October 30, 2004

Keeping Faith, Dog Phones 911

If you're wheelchair bound, consider how a service dog just might save your life. Faith, a Washington State Rottweiler, phoned 911 after her owner fell out of a wheelchair.

    Faith is trained to summon help by pushing a speed-dial button on the phone with her nose after taking the receiver off the hook, said her owner Leana Beasley, 45, who suffers grand mal seizures.....The dog, whose sensitive nose can detect changes in Beasley's body chemistry, is trained to alert her owner to impending seizures before they happen.......Faith the service dog phoned 911 when her owner fell out of her wheelchair and barked urgently into the receiver until a dispatcher sent help. Then the 4-year-old Rottweiler unlocked the front door so the responding police officer could come in.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:37 AM | Permalink

October 22, 2004

Actual Notes Found in Patients Charts

Discharge status: Alive but without my permission.
Healthy appearing decrepit 69 year old male, mentally alert but forgetful.
The patient refused autopsy.
The patient has no previous history of suicides.
Patient's medical history has been remarkably insignificant with only 40 pound weight gain in the past three days.
While in ER, she was examined, X-rated and sent home.
The skin was moist and dry.
Occasional, constant infrequent headaches.
Patient was alert and unresponsive.
Rectal examination revealed normal size thyroid.
She stated that she had been constipated most of her life, until she got a divorce.
The patient was to have a bowel resection; however, he took a job as a stockbroker instead.
Skin: somewhat pale but present.
Large brown stool ambulating in the hall. 
Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities
Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.
On the second day the knee was better, and on the third day it disappeared.
The patient has been depressed since she began seeing me in 1993.



Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:49 AM | Permalink

October 21, 2004

Outsourcing Heart Surgery and the Taj Mahal

It is often said that the lack of market forces in our health care system contributes to its high cost.
An article in today's Washington Post reveals a significant competitive and disruptive advantage that certain third world countries offered, Surgeries, Side Trips for 'Medical Tourists'. Faced with a $100,000 price tag for needed heart surgery, a carpenter from North Carolina with no health insurance chose to outsource his operation.

    Taking his cue from cost-cutting U.S. businesses, Staab last month flew about 7,500 miles to the Indian capital, where doctors at the Escorts Heart Institute & Research Centre -- a sleek aluminum-colored building across the street from a bicycle-rickshaw stand -- replaced his balky heart valve with one harvested from a pig. Total bill: about $10,000, including round-trip airfare and a planned side trip to the Taj Mahal.....

    India offers a growing number of private "centers of excellence" where the quality of care is as good or better than that of big-city hospitals in the United States or Europe, asserted Naresh Trehan, a self-assured cardiovascular surgeon who runs Escorts and performed the operation on Staab.

    Trehan said, for example, that the death rate for coronary bypass patients at Escorts is 0.8 percent. By contrast, the 1999 death rate for the same procedure at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where former president Bill Clinton recently underwent bypass surgery, was 2.35 percent, according to a 2002 study by the New York State Health Department.

Hmm, wonder what aging boomers would prefer? Especially for operations that might not be covered by insurance. Such as plastic surgery in Brazil and a trip to the Rain Forest, tummy tucks in South Africa and a safari for a tenth the cost.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:34 PM | Permalink

October 7, 2004

Meaningful Work, One of the Abundances of Life

"One day, I received a phone call from a man halfway around the world who, at 45, had never worked a day in his life. A beneficiary of a sizeable inheritance, he was free of the need to earn his daily bread. Yet he was not a happy man. Indeed, he was deeply troubled by the fact that his life had gone by without his having expressed his own talents or made a difference in the lives of others. Like good health, spiritual growth, and nourishing relationships, meaningful work is one of the abundances of life that we neglect at our own peril." -- Laurence G. Boldt, The Tao of Abundance

Shamelessly cribbed from Anita Sharpe at Worthwhile because I liked it so much. This relates to an earlier post "The Pursuit of Legacy is a Libidinous Quest and the major theme of the second half of life. 45 is not too old to get started.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:03 PM | Permalink

October 6, 2004

Women respond to bonding not greed

Michelle Miller at Wonderbranding has posted a fascinating entry on Emory University's study of real time MRI's during social interaction among women in Getting to Know You - Part 11.

    The Emory researchers initially set out to show that a woman’s brain reacts the same way each time it strives for a goal, no matter what the plan is for achieving that goal. What they discovered was quite surprisingly the opposite. When a participant’s chosen strategy for increasing her money reflected a selfish or greedy premise, a small region of the brain showed activity. But when cooperative alliances were formed with other women toward the same goal, the brain not only lit up like a Christmas tree, it radiated in regions that scientists know to be directly related to reward behavior… the same areas that respond to chocolate cake, sex, beautiful pictures, and other assorted delights.

    Even more interesting, it was the perception of bonding with other humans, not the money, these women responded to. When participants played the same game against a computer, the reward behavior regions were significantly less responsive.

This has enormous implications for the financial services industry who have yet to understand how to make their female customers a community of friends.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:30 PM | Permalink

Featuring Customers in Ads

Financial advisory firms often feature customers in their ads, usually to show how close the financial advisor is to his clients and how he helps his clients achieve their dreams. In the single most disastrous ad I've ever seen, Middleoffice, a Swiss financial advisory firm is now featuring Yasser Arafat in banner advertising on Al Jazerra, the Arab TV station. The estimates of Arafat's personal wealth ranges from $1.2 billion to $10 billion. The main source of Arafat's wealth is believed to be the approximately $6 billion contributed by the United States, Japan and European countries as well as financial aid to the Palestinian Authority from 1993-2000. The evidence is based on financial documents confiscated from the PLO chairman's headquarters in Ramallah.
1 2

Hat tip to Harry's Place where Gene pointed out that he has made the difficult decision not to send them his life savings.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:07 AM | Permalink

October 2, 2004

Is your 401(k) supporting terrorism?

I don't know about you, but I don't want my investments with any company that does business with terrorist countries like Iran, Saddam Hussein's Iraq, Syria, North Korea and Sudan. Funny thing is I never thought about it until I learned about DivestTerror.org.

    What we did not realize -- until now -- was that each and every one of us actually can play a pivotal role in winning the War on Terror. How? By demanding that our public and private pensions plans, college endowments, individual retirement account managers, 401(k) plans, and other investment vehicles exploit the leverage represented by investments in publicly traded companies that operate in terrorist-sponsoring states. In a unified front, we should all be saying "This is my money and it will not go to support terror." DivestTerror.org is a nationwide campaign aimed at some 400 public companies worldwide that are providing revenues, technology and moral cover to governments that sponsor terrorism.The primary objective of this campaign is to force governments to choose between their sponsorship of terrorism and critical partnerships with publicly traded firms.

The site lists a dirty dozen of companies doing business with terrorist states. They are
Alcatel SA, BNP Paribas, ENI SPA, Hyundai, Lundin Petroleum, Oil & Natural Gas Corp, Siemens AG, Statoil ASA, Stolt Nielsen, Technip Coflexip, Total SA and UBS AG.

The facts supporting the listing of the Dirty Dozen are derived from publicly available sources. This is what divestterror.org writes about UBS.

    UBS AG

    The Swiss Bank, UBS AG, has ties to the financial sector of Iran and Libya and was fined for its ties to Saddam's Iraq prior to the war.  While the cumulative value of its business activities in these countries is relatively modest, the company recently faced public scandal and substantial U.S. government fines after investigations of the company’s undisclosed ties to Iran uncovered significant transfers of U.S. dollar bank notes directly to Iran. 

    In May 2004, UBS AG was fined $100 million by the U.S. Federal Reserve for violating a contract that stipulated that UBS would not, as part of its work program, transfer dollar notes to U.S.-sanctioned countries.  Until the termination of its contract in October 2003, UBS was a part of the Federal Reserve's "Extended Custodial Inventory Program" that is designed to facilitate the introduction and circulation of new U.S. dollar banknotes.  U.S. investigations discovered that UBS employees had filed false reports to the Federal Reserve that covered up illegal dollar transfers with Iran, Libya and other sanctioned countries, including Cuba and the former Yugoslavia, that totaled some $5 billion.1

    Additional ties to Iran have included UBS's announced intention to confirm letters of credit for Swiss exports to Iran dealing with a number of Iran's most important banks, including Bank Mellat, Bank Melli Iran, Bank Saderat, Bank Sepah and Bank Tejarat.2

UBS AG

The Swiss Bank, UBS AG, has ties to the financial sector of Iran and Libya and was fined for its ties to Saddam's Iraq prior to the war.  While the cumulative value of its business activities in these countries is relatively modest, the company recently faced public scandal and substantial U.S. government fines after investigations of the company’s undisclosed ties to Iran uncovered significant transfers of U.S. dollar bank notes directly to Iran. 

In May 2004, UBS AG was fined $100 million by the U.S. Federal Reserve for violating a contract that stipulated that UBS would not, as part of its work program, transfer dollar notes to U.S.-sanctioned countries.  Until the termination of its contract in October 2003, UBS was a part of the Federal Reserve's "Extended Custodial Inventory Program" that is designed to facilitate the introduction and circulation of new U.S. dollar banknotes.  U.S. investigations discovered that UBS employees had filed false reports to the Federal Reserve that covered up illegal dollar transfers with Iran, Libya and other sanctioned countries, including Cuba and the former Yugoslavia, that totaled some $5 billion.1

Additional ties to Iran have included UBS's announced intention to confirm letters of credit for Swiss exports to Iran dealing with a number of Iran's most important banks, including Bank Mellat, Bank Melli Iran, Bank Saderat, Bank Sepah and Bank Tejarat.2

A subsidiary of the company, UBS (USA) was fined $14,750 by the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control to settle charges that UBS violated U.S. sanctions on Iraq.  Its ties to Iraq allegedly included illegal funds transfers that took place in 2001.3

UBS' activities place it on the "Dirty Dozen" list for the following reasons:
• Hard Currency: UBS illegally provided U.S. banknotes to sanctioned terrorist-sponsoring countries.  The U.S. government's punitive actions against UBS underscore the point that,without hard currency, it would be difficult for these governments to continue their sponsorship of terrorism and costly weapons of mass destruction programs.  Indeed, the purpose of sanctions is to deny the type of cash to these countries that UBS provided.
• The Role of Finance: Banks play a vital role in the economies of terrorist-sponsoring states by underwriting projects that create substantial revenues for the government.  Without the financial life-support provided by leading banks such as UBS, the governments of Iran, Libya and other terrorist-sponsoring states would find it more difficult to ignore diplomatic efforts to discourage their sponsorship of terrorist groups.
• Moral and Political Cover:  When leading global companies such as UBS do business with terrorist-sponsoring states, it sends a clear message to these governments: Sponsoring terrorism is not a concern as long as there are corporate profits to be made.  This message undermines U.S. sanctions and international diplomatic efforts.

1. Associated Press Online, 5/10/04; and PR Newswire, 5/10/04.

2. Company Press Release, 5/31/01.

 3. U.S. Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control Website, 2003.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:52 PM | Permalink

October 1, 2004

The Ultimate Genomic Test is a Family History

"Family history may be the single greatest risk factor for disease," says Dr.Paula Yoon of the Centers for Disease Control. I learned about the CDC's Family Health Initiative is encouraging consumers to complete a family history and leave a copy with your physician in the cover story, Treatment Tailor-Made For You by Dianne Hales in the September 19th edition of Parade Magazine.

Ironically, what seems old-fashioned, a family history has become even more important in these days of personalized medicine and genomics. "The ultimate genomic test is available now and it's called a family history. It captures not only shared genes but also shared environment, shared values, shared behavior and shared culture," says Dr Muin Khoury, director of the Office of Genomics and Disease Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If your family history reveals family susceptibilities to particular diseases a doctor can run specific tests and customize your treatment. If you learned say that a relative has colon cancer, you should start screening for colon cancer 10 years before the norm. By charting your family history, you can set priorities based on your personal health risks.

A family history is something only you can do. It used to be that we would learn how people in the family died or got sick when families would get together over Sunday dinner or for holidays. Nowadays, families are much more dispersed and, unless there is a reason, not many people remember what their grandparents died of. Which is why constructing and memorializing a family history can enable you with your doctor. Thanksgiving could be a good time to create your family history because you'll be seeing or talking to most of your relatives.

Get the info first.
Information on the CDC's Family History Initiative is here.
To create a family history, go to the Mayo Clinic and search for "family history"

One more quote from the article in reference to the power of personalized medicine through genomics, “This is a new era in medicine,” says Dr. Ralph Snyderman of Duke University, which launched a personalized health-care program for its employees last January. “People think that genomics will have an impact in their children’s lifetime, but it is happening now. I urge them to rush to take advantage of it for the sake of living longer, healthier lives.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:48 PM | Permalink