Patient Safety

I got the COVID Vaccine, have you?

By Michael Wong, JD (Executive Director, Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety)

Here is my story of efforts to get the COVID vaccine, waiting, waiting, and more waiting … and then finally receiving the first dose of Pfizer COVID vaccine.

Like many people around the country – and indeed the world – I met the news of approval of vaccines against COVID-19 with joy and some trepidation. Joy because a COVID vaccine could mean an end to physical distancing and mask wearing, and a return to some normalcy. 

There is No Cure for COVID-19

The anti-COVID vaxxers will tell you that there is a cure for COVID-19 – this is FALSE! Don’t let this misinformation prevent you from protecting yourself and your loved ones.

There are treatments that are being used to try to stop the progression of COVID-19, but there is NOT a cure for COVID-19. 

Getting the COVID Vaccine is Not Worse Than Getting COVID

The anti-COVID vaxxers will also tell you that getting the vaccine is worse than getting COVID – this is FALSE! Don’t let this misinformation prevent you from protecting yourself and your loved ones.

Researchers have found that there are long-term effects of getting COVID-19. Anthony L. Komaroff, MD (Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Letter) writes 

“When people first started getting sick with COVID, doctors thought that it affected primarily the lungs. Unfortunately, we quickly learned that it also could affect the heart, kidneys, brain, and other organs.

“There also are people who survived COVID and have no evidence of injury to the heart, kidneys, or brain — but who nevertheless have not returned to full health. They still have fatigue, body aches, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating, inability to exercise, headache, and trouble sleeping. Some studies find that more than 50% of people who “recovered” from COVID remain hobbled by these symptoms three months later. They can’t return to work. They can’t fulfill their responsibilities at home. They are being called “long haulers.”

The Mayo Clinic, in looking at those who get mildly sick from COVID, concluded:

“some people — even those who had mild versions of the disease — continue to experience symptoms after their initial recovery.

“These people sometimes describe themselves as ‘long haulers’ and the condition has been called post-COVID-19 syndrome or ‘long COVID-19.’

“Older people and people with many serious medical conditions are the most likely to experience lingering COVID-19 symptoms, but even young, otherwise healthy people can feel unwell for weeks to months after infection.

I also met the news of COVID vaccine approval with some trepidation. I like many people who had questions about how the vaccine works, been tested, and approved:

  • Is the vaccine safe?
  • What are the side effects of taking the vaccine?
  • Was the approval of the vaccine politically motivated?

My Experience Getting the COVID Vaccine

However, what I probably should have feared most was the uncertainty and the efforts I would need to exert to get an appointment to receive the vaccine. I signed up on my state’s site to get the vaccine when it was approved and dutifully filled out the state requirements – giving my age, address, whether I was a frontline worker, whether I had an existing condition … and waited, and waited, and waited …

After some time and not getting an appointment for a vaccine shot, despite being in a priority group, my local news told me that individual clinics and hospitals were providing the vaccine outside of the state registration site. In short, a double vaccine system had been created – one run by the state in which I resided and one run by healthcare facilities that were able to get supplies of the COVID vaccine – in short, chaos!

When there was news that pharmacies were getting the COVID vaccine, I searched those sites online – no result.

I even entered into daily “lotteries” to get the vaccine – no result.

Then, out of the blue, I won the vaccine lottery – I got an email from a local hospital asking me to schedule a time to take the vaccine. I didn’t hesitate and scheduled the first available appointment for a few days later – and received back a confirmation of the time, as well as instructions to bring the email, ID, and proof of insurance. The email also said to “Please wear a mask when you arrive and ensure you wear clothing that allows access to your upper arm” and warned “If you have a fever or cold/respiratory symptoms on the date of your vaccine appointment, you will not be able to proceed with your vaccination.”

At the appointed time, I went to the vaccine site, a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) “mega” site at a nearby convention center. Even though it was still quite early in the morning, the parking lot at the convention center was full and a small queue of people had already formed at the entrance.

At the entrance, I showed the greeter my cell phone confirming my appointment, and then I found the end of the line. Looking at the long line, I thought that this is just like standing in line at Disneyland – only a fun ride was not at the end, only a much needed vaccine. Thankfully the line moved very quickly and I soon came to the first of four stations – at this first station, I showed my driver’s license and received back a numbered card, with the instructions that the card would be collected at the end.

I then joined another fast-moving line that brought me to the second station – the registration desk. Here I was greeted by a very pleasant young man from FEMA. As he entered the required information on a laptop, we chatted. I found that he was with the local national guard, that he is going to get married soon, and that he hopes to travel the world with his new wife.

He then sent me on my way to the third station filled with many partitions behind which clinicians were providing the vaccine shots to individuals. The nurse asked me whether this was my first dose of the vaccine, whether I had had COVID-19, and whether I had any of the medical conditions listed in large type on the 8.5” by 11” sheet. She told me that about 4,000 shots would be administered that day at the site (I don’t think she told everyone this – we were just chatting, I was curious and she was happy to engage in friendly discussion). She then proceeded to very efficiently put one end of a band aid on my left arm, swab the area to be injected, give the injection, and put the other end of the band-aid on my arm. 

Getting the COVID vaccine shot was no different than getting any other vaccine.

The nurse then told me to go to the fourth and final station where I was to wait for 15 minutes before departing (negative reactions like anaphylaxis appear within the first few minutes of vaccination). She explained that I was also going to get a text scheduling my second vaccine dose, and that if I had any questions that there were people at the fourth station to answer my questions.

I did indeed get a text to schedule my next dose – which I scheduled for three weeks hence. As I waited for 15 minutes, I also signed up at the CDC site vsafe.cdc.gov, where in exchange for some basic contact information, I was told that vsafe would periodically check-in to see that I was ok. vsafe.cdc.gov has indeed checked in with me as promised. At this fourth station, there was also staff roaming around to ensure that all vaccine recipients were ok. 

When my allotted 15 minutes were up, I exited the mega-site, where I turned in the numbered card I received at the first station and received a small bottle of hand sanitizer – good for use in the car, I thought.

The whole process from start to finish – about an hour.

Side effects – none. I have had NO side effects from getting the COVID vaccine. I have not had an anaphylactic event or Bill Gates’ microbes inserted into my bloodstream.

My advice – get the COVID vaccine when you can! 

 

Patient Safety

Protecting Your Mental Health During COVID-19

By Regina Wheeler (e-Learning consultant at Write My Dissertation and PhD Kingdom; contributing writer at Next Coursework)

There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the world, and has had people worrying for their safety. While this can be a scary time for so many, that doesn’t mean that your mental health has to be jeopardized at times like this. 

This quick guide will show you some of the many ways to improve and safeguard your mental health during the COVID-19 crisis:

Stick With A Routine

“People’s lives may have changed since the pandemic,” says Roger Kelly, a lifestyle writer at 1Day2Write and OriginWritings, “whether they’ve been furloughed from their jobs, or chosen to work from home instead. In that case, one must find ways to incorporate a new routine that they’re comfortable with, and stick with it. If there are things that HAVEN’T been affected by the pandemic, then stick with those routines like you’d normally would.”

Get Going, And Keep Going

Just because we’re in a pandemic right now, doesn’t mean that you should give up on tending to your own health. You should still keep up with yourself. Waking up in a depressive state can prevent you from going about your day. 

Therefore, practice motivating yourself every day. And, practice continuing with life to the best of your ability. Remember: We’re all in this together.

Embrace Mindfulness

No matter what you believe in – what religion, yoga, or meditation you involve yourself in – practice your beliefs in as many ways as possible. At times like these, it’s going to take a lot of praying, meditating, and so on. 

Praying and meditating can help you get through the day, despite the catastrophic things that have transpired during the pandemic. Start with a saying: “I can do this!” or “I can handle myself!” When you turn to prayer and meditation, you’ll be one step closer to mindfulness, even at the darkest of times. 

Have Consistent Meal Times

It’s important to feed yourself, even if it’s hard to swallow the truth about the pandemic. Also, keep in mind that while comfort foods are okay to have every once in a while, you must also have healthy foods in your meals. In addition, stick with regular meal times, so that you’re on an efficient schedule. Don’t resort to snacking mindlessly and excessively, especially whenever you’re bored or stressed out.

Get Good Sleep

“Times are tough right now, that it can be hard to sleep,” says Thomas Bridges, a psychology blogger at Write My X and Britstudent. “Or, you may be using sleep as an escape from the world as it is right now. However, it’s imperative to get the right amount of sleep every night. Have a schedule in place where you go to bed at a certain hour, and wake up at a certain hour. That means turning off the distractions and the noise at night, and getting into the zone. If it helps, read a book or listen to music. Or, you can listen to guided meditation, which are available for free on sites like YouTube. These routines allow you to observe your thoughts and how you’re feeling, so that you can get caught up with the present moment, and eventually fall asleep.”

Take Care Of Yourself

Finally, this cannot be stressed enough – take care of yourself. Yes, even YOU should be taken care of every so often. Life is already stressful enough; so, why not make sure that you’re doing okay mentally? Rather than kick yourself every time you make a mistake, or worry about negativity, think about all the positives that have transpired thus far in your life. And don’t forget: You’re not alone, when it comes to having feelings of isolation. Not only should you be a supportive person for friends and family, also be supportive of yourself.

Conclusion

While the COVID-19 crisis will continue to be challenging for everyone – even after the pandemic is over – it’s still important to safeguard your mental health. While you might experience a mix of emotions during this time, that’s normal.

As you keep in mind this article on protecting your mental health, you’ll be on your way to coming out stronger, even once the COVID-19 pandemic comes to pass.

So, take care and stay safe!

For more information on how to protect your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, please see “COVID Fatigue? Keeping the Mind Sharp at Home, Work, and Everywhere In-Between.”. 


Regina Wheeler is an e-Learning consultant at Write My Dissertation and PhD Kingdom. She is also a contributing writer at Next Coursework. As a professional writer, she has been involved in many writing projects nationwide. As a blogger, she specializes in management, marketing, and finances.

 

Patient Safety

Could COVID-19 Be Tied To Hearing Loss?

By Pauline Dinnauer (VP, Audiological Care, Connect Hearing)

Just because it’s 2021, doesn’t mean the pandemic has ended. New Year’s Eve didn’t come with the flip of some magical switch that made COVID-19 disappear. COVID-19 is still very real, and very dangerous.

According to John Hopkins University, the virus has already claimed over two million lives. But even those who survive their brush with the disease might not be entirely out of the woods. There has been a steadily-growing body of evidence to suggest that COVID-19 may be responsible for a range of debilitating long-term effects.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these symptoms can last for weeks or months, and may include: 

  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Persistent cough
  • Joint and chest pain
  • Difficulty thinking and concentrating
  • Depression
  • Muscle pains
  • Headaches
  • Intermittent fever
  • Heart palpitations
  • Issues with smell and taste
  • Insomnia
  • Memory issues
  • Heart inflammation
  • Kidney damage

There could be even more long-term symptoms than seen above, too.  even longer than the CDC suggests. This past October, meanwhile, medical journal BMJ Case Reports profiled a 45-year-old British man who suffered from rapid-onset hearing loss after being infected.  A survey published in the International Journal of Audiology, meanwhile, saw one in 10 people self-report tinnitus or hearing impairment as a direct result of COVID. 

It’s all rather frightening, at first glance, isn’t it? Let me be the first to caution you — take this information with a grain of salt. Most evidence we have of COVID-19’s long term effects is anecdotal, based on self-reporting from those who’ve fallen ill with the disease. The CDC is itself currently engaged in several multi-year studies to further analyze COVID’s long-term symptoms.

As for hearing impairment, we also have no guarantee of a connection there, either. While there’s a small chance that COVID-19 could exacerbate an underlying condition, it’s just as likely that the impairment is unrelated to the virus. It could just easily be a side-effect of medication.

“Antiviral medications have known adverse effects, including tinnitus and hearing loss…the symptoms may be misdiagnosed as being caused by COVID-19,” reads another study published in the International Journal of Audiology. 

“Reports of audio-vestibular symptoms in confirmed COVID-19 cases are few and the publications are of poor quality…High-quality studies are required in different age groups to investigate the acute effects of coronavirus, including temporary effects that may be caused by, for example, medication, as well as for understanding long-term risks, on the audio-vestibular system.’

So, could COVID-19 be tied to hearing loss? We simply don’t know enough about the virus to say for certain. It’s not been around long enough for there to be an adequate body of peer-reviewed evidence into its long-term symptoms, and self-reporting can only be trusted to a certain point.  

I want to emphasize that I am not saying the pandemic is not dangerous, nor that it shouldn’t be taken seriously. We’ve yet to fully understand the virus at this point in time. Even though we’ve developed a vaccine, there are still many things we don’t know, such as;

  • Although per Live Science Magazine, we understand some of the risk factors that lead to severe infection, we still don’t know why it occasionally kills people without underlying conditions
  • How long someone’s antibodies render them immune to the virus after they’ve been infected. 
  • The viral load necessary for someone to be infected. 
  • If the virus spreads through both aerosols and droplets or solely through droplets. 

In time, we’ll understand the long-term impact COVID-19 can have on its victims. But for now, it’s enough to say that it is one of the most dangerous pandemics we’ve faced in years. Wear your masks, obey all social distancing and lockdown guidance, and wash your hands. 

Unless we take this seriously, it will only get worse. 


Pauline Dinnauer is the VP of Audiological Care at Connect Hearing, which provides industry-leading hearing loss, hearing testing, and hearing aid consultation across the US.

 

 

Patient Safety

COVID Fatigue? Keeping the Mind Sharp at Home, Work, and Everywhere In-Between

By Angela Hughes (Writer and Editor for Anapol Weiss, a personal injury law firm)

In the pre-COVID era, most people longed for more time at home, but if there’s one thing that 2020 has taught us, it’s that too much of a good thing isn’t always good.

The pandemic pushed people inside and away from family, friends, and co-workers. Although necessary, unstructured time at home can lead to boredom, stress, and mental health issues. Brain fog may set in and cause a decrease in memory and cognition. 

The good news is that there are healthy ways to cope with COVID fatigue and keep your mind sharp wherever you happen to be. 

Create a Healthy Routine

During uncertain times such as these, it’s important to feel like you maintain some control over your life. You can do this by maintaining your healthy habits and creating a routine that works for your situation. Doing so will help give you a sense of normalcy and ease anxiety. 

In an article for Healthline, clinical psychotherapist Erin Wiley notes that, “In order for our minds to function at maximum efficiency, we must have order and stability, and right now it’s harder than ever to have either. Simple habits that we may have previously done — making the bed, blow drying our hair — are simple activities we can do to remind our brain that life is still going on despite the interruptions we are facing.”

Your routine may not look exactly as it once did, but you can establish a new one that’s similar. Set your alarm and wake up at the same time every day. If you showered before work before COVID or worked out afterward, maintain those habits. You can also create checklists to help you stay organized and power through work tasks.

Use the Internet Mindfully

It’s easy to hop online and scroll through social media for hours, but to keep your mind sharp, consider using technology to inspire and educate yourself. 

Stimulate your mind by taking an online course, learning a new language, following guided meditations, or taking virtual tours through a museum. You can find everything from gallery tours and library collections to podcasts and wellness resources for free. 

If you’re feeling digitally fatigued, you can also keep your mind sharp by reading books and playing offline games. According to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry in 2018, people over age 65 who participated in intellectual activities, like reading and playing card games, had a significantly lower risk of dementia.

Lower Stress

Stress affects brain cells and wreaks all kinds of havoc on your life. If you’re not getting adequate sleep, feel anxious most of the time, or are stressed out about work and life in general, you could find yourself physically ill, depressed, forgetful, and irritable. Additionally, you could be at a higher risk of getting into car accidents. 

Even if you’re not driving as much as you used to or taking the long commute to work, you could still end up careless behind the wheel and in car accidents. The Association for Psychological Science says that a history of stress may contribute to anxiety while driving, leading to accidents.

One of the best ways to target stress is to practice mindfulness and breathing techniques. Meditation has a lot of research behind it, and it’s been shown to reduce anxiety and depression and increase certain areas of the brain. You can find various meditation videos online to suit your preferences: guided, visual, music only, etc. Experiment with different kinds to see what works best for you. 

You can also incorporate deep breathing exercises into your daily routine. For five to ten minutes a day, breathe slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth. Research has shown that slow, controlled breathing calms the mind. A peaceful mind can make decisions more easily and respond to outside events in a calmer manner. 

Stay Active

Keeping your body strong and healthy also keeps your mind sharp. Exercise boosts blood flow to the brain and increases the part of your brain (hippocampus) associated with learning and memory. The best part is, a little bit of exercise goes a long way, so you don’t need to run on the treadmill for six hours daily to see the benefits. 

Try walking or cycling three times a week or workout to an online video. It’s also beneficial to include resistance training into your physical activities. Brush off those dusty hand weights and start building a little body and brain muscle. 

Final Thoughts

You may not always know what will happen in the future or control how this pandemic will pan out, but you do have the power to control what’s happening in your mind and how you respond to uncertainty. 

Keeping your mind sharp and your body healthy will help you navigate daily life, even in the post-COVID world. Whether you end up using the internet mindfully or lower stress from potential risks like car accidents, these tips above can help you stay sharp.


Angela Hughes is a writer and editor for Anapol Weiss, a personal injury law firm. She writes about driving safety and personal safety tips to keep the world a little bit safer.

Patient Safety

Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety Wishes You a Safe and Merry Christmas!

Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety wishes you a Safe and Merry Christmas!

There have been two vaccines against COVID-19 approved by the FDA – one from Pfizer-BioNTech and one from Moderna.

FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. had this to say about these vaccine approvals – “With the availability of two vaccines now for the prevention of COVID-19, the FDA has taken another crucial step in the fight against this global pandemic that is causing vast numbers of hospitalizations and deaths in the United States each day.”

Although these approvals are great news and they are indeed a crucial step, don’t expect to receive a COVID vaccine soon. As the MIT Technology Review pointed out – “supplies of the vaccine are likely to be limited until well into 2021, meaning most people won’t be able to get it anytime soon.”

So, until a substantial majority of the population has received a COVID vaccine – including yourself and your family – please continue to be vigilant about your health and take safety precautions against COVID-19.

According to the CDC, please take these precautions:

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, everyone should:

  • Clean your hands often, either with soap and water for 20 seconds or a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Put distance between yourself and other people (at least 6 feet).
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces daily.
  • CDC recommends that people wear masks in public settings and when around people outside of their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • Masks may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others.

As well, here are some tips and advice that you might find useful:

Going to the Dentist in this COVID-19 Era – in this interview, Bradley T. Truax, MD discusses what precautions dentists and their patients should consider.

How Chiropractors Can Ensure Patient’s Safety Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic – Dr. Brent Wells, DC discusses what chiropractic clinics and patients should do as clinics begin to open up after COVID-19.

Exercising During the COVID-19 Pandemic – keeping physically active has a great many benefits and, during the current COVID-19 situation, physical activity is recommended for emotional and mental health, as well as to boost your immune system.

3 Myths about Wearing Masks – don’t let these three myths stop you from taking care of your health.

Establishing an Emotional Connection During COVID – social distancing required during the current COVID pandemic has taken a toll on our social and mental health. This article discusses the impact social distancing may have on us and what each of us can do about it.

Great COVID-19 Advice and Resources from Our Cardiovascular Partners – read this article for great advice and resources from the American Heart Association, Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association  and Heart Rhythm Society, the Anticoagulation Forum, StopAfib.org, and Mended Hearts.

Have a COVID question? We just might have the answer at Virtual Patient Care.

 

 

Malpractice, Patient Safety, Respiratory Compromise

New Survey Finds Lung Function Testing Has Decreased During COVID-19

By Michael Wong, JD (Executive Director, Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety)

Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other respiratory illnesses are more at risk of getting COVID-19.  Lung function tests, such as spirometry and plethysmography, are often used to determine how well the lungs are working. These tests measure lung volume, capacity, rates of flow, and gas exchange. Information from these tests is helpful to clinicians to diagnose and determine the appropriate treatment for patients suffering from lung disorders.

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Patient Safety

COVID-19 Keeps 44% of Patients From Seeking Care

By Elise M.V. Wong (Director of Communications & Research, Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety)

44% of patients have delayed or avoided doctor’s visits because of COVID-19. This percentage is even higher among those diagnosed with cardiovascular disease or respiratory illness — two groups with an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 and of facing serious complications if medical care is delayed. 

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Blood Clots, Malpractice

A Misdiagnosis of Blood Clots Can Be Costly – Particularly During COVID-19

By Michael Wong, JD (Executive Director, Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety)

In the early months of the COVID-19 epidemic, abnormal clotting was found in COVID-19 patients. As Bin Cao, MD, who is with the National Clinical Research Center for Respiratory Diseases in Beijing, described wide-spread clots in COVID-19 patients in a March 19, 2020 webinar cosponsored by the Chinese Cardiovascular Association and the American College of Cardiology – he found “clots in the small vessels of all organs, not only the lungs but also including the heart, the liver, and the kidney.” 

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Patient Safety

Has COVID affected your healthcare? Physician-Patient Alliance Wants to Help

Virtual Patient Care is a free service that allows anybody to get personalized answers to their health questions. We want to know how to serve you better. Please take this quick 3 minute survey and tell us how COVID has affected your health. As a reward, by completing this survey, you will have a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card.

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