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Opioid Crisis Is Taking Men Out of the Labor Market

By Josh Rosenblatt,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 12, 2017 7:41 PM CDT

(Newser) – The percentage of American men participating in the labor force dropped 3 percentage points between 1999 and 2014, and one economist believes a considerable portion of that drop can be blamed on the opioid epidemic, Fortune reports.

The drug crisis has hit certain areas of the country harder than others, so Princeton economist Alan Krueger looked at labor participation rates in those areas and concluded that the increase in opioid prescriptions over the last 15 years could account for as much as 20% of the decline.

“Labor force participation has fallen more in areas where relatively more opioid pain medication is prescribed, causing the problem of depressed labor force participation and the opioid crisis to become intertwined,” Krueger writes in his study published by the Brookings Institution.

As New York notes, it’s possible that dropping out of the labor force prompts men to turn to drugs, rather than the opposite, but the report still seems genuinely troubling.

info graphic of opioid deaths by gender for article,       Clean Needles Aren't the Only Tattoo Concern     San Diego Ramps Up Efforts to Squelch Hepatitis A Outbreak     Lost Interest in Sex? This Could Help     Bad Diet a Factor in 20% of All Deaths     Texas Cities Are Top in Uninsured Residents     Breakthrough Could Transform Vaccine Shots     Selena Gomez: I've Been on the Mend From Kidney Transplant     Hundreds Infected in Deadly Hepatitis Outbreak in California     School Board: Students Can Use Miniature Horses as Service Animals     BK Night Employees Work 2 Unusual Shifts in a Row     Bernie Sanders Wants to Give You a 'Universal Medicare' Card     Puppies From Petland Are Making People Sick: CDC  Health / opioids Go to Grid|Next Story Opioid Crisis Is Taking Men Out of the Labor Market It offers “compelling evidence that America’s painkiller habit isn’t just producing 100 overdose deaths in our country each day, but also impairing our economy’s capacity to grow.”

The report comes at a dire moment in the country’s opioid crisis. 33,000 Americans died in 2015 as a result of the epidemic, and while President Trump declared it a national emergency last month, since then no official paperwork has been released and no new policies have been enacted, the Hill reports.


Safety National Hosts Medical Marijuana Webinar, Local Carriers Talk Marijuana Policy

08/02/17   Nina Luckman

Medical Marijuana logo for story, Safety National Hosts Medical Marijuana Webinar, Local Carriers Talk Marijuana PolicySafety National recently hosted a webinar dedicated to the constantly evolving medical marijuana sector and its effect on workers’ compensation programs. Mark Walls of Safety National hosted the event, which included discussion of how medical marijuana programs must evolve given the drug’s rising profile, plus its current legal status.

Medical Marijuana  a Growing Workers Comp Challenge

Elizabeth Shocklee, Member of St. Louis-based firm Evans & Dixon LLC, began by discussing recent state Supreme Court cases in Maine, New Mexico and New Jersey, all of which granted the injured worker reimbursement for medical marijuana. “In all of these cases, it’s important to note that the judges were not persuaded by a couple of arguments,” Shocklee explained. “They were not persuaded that marijuana is illegal under federal law and they were not persuaded that it isn’t reasonable and necessary.”

Walls, Shocklee, and third presenter Sherri Hicky, who runs Safety National’s medical management department, all agreed that carriers need to get into the habit of anticipating these types of decisions and develop policy around them, even though many states, including Louisiana, have very restrictive medical marijuana laws.

However, as Hicky indicated in the webinar, there could be benefits for workers’ comp carriers in medical marijuana treatment if it’s juxtaposed with opioids.

“The states that allow medical marijuana have in some cases 25 percent fewer deaths from opioids,” Hicky said. “What that tells me is that they’ve moved over to the marijuana and consumed fewer opioids.” However, she also noted that marijuana “is not the be-all end-all to replace opioids.” Shocklee added: “If this is in your state and the courts are saying that you have to do this, it’s time to embrace it, figure it out, and also try to control it.


WellDoc BlueStar Diabetes App Gets FDA Nod For “Over the Counter” Use

screen shot of WellDoc BlueStar diabetes app gets FDA nod for “over the counter” useLast month, WellDoc, a leading mHealth company, announced that the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cleared their diabetes management   BlueStar for 510(k) Class II clearance for a non-prescription version.

BlueStar helps those with Type 2 diabetes get real-time guidance including instructions to get blood glucose in a safe range, tips, reminders, and calendars for dental appointments. It’s worth noting that for insulin-dependent patients, BlueStar doesn’t tell them how much insulin to administer. Rather, it focuses on providing personalized self-management guidance and helping manage extremes of blood glucose. There are also inputs for mood and diet which gives users a broad and comprehensive view of their health. The app also delivers reports to health care providers for continual monitoring by a professional.

BlueStar has been available by prescription for a few years, but now that it has over-the-counter status the company hopes that it will reach a wider audience and become more integrated with health care systems. The path WellDoc is following is similar to AliveCor who also brought their Kardia monitor to market as a prescription device first before seeking over-the-counter clearance. It does have some advantages for digital health devices by helping reassure regulators and others of safety with an initial period of more controlled, prescription-only use.


Prescribed DUI: An Alcohol-Free Danger

AKA: Tiger Woods  Syndrome

06/12/17    Dr. Paul Peak

Rx prescription pad with the words, "Don't Drive!"When it comes to getting the attention of the media and the public, not many things work better than an unfiltered, celebrity mugshot. When Tiger Woods was arrested on Memorial Day for driving under the influence, his mugshot and the story of his arrest became easy fodder for the media.

The man once known for being unstoppable on the golf course was found in a stopped car, asleep in the early hours of the morning. While it is easy to assume that anyone arrested for a DUI with a rough looking mugshot like Tiger’s must have been drinking, this was reportedly not the case with Tiger. And it may have been hard to believe when Tiger himself dismissed alcohol as the culprit early on after the news broke. Yet according to the police report, Tiger blew a .000 on his breathalyzer. Tiger was not driving drunk. Tiger was driving drugged. And drugged driving can be just as deadly.

While it’s unclear exactly what regimen Tiger was taking or what drugs led to the interaction (some of the drugs listed on the police report are incorrect as they either don’t exist, are amazingly misspelled, or have been off the market since 2004), this appears to be another example of strong medications used in combination impairing one’s ability to drive.

The one drug listed on the police report that is currently available by prescription only and recognizable is Vicodin, or otherwise known in generic form as hydrocodone in combination with acetaminophen (Tylenol). Vicodin, a commonly prescribed opioid, is known to cause drowsiness, something that is only amplified when given with other medications like a muscle relaxant (a type of medication commonly prescribed after back surgery which Tiger had last month).

Continue reading Prescribed DUI: An Alcohol-Free Danger

CA Dreaming of a Streamlined Workers’ Comp Procedure

By John Gerboth – February 13, 2017

State Seal of CaliforniaSan Bernardino, CA – On Dec. 2, 2015, married couple Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik opened fire at a staff meeting and luncheon taking place at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, CA.

Farook, a health inspector with the San Bernardino Department of Public Health, and his companion killed 14 coworkers and injured 22 others before fleeing the scene in an SUV and later being killed in a shootout with law enforcement. For the unfortunate workers who were injured that day, getting full redress through the state’s workers’ compensation system has been difficult.

The California Department of Industrial Relations (CDIR) oversees the state’s workers’ compensation system. The problem those injured in the San Bernardino shooting face is that what they and their doctors deem to be medically necessary often differs from what the CDIR believes to be medically necessary. Although certainly not an uncommon conflict in workers’ compensation law, the procedure for resolving these conflicts can take several months.

In response to this problem, California Assemblymember Eloise Gomez Reyes, who represents the district where San Bernardino is located, introduced Assembly Bill No. 44. According to the Legislative Counsel’s Digest, which spells out the purpose of the bill, the current “law requires every employer to establish a utilization review process, and defines ‘utilization review’ as utilization review or utilization management functions that prospectively, retrospectively, or concurrently review and approve, modify, or deny, based in whole or in part on medical necessity to cure and relieve, treatment recommendations by physicians, prior to, retrospectively, or concurrent with providing medical treatment services.” In layman’s terms this means that every medical procedure stemming from a workplace accident must be reviewed before it can be approved. Disputes over the decisions from the “utilization review” go to an independent medical review.

The Bill Digest continues as follows:

This bill would exempt medical treatment for employees or first responders who sustain physical or psychological injury as a result of an act of terrorism or violence in the workplace from the utilization review process and the independent medical review process, and would provide for an expedited proceeding before the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board to resolve disputes regarding treatment. Continue reading CA Dreaming of a Streamlined Workers’ Comp Procedure

Negativity and Your Inner Pooh

By Judge David Langham |  01/05/2017

Little child in an Eeyore costumeA.A. Milne brought us an incredible journey with his characters and stories. He is the creator of the simple, loyal, and always hungry Winnie the Pooh.
Pooh is the protagonist in a series of adventures that tend to take place in the solitude of the hundred acre woods, and in the imagination of a child, Christopher Robin.
The earliest of these stories are almost oen hundred years old. Many have enjoyed them as children, only to later share them with children, grandchildren and more.

Much as we all appreciate Pooh, however, I focus today on an ancillary character in the stories. A balance to the happy-go-lucky, optimistic Pooh is a donkey named Eeyore. Eeyore does not share Pooh’s simplistic optimism. In fact, he is the epitome of pessimism. He is described as characterized as “pessimistic, gloomy, depressed, and anhedonic.” Some examples:

Greeting our protagonist one morning Eeyore says

“Good morning, Pooh Bear,” “If it is a good morning,” “Which I doubt.”

Informed that there is to be a celebration, a party, Eeyore says

“Very interesting,” “I suppose they will be sending me down the odd bits which got trodden on. Kind and Thoughtful. Not at all, don’t mention it.”

In discussing the weather, Eeyore focuses upon the cold, and in his inimitable manner finds a depressing manner in which to look at the bright side:

“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily. “So it is.” “And freezing.”

“Yes.” “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”

Eeyore brings a dismal outlook to all he perceives. He is ever convinced that all is not well, that all is against him, that the world is to be survived and not engaged. He brings an gushing mix of ambivalence and pessimism to his companions. He never hesitates to rain on their parade, caution them of impending disaster, remind them of their shortfalls. In the process, what does Eeyore accomplish?


Caffeine Behind a California Man’s DUI

4 Things to Know About Caffeine, the Surprising Substance Behind a California Man’s DUI

by Parminder Deo and John Torres, M.D.

photo of coffee cup shaped car on the highwayA California has been charged with driving under the influence … of caffeine.

Wait, what?

Given that Americans consume an average of 3.1 cups of coffee a day, it’s unlikely he’s the only driver on the road to have ever enjoyed such a seemingly innocent pick-me-up. So, how in the world could caffeine impair a driver’s capability behind the wheel?

According to NBC medical contributor Dr. John Torres, it wouldn’t. “Studies have shown that caffeine actually helps ones driving abilities. The only way that it might have an effect is if a person overdoses on caffeine or uses it to cover fatigue and then it wears off,” Torres said.

One man’s legal issues aside, caffeine does come with some surprising truths that many people may not know.

Light Roast Has More Caffeine Than Dark

When you go bean to bean, light roasts win in holding more caffeine. Why? The beans are exposed to less heat than dark blends, so more caffeine is not lost during the roasting process. The difference in caffeine between light and dark roasts isn’t enough for most to notice, but there are other ways to reduce caffeine, if that’s what you’re going for.

If you’re trying to cut down, Torres suggests switching to cold brew coffees, since they contain less caffeine. You could also switch to tea, which cup for cup contains less than half the caffeine of coffee. Barring that, there’s always decaf.

Caffeine Might Be More Effective in the Afternoon

Contrary to what many coffee aficionados believe, you don’t need a hit of caffeine as soon as you wake up. The reason behind this has to do with your cortisol levels.
Continue reading Caffeine Behind a California Man’s DUI

What Brain Science Says About How To Manage Your Time To Be More Successful

brain made with computer chips
This is your brain on chips

LaRae Quy
November 16, 2016

When I was deeply involved in an investigation, I could no longer efficiently manage my time. My workouts and journal writing would be among the first victims of my busy schedule. Time for maintaining friendships was the next to go, and finally, no time for reading, either.

I spent years thinking this was a normal reaction if I wanted to do everything in my power to stop criminals. I accepted the fact that a demanding job required trade-offs in the rest of my life.

Randi Zuckerberg called it the entrepreneur’s dilemma: “Maintaining friendships. Building a great company. Spending time w/family. Staying fit. Getting sleep. Pick 3.” To be successful, you must make sacrifices. Big ones.
Continue reading What Brain Science Says About How To Manage Your Time To Be More Successful

Cast Sunlight At Work, Not Shade

My kids went back to school last month, and my preteen daughter has been regaling us at dinner with tales of middle school.

photo of sunlight streaming through a forestAs is often the case in seventh grade, some of her stories center on classmates “throwing shade” at one another. That’s teen speak for talking trash about someone. We’ve had important conversations at the dinner table about the effects that this type of “shade” has on people. My husband I and reinforce with our kids that no matter how witty or clever the comment, if it cuts someone down, it’s damaging.

If throwing shade harms people, sunlight (metaphorically speaking) has the ability to reverse that damage. Think back to high-school biology class and the term “heliotropic,” which refers to a plant’s ability to move or grow toward the direction of sunlight.

Social scientists have drawn from this aspect of nature the phrase “heliotropic effect.” Kim Cameron is a professor of management and organizations at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

In his paper that explores how leaders can mimic this positive element of nature, Cameron writes that there is a “tendency in all living systems toward that which gives life and away from that which depletes life — toward positive energy and away from negative energy.” Continue reading Cast Sunlight At Work, Not Shade

Study: 40 Percent Of Children Exposed To Secondhand Smoke

smoking baby photoDALLAS, Sept. 12 (UPI) — Even with drastic decreases in the number of Americans who smoke, four out of ten children are still exposed to secondhand smoke, at least partially because it remains prevalent in public spaces and apartment buildings, according to a study published in the journal Circulation.

More than two-thirds of black children, more than one-third of white children and just under one-third of Hispanic children are exposed to secondhand smoke, researchers report in the American Heart Association-sponsored study.

The study recommends more be done to discourage smoking, including raising taxes on cigarettes, banning smoking in more areas and increasing funding to tobacco cessation programs.

Just 15 percent of Americans smoke cigarettes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but Raghuveer said exposure to smoke outside the home, for the most part, is to blame for the continued exposure.
Continue reading Study: 40 Percent Of Children Exposed To Secondhand Smoke