Consumer Health Digest #06-37
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
September 12, 2007
Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., and cosponsored by NCAHF and Quackwatch. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making.
Consumers Union criticizes nursing home industry. Consumer Reports has concluded that poor care is common in nursing homes. [Nursing homes: Business as usual. Consumer Reports 71(9):38-41, 2006] Its most recent investigation found:
- State agencies responsible for overseeing nursing home care have often failed to correct problems.
- Consumers can increase their odds of choosing a good nursing home if they narrow their search to certain types.
- Not-for-profit homes are more likely to provide good care than for-profits, based on analysis of inspection surveys, staffing, and quality indicators.
- Independently run homes are more likely to provide good care than chains.
- Through its influence in politics, the industry has whittled down the protections of a 1987 federal law meant to improve nursing home care for the elderly.
Waxman hits deceptive pregnancy information services. A new study released by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA) has found that federally funded pregnancy resource centers often mislead pregnant teens about the medical risks of abortion, The report states:
- Under the Bush Administration, pregnancy resource centers (also called “crisis pregnancy centers”) have received over $30 million in federal funding. Female investigators, who posed as pregnant 17-year-olds seeking advice about an unintended pregnancy, telephoned the 25 pregnancy resource centers that have received capacity-building funds from the Department of Health and Human Services. Twenty of the 23 centers reached by the investigators (87%) provided false or misleading information.
- Some falsely claimed there is link between abortion and breast cancer. One center said that “all abortion causes an increased risk of breast cancer in later years," whereas another told the caller that an abortion would “affect the milk developing in her breasts” and that the risk of breast cancer increased by as much as 80% following an abortion.
- Some falsely stated that abortion can decrease fertility. First-trimester abortions, using the most common procedure, pose no increased risk of infertility. However, seven centers told the caller that having an abortion could hurt her future chances of having children. One center said that damage from abortion could lead to “many miscarriages” or to “permanent damage” so “you wouldn’t be able to carry,” telling the caller that this is “common” and happens “a lot.”
- Some falsely stated that abortion is harmful to mental health. Research shows that significant psychological stress after an abortion is no more common than after birth. However, thirteen centers told the caller that the psychological effects of abortion are severe, long-lasting, and common. One said that the suicide rate in the year after an abortion “goes up by seven times.” Another said that post-abortion stress suffered by women having abortions is much like that seen in soldiers returning from Vietnam and “is something that anyone who’s had an abortion is sure to suffer from.”
[False and misleading health information by federally funded pregnancy resource centers. U.S. House Committee on Governmental Reform, July 2006]
Former BALCO medical director facing disciplinary action. The Medical Board of California has accused Brian D. Halevie-Goldman, M.D. of gross negligence, improper prescribing, inadequate record-keeping, and dishonesty. The accusation document states:
- Halevie-Goldman is a former medical director of Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO), whose president, Victor Conte, illegally supplied steroid drugs to athletes.
- During 2003, at Conte's request, Halevie-Goldman issued several prescriptions for prominent track star whom he did not examine.
- The athlete, Kelli White, subsequently won gold medals in the 100- and 200-meter races at the World Championships in Paris.
- After a performance-enhancing stimulant drug was found in White's urine, Goldman concocted a medical history and diagnosis in an effort to excuse the doping offense.
- When the truth came out, White accepted a two-year suspension.
This page was posted on September 12, 2006.