Consumer Health Digest #15-32

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
August 16, 2015

Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., with help from William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H. 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.

NIOSH calls for tobacco-free workplaces. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health now recommends that all employers adopt a smoke-free policy that includes electronic cigarettes. Its Current Intelligence Bulletin (CIB 67) urges all employers to:

At a minimum, establish and maintain smoke-free workplaces that protect those in workplaces from involuntary, secondhand exposures to tobacco smoke and airborne emissions from e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems. Ideally, smoke-free workplaces should be established in concert with tobacco cessation support programs. Smoke-free zones should encompass (1) all indoor areas without exceptions (i.e., no indoor smoking areas of any kind, even if separately enclosed and/or ventilated), (2) all areas immediately outside building entrances and air intakes, and (3) all work vehicles. Additionally, ashtrays should be removed from these areas.

Optimally, establish and maintain entirely tobacco-free workplaces, allowing no use of any tobacco products across the entire workplace campus.

Americans for Nonsmoker's Rights provides comprehensive information about the problems of secondhand smoke, the efforts to protect the public from it, and sneaky ways tobacco companies oppose such efforts.

Former naturopathy board chairman suspended. Mark C. Monwai, N.D., who, since 2006, has operated the Cornerstone Family Health Clinic in Kirkland, Washington, is facing serious disciplinary action. In March 2015, the Washington State Board of Naturopathy charged him with unprofessional conduct that involved falsifying insurance claims and failing to cooperate with a board investigator. An insurance department news release indicates that some of the falsified claims were submitted using the name of a former employee after the insurance companies had canceled his contract as a provider. In June 2015, Monwai pleaded guilty to insurance fraud and was ordered to repay the insurance companies, pay a $600 fine, and provide 250 hours of community service. In July, the naturopathy board updated its complaint and summarily suspended his license. The amended statement of charges indicates that (a) between 2009 and 2014, he submitted more than 150 insurance claims in which the person identified as the provider had not administered the treatment and (b) when the board asked for certain relevant records, he changed the provider names before submitting them. One week later, the board summarily suspended his license pending further proceedings. Monwai was appointed to the naturopathy board for a 3-year term beginning in August 2011 and served as its chairman during part of this time.

Vaccination hero facing possible recall vote. Pediatrician Richard Pan, M.D., the state senator who spearheaded the recently signed SB277 that made California one of three states with the most stringent childhood vaccine requirements, is facing a backlash from angry opponents. The bill's main provision was elimination of the personal belief exemption that enables nonvaccinated children to attend public schools. The protesters, who want to place a recall vote on the ballot, have until Dec. 31 to collect 35,926 verified signatures from the 436,318 registered voters in his district. [White JB. Effort to recall Richard Pan over vaccine bill cleared for signatures. Sacramento Bee, July 28, 2015] A successful recall would not affect the bill, but the protestors have also begun collecting signatures for a statewide referendum. [White JB. Tim Donnelly files referendum to overturn California vaccine bill. Sacramento Bee, July 1, 2015] A counter-effort—with the hashtag #KeepDrPan, a Web site, and a Facebook community—is also organizing to support Dr. Pan and the law itself.

Med school "study guide" published. Daniel R. Pauli, M.D., who is currently an orthopedic resident, has released a fascinating book called So You Got Into Medical School. . . Now What?: A Guide to Preparing for the Next Four Years. Most of the book concerns how to decide what information is most important and how to learn it most efficiently. It explains why studying steadily is more effective than last-minute cramming. It also cover test-taking and interview preparation. The style is lucid with lots of anecdotes and humor. The recommended strategies can help not only medical students but all college students who plan to pursue a health-related career.

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This page was posted on August 16, 2015.