Richard Schiffman’s NY Times article, he looks into why many immigrants have turned to home remedies and alternative medicines rather than mainstream medicine despite its constant advancements.

One of the reasons stated in the article that many immigrants turn to alternative medicine and home remedies is because it is more familiar to them and offers a feeling that is reminiscent of home. Many immigrants feel a sense of security when using medical remedies that they are most familiar with. Additionally, trusting American health professionals is extremely difficult for many immigrants and minorities as they fear they will be taken advantage of or receive treatment that is inferior to that of a “real” American.

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Occupational Groups and Autonomy

In recent years, many professions in addition to being classified as a medical doctor have moved classifications, such as osteopaths moving from being marginal to parallel, chiropractors from being marginal to limited practitioners, and acupuncturists beginning to move towards the mainstream. Many of these occupational groups are able to gain popularity and higher status because they have appropriate timing, large support from high status supporters, not working directly against doctors, or they aren’t subject to harsh licensing laws. My question is, what do you think is the next major occupational group that will be able to gain autonomy? Furthermore, what would an explanation as to why it was able to gain autonomy?

Process Reflection 2

The information that we covered for this exam is more interesting to me personally as compared to the information of last exam because it deals heavily with how socio-economic status affects a person’s health and their susceptibility to illness. Being an immigrant/minority, I found it extremely interesting (and admittedly alarming) how largely the gap between health for minorities and white Americans differ.

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Medicalization of Illnesses

Medicalization is defined as the process of  defining previously non-medical conditions or behaviors as medical, subject to medical professional attention and treatment. However, there has been debate what the purpose is of medicalizing an illness. Some argue the purpose is for doctors and authoritative figures to turn people into patients to be able to control and manage them, while others argue that the purpose is for “sufferers” to become objects of attention by becoming patients. My question is, do you think there are other incentives or reasons behind medicalizing an illness besides the two listed above? If so, what are the other possible incentives?

Socio-Economic Status and Race

We have been studying how the socio-economic status of a person is a strong predictor of health, as well as what factors contribute to this status. In fact, the socio-economic status of a person is a better predictor of health problems than genetics.  Why is that important to our discussion of race? It’s very important because, on average, in our society, socio-economic status differs by race. On average, African Americans have lower levels of income, lower levels of wealth, and lower levels of education than whites do. And for other minority populations, a similar pattern is evident. Additionally, African Americans have a high mortality and morbidity rate as well.

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Fighting Overtreatment

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/18/business/a-small-indiana-town-scarred-by-a-trusted-doctor.html?ref=health&_r=0

Overtreatment in the United States has been an issue pushed to the forefront of health care debate in recent years. Overtreatment is defined as providing unnecessary health care, whether it be invasive procedures or prescribing medicine, to a patient by a doctor who more often than not is incentivized by money. A New York Times article written by Julie Creswell examines the issue of overtreatment in a small Indiana town.

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The Pros and Cons of Patent Law

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/29/upshot/how-patent-law-can-block-even-lifesaving-drugs.html?ref=health&_r=0

What if a drug was developed that could help cure AIDS? Or maybe a drug that prevented one from even being able to contract AIDS in the first place? Clearly, this drug would be something everybody wanted to get their hands on; however, patent law could prevent this drug from ever being created… or worse, created and discarded. It is obvious as to why drug innovators would avoid ideas that aren’t patentable: Producing a new drug and then bringing it into a market is expensive, not to mention the cost of labor and the fees and obligations concurrent with producing a new drug.

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