ZIka virus

Medical Monday: Breaking News from the World of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Policy News

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Under the ACA, the Affordable Care Act, all health insurance providers were required to cover the full range or reproductive health services including birth control and abortion. However, a suit filed by two Christian has succeeded in blocking the part of the mandate that pertains to coverage of the abortion pill. DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services ) will no longer be able to enforce this portion of the mandate against them. 

The US provides health care aid to many countries. In those health care systems, birth control and abortion services are provided. However the US Gag rule has prevented funds from continuing to go to countries which provide abortion services. . The Trump administration has created auspices under which exceptions to the gag rule may be obtained. This is because there are some such countries whose national law requires health care providers to include information about such services. Such countries may continue to receive US aid under what is being called the “ affirmative duty defense”. Theater loophole, the “passive duty” exception, the US may continue to supply funding if abortion is legal in that country. 

Texas continues to rally. Texas comes in at 47th in vaccination rates. A new group called the Texas HPV coalition aims to increase this rate to 80% before 2026, stemming a tide of HPV related diseases including cancer. 

As previously reported, Texas had shot itself in the foot by defunding and otherwise weakening primary health care for the poor, and reproductive health care in general. It has also been early in the race to defund Planned Parenthood and teen pregnancy prevention programs. Now its teen pregnancy rates, and more worryingly, the material morbidity and mortality rates are skyrocketing. Texans are now are trying to circle the wagons. In particular, the Dallas City Council has by itself resolved to spend $300,000 on a program to curb teen pregnancy rates. 

Nationally the same logic is at work. This coming week the Senate will vote on a bill which will create “Maternal Mortality Review Committees”  that track and investigate maternal mortality. 

Physician leadership is again voicing its defense of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). A recent article in Forbes has highlighted the uniform positions of the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Psychiatric Association. How can this not give the administration pause ? 

An Oregon county has sued the Trump administration for their new guideline which give preferential funding to health care programs that promote abstinence. If they prevail, it could block these guidelines nationwide. 

Because contraception has now somewhat unexpectedly become such a controversial topic, the medical community is lobbying harder and harder for drug companies and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration to make birth control an over the counter medication. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have long advocated for this regard the oral contraceptive pill. Now the American Medical Association  was set to consider a resolution to this effect. 

Medical News 

Vitamin D is increasingly in the spotlight. This time,  new study has shown that adequate levels of vitamin D protect against miscarriage. Women at high latitudes in areas with little sunlight and little seafood are more prone to vitamin D deficiency. 

A new study out of Duke indicates that young women’s exercise rates drop off after high school. Additionally they drop off more quickly than do mens. More research is needed to understand and correct this phenomenon. 

Remember the Zika virus epidemic ? A new study shows that over half of Floridians took no precautions whatsoever against the virus. The report has shown that much more education is needed. 

Here is a sad commentary on out profession and on our relatively affluent population: Less than10 percent of our population get the recommended screening and counseling pertaining to preventive health care. This pertained to basics like measurements of vital signs and blood tests, but also to imaging studies like mammograms and colonoscopies for colon cancer screenings. Preventive health screening should also include counseling on weight, tobacco and alcohol use, screening for depression and currency on vaccinations. 

 Alcohol is harder on women than it is on men. This may be related mainly to weight. A new study indicates that young women who drink regularly and heavily ( 4-5 alcoholic drinks) are probably destined for low bone density such as osteoporosis. Women have little androgen (male hormone) compared to men, and androgen protect bone. Estrogen does too, but its production ceases after menopause, when osteoporosis is at its highest risk. Young women need to realize they are likely olive considerably longer than their mother and grandmothers. To do so in comfort and wellness, they need to take really good care of themselves. 

Stay tuned for more news from the fascinating world of Obstetrics and Gynecology, here, next week on Medical Monday. 


Medical Monday: Breaking News from the World of Obstetrics and Gynecology

The Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine (SMFM)  recently convened a special session to summarize our current knowledge about the Zika virus. Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialists are also known as Perinatologists. They are essentially Ob Gyns who drop Gyn and take a couple additional years of training in Ultrasound and high risk pregnancy management. They also tend to comprise the research side of Obstetrics. They may or may not continue to deliver babies. They, together with general Obstetricians have been the group of health care providers most affected by the Zika epidemic. As such, the group as convened a special session to review CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommendations pertaining to the Zika virus. Together with the CDC director, they have emphasized the the concern over Zika is ongoing. Pregnant or potentially pregnant women are encouraged to stay away from places where Zika is spreading. They have cautioned that the worst is not over. 

Meanwhile, insights are being gained into the pathogenesis of the Zika related disease process. (Pathogenesis means the particular way something causes disease.) In looking at the Zika virus genome and several important proteins produced by the virus, researchers from the University of Maryland have obtained what they classify as “ really valuable clues for future research”. 

President Obama meets with Congressional Democrats this week to devise a strategy to save the ACA (Affordable Care Act). Meanwhile some commentators have noted that even repealing the ACA will not make it possible to roll back all of the changes the ACA has wrought. Americans have become accustomed to a new standard in the expansion of health care coverage. Meanwhile, the incoming Republican administration has seemingly settled on a repeal and replace strategy. The health coverage of 20 million Americans is at stake. This December, 8.8 million people enrolled in the Federal Exchange. This is more than the 8.6 million of last year. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and others have come forward with a recommendation that there should be a replacement plan in place before repeal. Yet ate last week, Republican leaders including the House Speaker Paul Ryan as well as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have asserted that a quick repeal and replacement "within this year" is needed. Senator McConnell classifies the ACA as a “ failed, partisan experiment”. 

A new analysis presented by CNN Money indicates that repeal of the ACA will cost the Federal Government $350 billion dollars over the next ten years. In comparison, the ACA was crafted to be budget neutral. 

ACOG and the AMA (American Medical Association) concur that oral contraceptives are appropriate for over the counter use. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is in the beginning steps of this regulatory process. 

There are many patients who have trouble attaining a healthy weight, even some who exercise regularly and eat appropriately. A new study has focused on this group and found some good news. These “non responders” benefit from rotating their exercise routines. Truthfully, I have heard this from many trainers. 

Also in the good news department: a 25 percent decline in cancer death rates since 1991. This is a fresh statistic from the American Cancer Society. They attribute this decline to reductions in smoking, as well as early detection, and better treatment. 

Finally, in the easy and lifesaving department, peanuts are now recommended for the very young. The National Institute of Allergy and Infections Disease has issued new guidelines recommending that parents introduce peanuts into their child’s diet early (before 6 months !) and often. This is to prevent the development of peanut allergy in the future. This recombination is a “ significant departure from the past”. These new guidelines could dramatically reduce the prevalence of this deadly allergy. 


Stay tuned for more news from the exciting world of Obstetrics and Gynecology, next week on Medical Monday.  

Medical Monday: Breaking News from the World of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Zika has crossed the Atlantic to the United Kingdom. There are 265 known cases there already, including one whose transmission is believed to have been sexual. People traveling from moderate or high risk areas are asked to abstain, or contracept and use reliable barrier methods. HA ! That’s an oxymoron: reliable barriers. 

It is winter in North America, and that includes the US territory most affected by Zika: Puerto Rico. While Zika transmission continues, it is decreased at this time of year, due to reduced mosquito activity. Attention turns now to the pregnant Zika infected women. There have been 2600 confirmed cases of Zika in pregnancy in Puerto Rico. Many have miscarried, but many are yet undelivered. 

Texas now joins Florida as the only continental US state to document a local transmission of Zika. Local transmission means a Texas mosquito bit a person in Texas and transmitted the Zika virus. What this says about the number of mosquitos in Texas which have Zika is unclear, but it says something. Until now, all other Texas cases of Zika have been linked to travel. 

In other news, the ACA (The Affordable Care Act) has top billing. As mentioned last week, the ACA is now integral to our healthcare system and cannot be easily dismantled. Twenty million Americans now depend on the ACA for their health care. It is becoming more widely acknowledge that for the time being, it will have to stay as it is, notwithstanding the change in administration. Enrollment for 2017 is beginning, and it seems, continuing apace, 2.1 million so far, despite GOP’s vows to dismantle it. 

GOP lawmakers have started discussions with insurers to try to prevent a collapse of the insurance market if they pass a repeal of the ACA. GOP lawmakers are now indicating that it may take them “ years” to repeal the ACA, hopefully more than four. 

As a physician, completely unrelated to politics, I am for some form of the ACA. I have seen women whose only health care was during their pregnancy, who can now come in with pride just for their annual. They are able to get the recommended screening tests, and can begin to think about health maintenance and limiting family size if they chose. I know, as a physician, that prevention saves money. I also know that disease caught early and treated is far cheaper than disease caught late. GOP lawmakers MUST factor this in if they are to modify the ACA or create their own plan in such a way as to make it affordable and sustainable in the long run. 

The GOP is mixed on the Medicaid expansion. Many Republican Governors are glad to get so many more or their poorest patients insured. 

New research published in the Journal of Women’s Health indicates that women with chronic conditions do worse without access to the internet. This may have to do with access to information and social connections with others, especially others who share the same conditions. 

Many women and many providers believe that there is an age cutoff after which mammograms are no longer beneficial. I am unaware of such data. New research using data from 6 million mammograms between 2008 and 2014 confirms there is no clear cutoff point. Mammogram decisions should be made between a patient and her caregiver, and factor in the best available data and the patient’s overall health. 

Tom Price, the Health and Human Services Secretary elect is said to be both anti-abortion and anti-birth control. It is beyond me when someone who is anti-abortion is also anti-birth control. The theoretical planned repeal of the ACA will not ban these things per se, but a report out of Kaiser indicates  that the costs of contraception will rise during this time period. Drug costs across the board will likely rise whether or not the ACA is repealed. 

In the good news department, the House, in a landslide vote, passed the 21st Century Cures Act. This provides an increase in finding to the FDA ( Food and Drug Administration) by $500 million, for drug development and testing,  and would also provide $1 billion to address opioid addiction. There’s a billion dollars we theoretically should not have to spend but, we do. This is why we cannot have nice things. 

Planned Parenthood, ACLU, and the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy are filing lawsuits which challenge several laws which limit women’s rights to various reproductive services. The lawsuits are arising as quickly as the limitations these days. 

The House Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Health has taken what I consider to be a monumentally positive step in reigning in the US Preventive Services Task Force. They have recommended that the small, non-clinical committee receive more input on formulating their recommendations, from (surprise!) medical authorities before they make recommendations which influence patient care and insurance coverage of various screening procedures. The bill comes from Republican Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee who has pointed out that USPTF recommendations on many issues pertinent to women’s health including mammograms differ from those of, for example, ACOG, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The bill provides for input from both primary care medicine and specialist authorities. Bravo Representative Blackburn, and bravo to you for reading all this. 

Stay tuned next week for more exciting news from the world of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 


Medical Monday: Breaking News from the World of Obstetrics and Gynecology

It turns out that Dr. Peter Hotez, the Dean of that National School for Tropical Medicine has been thinking about the interplay between Hurricane Matthew and the Aedes mosquito which spreads Zika. His informed speculations were that the Hurricane could provide an initial respite from the mosquitos, being essentially blown away by the tremendous winds. However, the enormous amount of standing water afterwards would provide ideal breeding ground for the virus carrying mosquitos. 

Though the Federal government has passed a limited Zika funding measure, the bulk of the costs have fallen on States. The 1.1 billion dollars recently approved requires the development of a spending plan which the Department of Health and Human Services are required to complete by the end of the month. One hundred and fifty two million will go toward vaccine development. The rest will go to local labs to speed up testing, as well as for prevention efforts like mosquito control, and education campaigns. 

Much of the press about Zika focuses rightly on its effects on pregnant women, namely microcephaly and other severe effects on the fetal and neonatal brain and nervous system. However, Zika virus effects non- pregnant women and men by increasing their chances of Guillain Barre Syndrome, post viral paralysis. In the recent new wave of such patients, 97% of these patients had symptoms of Zika 4 weeks prior, further cinching the relationship of the virus to the syndrome even further. 

At least 808 pregnant American women have Zika. It is likely that there are many more since the infection can be asymptomatic, and testing results are much delayed. Physicians and Institutions are trying to ready themselves for the increase in special needs children which will come as a result of the Zika epidemic. 

New Zika recommendations indicate that both men and women wait six months to get pregnant after Zika exposure. 

In other virus related news, studies have shown that parents are more likely to ask for HPV ( Human Papilloma Virus) vaccine to be given to their children if their child’s caregiver discusses it with them in a certain way. In particular, if caregivers highlight the parent’s role in preventing HPV infection, parents are more likely to agree to the administration of the vaccine. HPV vaccine is grossly underutilized. Researchers and physicians are trying to increase HPV vaccine utilization rates by funding the vaccine with others and by giving it in school based programs. HPV is a virus which causes serious and sometimes fatal disease processes ( cervical cancer)  for which there is an effective vaccine. Yet many will not utilize it. Once we are fortunate enough to have a Zika vaccine, I wonder if some will decline that too. 

Speaking of inadequate utilization of vaccine, over half of millennials do NOT plan to get the flu vaccine this year. Half of these people do not believe it is effective and 29% think it will give them the flu. The data do not bear out these concerns. 

Here is some bad news that is, at the same time, interesting and useful. First, people in most modern countries gain weight during the holidays. The amount and time frame varies by country. In the US, our weight is at its lowest in October, right after summer, and increases in the ten days preceding the holidays. It appears that holiday related weight gain, regardless of country, takes about FIVE months to lose. That’s right people, gain it in ten days, lose it over five months. 

In other bad but fascinating and hopefully helpful news, stress contributes to aging in a very particular and profound way. A large human DNA study has demonstrated that “ adverse events in childhood ...hasten …telomere tear down." I once read telomeres are the protective shoelace tips to our DNA shoelaces. Telomeres keep DNA from fraying as it were, and this prevents premature aging. They were able to determine that each significant stressful event in a person’s life increases the risk of shorter telomeres by 11 percent. DNA codes for what we are… in a very immediate tissue sense of the word. Damaged DNA leads to all kinds of diseases including cancer, and basically the failure to heal and renew properly. We have to start taking the prevention of childhood stress much more seriously. 

State Medicaid expansions are most costly than previously anticipated. This is because more qualifying patients have signed up, and they are sicker than had been anticipated. This should be cause for increasing the funding to the expansions, says this fiscal conservative. Why ? It is because preventive care and treatment that is earlier rather than later ALWAYS is cheaper in the long run. Never mind that it is more humane and the ethical thing to do. 

Stay tuned for more fascinating news from the world of Obstetrics and Gynecology, next week, on Medical Mondays.

Medical Monday: Breaking News from the World of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Greetings from the heart of Silicon Valley. Please excuse the blog silence over the last few days as, believe it or not, I have suffered from sporadic Internet connection. I have been attending a very busy conference, Stanford MedX, on which I will fully brief you later. I could not blog at the conference but I took a lot of notes and pictures and they will serve as the basis for my reports to you sometime late on Wednesday. Where I stayed was a beautiful residence deep in a grove of old-growth trees so dense that it interfered with us cellular and local Wi-Fi coverage. So I right now without pictures, I will make this dispatch to you because I think medical Monday is so important. Text will go, but pictures will have to wait.


Some continue to doubt the association of the Zika virus infection with the development of microcephaly. However this latest study should put this to rest. The Journal Lancet Infectious Disease reported work that studied newborn Zika babies both with microcephaly and without. It turns out that babies with microcephaly we're 55 times more likely to have been infected with the Zika virus in utero. However, none of the 62 newborns in the comparison group who appeared normal showed any sign of infection.


Of chilling significance is another story published the Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases. Those authors note that "for infants about four months and up to eight months of age" babies were "born on average on measures of weight length and head circumference" but "fell even further below average as time passed".


The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has now indicated that Zika virus can spread through "contact with bodily fluids such as tears, discharge from infected eyes, saliva, vomit, urine or stool." This has obvious implications for those living with and caring for those affected by the Zika virus.


Florida may offer free Zika virus testing, but that does not mean women are getting results. Apparently results that take a private lab a few days to report are taking weeks for the state run service. Time is of the essence when inquiring about Zika virus infection in pregnancy, since many women consider the option of abortion if there is evidence that their baby could be or is infected. Access to abortion is more restricted in what now could be called the Zika belt of our country.  Women consider this drastic measure because central nervous system manifestations of Zika virus in pregnancy are often devastatingly severe. We now know they're also potentially progressive even after the baby is born.


A recent poll suggests that the risks of Zika virus to pregnant women have caused some Americans to soften their view on abortion. 62% of voters living in the 10 battleground states in the south and along the Gulf Coast have said that they "support abortions after 24 weeks if a doctor believes there is a serious possibility that a woman's fetus could have severe birth defects from the Zika virus."


As of this writing the funding to combat the Zika virus is virtually spent. The Obama administration as well as the CDC, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and others have appealed to Congress to put aside partisan politics and fund the fight against the crisis


It is worth reiterating news from last week coming to us from the Zika belt state of Texas. Texas maternal mortality spiked from 18.6 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2010 two more than 30 per 100,000 into thousand and 11 and remains at that level through 2014. This statistic may not seem huge but it has increased dramatically and is a higher rate than anywhere else in the country. It is also higher maternal mortality rate than in most other industrial countries. Numerous writers, ACOG and the State Heath Services of Texas maternal mortality task force all recommend an increase in health care services to women as the solution.


Global maternal mortality rates are not where they should be. The United Nations sustainable development goals (SDG) indicate the rate would have to fall by nearly 70% to meet the target globally of 70 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. It is felt that this should be accomplished by adding an estimated 18 million Women's Health workers including midwives and obstetricians.


A new study by the Urban Institute has indicated that only 31% of women know about the most effective forms of birth control, the LARCs, the long acting reversible contraceptives. ACOG has said that such IUDs and implants are the most effective reversible contraceptives available and are safe to use by almost all women of reproductive age. Of note, weeks ago it was reported that Puerto Rico, which is greatly affected by the Zika virus, had been given a large supply of IUDs but was unable to fully utilize them due to the lack of providers trained to insert them. LARC use in Texas is on the rise.


The rest of the news in brief:


US preventive services task force recommend screening all nonpregnant adults and adolescents at risk for syphilis, which is on the rise.

The British medical Journal reports that pregnant women with higher ambient glucose levels who are not meeting the criteria for gestational diabetes still have an increased risk of complications. These complications would include preeclampsia and overly large infants (macrosomia). Additionally, related complications are noted, such as shoulder dystocia, which is the condition where babies are dangerously difficult to deliver due to a larger girth at the shoulders.


The national Cancer institute is once again encouraging all children adolescents and young adults 26 years of age or younger to obtain the vaccine against the human papilloma virus, HPV. Only 40% of eligible girls and 21% of eligible boys have received the vaccine. Vaccination rates in Australia and the United Kingdom are in the range of 75 to 92%


In the good news and we already knew this department, an article in the Annals of Oncology has reminded us that use of oral contraceptives decreases ovarian cancer risk by 50%. For the record, having children and breast-feeding them also decreases this risk.


In the good news department, The number of Americans without health insurance has fallen to a recent level of less than 10%. This is attributed to people buying insurance on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange.


Stay tuned for more exciting news from the world of Obstetrics , Gynecology, and Women's Health, next week on Medical Monday.

Medical Monday: Breaking News from the World of Obstetrics and Gynecology 

Congress has gone for a two and half week recess without coming to agreement on a budget to combat the Zika Virus. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) plans on drawing from the emergency public health fund which will affect patient care all around the country. Florida is severely at risk

Medicaid has chipped in. The Department of Health and Human Services has announced that Medicaid funds can bet used to pay for mosquito repellant in the effort to control the spread of Zika.This will require a prescription. Medicaid will also cover all forms of birth control. 

One hundred and fifty health experts from several countries have called for the cancellation of the Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro this year. The CDC and the WHO (World Health Organization) have not taken this view and have made statements indicating it should go on. I am completely unsure of their reasoning. Zika virus acquired in Rio could spread to all the participating countries of the world, causing microcephaly and Guilaine Barre far and wide. 

Newer evidence is showing that sexual transmission of Zika is more common than previous thought. Moreover, Zika is now known to last longer in the body than previously thought. Because of this, people in a Zika affected area, but practice safe sex for 8 weeks, not 4, as previously recommended. Men with Zika must wait 6 months after clearing it before trying to conceive. A letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine presents a case where Zika seems to have been transmitted by a kiss and or oral sex.

ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) has started talking about the fourth trimester. This is, of course, the postpartum period. They are calling for physicians and patients to jointly craft a “ Postpartum care plan”. This is to include identification of the members of her postpartum care “team”, i.e. friends, family, and health professionals who will be able to help out. 

It’s true. There is “ mom brain”. But, it’s not what you think it is. New research out of the University of Colorado at Denver has shown that during pregnancy and the postpartum, the prefrontal cortex of the maternal brain reorganizes and increases it activity. This appears to translate into improved concentration. 

The WHO has come out with statements and guidelines in support of breastfeeding. They also issued controversial new recommendations to governments to restrict advertising of formula for children under three years of age. 

Maine legislature has approached new rules requiring lay midwives to meet certain minimal l education requirements and to be licensed by the state. This represents a step forward in the free for all that is home birth in this country. 

Menstrual migraines are real and we are beginning to crack their code. Researchers have discovered that estrogen levels fall unusually quickly right before the period in those who experience menstrual - timed migraine. This may point to effective therapies. 

The sale tax on tampons has been repealed by law in both Illinois and New York. The “ tampon tax” has been judged unfair to women, since that are the only gender who pays it. 

Teen pregnancy rates have fallen again to 22.3 live birth per 1000 teens ages 15-19. The CDC has identified the following likely reasons for the drop: "less sex, more contraceptive, and positive peer influence". 

I am starting to think that we each ought to contact our legislators about funding the fight against Zika. This thing may break open after these misbegotten Summer Olympics. 


Stay tuned next week, for more news from the world of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 


Medical Monday: Breaking News from the World of Obstetrics and Gynecology 

Zika infections in the US have taken sharp uptick of late, presumably due to the weather and mosquito activity. Zika infections in American pregnant women now number around 300, the largest number of which are located in Puerto Rico. Numbers are also up since the initially reported numbers did not reflect asymptomatic infections, which can affect fetuses as well. The CDC ( Centers for Disease Control) estimate about 80% of Zika virus infections are asymptomatic. 

The Zika virus is transmitted by mosquito bite and by sexual contact. Consumer Reports has studied the so called natural mosquito repellants and, sadly, found that they last no more than an hour. DEET is much more effective, and has been found to be safe in pregnancy. 

The CDC and Harvard Public Health have analyzed preliminary data. Women who get Zika in section in the first trimester have about a 13% chance of having a baby with microcephaly. The background incidence of microcephaly is on the order of .02 to .12% in the US. So far, it appears that infection in the second or third trimesters is not as consequential.

I wonder if Zika related brain damage is either present or not present, versus a spectrum of damage. If it is spectrum, what do the other 87% of babies have that we should know about ? 

The CDC director has made an impassioned plea to Congress. The House and Senate each have separate Zika funding plans, but they cannot agree. Meanwhile days could make the difference as summer approaches. 

A new study out of U Penn indicates that pregnant women who use marijuana increase their risk of preterm labor by five times. I am more interested in what it may be doing to the brain of both the mothers and the babies, and would be glad to see more research done on this important topic. 

The whole pelvic mesh situation is seemingly going from bad to worse. Mesh sheets are used in surgery to reinforce tissue. Various types of mesh in sheets or ribbons are used for hernias and for urinary incontinence. Johnson and Johnson developed mesh for use in pelvic prolapse patients. However, complications started arising including migration or erosion of the mesh. People were indeed injured, and lawsuits arose.  Washington and California are filing lawsuits against Johnson and Johnson, alleging that the company misrepresented the risks of its use. 

Now some of those same pelvic surgeons who installed mesh are removing it. Is is fitting and customary for a surgeon to handle any of her or his post op complications However in this instance, American Medical Systems has recently alleged that some physicians and lawyers are “ persuading” women to remove their mesh implants in order to make money and inflate damage claims. They also explain that there are now lending companies who work with physicians to fund these mesh removal cases. For shame !!! I will be following this story closely.

I have used Monarc “ ribbon” to suspend the bladder to help incontinence. It has an acceptable complication rate. However, years ago, when a fellow doctor friend of mine and I went to get trained on Monarc insertion, we were also asked if we wanted to train on mesh. I distinctly remember that moment when she and I looked at each other and made bad faces. It gave us both the creeps. We said no because our gut impression told us it seemed prone to complications. Lucky guess. Or maybe it was that the idea of having a piece of screen door sewn just under your vagina skin did not sound OK to us. 

The Republican Governor of Oklahoma Mary Fallin has ignored the party line, and vetoed the recent bill making abortion a felony. This brave politician described herself as “ the most pro-life governor in the nation” but vetoed the bill on the basis that it was “ambiguous and vague" and “ would not survive a constitutional challenge” , i.e. it would be illegal. The Governor was under great pressure from the Christian right to pass the bill. She also received information and pressure from the Oklahoma State Medical Board, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Acting this presidential could get you a nomination. Similar bills are being put forth in South Carolina and Louisiana. 

Many of you have read my rants about various and sundry public health generated guidelines about women’s health screening tests. These would include mammograms, paps, annual exams and the like. My rants have generally been about the more lax approach seen by generalist governing bodies like the American College of Physicians, and the American Academy of Family Physicians. ACOG guidelines are more stringent, and I believe this is because we rely on more rigorous data produced by specialists in the field. Even so, generalist guidelines hit the press just the same as ACOGs, and it is difficult for a layperson let alone a community physician to understand why the recommendations are so different. 

As an example, ACOG believes the evidence supports mammograms in the 40s for women of average risk, whereas the American Preventive Services Task Force does not advise them until the 50s. In a nutshell, this is because the APSTF did not choose their study endpoints in the most meaningful way. Their harms included trivial things like fear of mammograms, and their endpoint was death rather than years of life. The public and many providers were thrown into confusion. 

Fast forward to the present for some good news.. ACOG will now be partnering with these same organizations to develop what will hopefully be an evidence based rigorous set of Women’s Preventive Services Guidelines. 


Stay tuned for more news next week on Medical Monday.