ce399 | research archive (eugenics_transhumanism)

Conception 2.0

Posted in Uncategorized by ce399 on 27/05/2011

Crosshairs20
ce399.2008

Womb on a Chip 

Teruo Fujii of the University of Tokyo in Japan and his colleagues are building a microfluidic chip to nurture the first stages of pregnancy. They hope, eventually, to create a fully automated artificial uterus in which egg and sperm are fed in at one end and an early embryo comes out the other, ready for implanting in a real mother. They say using such a device could improve the success rate of IVF.

Womb-on-a-chip may boost IVF successes
Linda Geddes
NewScientist
26July2007

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19526146.200-wombonachip-may-boost-ivf-successes.html

Brave New Babies

The children of the future may be conceived and spend their first few days of development on a computer-controlled chip.

In a move recalling Aldous Huxley’s famous production lines for making babies in Brave New World, researchers in the US are building a “chip” that can automatically carry out all the steps involved in IVF, from fertilising eggs to preparing embryos for implantation. Ultimately, such devices—which amount to artificial reproductive tracts—may even be able to sort and test embryos for genetic flaws.

So far researchers David Beebe and Matthew Wheeler have built prototypes that can carry out the major steps involved in IVF, though not all on the same chip. Far more mouse embryos develop successfully on these devices than by traditional methods.

The researchers say they expect the technology will first be used for livestock production, but their eventual aim is to use it for human embryos.

Brave New Babies
Anil Ananthaswamy
NewScientist
26May2001

http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg17022920.300

Moving the Chip Inside

…scientists are working on the holy grail of microbiology – an in vivo lab-on-a-chip [or Micro Electro Mechanical Systems MEMS].

…researchers are developing technology that could lead to tiny machines that, when implanted in the body – could monitor hormone levels – release drugs periodically and even record data. Such devices…could also serve as birth control by preventing ovulation, or facilitate an entire pregnancy by helping to fertilize the egg and monitor the growing embryo.

Internal embryo monitors of the future would have to be self-contained in the uterus, and they’d have to be able to detect the smallest changes.

Once scientists have mastered these micromachines, the female reproductive system may be the best place to try them out. …the uterus is ‘immune privileged,’ meaning it’s unusual tolerant of foreign material – which includes not only sperm, but also tiny silicon machines.

…in the future, getting pregnant might involve handpicking an egg fertilized by prescreened sperm on a controlled  dynamic chip and monitoring it with microscopic mechanical nurses.

Conception 2.0
mental_floss magazine edition
Mar-Apr.2008

Advertisements

Increase in Human Size Unprecedented, Study Says (NYT 9/5/11)

Posted in Uncategorized by ce399 on 21/05/2011

For nearly three decades, the Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Fogel and a small clutch of colleagues have researched what the size and shape of the human body say about economic and social changes throughout history, and vice versa.

Their research has spawned not only a new branch of historical study but also a provocative theory that technology has sped human evolution in an unprecedented way during the past century.

Now Cambridge University Press is publishing the capstone of this inquiry, “The Changing Body: Health, Nutrition, and Human Development in the Western World Since 1700,” just a few weeks shy of Fogel’s 85th birthday.

The book, which sums up the work of dozens of researchers on one of the most ambitious projects undertaken in economic history, is sure to renew debates over Fogel’s groundbreaking theories about what some regard as the most significant development in humanity’s long history.

Fogel and his co-authors — Roderick Floud, Bernard Harris and Sok Chul Hong — maintain that “in most if not quite all parts of the world, the size, shape and longevity of the human body have changed more substantially, and much more rapidly, during the past three centuries than over many previous millennia.” What’s more, they write, this alteration has come about within a time frame that is “minutely short by the standards of Darwinian evolution.”

“The rate of technological and human physiological change in the 20th century has been remarkable,” Fogel said in an phone interview from Chicago, where he is the director of the Center for Population Economics at the University of Chicago’s business school. “Beyond that, a synergy between the improved technology and physiology is more than the simple addition of the two.”

This “technophysio evolution,” powered by advances in food production and public health, has so outpaced traditional evolution, the authors argue, that people today stand apart not just from every other species, but from all previous generations of Homo sapiens as well.

“I don’t know that there is a bigger story in human history than the improvements in health, which include height, weight, disability and longevity,” said Samuel Preston, one of the world’s leading demographers and a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania.

Without the 20th century’s improvements in nutrition, sanitation and medicine, only half of the current U.S. population would be alive today, he said.

To take just a few examples:

The average adult man in 1850 in America stood about 5 feet 7 inches and weighed about 146 pounds; someone born then was expected to live until about 45. In the 1980s the typical man in his early 30s was about 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighed about 174 pounds and was likely to pass his 75th birthday.

Across the Atlantic, at the time of the French Revolution, a 30-something Frenchman weighed about 110 pounds, compared with 170 pounds now.

And in Norway an average 22-year-old man was about 5½ inches taller at the end of the 20th century (5 feet 10.7 inches) than in the middle of the 18th century (5 feet 5.2 inches).

Fogel and his colleagues’ great achievement was to figure out a way to measure some of that gain in body size, Preston said.

“The Changing Body” is full of statistical tables and graphs that include the heights of girls in Croatia and Germany; the caloric energy derived from potatoes, fish and wine; and the average annual allowance of grains and meat for widows in Middlesex County, Mass., from 1654 to 1799 — a testament to both the staggering accumulation of information and the collaborative nature of the enterprise.

But the basic argument is rather simple: that the health and nutrition of pregnant mothers and their children contribute to the strength and longevity of the next generation. If babies are deprived of sufficient nutrition in the womb and early in life, they will be more fragile and more vulnerable to diseases later.

These weakened adults will, in turn, produce weaker offspring in a self-reinforcing spiral.

Technology rescued humankind from centuries of physical maladies and malnutrition, Fogel argues. Before the 19th century, most people were caught in an endless cycle of subsistence farming.

A colonial-era farmer, for example, worked about 78 hours during a 5½-day week. People needed more food to grow and gain strength, but they were unable to produce more food without being stronger.

One thing Fogel did not expect when he first started his research was that “overnutrition” would become the primary health problem in the United States and other Western nations.

http://special.registerguard.com/turin/2011/may/09/increase-in-human-size-unprecedented-study-says/

Designer Babies: Parents can Select Physical Traits at Fertility Institute (CBS News 3/3/09)

Posted in Uncategorized by ce399 on 15/05/2011

For years, reproductive specialists have been helping people become parents, even enabling them to choose the sex of their baby.

One fertility doctor is taking things a step further, offering what some are calling “designer babies,” as Early Show national correspondent Hattie Kauffman reports.

If you could design your baby’s features, would you? According to L.A.’s Fertility Institute, prospective parents can select eye color, hair color and more.

The technology is called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis or PGD. It was created to screen for disease, then used for gender selection. Now this clinic plans to allow parents to select physical traits.

“I would predict that by next year, we will have determined sex with 100 percent certainty on a baby, and we will have determined eye color with about an 80 percent accuracy rate,” said fertility specialist Dr. Jeff Steinberg, director of Fertility Institute.

Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg is a pioneer in in-vitro fertilization.

“I think it’s very important that we not bury our head in the sand and pretend these advances are not happening,” Dr. Steinberg said.

Kirsten and Matt Landon used his clinic to select the sex of their daughter. Choosing other genetic traits intrigues them.

“I would have considered trait selection as an option, but not necessarily have gone with it,” Matt Landon said.

A recent U.S. survey suggests most people support the notion of building a better baby when it comes to eliminating serious diseases. But Dr. Steinberg says using technology for cosmetic reasons shouldn’t scare people away.

“Of course, once I’ve got this science, am I not to provide this to my patients? I’m a physician. I want to provide everything science gives me to my patients,” Dr. Steinberg said.

(excerpts)

CBS News
3 March 2009
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/03/03/earlyshow/health/main4840346.shtml

Can you imagine a future where parents can pick the eye color, hair color, skin color and height of their new baby? Does that sound like some wild dream of the future? Well, the future is now. One Los Angeles fertility clinic is now offering to design babies to the exact specifications of the parents.

The Fertility Institute is calling this new technology “cosmetic medicine”. Do you want your daughter to look like Barbie? Done. Just order up a tall, light-skinned, green-eyed, daughter with blonde hair and the clinic will do the rest.

This technology is based on something called “pre-implantation genetic diagnosis”, or PGD, which doctors have been using the last few years to identify potentially deadly diseases in embryos. The technology has become so advanced that now doctors can not just spot potential diseases, but they can actually get enough information from an embryonic cell that they can identify thousands of characteristics of a single embryo.

The Fertility Institute anticipates that the very first “cosmetic medicine” baby will be born next year.

So how much does this cost? Only about 18,000 dollars.

While some are applauding this new technology, others are saying that this is yet another dangerous step down the path of transhumanism.

Of The Future Blog: Examining The Critical Trends And The Disturbing Signs Of Change As Humanity Hurtles Into The Future

New L.A. Clinic Lets Parents Genetically Design Their New Baby
http://futurestorm.blogspot.com/2009/03/new-la-clinic-lets-parents-genetically.html

Genetically Modified Humans: Here and More Coming Soon 

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19826591.700-genetically-modified-humans-here-and-more-coming-soon.html?full=true&print=true

Israeli Mossad Let Mengele Get Away (AP 3/9/2008)

Posted in Uncategorized by ce399 on 15/05/2011

Israeli agents who kidnapped Nazi mastermind Adolf Eichmann from Argentina in 1960 found the notorious death camp doctor Josef Mengele but let him get away, one of the operatives said Tuesday.

Mengele was one of the most wanted Nazi war criminals, a doctor who conducted cruel experiments on twins and dwarves at the Auschwitz concentration camp and killed children with lethal injections. He selected prisoners who would be subjected to his experiments and sent others straight to their death in gas chambers.

Rafi Eitan, now an 81-year-old Israeli Cabinet minister, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he and other Mossad agents located Mengele living in a Buenos Aires apartment with his wife at the time of Eichmann’s capture in 1960.

But they decided that trying to nab him would risk sabotaging the capture of Eichmann, who implemented Adolf Hitler’s “final solution” to kill European Jewry and was deemed a more important target.

It was known that Mengele was living in Buenos Aires around the time of Eichmann’s capture. But Eitan’s comments indicated the Israelis were closer to him than had been previously thought — and shed light on why they decided to abandon an attempt to catch him.

“When you have one operation, you’re taking a certain level of risk. If you’re doing a second operation at the same time, you double the risk … not only for the second operation but for the first one, as well,” Eitan said.

Eichmann was responsible for implementing Hitler’s plan that exterminated 6 million Jews during World War II. After his capture, he was spirited to Israel, tried and executed.

Mengele was infamous for his sadistic experiments in the death camps. He injected dye into the eyes of twins to change their color and sewed them together to try to create artificially conjoined twins. He ordered twins killed simultaneously and then dissected for examination of their organs. His horrors earned him the title “Angel of Death.”

After the war, Mengele fled Germany under an assumed name and ended up in Argentina, a popular refuge for many senior Nazi officials. Informants working with the Mossad had seen him while the agents were in Buenos Aires, Eitan said.

The Mossad men located Mengele’s apartment, and on one specific day even knew he was at home, Eitan said. But the next day, Mengele left with his wife for what the agents believed would be a temporary absence.

At the time, the Israelis had already snatched Eichmann and were holding him in a safe house while they waited to whisk him out of the country. They feared that if they waited for Mengele to come back, the Eichmann operation would be discovered. Eitan said they decided it was not worth the risk.

“When I have a bird in my hand, I don’t start looking for the bird in the bush. I’ll take the bird in my hand, put it in a cage, and then deal with the one in the bush,” Eitan said.

By the time the Mossad sent a team back to Buenos Aires a few weeks later, it was too late.

“After Eichmann’s capture was made public, he disappeared entirely,” Eitan said.

After missing him in Argentina, the Mossad had another shot at catching Mengele in Sao Paolo, Brazil, two years later, Eitan said. But the organization had other “operational priorities,” and Mengele got away again. He would not say what those priorities were and the Mossad then lost track of Mengele.

Having eluded capture for 34 years, Mengele drowned in Brazil in early 1979 and experts identified the body as his six years later.

An October 1992 U.S. Justice Department report on Mengele’s whereabouts and activities after World War II provides a timeline that raises questions about Mengele’s whereabouts in 1960. It says Mengele arrived in Argentina in 1949 but left in 1959 and became a naturalized citizen of Paraguay. After Eichmann was captured in May 1960, Mengele moved to Brazil, according to the report by the Office of Special Investigations (OSI), which tracks Nazis.

David Marwell, a former chief investigator at the OSI, said Mengele did move around South America and even if he left for Paraguay in 1959, he could have been moving between Paraguay and Argentina until Eichman’s capture, which forced him underground.

Marwell said it has long been known that Mengele escaped from Argentina and Eitan’s claim that the Israelis had known his whereabouts but let him get away was virtually impossible to verify.

“It does not add much to our understanding of it and it would be impossible to research because you’re talking about an internal decision, so you take him at his word,” he told the AP.

OSI documents also show that Isser Harel, who oversaw the kidnap operation, told the OSI the Israelis attempted to capture Mengele in May 1960 at the same time they caught Eichmann. According to Harel, Mengele was able to escape, going underground after reports of his whereabouts appeared in the media, the OSI documents say.

Asked about Eitan’s account which first appeared in Israeli media this week, historian Avner Shalev, chairman of Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial authority, said the Mossad made the right decision to concentrate on Eichmann because he was more important than Mengele.

After Eichmann was caught, the Mossad considered expanding its activities targeting Nazis, said Efraim Zuroff, a Nazi hunter who heads the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Jerusalem office. But the organization eventually shifted its resources elsewhere, he said, and Eichmann remained one of only two significant Nazi captures the Israeli secret service had.

Eitan, who headed the shadowy “Lekem” unit of the defense ministry, took responsibility for the operation that recruited Jonathan Pollard, an American naval analyst who was caught spying for Israel and sentenced to life in prison in one of the most damaging episodes in Israel-American relations.

__

Associated Press reporter Carley Petesch and investigative researcher Randy Herschaft contributed to this report from New York.

____

On the Net:

OSI Mengele report: http://tinyurl.com/5ktr2b

Matti Friedman
Associated Press
3 September 2008

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2008/09/02/international/i140659D24.DTL

“Humans” are EXTINCT (Part One)

Posted in Uncategorized by ce399 on 14/05/2011

National Socialism is nothing but applied biology. – Rudolf Hess. Popular adage in the Third Reich.

The intellectual outlines of the eugenics Hitler adopted in 1924 were strictly America. He merely compounded all the virulence of long-established American race science with his fanatical anti-Jewish rage. Hitler’s extremist race science, which in many ways seemed like a logical extension of America’s own entrenched programs and advocacy, eventually helped shape the institutions and even the machinery of the Third Reich’s genocide. By the time Hitler’s concept of Aryan superiority emerged, his politics had completely fused into a biological and eugenic mindset.

War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race (2003) by Edwin Black. Pg. 270. ISBN# 1-56858-258-7

Old Navy Ads Imitate US Weekly

…the consequences of genetic advance are obscured by hype and conspiratorial clamors. Adding more fog, human genetics is now in many ways dominated by capital investment, and many revelations are subject to the eighteen-month initial secrecy of patent applications, the protracted strictures of Wall Street financing and the permanence of corporate nondisclosure agreements. Many areas of human science are now trade secrets. Twentieth-century corporate philanthropy has given way to twenty-first century corporate profits. Information is often controlled by public relations officers and patent attorneys. It takes a profoundly trained professional eye and a clear mind to separate fact from fantasy and blessings from menaces.

…humanity should also be wary of a world where people are once again defined and divided by their genetic identities. If this happens, science-based discrimination and the desire for a master race may resurrect. This time is would be different. In the twenty-first century it will not be race, religion or nationality, but economics that determines which among us will dominate and thrive. Globalization and market forces will replace racist ideology and group prejudice to fashion mankind’s coming genetic class destiny. If there is a new war against the weak it will not be about color, but about money. National emblems would bow to corporate logos.

Newgenics may rise like a phoenix from the ashes of eugenics and continue along the same route blazed in the last century. If it does, few will be able to clearly track the implications because the social and scientific revolutions will develop globally and corporately at the speed of a digital signal. The process will manifest as gradual genetic-based economic disenfranchisement. First, newgenics will create an uninsurable, unemployable and unfinanceable genetic underclass.

The process has already started.

Black. pp 428-429.

http://www.waragainsttheweakmovie.com/

ce399 note:

In the twenty-first century it will not be race, religion or nationality, but economics that determines which among us will dominate and thrive. Globalization and market forces will replace racist ideology and group prejudice to fashion mankind’s coming genetic class destiny. If there is a new war against the weak it will not be about color, but about money.

In disagreement with Black on this point. The Eugenic Bomb is a (silent) global Auschwitz. The goal of the Eugenic Bomb is to eradicate ethnicity (meaning non-White) and standardize the human ‘product.’ This process is therefore racist at its most core, microscopic level. The ‘generically attractive’ post-human at its most virulent is literal spam in humanoid form. The post-human DEVOID of SPIRIT – a soul-less automaton with an almost  hardwired, machine-like consciousness.

Main Entry: vir·u·lent

Pronunciation: \ˈvir-ə-lənt, ˈvir-yə-\

Function: adjective

Etymology: Middle English, from Latin virulentus, from virus poison

Date: 14th century

1 a: marked by a rapid, severe, and destructive course b: able to overcome bodily defensive mechanisms : markedly pathogenic 2: extremely poisonous or venomous3: full of malice : malignant 4: objectionably harsh or strong

— vir·u·lent·ly adverb

To paraphrase Huxley (1932): The Brave New World is inhabited by creatures of human shape but stunted humanity. They consume, fornicate, take ‘soma,’ (etc)…they do not read, write, think, love or govern themselves. Art and science, virtue and religion, family and friendship are all passe’. What matters most is bodily health and immediate gratification.

from Eugene Hacker:

Indeed, if the atomic bomb makes possible the idea of total species-wide extermination, then the genetic bomb would appear to follow upon that, but with more refinement: the extermination of genetically targeted populations within a given region. As Virilio notes, the genetic bomb is a more updated term for the population bomb, the demographic explosion that was seen to occur in the United States during the 1950’s. noted by Einstein and many sociologists of the postwar era. But Virilio discounts the population bomb thesis and suggests that, now, the genetic bomb is in the process of engineering new divisions within the species, a “super-humanity that has been ‘improved,’ a eugenic humanity, by virtue of decoding the genome.

Related archives:

How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Eugenic Bomb? (Part One) (The Global Genome: Biotechnology, Politics, and Culture)

How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Eugenic Bomb? (Part Three) (The Global Genome: Biotechnology, Politics, and Culture)

How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Eugenic Bomb? (Part Two) (The Global Genome: Biotechnology, Politics, and Culture)

Aldous Huxley: The Ultimate Revolution (1962) (mp3 files)

http://ce399.typepad.com/weblog/2009/07/humans-are-extinct-part-one-.html

A Summary History of Eugenic Theories and Practices in the United States (pdf file)

Posted in Uncategorized by ce399 on 14/05/2011

Doctors are the Third Leading Cause of Death in the US

Posted in Uncategorized by ce399 on 05/04/2011

Doctors Are The Third Leading Cause of Death
in the US, Causing 250,000 Deaths Every Year

According to a report from the Institute of Medicine, at least 1.5 million patients are harmed every year from being given the wrong drugs — that’s an average of one person per U.S. hospital per day. One reason these mistakes persist: Only 10% of hospitals are fully computerized, with a central database to track allergies and diagnoses, accodring Robert Wachter, chief of the medical service at UC San Francisco Medical Center. This well-known problem is not new news.

In 2000, a presidential task force labeled medical errors a “national problem of epidemic proportions.” The task force estimated that the “cost associated with these errors in lost income, disability, and health care costs is as much as $29 billion annually.”

Journal of the American Medical Association Volume 284 July 26, 2000

Dr. Barbara Starfield of the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health describes how the world’s most expensive health care system contributes to poor health and even death.

DEATHS PER YEAR:
·       12,000 – unnecessary surgery 8
·       7,000 – medication errors in hospitals 9
·       20,000 – other errors in hospitals 10
·       80,000 – infections in hospitals 10
·       106,000 – negative effects of drugs 2
250,000 deaths per year from iatrogenic causes
What does “iatrogenic” mean? “Induced in a patient by a physician’s activity, manner, or therapy – especially a complication of treatment.”

Dr. Starfield offers several warnings in interpreting these numbers:
·       First, most of the data are derived from studies in hospitalized patients.
·       Second, these estimates are for deaths only and do not include negative effects associated with disability or discomfort.
·       Third, the estimates of death due to error are lower than those in the older IOM report.1

If the higher estimates are used, the deaths due to iatrogenic causes would be 284,000. In any case, 225,000 deaths per year constitutes the third leading cause of death in the United States, after deaths from heart disease and cancer. Even if these figures are overestimated, there is a wide margin between these numbers of deaths and the next leading cause of death (cerebrovascular disease).
Another analysis 11 concluded that between 4% and 18% of consecutive patients experience negative effects in outpatient settings, with:
·       116 million extra physician visits
·       77 million extra prescriptions
·       17 million emergency department visits
·       8 million hospitalizations
·       3 million long-term admissions
·       199,000 additional deaths
·       $77 billion in extra costs

The high cost of the health care system is considered to be a deficit, but seems to be tolerated under the assumption that better health results from more expensive care.
However, evidence from a few studies indicates that as many as 20% to 30% of patients receive inappropriate care.

An estimated 44,000 to 98,000 among them die each year as a result of medical errors.2
This might be tolerated if it resulted in better health, but does it? Of 13 countries in a recent comparison,3,4 the United States ranks an average of 12th (second from the bottom) for 16 available health indicators. More specifically, the ranking of the US on several indicators was:
·       13th (last) for low-birth-weight percentages
·       13th for neonatal mortality and infant mortality overall 14
·       11th for postneonatal mortality
·       13th for years of potential life lost (excluding external causes)
·       11th for life expectancy at 1 year for females, 12th for males
·       10th for life expectancy at 15 years for females, 12th for males
·       10th for life expectancy at 40 years for females, 9th for males
·       7th for life expectancy at 65 years for females, 7th for males
·       3rd for life expectancy at 80 years for females, 3rd for males
·       10th for age-adjusted mortality

The poor performance of the US was recently confirmed by a World Health Organization study, which used different data and ranked the United States as 15th among 25 industrialized countries.
There is a perception that the American public “behaves badly” by smoking, drinking, and perpetrating violence.” However the data does not support this assertion.
·       The proportion of females who smoke ranges from 14% in Japan to 41% in Denmark; in the United States, it is 24% (fifth best). For males, the range is from 26% in Sweden to 61% in Japan; it is 28% in the United States (third best).
·       The US ranks fifth best for alcoholic beverage consumption.
·       The US has relatively low consumption of animal fats (fifth lowest in men aged 55-64 years in 20 industrialized countries) and the third lowest mean cholesterol concentrations among men aged 50 to 70 years among 13 industrialized countries.

These estimates of death due to error are lower than those in a recent Institutes of Medicine report, and if the higher estimates are used, the deaths due to iatrogenic causes would range from 230,000 to 284,000.
Even at the lower estimate of 225,000 deaths per year, doctor errors still constitute the third leading cause of death in the US, following heart disease and cancer.

Lack of technology is certainly not a contributing factor to the poor U.S. iatrogenic ranking.

·       Among 29 countries, the United States is second only to Japan in the availability of expensive
magnetic resonance imaging units and computed tomography scanners per million population.

·       Japan ranks highest in health, whereas the U.S. (with spiraling medical costs) ranks among the lowest.

·       It is possible that the high use of technology in Japan is limited to diagnostic technology not matched by high rates of treatment, whereas in the US, high use of diagnostic technology may be linked to more ineffective and inappropriate treatment.

·       Supporting this possibility are data showing that the number of employees per bed (full-time equivalents) in the United States is the highest among the countries ranked, whereas they are very low in Japan, far lower than can be accounted for by the common Japanese practice of having their family members (rather than hospital staff) provide the basic amenities of hospital care.

About 2 million Americans a year now contract hospital-related infections. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about 90,000 a year are now dying annually from these hospital-caused infections (up for 80,000 in 2000, over 12% increase). These hospital infections have added about $4.5 billion a year to healthcare costs. The indiscriminate use of antibiotics have encouraged the rapid growth of new antibiotic-resistant bacteria that are becoming progressively more common in modern hospitals.

Not My Job: Good luck finding anyone responsible for the serious problems in your hospital. Helen Haskell told nurses something didn’t seem right with her son Lewis, who was recovering from surgery to repair a defect in his chest wall. For nearly two days she kept asking for a veteran — or “attending” — doctor when the first-year resident’s assessment was not helping. Haskell couldn’t convince anyone that her son was deteriorating. “It was like an alternate reality,” she says. “I had no idea where to go.” Thirty hours after her son first complained of intense pain, the South Carolina teen died of a perforated ulcer. In a sea of blue scrubs, getting the attention of the right person is difficult. Who’s in charge? Nurses don’t report to doctors, but rather to a nurse supervisor. Your personal doctor has little say over radiology or the labs running your tests, which are managed by the hospital. Haskell urges patients to know the hospital hierarchy, read name tags, get the attending physician’s phone number and, if all else fails, demand a nurse supervisor — likely the highest-ranking person who is accessible quickly.

How do you tell a good hospital from a bad one? For one thing, nurses. When it comes to their own families, medical workers favor institutions that attract good nurses. But they’re harder to find as the country’s nursing shortage intensifies — by 2020, 44 states will probably be facing a serious deficit. According to a 2001 study by Harvard and Vanderbilt University professors, low quantity / quality nurse staffing directly affects patient outcomes, resulting in more problems such as urinary tract infections, shock and gastrointestinal bleeding.

Another thing to consider: Your local hospital may have been great for welcoming your child into the world, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best place to undergo open-heart surgery. Find the facility with the longest track record, best survival rate and highest volume in the procedure; you don’t want to be the team’s third hip replacement, says Samantha Collier, vice president of medical affairs at HealthGrades, which rates hospitals. The new 2007 Massachusetts medical records automation is making this much easier. http://www.mass.gov/healthcareqc We encourage a similar nationwide online healthcare quality computerization.

The American Nurses Association’s Web site lists “magnet” hospitals — those most attractive to nurses. A call to a hospital’s nurse supervisor should help you learn the nurse-to-patient ratio, says Gail Van Kanegan, an R.N. and author of How to Survive Your Hospital Stay. She also suggests calling the hospital’s quality-control or risk-management office to get infection statistics and asking your doctor how frequently the hospital has done a certain procedure. While reporting these statistics is still voluntary, more hospitals are doing so on sites like http://www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov, which compares hospitals against national averages in certain areas, including how well they follow recommended steps to treat common conditions, says Carmela Coyle, senior vice president for policy at the American Hospital Association.

Most hospital emergency room need urgent care. A new study from the Institute of Medicine found that hospital emergency departments are overburdened, underfunded, and unprepared to handle disasters as the number of people with no health insurance go to ERs for primary care keeps rising. An ambulance is turned away from an ER once every minute due to overcrowding, according to the study; the situation is exacerbated by shortages in many of the “on call” backup services for cardiologists, orthopedists and neurosurgeons. And it’s getting worse. Currently, 73% of ER directors report inadequate coverage by on-call specialists, versus 67% in 2004, according to a survey conducted by the American College of Emergency Physicians.

If you can, avoid the ER between 3PM and 1AM — the busiest shift. For the shortest wait, early morning — anywhere from 4AM to 9AM — is your best bet. If you are having severe symptoms, such as the worst headache of your life or chest pains, alert the triage nurse manager, not just the person checking you in, so that you get seen sooner, says David Sherer, an anesthesiologist and author of Dr. David Sherer’s Hospital Survival Guide. Triage nurses are the traffic cops of the ER and your ticket to getting seen as quickly as possible.

Avoid hospitals in July. If you can, stay out of the hospital during the summer — especially July. That’s the month when medical students become interns, interns become residents, and residents become fellows and full-fledged doctors. In other words, a good portion of the staff at any given teaching hospital are new on the job.

Summer hospital horror stories aren’t just medical lore: The adjusted mortality rate rises 4% in July and August for the average major teaching hospital, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. That means eight to 14 more deaths occur at major teaching hospitals than would normally without the student turnover.

Another scheduling tip: Try to book surgeries first thing in the morning, and preferably early in the week, when doctors are at their best and before schedules get backed up, Sherer says.

Concluding Remarks

According to a report by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 95 percent of doctors state that they have witnessed a major medical mistake. These errors are NOT rare, they are both common and frequent.

All patients should listen carefully to their doctors about the options, risks, and recommendations. If you don’t understand your doctor, find one who communicate effectively. Carefully read the information about new prescriptions and pay close attention to your reaction to prescribed medications.

Patients who are told that they need surgery should also seek a second opinion. Most health plans will pay for it. If the opinions disagree, call your health plan and ask if they will pay for a third.

If you decide to accept the worst case risks of surgery, bring a family member or friend to a pre-surgical appointment to help you ask questions, gather hand outs, and write down all information and doctor statements.

It is important for patients to designate a “healthcare proxy” before surgery. The patient-appointed proxy can carry out the patient’s wishes while the patient is under anesthesia or incapacitated. Before surgery, patients must sign a consent form, which they should read very carefully before signing. The form will describe exactly what the doctor is allowed to do, and whether a doctor will be allowed to proceed if more serious conditions are found. Another important document is a living will, which can protect a patient’s rights and wishes in case the unexpected happens. Doctors need to know what they should do in terms of extraordinary life-saving measures.

All of this is minimal prudent behavior, but it cannot prevent the deadly or harmful major medical errors that do happen thousands of times every day of the year. The question that every patient must decide is whether the worst-case risks are worth the potential benefits of the medical procedure. All operations have some degree of life threatening risk, especially those requiring general anesthesia.

American Iatrogenic Association

See also Pill Pushing Quacks

See also Medical Minefield – Avoiding Common Errors

Return to Joyful Aging home page

April Fools! We’ve Carbon Copied Your Children! (FT 1/4/11 – Print Edition Duplicate Pg 17)

Posted in Uncategorized by ce399 on 03/04/2011

Nazi-Zombies

Terminator Reborn as Superhero Governator

Arnold Schwarzenegger has unveiled his first business venture since finishing his last term as California’s governor with The Governator, a new superhero comic book character.

The character, which has been developed by Mr Schwarzenegger and Stan Lee, the creator of Spider-Man, draws on the former governor’s credentials as an action movie star, who starred in The Terminator films, as well as the persona he crafted during seven years in public office.

EDITOR’S CHOICE
Westminster blog: Arnie at 1922 committee – Mar-31
PM shifts line on Libyan rebels – Mar-30
California faces budget cuts of $12bn – Jan-11

Loosely based on Mr Schwarzenegger’s life after leaving public office, The Governator will fight crime around the world, helped by a quartet of teenagers, each of whom possesses a unique set of talents. Among the character’s aides are Zeke Muckerberg, a 13-year-old computer genius, apparently inspired by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

The Governator character will form the basis of a new children’s television series and will be licensed for toys and other merchandise. Mr Schwarzenegger, who is fielding offers to resume his film career, will provide the voice for the character in the TV series and will formally unveil the project on Monday in Cannes at the MipTV festival.

The series is being produced by A Squared Entertainment, an animation company founded by Andy Heyward, the former chief executive of DIC Entertainment. A Squared is also producing Secret Millionaire’s Club, a new series that features Warren Buffett giving financial advice to children.

Mr Buffett, like Mr Schwarzenegger, is closely involved in the programme, and is providing the voice for his character.

Mr Schwarzenegger was in London on Wednesday, where he discussed the military campaign under way in Libya with David Cameron, Britain’s prime minister, and Conservative members of parliament.

Mr Schwarzenegger told reporters Mr Cameron was “doing a great job on Libya, a great job on Britain in making it live within its means and a great job with policies to protect the environment”.

Mr Schwarzenegger’s successor as governor of California, Jerry Brown, has conceded defeat in his attempt to persuade Republicans to back his plan for a new budget. He wanted support for spending cuts of $12bn to halve the state’s record deficit. But Mr Brown, who promised to restore California to fiscal health in his election campaign, could not muster the four Republican votes needed to pass his budget.

The two sides could not agree on a tax break Mr Brown wanted to cut, he said in a statement. “Republicans demand out-of-state corporations that keep jobs out of California be given a billion-dollar tax break that will come from our schoolchildren, public safety and our universities. This I am not willing to do,” he said.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/6e1b4ec6-5b38-11e0-b2a1-00144feab49a.html#axzz1IQGFA2Gw

April Fools! We’ve Carbon Copied Your Children! (FT 1/4/11 – Print Edition Duplicate Pg 17)

Posted in Uncategorized by ce399 on 03/04/2011

Nazi-Zombies

Terminator Reborn as Superhero Governator

Arnold Schwarzenegger has unveiled his first business venture since finishing his last term as California’s governor with The Governator, a new superhero comic book character.

The character, which has been developed by Mr Schwarzenegger and Stan Lee, the creator of Spider-Man, draws on the former governor’s credentials as an action movie star, who starred in The Terminator films, as well as the persona he crafted during seven years in public office.

EDITOR’S CHOICE
Westminster blog: Arnie at 1922 committee – Mar-31
PM shifts line on Libyan rebels – Mar-30
California faces budget cuts of $12bn – Jan-11

Loosely based on Mr Schwarzenegger’s life after leaving public office, The Governator will fight crime around the world, helped by a quartet of teenagers, each of whom possesses a unique set of talents. Among the character’s aides are Zeke Muckerberg, a 13-year-old computer genius, apparently inspired by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

The Governator character will form the basis of a new children’s television series and will be licensed for toys and other merchandise. Mr Schwarzenegger, who is fielding offers to resume his film career, will provide the voice for the character in the TV series and will formally unveil the project on Monday in Cannes at the MipTV festival.

The series is being produced by A Squared Entertainment, an animation company founded by Andy Heyward, the former chief executive of DIC Entertainment. A Squared is also producing Secret Millionaire’s Club, a new series that features Warren Buffett giving financial advice to children.

Mr Buffett, like Mr Schwarzenegger, is closely involved in the programme, and is providing the voice for his character.

Mr Schwarzenegger was in London on Wednesday, where he discussed the military campaign under way in Libya with David Cameron, Britain’s prime minister, and Conservative members of parliament.

Mr Schwarzenegger told reporters Mr Cameron was “doing a great job on Libya, a great job on Britain in making it live within its means and a great job with policies to protect the environment”.

Mr Schwarzenegger’s successor as governor of California, Jerry Brown, has conceded defeat in his attempt to persuade Republicans to back his plan for a new budget. He wanted support for spending cuts of $12bn to halve the state’s record deficit. But Mr Brown, who promised to restore California to fiscal health in his election campaign, could not muster the four Republican votes needed to pass his budget.

The two sides could not agree on a tax break Mr Brown wanted to cut, he said in a statement. “Republicans demand out-of-state corporations that keep jobs out of California be given a billion-dollar tax break that will come from our schoolchildren, public safety and our universities. This I am not willing to do,” he said.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/6e1b4ec6-5b38-11e0-b2a1-00144feab49a.html#axzz1IQGFA2Gw

Disney is Now Looking into the Cradle for Customers (NYT 7/2/11)

Posted in Uncategorized by ce399 on 15/02/2011

The Walt Disney Company has started an ambitious and risky march toward the one corner of childhood it does not already dominate: newborns.

Late last month, the company quietly began pressing its newest priority, Disney Baby, in 580 maternity hospitals in the United States. A representative visits a new mother and offers a free Disney Cuddly Bodysuit, a variation of the classic Onesie.

In bedside demonstrations, the bilingual representatives extol the product’s bells and whistles — extra soft! durable! better sizing! — and ask mothers to sign up for e-mail alerts from DisneyBaby.com. More than 200,000 bodysuits will be given away by May, when Amazon.com is set to begin selling 85 styles for a starting price of $9.99 for two; Nordstrom and Target will follow with more Disney Baby items, including hats.

“If ever there was an opportunity for a trusted brand to enter a market and provide a better product and experience, it’s this,” said Robert A. Iger, chief executive of Disney. “I’m extremely excited about it.”

The endeavor dances close to a flame. Disney has suffered harsh criticism in recent years over products directed at the very young. The fiercest battle has involved Baby Einstein, the Disney-owned maker of “developmental and entertainment” videos and toys for babies and toddlers.

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, a nonprofit organization, claimed victory in 2009 when Disney, apparently acknowledging that the products did not turn babies into geniuses after all, offered some Baby Einstein refunds.

But Disney has moved on. In this new venture, the company gains access to the maternity hospitals through a company called Our365, a business that sells bedside baby pictures. Our365 pays hospitals for exclusive access, and companies like Disney pay Our365 to promote their own products. Our365 also has Fisher-Price and Procter & Gamble as clients. It is unclear whether mothers know of Our365’s financial ties to these companies.

Certainly hospitals have given new mothers gift bags for decades. In recent years, however, more have banned the practice, citing criticism that free baby formula, for example, discourages breast-feeding. Privacy also is a concern. “This is taking advantage of families at an extremely vulnerable time,” said Jeff McIntyre, director of national policy for the advocacy group Children Now.

Elizabeth Carter gave birth to her daughter Olivia on Jan. 19 in Piedmont, Calif., and was given a Disney Cuddly Bodysuit as part of an Our365 photo package. “It surprised me that Disney was in there promoting something right as the baby was born, but we figured as new parents we weren’t in a position to turn free things down,” she said.

Mrs. Carter put the garment on her hours-old baby immediately. “And I have to say Olivia looked fabulous, much better than the rough, bulky thing the hospital had her wearing,” she said.

Disney estimates the North American baby market, including staples like formula, to be worth $36.3 billion annually. Its executives talk about tapping into that jackpot as if they were waging a war. “Apparel is only a beachhead,” said Andy Mooney, chairman of Disney Consumer Products.

As such, the company does not intend to stop with bodysuits, which are playfully adorned with Disney characters like Simba from “The Lion King.” Also planned are bath items, strollers, baby food and an abundance of other products — all pushed with so much marketing muscle that Disney Baby may actually dent operating margins in Mr. Mooney’s division in the near term. But this is a long-term play, and it could have its greatest value far beyond the crib. Disney Baby is also intended to draw mothers into the company’s broader web of products and experiences. Mr. Mooney is working on a loyalty program, for instance, in which pregnant women might receive free theme park tickets in return for signing up for e-mail alerts.

“To get that mom thinking about her family’s first park experience before her baby is even born is a home run,” Mr. Mooney said, adding that a surprisingly large number of families do not become consumers of Disney products until their children reach preschool age, when they start to watch Disney Channel programs like “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.”

Disney as a whole is working harder to reach younger children. Disney Junior, a new channel for preschool viewers, will arrive on Feb. 14. Disneyland Resort in California will soon start a yearlong celebration of the It’s a Small World boat ride, giving Disney Baby a marketing tie-in. Walt Disney Studios, meanwhile, will release a new Winnie the Pooh movie in theaters in July.

Disney already operates a line of licensed products for infants, but results have been limited because Disney has relied almost entirely on simple licensing deals with companies like Kimberly-Clark, the maker of Huggies diapers. Grouping baby products under one brand that is controlled and heavily marketed by Disney represents a bigger opportunity, Mr. Mooney said.

The model is Disney Princess, a brand created by Mr. Mooney 10 years ago by uniting the likes of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. In doing so, Mr. Mooney transformed a $300 million annual business in individual doll sales into a $4 billion brand.

But other giants already are operating in the baby business. One is Gerber Childrenswear, which owns the trademark to the name Onesie. Why does Disney think it can succeed?

Mr. Iger, who has a month-old granddaughter, says Disney has an opportunity to leverage its brand. “It’s about making something easier and providing them with a personalized, high-quality product,” he said.

Rachel Bernstein, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who is pregnant herself, said she was concerned about marketers using hospitals as customer hunting grounds. “But Disney is a nice company,” she said, “and I think my patients would actually be thrilled to get free Disney stuff.”

The strategy is “frankly overdue, at least given Disney’s strong track record in other childhood niches,” said Philip Kotler, a marketing professor at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University and co-author of “Marketing 3.0: From Products to Customers to the Human Spirit.”

But Professor Kotler added one asterisk. “There are bound to be critics — moms and dads who think Disney is already too powerful a force in the lives of children,” he said. “Disney needs those moms who are getting a free sample to stand up and say, ‘Yes, I’m savvy enough to realize what Disney is up to, but I don’t care because this is a really great product.’ ”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/07/business/media/07disney.html?_r=1&pagewanted=print