Posted On: December 28, 2007

17-Year-Old Dead After Insurance Company Denied Her Transplant

Seventeen-year-old Nataline Sarkisyan was suffering from leukemia, and developed complications. Because of this, she needed a liver transplant. Or so her doctors said. But that was not good enough for her insurance company, CIGNA Healthcare.

CIGNA decided that the transplant was unnecessary. Their reasoning? There was not enough evidence that the transplant would help Nataline--despite the fact that the doctors treating her judged that it would.

Curiously enough, CIGNA bureaucrats changed their minds about the efficacy of the transplant after a large protest outside their offices in Glendale, CA. If CIGNA truly believed that the transplant was useless on the merits of the medical evidence, one wonders why the protests would have changed their minds. No amount of protesters can alter the facts, after all. It is almost enough to make you think that their decision to deny Nataline the transplant was based on something other than medical evidence, and that they reversed their decision because the bad publicity made it convenient for them to do so.

Sadly, the reversal came too late for Nataline, who died on Thursday December 20th.

Significantly, there is no hint that CIGNA will change their general policy about such situations. In a statement, they made it clear that their reversal of the denial in this case was an aberration:

CIGNA HealthCare has decided to make an exception in this rare and unusual case and we will provide coverage should she proceed with the requested liver transplant

So the next CIGNA-insured family with a child who needs a transplant must hope that they, too, will be able to rally over a hundred protesters to their cause.

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Posted On: December 12, 2007

Honey a Better Cough Medicine for Kids than Dextromethorphan

Recently, many have raised questions about the efficacy and safety of common cough medicines for children, many of which include the ingredient dextromethorphan.

But now an easy substitute seems to have been found: honey. Specifically buckwheat honey, which a new study has found to be more significantly more effective than dextromethorphan in curing coughs in young children. The study examined and compared the effects of dextromethorphan, honey and no treatment at all in 105 children. Honey was more effective than no treatment, whereas dextromethorphan was not.

The effective dosages of honey were: half a teaspoon for children aged two to five, a full teaspoon for those aged six to eleven and two teaspoons for the twelve to eighteen age group.

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Posted On: December 4, 2007

Amusement Parks and Safety

Poor safety conditions in amusement parks are becoming a federal issue, thanks to widely publicized accidents and severe resulting injuries. This week, a House committee will consider a bill that would allow for more federal oversight of amusement parks.

The most famous recent accident on a defective amusement park ride occurred when a thirteen-year-old girl's feet were severed by a broken cable on a Tower of Power ride at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom. But this past summer also brought on four deaths from such rides: two four-year-olds drowned in wavepools in two different amusement parks, a woman thrown from a spinning ride and a teenager who fell fifty feet from the top of a ride.

The only federal oversight of such rides comes from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which is toothless with respect to amusement parks due to lack of authority and lack of personnel. In addition, the amusement park industry has has highly effective lobbyists to fight investigations into these matters.

This situation leaves safety issues up to the informed consumer. Safer Parks is a good resource for information on how to protect both kids and adults in amusement parks. Two helpful pages on their site are Top Ten Tips for Parents and Teaching Kids to be Safe Riders.

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