Communication Barriers in Healthcare

A Spanish mother who spoke no English, had brought her son to a hospital for medical help. She was speaking to a physician who did not understand Spanish. There was no one available who could translate what she said. The son, however spoke a bit of English and turned into a interpreter for his mother. Luckily, the doctor managed to diagnose the child’s condition correctly and treat him accordingly. Communication barriers in healthcare are currently one of the most pressing issues plaguing hospitals and healthcare setups across the United States.

In Medical Care

This was just the tip of the iceberg related to the communication problems in healthcare. There are not only barriers to effective communication when it comes to doctor-patient relationship, but there are communication problems in nursing as well. There are variety of dialects related to each of the languages spoken. There are many different languages spoken by patients visiting hospitals, like Vietnamese, Korean, Tagalog, Spanish, Chinese, Hindi, etc. These different languages highlight the importance of communication in a hospital setup.

Language barriers create problems for the physician to understand the problem of the patient. This means the doctor can misinterpret the patient and diagnose him incorrectly. The doctor needs to rely on interpreters or ad hoc interpreters like friends, family, untrained support staff, or even strangers in the waiting room. But these ad hoc or proxy interpreters are not as reliable as professional interpreters. This is because most of the time, they lack the knowledge of medical terminology. Also, if the person misinterprets or explains the symptoms incorrectly, it will lead to misdiagnosis and wrong treatment.

There was a case, where a Spanish boy fell unconscious at his girlfriend’s home before saying the word, ‘intoxicado’. The emergency staff at the scene thought that ‘intoxicado’ meant ‘intoxicated’. The actual meaning was feeling ‘nauseated’. The patient was given a wrong treatment for drug overdose and after about 36 hours the comatose patient was treated with the correct line of treatment. This wrong interpretation cost the hospital $71 million(!) for the medical malpractice lawsuit settlement. There are many such medical malpractice cases due to communication barriers.

Other problems with language barriers in health care settings involve the proxy interpreters who do not understand the need for confidentiality when it comes to discussion of medical problems. A patient also may feel uncomfortable discussing their medical problems in front of their family and friends, or a third person. This may be due to issues related to family honor, domestic violence, drug abuse, psychiatric problems, sexually transmitted diseases, etc. One may not be able to handle sensitive issues mentioned by the patient and may speak about it within the patients social network. Effective communication skills are those where even a proxy interpreter is able to communicate as fluently as a professional interpreter.

Other issues in hospitals include child patients. Children cannot explain what happened to them clearly, and may try to hide or lie to save themselves from a possible punishment from the parent. A child suffering from domestic abuse at the hands of the guardian or parent may be too scared to say what happened. Thus, this may lead to a biased diagnosis and sometimes an innocent parent may be contacted by the Department of Social Services (DSS) to take over their custody of the child.

In Nursing
There are many healthcare workers in America who come from all over the world trying to earn a living, or learn medicine with the best healthcare setups in the country. These members may not be fluent in English, and may have problems communicating with patients. Many nursing staff are from other countries with poor English skills. These nurses may not be able to understand the patient clearly or help the patient in an appropriate way. This leads to a sharp drop in patient satisfaction, and loss of clients by the hospital.

These nursing staff may misinterpret the doctor’s orders and give the patient wrong medication. The nursing staff may give the patient a solution to drink, meant to be put in the ears, or worse, misinterpret the parents of a child with fracture and have them accused for child abuse. A doctor with poor language skills may not be able to explain clearly to the patient about their condition or treatment method. This will cause confusion and panic in the minds of an already stressed out patient.

The only solution for communication barriers in healthcare setups is the appointment of professional interpreters. One needs to focus and train nurses in communication techniques. This will help bring down the number of misdiagnosis and misinterpretations. If the hospital cannot afford an interpreter, they can try and tie up with hospitals who have them. In case of any emergency, these hospitals may send over their interpreters to help them out. This was all about types of communication problems in healthcare setups. Thus, in the end, the biggest cause of communication barrier is language. Hope this article has helped you understand reasons behind this palpable issue faced by hospitals currently.

Dental and Vision Insurance for Seniors

We see a lot of insurance plans gaining space in the economical dockets for security and health. A dental and vision insurance plan will help you avoid losing your savings for your check up, diagnosis, and treatment, to the dentist and ophthalmologist (doctor for eyes). If you are employed, then your insurer will tell you about the coverage. If your benefits do not include dental and vision coverage, it is time to add them to your package. There are cases when these vision and dental issues are ignored by seniors due to low income, fixed income, retirement, etc. Seniors are more likely to encounter various problems related to dental health. Also, eye and vision issues are most likely to develop with advancing age. As these problems do not show any symptoms as such, a proper check up and examination is required from a health expert. All those who have visited for the same will know that it really costs quite a bit. So, it is better to get yourself insured so as to tackle senior health issues effectively.

Benefits

  • Dental Insurance: Dental insurance for seniors is a must have today. Most of the plans for seniors will cover yearly visits to the dentist completely. You will have to pay some amount for X-rays, but most plans reimburse a large amount of X-ray costs too. Even for fillings, cleanings, root canals, etc., it works in the same way. Special dental plans are specifically designed for seniors. There are various options covering all possible treatments and procedures. They will however vary with companies and policies. Senior citizens can take care of their dental health without worrying about the finances.
  • Vision Insurance: Senior citizens are prone to more eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration. They also need glasses, especially bi-focals. These can be expensive, but vision insurance will partially cover the expenses with a certain amount of copay (it is the amount that expected to be paid by the insured person for medical expense at the first time of the visit). Many options will also cover the cost of contact lenses with a certain amount of copay. Vision insurance is the support to get through these problems with no financial difficulty.

Options

Let us look at the various plans and options that are available for seniors. These are just the types of plans and options. You can choose the type and company that suits your needs the best.

Dental Plans

  • HMO dental plans – Also known as dental health maintenance organization (DHMO) plan, this proves to be a low cost plan. The insurance company is under contract with various dental providers to provide select services. DHMO, however, has strict requirements and restrictions on insured members. Due to the low cost, many seniors opt for this plan.
  • Dental indemnity insurance – It is also known as the traditional plan. In this plan, the insured person chooses a dental service provider and pays directly to them, he/she is later reimbursed by the company. About 50-80% of total cost is covered. The claim process may take a long time. The high deductibles and expensive premiums make this plan less popular. This even makes it not a very favored option for seniors.
  • Discount dental plans – This is not typically called insurance, but is an alternative to traditional and other plans. This plan allows the person to avail a discount of up to 60% on various treatments. A monthly fee is imposed. The amount is very low and affordable, you can also opt for an annual fee. You usually get a card once you are a member, which then can be used to avail a discount. There are very good features in this plan like low cost, no hassle of claims, and less waiting period, or no limitation on benefits.
  • Insurance from employer – If the senior is employed , there will be coverage plans given to him by the employer. There are three major types : Direct Reimbursement Plans, Managed Care Plans, and Indemnity Plans. You can check the provisions of the plan that is active with the employer.

Vision Plans

A senior vision insurance plan will be different from the Medicare plan.

  • Vision benefits package – In this plan, you pay a monthly premium, and also a copay, at the time of visit to the medical service provider. It works similar to health insurance procedures. Services like eye exams may require a copay, and the rest would be covered in the plan.
  • Vision discount plan – This plan is like an alternative to insurance. The insured person has to pay fully for the treatment and other services to the provider, but is eligible for a discount. That means you will get the services at a discounted cost. The discount depends on the specific percentage that is pre decided with the service provider in the discount plan.
  • Coverage in both plans – Services like eye exams and products like eyeglasses and contact lenses are mostly covered. The plans usually have optometrists and ophthalmologists in contract. It gives you access to a network of eye care service providers.

Dental and vision insurance for seniors is important, so as to make the time after wrinkles and grays, a healthy, happy, and peaceful experience!

Dental Assistant Salary Range

A dental assistant is one who works as an assistant to a dentist or a dental hygienist in various surgical procedures, and also deals with maintaining dental records, patient history, besides other things. Dental assistants are key members of a dental clinic, as they assist the dental surgeon to provide effective service to the patients.

Today, many young career aspirants are looking forward to a career as a dental assistant. This is because the career opportunities in such medical jobs are likely to increase all throughout the current decade, with many healthcare organizations, dental clinics, insurance companies, and armed forces recruiting people with dental assistance skills and qualifications. Apart from this, the salary range of a dental assistant is also quite decent. Let us find out more about the dental assistant duties, educational requirements, certifications, and most importantly, the average dental assistant salary that one can expect.

Salary Details

Here we come to the main focus of our discussion! Actually, the dental assistant salary range depends upon the size of the organization and the range of duties to be performed. ‘On-job’ training, experience, knowledge, manual dexterity, size and location of the health care facility, and number of working hours are also considered to be vital factors that decide the salary range.
▸ On an average, a dental assistant gets paid around $35,390, and is also liable to receive employment benefits on getting confirmed on the job.
▸ With median annual salaries around $40,000, specialty hospitals and insurance carriers are the top-paying industries for this occupation.
▸ Those working for state and federal governments also make around $40,000 annually.
▸ California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois are the states with the highest employment level in this occupation.
▸ Top-paying states for this occupation are New Hampshire ($44,580), Alaska ($43,550), Minnesota ($43,160), Massachusetts ($41,590), and North Dakota ($40,990).
*Source: BLS May 2014.

▸ The salary figures for entry-level dental assistants can be in the range of US $20,593 – $36,435.
▸ For experienced candidates, the salary can be in the range of $28,288 – $47,359.
▸ Experienced dental assistants can progress to a ‘registered dental hygienist’ role, and can earn around $67K annually.
*Source: PayScale, June 2015.

Dental Assistant Salary According to Location

Alabama $59,000
Alaska $43,000
Arizona $48,000
Arkansas $60,000
California $63,000
Colorado $52,000
Connecticut $68,000
Delaware $51,000
Florida $55,000
Georgia $67,000
Hawaii $36,000
Idaho $38,000
Illinois $67,000
Indiana $56,000
Iowa $58,000
Kansas $54,000
Kentucky $51,000
Louisiana $52,000
Maine $52,000
Maryland $60,000
Massachusetts $71,000
Michigan $59,000
Minnesota $51,000
Mississippi $61,000
Missouri $58,000
Montana $49,000
Nebraska $43,000
Nevada $45,000
New Hampshire $58,000
New Jersey $63,000
New Mexico $51,000
New York $71,000
North Carolina $56,000
North Dakota $52,000
Ohio $56,000
Oklahoma $54,000
Oregon $57,000
Pennsylvania $57,000
Rhode Island $53,000
South Carolina $58,000
South Dakota $44,000
Tennessee $54,000
Texas $57,000
Utah $46,000
Vermont $52,000
Virginia $59,000
Washington $61,000
West Virginia $55,000
Wisconsin $52,000
Wyoming $48,000
*Source: Indeed as of June 2015.

Educational Requirements

The educational requirements to become a dental assistant are not too much. After completing high school with subjects such as biology, algebra, geometry, English, dental assistance, computers etc., you can move on to a college that imparts training on dental assistance studies. See that the college is accredited by the Commission of Dental Accreditation, and then pursue a 1 – 2 year course on dental assistance. Further, you could be able to become a Certified Dental Assistant (CDA), on completing the examination conducted by the Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. With all these educational qualifications, your chances to be preferred and recruited by a renowned dental health care organization would definitely increase.

Dental Assistant Job Description

As said earlier, dental assistants are key members of any dental health care organization. The reason behind this is the wide range of duties that they need to perform under the supervision of the dentist. All such tasks and activities of a dental assistant are described here:
▸ The first and foremost duty of a dental assistant is to assist the dentist in dental operations, and also guide the patients in maintaining dental health.
▸ Prepare oral health plans under the supervision of the dentist to render effective dental care services to the patients.
▸ Maintaining medical records related to dental problems, preserving dental history of each and every patient, and producing them whenever required, are part of the dental assistant’s job.
▸ Preparing and taking care of all the dental instruments and supplies for surgeries such as dental implants and laser tooth whitening.
▸ Polishing and cleaning the teeth by removing soft deposits and tarnishes.
▸ Helping the dentist in developing dental X-rays, and preparing dental material such as composite, amalgam, impression material, and cement.
▸ Assisting the dentist in organizing, controlling, and managing the dental inventory.
▸ Removing surgical sutures, orthodontic ligature ties, also form an important part of the dental assistant’s job description.
▸ Taking out the excessive cement from the orthodontic bands and fabricated restorations.
▸ Applying the topical fluoride treatments, pit, and fissure sealants.
▸ Managing and arranging patient appointments with the dentist, calculating, and receiving bills from the patients.

Now you have a clearer idea of the dental assistant salary range, job description, and the educational requirements of the same. As a matter of fact, however qualified you might be, do not expect health care organizations to pay a lot at the beginning of your career. It is only through experience, knowledge, and improved manual skills that you would be able to increase you market value, and quote for a higher pay package in larger organizations.

Health Insurance Companies

The top health insurance companies strive hard to provide their customers with plans that would help them in times of a medical emergency. However, not all of them are considered high quality.
Buying a good and affordable health insurance plan in today’s world seems like a tough task. The cost of health insurance is increasing day by day due to the rise in the cost of health care in the US. A simple visit to the doctor’s clinic can cost around $200 to $300 and if the matter is serious, the patient can expect a large medical bill if he/she doesn’t have health insurance. The best way to be safe is to get an affordable health insurance plan that suits the investor’s profile, but for that the investor has to select a good health insurance company first.

Top Health Insurance Companies in USA

There are many health insurance companies in the US, but not all of them can be called the best choice for people. Today, people don’t need expensive plans, they need plans which can fit in their budget and protect them from uncertain situations. The following names stand out because they understand the thinking of an average American and make sure that he/she gets a plan that they can fit in their portfolio. Here are some great options.

Aetna International
I think most readers wouldn’t be surprised to find Aetna’s name on the top, after all it is the most popular health care service provider in the US. The company offers medical, dental, vision and life, disability and special insurance plans for students, pets, overall wellness, behavioral health care and pharmaceuticals and so on. Majority of the plans offered by the company are targeted towards serving individuals and their families, and some plans are focused towards various types of businesses in which employers offer health coverage plans for individuals.

BlueCross BlueShield Association
The BlueCross BlueShield Association is the parent company of 39 different companies which are independent, community based and locally operated for the benefit of American citizens. This company originated in the year 1929 in the land of Texas and was started especially for teachers as a non-profit health insurance plan. Almost 99 million people in the US are members of the BlueCross BlueShield Association and the company boasts an excellent track record for providing quality and affordable health insurance plans to its members. The company offers dental and medical coverage everywhere in the nation and some of their best plans are Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) and Health Savings Account (HAS). The company has its operation in all the 50 states of the country including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. 97% of the hospitals and 90% physicians in the country are signed with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. All the 39 operating companies under the BlueCross BlueShield Association are independent, which means that there is no A.M. Best Company Rating for the entire company. However, every independent company of the BlueCross BlueShield Association has always bagged A Rating when it comes to customer service.

UnitedHealthcare
Founded in 1977, UnitedHealthcare today is one of the biggest names in the business of health insurance. Since the inception of the company, their main goal has remained the same; providing affordable and quality health insurance to US citizens. Today, UnitedHealthcare and its sister concern, Uprise Incorporated, serves more than 20 million people in the United States. They have tie ups with more than 5000 hospitals and over 4000 physicians. Their network has spread in all the 50 states and the company has received excellent reviews from many critics for its constant effort to bring in new and improved plans for its members. They offer disability, health, life, vision, dental and pharmacy plans for US citizens.

CIGNA Corporation
Another big player in the market of health care, CIGNA serves more than 10 million people in the US. CIGNA is an acronym used for a joint venture between two companies, INA (Insurance Company of North America) and CG (Connecticut General). These companies were formed in the year 1700 and 1800 respectively, which makes this joint venture one of the oldest companies in the US. They provide some excellent dental, medical, vision, behavioral, life and disability plans for clients. More than 15 million people are members of this company and the company has a large fan following in Canada as well.

Humana Health Insurance
Another name in the list of the top health insurance companies of the US. The working style of this company is very different from all the other health insurance companies. Humana has a very different approach and its health insurance plans are especially designed and fall into four categories; Group Health Insurance, Medicare Plans, Individual Health Insurance and Specialty Benefits. The company also provides consumer focused health plans which are aimed to provide maximum benefit to the members. They offer their services in 27 states mostly in the Eastern part of the US. They have an excellent rating from critics and the company is gearing up for some international expansion plans as well.

Well Point, Inc.
Well Point, Inc. is another big player in the world of health insurance. It provides affordable health insurance plans to more than 35 million people in the US. The company very well follows their motto, ‘Improving lives of the people we serve and the health of our community.’ They have a long history of providing affordable health insurance plans for people who can’t afford a big cover for their health. The company is one of the few privileged ones who give the best returns to its customers. Due to their excellent working style and a genuine effort to provide the best health insurance to America, Well Point, Inc. stands tall in this list.

Assurant
Assurant Heath, founded in 1982, is a subsidiary of Assurant Insurance Company founded in 1969. The company is based in New York and has international operations in Germany, Spain, Italy, Denmark, United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil and Argentina. Assurant Health provides short term health insurance policies to people as well as students. Over 1 million people are covered by Assurant health insurance policies and the company has more than 200,000 agents throughout the country to provide the best service to its customers.

UniCare
UniCare is also a very familiar name in the health insurance market and now it is owned by Well Point Inc. This organization is focused on delivering quality products to its customers which are more than 13 million in number. They offer various health services such as health, life, pharmacy, dental and disability which are specially designed to satisfy customers from all walks of life. The company uses all its resources in making low-cost plans which an average man can afford.

GroupHealth Cooperative
GroupHealth Cooperative is a non-profit consumer driven health care organization which has been catering to the needs of people in Idaho and Washington since 1947. The company is considered a leader in delivering scientific driven health care products to people. GroupHealth Cooperative offers health plans for senior citizens, kids, parents, teenagers and government employees. They also have a very impressive task force which is appointed to make sure that the customers don’t face any difficulty in understanding the plans.

Mega Life and Health Insurance Company
This company is based in Oklahoma and caters to the needs of the American people. It also offers various health insurance to families and individuals through their special plans which are designed to make life comfortable. Its special plans aim at dental, vision and disability.

The US is one of the biggest countries in the world and it would be quite unfair to name just 10 health insurance companies. Here’s a list of some more big players of the health insurance market.

  • Harvard Pilgrim HealthCare
  • TUFTS Health Plan
  • Health New England
  • ConnectiCare
  • Kaiser Group Incorporated
  • HCSC Group
  • Coventry Health Care
  • The Regence Group
  • Health Net
  • Universal American Health Corporation
  • The Lifetime HealthCare Companies
  • WellCare Health Plans, Inc
  • Metropolitan Health Group
  • Green Valley Health Care
  • Geisinger Health Plan
  • HealthPartners

Health insurance companies are constantly developing new plans especially designed for customers benefit. People who want to opt for health insurance are advised to read all their terms and conditions very carefully and if they face any problems understanding the financial terms, help from a financial consultant should be taken.

Ethical Issues in Healthcare

It is impossible to separate science from ethics, not because science should not be allowed to have its way, but because it’s the one area that affects humankind drastically. For example, bionic body parts that replicate human abilities as well as senses are now available to the disabled. However, without a code of ethics, what can stop the development of an entire human replica by putting these parts together? And even with an established code of ethics that enable a defined code of conduct and practice in the field of healthcare and healthcare research, sometimes, making decisions based on these poses quite a conundrum.

Ethical Issues in Daily Healthcare

  • There are certain ethical issues that have to be dealt with, in healthcare on a daily basis. These may include
  • Prioritizing activities in order of importance – this may include giving preference to one patient over another.
  • Maintaining a clear distinction between what is right and wrong.
  • Deciding when patients are free to leave the hospital and being accountable for their decisions.
  • Supporting a patient’s decision and choice (even if not in the patient’s best interests); not taking patients’ decisions for them;
  • Taking decisions for patients when they are not fit to do so.
  • Taking actions that will benefit the patient’s health.
  • Taking decisions without any considerations of race, gender, class.
  • Deciding how much time to give to each patient – based on their need, their ability to pay for services, how much they “deserve”, or equally among all patients.
  • Maintaining the privacy of the patient – but disclosing information where necessary (in case of a crime, for instance).

Broader Ethical Issues in Healthcare

Apart from daily issues, there are graver issues that plague the healthcare system worldwide. These have been discussed below.

Access to Basic Healthcare for Everyone

A common issue that plagues the healthcare system is how much is “basic” healthcare? Public health insurance plans exist for those who cannot afford it, but there are some who earn just above the bare minimum because of which they do not qualify for these insurance plans. This poses the following questions.

  • How are those, who don’t qualify for public health insurance but still don’t earn enough, to get their treatment?
  • In order to develop a plan for such individuals, what kind of basic procedures and healthcare systems should the government provide, and where should it draw the line?
  • How can one escape the circle that begins with a lack of finances to get routine check-ups, progresses to health problems and ends in enormous bills (that results from these two)?

Assisted Suicide

Yet another debate that has been gaining momentum lately is that about the issue of assisted suicide. Proponents of assisted suicide believe that it is the moral right of every human being to decide when they want to end their own lives without causing harm to others. If one is handicapped, disabled, or knows that one is dying of a terminal disease, one may choose to end one’s pain and suffering than allow it to slowly take the life out of one. While most people can easily end their lives, others who are disabled may be unable to do so in a respectful manner. It is in such cases that their request for life to be terminated should be respected and adhered to. The questions this issue poses are as follows.

  • Is it acceptable to reject a request such as this because it is society’s moral duty to protect life?
  • Is it not the moral responsibility of every human being to end the suffering of another, particularly when asked for by the sufferer himself?
  • Will the passing of a legislation that permits this system enable family and friends to merely “get rid of” someone because their illness is a hindrance in their lives?
  • What if individuals who have signed their own death warrant change their minds at the last minute, and are unable to convey this message to those around because of their physical condition?

Physician-Patient Relationship

The relationship between a patient and a physician is seldom restricted to a mere appointment and discussion of health problems. Prolonged care under a physician may result in an attachment, a personal relationship, the desire for a sexual relationship, and the sharing of sensitive, personal information, that may or may not be in relation to the health problem/disease in question. In this regard, the line between what is ethical and what is not is blurred. Certain issues that may arise out of such situations have been discussed in this section.

Patient Privacy and Confidentiality

Healthcare practitioners are not only ethically/morally, but also legally bound to keep patient information confidential. This may include medical reports as well as personal conversations. Legally, doctors may not reveal patient information even in court, under oath. However, this issue demands a little more flexibility in certain cases. For instance, cases that involve crimes such as gunshot wounds are required to be reported to the police. Further, healthcare practitioners may be forced to break this rule when, for example, they discover a sexually transmitted disease in a patient and must reveal this to the spouse, even if the patient does not will it to be disclosed. Underage abortion must also be reported to parents. Issues may arise when morality prevails over rules. For example, in a case where the paternity of a child is under question, and the physician has been informed of it by the mother, is it his duty to report it to the father, particularly if the child is suffering from a genetic condition?

Another issue that crops up with regards to responsibility is the role of social media in healthcare. With the outburst of this trend, surgeons are now live-tweeting surgeries. However, it is possible that this aspect may result in a breach of confidentiality. For instance, a physician my reveal patient details when discussing or providing information about a particular case online. There was also a case reported where an injured person was rushed into an ER and instead of helping him, the nursing staff clicked his pictures and shared them on their social profiles. This may be viewed by some as the most enormous breach of confidentiality, and here is where ethical issues arise.

Differences in Opinion (Professional or Personal) and Informed Consent

A physician is entitled to a personal opinion about certain issues. For instance, some may believe abortion to be wrong. What are such physicians to do when they are approached by someone for an abortion? General medical ethics state that they are expected to be non-judgmental, and if they vehemently oppose something, they may direct the patient to another physician.

In a professional case, it may be possible that a patient may oppose a certain course of treatment proposed by the physician, again due to personal beliefs. Does the physician then impose the treatment procedure to save his life, or does he allow the patient to take the decision? This is where the rule of informed consent comes into play. Patients are given the right to make informed choices about the medical care they want to and do not want to receive. Informed consent also refers to how a doctor should talk about a condition to a patient. The physician is expected to be straightforward and enlist exactly all the risks and complications of a given medical procedure, its alternatives, and the risks of not undergoing the treatment. While it is not ethical for a doctor to impose treatment on a patient, even if it is for the better, it is possible that the patient may or may not want to even hear about the condition he is suffering from. Some may choose to provide treatment without informing the patient. This may though, affect the trusting relationship that a patient is meant to share with his physician.

Sexual Relations

Sexual relations between doctors and patients have been clearly deemed unethical and illegal. In some cases, a time lapse between the physician-patient relationship and the beginning of a romantic/sexual relationship is considered acceptable. In case of a therapist-patient relationship, at no point may the two indulge in any relationship outside the professional boundaries. It is believed that patients are not in the right frame of mind to take such decisions, that doctors are in a position of power when engaging in such relations, which may then be perceived as an abuse of this power, and that this kind of relationship is unacceptable because of the obvious “caring” nature that it entails.

Right to Abortion

The recent death of an Indian woman in Ireland because she was denied abortion, has brought to light the ethics that revolve around this procedure. Abortion has been under debate for a long time now, but the debaters are as staunch in their beliefs now as they were back then. The pro-life group argues that abortion is equivalent to killing of a human life, whereas the pro-choice group argues that a woman has the right to decide what she does with her body, and since the fetus is a part of the human body, she can decide whether she wants to keep it or abort it. Also, the right to abortion is viewed as a parameter of equality with men, and the right to decide whether or not a woman wants to be a mother is believed to be the ultimate freedom for her. To this date, abortion is banned in several countries except in extremely serious conditions. This may raise certain questions that are as follows.

  • What if a woman has been raped and becomes pregnant as a result? Shouldn’t she be allowed the right to abort the child than live with it as a constant reminder of the horrific incident?
  • In case of an underage pregnancy, can a relatively immature girl be entrusted with the life of a child?
  • What if the fetus has been diagnosed with a birth defect or any other condition? Should the parents not be given the choice to avoid putting themselves and the child through the trouble that living with such a condition will entail?
  • Can a family that is not financially prepared to handle another member be burdened with it and compromise with the quality of child care?
  • On the other hand, does the ability to abort a child result in women seeking more and more casual relationships and harming themselves in the process too?

Risk of Contracting Communicable Diseases

In the United States, physicians are permitted to choose whom they wish to treat, and under this freedom is the right to choose to treat patients with communicable diseases. However, this freedom cannot be easily allowed in all hospitals as it will result in an imbalance of healthcare professionals available to treat a condition, and individuals who require the care. It thus becomes indirectly mandatory for physicians to treat patients with communicable conditions. Screening patients for infectious diseases before they are admitted into a hospital is considered illegal and unethical. However, this raises the question of safety of other patients and hospital staff, particularly where HIV is concerned. It is considered acceptable to screen a patient with a highly infectious disease such as tuberculosis or chickenpox before admission to check whether he really needs advanced medical treatment.

Several educational and training programs are available for healthcare providers to prevent themselves from the risk of contracting a communicable disease. These professionals are required to undergo regular training for this purpose, so that they may not resort to unethical practices like denying a patient in need the necessary care because he has a communicable disease.

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Marketing Practices

All healthcare institutions and providers are allowed to market their products or services, but there are certain ethical guidelines that they are required to adhere to. It is unethical for any healthcare institution or provider to advertise products or services with exaggerated claims, unsubstantiated statements, or claims made by omitting information. In simple terms, the patient-physician relationship is based on trust and this is where healthcare marketing requires standard ethical guidelines to prevent a breach of trust. Until recently, web marketing was avoided in the realm of healthcare due to several misconceptions about insurance laws. But as the world becomes more engaged on the Internet to find causes of and cures for their health problems, these practices cannot be avoided. In this realm, an ethical issue that can be raised is the revelation of personal information of patients in order to attract more patients. Confidentiality, as seen above, is legally and ethically mandatory, and this aspect may be exploited in the realm of healthcare marketing. In order to implement a marketing campaign, any healthcare institution or provider should answer the following questions.

  • What is the purpose of the marketing campaign?
  • How much does it benefit the community as a whole?
  • Is the information provided in the campaign completely truthful, or is it biased or misleading?
  • Can the amount of money spent on the campaign be justified as against its use for treatment for those who cannot afford it?

The main ethical issue that healthcare marketing is faced with is this: is it permissible for an organization that is deemed altruistic in nature to market its services like a commodity that only a few may be able to afford?

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Surrogacy

A surrogate mother is used by couples to carry their child in return for a fee, when the couple is unable to do so for different reasons. Most people term this as a “womb to rent” or in the most straightforward way, “baby-selling”. While surrogacy is frowned upon by many religions across the world, it is even surrounded by medical, legal, and ethical issues. The main ethical issue that arises with this procedure is how it “commodifies” children. Ethical issues may also arise when people search for surrogates in low-income countries to afford the costs that the procedures entail. It is believed that women in such countries may not be completely aware of the risks and implications of the procedure and may enter it solely because of their financial condition.

Ethical Issues in Healthcare Research

Research in healthcare will never cease, and as technology advances, it is likely to raise greater ethical concerns in this ever-evolving field.

Embryonic Stem Cell Research and Human Cloning

Embryonic stem cell research, though proven to be useful in a variety of health issues, is mired in controversy that has heightened recently. Stem cells are basic cells that are helpful in the treatment of different health conditions. They are harvested from living embryos, and this is where the controversy sets in. While stem cells may be harvested from adults through the umbilical cord blood, bone marrow, and other adult tissue without any harm, their stability and flexibility in comparison to human embryos is still under question, though research is largely prevalent through the country. What is unethical about embryonic stem cell research?

  • Can the destruction of a 5 or 6-day old embryo that does not have a brain or experience any feeling be considered the destruction of human life?
  • Opposing parties argue that if an embryo possesses a human genome and has the potential to develop into a human being in the right environment, isn’t this the destruction of potential human life?

Human cloning is an offshoot of embryonic stem cell research and has always been a sensitive issue. The process of cloning has proposed to serve purposes such as cloning stem cells for research, cloning animals for experimentation, cloning to enable disease treatment (by using healthy cells to replace diseased cells in case of advanced medical conditions) and organ donation, cloning to enable infertile couples to have children, and even to replace them in case of their death. While these are the possible advantages, ethical issues will arise when we consider the following

  • Are we playing with nature when we cross the line and start creating human beings ourselves?
  • Will it lead to individuals such as entertainers and sportspersons wanting to clone themselves to preserve their genetic makeup.
  • Will this not result in a lack of diversity in genetic makeup and a rather uniform and specifically designed human race?
  • Will cloned individuals be given the same treatment and social standing as the humans they were cloned from?
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Ubiquitous Technology

Ubiquitous technology employs small sensors and actuators, both environmental and for the patient, that monitor and help improve patients’ physical as well as mental conditions. These sensors are designed to monitor almost all physiological activity such as heart rate, blood pressure levels, blood glucose levels, etc. They may be implanted in patients or used externally. Actuators are implanted in the body, and are capable of releasing small amounts of medicine in case of a medical condition, to help regulate it. This technology will enable patients to be monitored more carefully and reduce patient-physician interactions by a substantial amount. This will also at some level modify patient records which will be continually updated for the physician’s benefit. Several ethical issues can arise from this extreme reliance on technology for well-being.

  • Shouldn’t patients at some level be directly responsible for their health condition?
  • Will the continuous health information update be more susceptible to privacy breach because it can easily be hacked into?
  • Will it lead to a greater divide between the rich who can afford this technology and the poor who can’t?
  • On what basis will insurance be provided, and up to what point in time will insurance providers be able to obtain a patient’s medical history?
  • How much can this technology be relied on for proper dispensing of medicine? What if there are technical glitches? Who will be accountable for those?

While the healthcare sector in every country has a well-defined and established code of ethics, there are issues that continually arise and pose questions and problems before healthcare providers. Training and experience are the only ways in which these issues can be dealt with sensitively.

What to Do if You Don’t Have Health Insurance

In the United States, a large number of people have no health insurance, and that number is slowly increasing. The reason these people are without coverage are several. A high monthly premium is touted as the major reason why people do not opt for health insurance plans. Other reasons can be losing a job, the employer does not offer health plans, young adults who turn 18 and find themselves out of their parents’ coverage, or low-income workers who simply cannot afford health insurance. And the consequences of not having health insurance can be deadly. People avoid going to the doctors when they fall sick, and a large number of deaths in the US can be attributed to the fact that people chose not to get treated just because they lacked insurance and could not afford medical care. But there are options available for such people. Even though they are not covered under any health insurance plan, they can still make an appointment to see a doctor and get treated.

Living Without Health Insurance

Negotiate Your Medical Bills
If you are uninsured, you may face a bill in thousands for a visit to a doctor or emergency care. One way to cut back on paying such a high amount is to work out a deal with the doctor’s office, and they may help you by lowering your medical bill. HealthCare Advocates is one such group which can negotiate with doctors to reduce the amount of your bill. In some cases, they can even arrange for finances so you can pay the health care cost incurred.

Avail of Free Clinics
There are free health clinics which are financed by the federal government which cater to the health care needs of uninsured people. With a network of centers spread all over the nation, these health clinics offer vaccinations, treatment for certain diseases, and care for children and pregnant women. The patients are required to pay the medical fees incurred based on their income.

COBRA
If you have lost your coverage because you resigned from your job, you can opt for COBRA, which stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. It allows employees (and their dependents) to continue with their health coverage by remaining on their ex-employer’s health plan for a limited time. It is also beneficial for young adults, who have lost out on medical insurance coverage because they turned 18, to continue to remain under their parents’ plan temporarily.

Buying Prescription Drugs
The PPA (Partnership for Prescription Assistance) assists uninsured patients in getting prescription drugs free or at minimum costs, if you qualify. Other organizations that offer help for uninsured individuals in buying prescription drugs are The Access Project, HealthWell Foundation, and RxAssist. Alternatively, you can ask the drug store for a prescription-free alternative of the same drug. Instead of a brand-name prescription drug, look for generic alternatives of the same drug (quite easily available at pharmacies across all leading supermarkets). Or compare the price of the required drug in various pharmacies before you actually purchase it.

Purchase Insurance
Medicaid
Consider enrolling in Medicaid. A joint effort by the federal and state governments, Medicaid offers health insurance programs to low-income families, especially pregnant women, families with children or handicapped individuals, provided they are eligible, based on certain specifications. Medicaid programs differ from state to state.

Buy Insurance for Your Children
The government has come up with the SCHIP plan (State Children’s Health Insurance Program). This program grants health care coverage to children coming from low-income families. This program varies from state to state, so look up for the SCHIP program pertaining to your state.

Opt for Direct Primary Care
These offer primary health care to persons who lack insurance coverage. Patients can visit doctors by making a fixed monthly payment to a DPC to access a host of medical services. It has eliminated the need for copays and deductibles, since there is no insurance company involved. But a DPC does not offer assistance during medical surgeries.

Buy the Cheapest Plan
For the sake of yourself and your family’s health, consider enrolling in a plan where you have to pay the least monthly premium. Your out-of-pocket medical charges might be very high, but it’s better to have some coverage than none at all.

Save for Future Medical Expenses
Even if you do not have health coverage, you will have to, at some point in life, pay for health care costs. You need to bear in mind that hospitalization charges for uninsured persons can be very high, and if you do not intend to buy health insurance, you need to start saving NOW for your future health care. If you do not have enough savings to repay the medical charges, you may end up sliding into debt, and the situation can only worsen. Consider building a nest egg, like you would for your retirement.

The government is going to come up with health care reform laws, which will offer health insurance to the uninsured in America. But it will be at least a good three years before these programs come into effect. Till then, if you are not covered under any health plan, the best option is to go in for the least expensive plan available. But if you choose not to buy coverage at all, look for low-cost treatment options when you are still healthy, keep your body in top shape, and save up for the future.

Temporary Health Insurance

short-term-health-insurance-620x330What is Temporary Health Insurance?

In the US, typical health insurance plans are either traditional or managed care plans. Employers provide insurance to employees via group insurance plans, that carry a lower premium as compared to individual plans. Since managed care is cost-effective, employers started drifting towards them in the nineties.

It is basically a short-term health insurance plan meant to protect an insured person against unforeseen events. It is generally provided for a period of 30 to 180 days. Some plans may be operative for 360 days. This type is meant for people who are temporarily without coverage. Lack of coverage is likely in case of unemployed people, students, people moving from one town to another, and those waiting for their permanent coverage. Although it is a short-term plan, it has a number of benefits, hence, it is suitable for people who enjoy the decision-making flexibility of traditional plans, but are unable to pay the premium for them.

Why Is It Needed?

Not Employment Based: In the US, nearly two-thirds of the population below the age of 65 avail health insurance through their employer. In the year 2000, 69% employers offered it to the employees. Since then, the number has fallen drastically, and today only 60% employers are willing to provide it. Recession has resulted in a number of people becoming unemployed. Temporary health insurance has thus become invaluable for people who are in between jobs, since the cost of the plan is low and can be paid in installments or as a lump sum. Moreover, the plan can be modified to extend coverage to the spouse and dependent children as well.

Alternative to COBRA Insurance: The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) allows former employees, retirees, spouses and dependents, the facility to avail affordable health coverage at group rates. Generally, a person can continue on his previous employer’s group insurance plan for 18 months after getting laid off. Although the premium for this coverage is lower than the premium for individual coverage, it is still higher than the premium paid by a person before he got fired. This is because, when a person is employed, the employer may pay the entire amount of premium, but on getting fired, the former employee is expected to pay 35% of the amount of premium, while the remaining amount is borne by the Federal government.

Indemnity Insurance: In the US, the main types of managed health care plans are: Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs), and Point-of-Service (POS) plans. In case of HMOs, a person has to choose a doctor in his or her network, and in order to meet a specialist, he would require a referral from his primary care physician (PCP). PPOs are not as restrictive as HMOs, but there are financial incentives for seeking treatment within the network. POS, on the other hand, is a hybrid between HMO and PPO. In case of temporary health insurance plans, a person is free to choose his doctor. No referrals are necessary in order to meet specialists. Some temporary plans have a network of doctors and hospitals, and a person can lower his medical bills by visiting these doctors. However, a person has the freedom to seek medical assistance outside the provider’s network. Thus, the plan offers indemnity insurance, which is a feature of the traditional health insurance plan, but at a lower premium.

Immediate Coverage: Generally, a person can obtain short-term or temporary insurance within 24 hours. The procedural formalities are definitely less than those in case of permanent health insurance.

Disadvantages

Temporary Coverage: The coverage is temporary and meant for a short period of time. Some plans may allow a person to extend the coverage by paying additional premium, but generally, this plan is meant for a maximum of 6 months.

Limited Coverage: Unlike traditional and managed health care plans, preventive and routine medical checks are not covered under the temporary plan. In this respect, traditional health insurance is much better than managed health care, although the latter allows preventive and routine medical checks. Temporary coverage, on the other hand, is meant only for illness and injury. Moreover, most temporary plans do not provide dental and optical treatment.

Since temporary health insurance providers are not covered under Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), they don’t have to guarantee renewal, issue, or waive pre-existing conditions, for individuals eligible under federal rules. It is clear that temporary insurance has a number of advantages and disadvantages, which need to be borne in mind before opting for such a coverage.

Advantages of Low Cost Health Insurance

Medical care is slowly reaching new heights with each passing day. An average American struggles to get the medical expenses within his reach. Health insurance also does not present a pretty picture with the sky high premium rates and hundreds of out-of-pocket expenses. In all such unfavorable circumstances, an average or low income family is left with no insurance coverage. Needless to say, this can pose a major financial crisis for the family, should an emergency strike. A low cost health insurance plan can prove to be of great help in such conditions.

Advantages of Low Cost Health Insurance

It is an affordable insurance plan for individuals and families from low income groups. There are various types of insurance plans available. Some plans are especially targeted at unemployed individuals. Low cost insurance plans have lower premiums and other deductibles, thereby making them affordable even to families that have no extra funds to spare for health care. Health care insurance is also available to individuals who enjoyed employer’s coverage when they were employed, but were left uncovered due to lay offs. Such individuals can continue to enjoy the benefits through a scheme such as the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). Even college going children can get a coverage on their parent’s COBRA scheme.

Medicaid is a very beneficial and affordable health coverage. Although, it is mostly targeted at unemployed individuals, some employed families may also qualify for this insurance. The eligibility criteria for Medicaid is very strict and changes for every state. However, if you do not qualify for Medicaid, you should still keep yourself informed about the latest eligibility criteria as they keep changing it. Hence, even if you do not qualify one year, you may become eligible the next year.

The Affordable Care Act, which was passed in 2010 can provide respite to people who were denied insurance due to pre-existing medical ailments. This plan offers affordable health insurance benefits to families of sick people, including dependent children up to age 26. The provisions of these acts were later extended to offer coverage to people seeking early retirement from employment, through the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program.

Besides, you can also seek insurance coverage from various federally funded health centers. These centers are located in every state and offer preventive, diagnostic and procedural coverage to low income groups. Also, one can explore the various group insurance programs, which pool the group money to provide financial assistance during medical emergency for its members. If you switch your jobs frequently or you still need some time to zero in on a long term insurance plan for your family but need to get insured quickly enough, then you can go for any of the short term health insurance plans. These plans cover you only for a short time, hence have lower premiums. Nonetheless, they offer you some breathing time before you commit to a long term plan.

Problems with Low Cost Health Insurance

Lower premiums often translate to higher deductibles, limited coverage and more out of pocket expenses. Besides, some low cost insurance plans may only provide coverage if you opt for medical services included in their network. Certain other plans may only cover hospital charges and physician’s expenses, thus you are required to arrange for preventive, diagnostic and post operative care. Hence, it is recommended that you weigh your options carefully before opting for a low cost insurance plan.

Low cost health insurance benefits can indeed prove to be of great help to uninsured people. After all, some kind of coverage is better than no coverage at all.

Diabetes Care Specialist Salary

diabetes-care-specialist-salaryWe all know that diabetes patients need constant care to speed up the recovery process. However, controlling diabetes and taking care of such patients is not just anybody’s job. For that, we need qualified and trained specialists who have the right education, training and work experience. These specialists are in great demand in leading hospitals, health care centers and clinics. Let us first know about the role these people play and their salary subsequently.

Duties of a Diabetes Care Specialist

A qualified specialist monitors the blood pressure, blood glucose level and the diet of diabetes patients. He also conducts some important medical tests such as blood tests and urine tests to know sugar level of the patient. Their job also involves interacting with patients personally and knowing about their lifestyle, health history and other health problems. With the help of this information, the specialists suggest some lifestyle and diet changes to control diabetes effectively. While prescribing a diet plan to the patients, they consider their age, sex and blood sugar levels of the patients. Diabetes specialists also prescribe suitable medications and drugs to patients to help them bring their health condition back to normal and personally see to it that they take the medicines on time. They are aware of the nursing care plans for diabetes which have helped several patients recover successfully. They are then required to communicate and discuss individual patient cases with the senior doctors in the hospital.

Education Required by Diabetes Care Specialists

Though these care specialists are in great demand, they can get the best jobs in the industry only if they are professionally qualified. To enter this field, you need to have an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree after completing your high school diploma education. In your bachelor’s degree course, you will get acquainted with the basics of medicine and this will lay a strong foundation for your career. Getting master’s degree in fields such as pharmacology, nutrition, dietetics, optometry or occupational therapy can help you secure good jobs in this field. After your advanced degree, you can get the Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) certification which is highly appreciated in the industry.

Average Salary of Diabetes Care Specialists

The salary range is between $45,000 to $75,000 per year. It mostly depends on the experience, qualification, location of job and type of employer. Those diabetes specialists, who are employed in top hospitals and clinics can get thirty to fifty percent higher salaries as compared to those employed in smaller hospitals. Location of job is also a reason which influences the salary of these medical professionals. Salaries in metropolitan cities, where need of diabetes health care is big, are better than those in smaller cities. Generally, people with master’s degree command about twenty to thirty percent higher salary than those with a bachelor’s degree. Salary surveys conducted by job market experts have pegged the diabetes care specialist average salary at $54,000 per year. For highly experienced, the salary can be between $65,000 to $85,000 per year.

If you find this medical career interesting, you should be ready for the hard work and try to secure admission in top medical schools to secure your future. All the best!

Dental Assistant Resume

As the name suggests, a dental assistant is a person who assists the dentist perform various dental care procedures. However, the nature of work is not only restricted to assisting the dentist but also involves other varied duties that include patient care, laboratory work, and office work. It is one of the lucrative job options available in medical jobs. With a huge amount of job applications piling up for this profile, it is difficult for the employers to hire a person by only studying and reviewing the qualification and experience of the applicant. Of course, qualifications and experience are hands down the two biggest deciding factors at the time of recruiting. However, the employers need a very good reason or rather the applicant needs a very good reason to prove that he/she is a deserving candidate for the job position. You need that one essential aspect to stand out in your resume and strike the person reading it; and that one very important aspect is the ‘objective’, your career objective or your objective of applying for the particular job. On that note, this article provides you with a dental assistant resume sample.

Objectives

Given below are a few of the objectives that you could use as writing tips to create your own objectives.

  • ‘To utilize my knowledge and skills in dental care by working in an excellent health care center that is known in providing efficient services to people.’
  • ‘Seeking excellence in this field by working as an assistant in an esteemed health care center.’
  • ‘Looking for an opportunity to work with a health care center where the best of my skills can be utilized.’
  • ‘To explore the world of dental care by learning new dimensions of the field by working in a reputed health care center.’
  • ‘Looking for an opportunity to work with a dental care center where all my knowledge, skills, and experience can be used to the fullest and where I get to learn more about dental care.’

Resume Sample

Given below is a sample; the format of which can be used for your own resume if you are looking to apply for this post.

Richard Manning
5678 Malory Drive
East Boston
MA 02128

Home: 617-489-5465
Cell: 617-852-4578

Email: richard.manning@aol.com

Objective
Seeking a secure and challenging environment where I can effectively utilize all my knowledge and skill in the field of dental care.

Qualifications

  • Extensive experience in assisting in dental procedures such as preparing patients and sterilizing and preparing the instruments and materials used in dental procedures, handing the dentist the right instruments and taking x-rays and impressions.
  • Efficient in performing various dental office duties such as scheduling appointments for patients, billing, keeping records of the treatment, receiving payments, etc.

Education

  • Bachelor of Science in Dentistry (May 2004)
  • Diploma in Dental Assistance from Dental Assistant Training School, Boston (June 2004 – July 2005)
  • Cleared Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam (July 2005)

Work Experience
Dental Assistant, Care Dental Associates, Boston (August 2005 – Present). Duties and responsibilities include the following:

  • Promptly follow the instructions of the dentist and perform various dental procedures
  • Order and stock supplies of instruments and medication
  • Prepare dental materials, such as composite, cements, impression material, amalgam, etc.
  • Assist patients by instructing about oral hygiene and other plaque control techniques
  • Fix appointments and maintain treatment records
  • Perform laboratory procedures, maintain dental equipment and develop dental x-rays

I hope after having looked at the sample, you don’t find resume writing to be a daunting job. An important point to remember is never to miss out on the skills to put on a resume, because that is what defines you and your professional excellence. If you are wondering about the salary; then it entirely depends on the policy of the organization and the qualification and experience of the candidate.