Thinking About Heath..Just Another FME

I’ve been thinking about Heath Ledger’s death and the release of the new Batman movie and the fact that it broke all box office records for a weekend opening at over $155 million.  I guess no one really cares about Ledger’s death anymore and that’s a shame.  The movie’s opening weekend was a perfect opportunity for the movie industry to make a statement about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.  Of course, I’m dreaming.  But one nagging thought kept recurring. How could anyone take a combination of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam (Valium), temazepam (Restoril), alprazolam (Xanax), and doxylamine and think even for a moment that doing that was OK? Another recurring thought was that this thing has to be bigger than the death of one movie star. This thing has to be huge. Well, I found out today just how huge. I learned a new acronym today – FME or fatal medication event.

Multiple online sources quoted statistics from a research study published in the July 28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. Now how’s this for a fun project? The researchers read almost 50 million death certificates from the United States between Jan. 1, 1983, and Dec. 31, 2004. Nearly 225,000 involved FME’s. The overall death rate from FME’s increased 360.5 percent during that time period.

But the increase in FMEs in people aged 40 to 59 was 890.8%.

Professional life underwriters should be scared. I know I am. I’ve added a link to the FDA website on medication errors. Check it out.


Remote Underwriting – More Tech Advice

Remember the saga of my crashed computer?  When I got the machine back it would not boot up so I took it back to the repair shop.  I got my machine back from the shop the following Monday or Tuesday. My local geek told me the PC booted up just fine at their shop. They tested everything again and found nothing that could have caused the problems I was having.

“It has to be one of your peripherals that is causing the problem. Reconnect each and every device, one by one until you find the device that’s causing the problem.”

Well OK then. But since I had work to do I left this for a weekend project.

Two nights ago I finally reconnected the final two pieces of equipment and discovered my machine would not boot up. Eying my external back up drive with great suspicion, I disconnected it and powered down. Guess what? My PC now works but you can forgeddabout starting the computer with the external drive attached. It’s not gonna happen.

So at the end of the day I had two different things crashing my computer. The first was diagnosed by me and fixed off site. Seems the Spybot Search and Destroy was preventing my newly installed Webroot virus program from starting up. Disabling the software from executing at Windows start up solved that. But the moral of this story is the fact that my local geek diagnosed my second problem but couldn’t fix it. They don’t make house calls. I ended up solving and fixing the second problem myself.

Here is the take home message:

My computer was down for a total of two calendar weeks. There is more to managing remote underwriters than meets the eye. What are your company’s plans and procedures to resolve remote technology issues?

Yeah…I thought so.

Read a Book a Week – On the Shelf

I’ve just finished reading the best book on the prevention and management of Type 2 diabetes. The recommendations in Beating Diabetes are based on evidence from a randomized controlled clinical study called the Diabetes Prevention Program.. This book needs to be in your underwriting library and would make an excellent text for training purposes. But for those of you who may not have the time to find and read the entire book, I’ll summarize the key points:

  • Eat less
  • Move more

The book focuses on weight loss strategies and lifestyle modification. Get it, read it, live it.

Remote Underwriting – More Tech Notes

Last week was a heckuva week.  After several emails pitching me to upgrade my spyware protection service I relented under the mounting pressure.  Besides, it was only $5.  So I downloaded my anti-virus upgrade, ran the install program and promptly crashed my computer.  Ironic, eh?  The following morning, hoping that a good night’s rest would cure my computer’s refusal to boot up, I switched on the power.


It was at that moment I realized it wasn’t going to be a good day.

My mind started racing backwards…what did I do?

  • Downloaded and installed anti-virus software
  • Installed a new 10/100 ethernet switch
  • Installed a new uninterruptible power supply (UPS)
  • Installed and configured a new video card
  • Installation and configured dual monitors

After determining my internal power supply and hard drive were OK it had to be a software conflict.   Rather than spend too many hours trying to figure out what the conflict was I took my machine to the local shop for repairs.  Rather than work off a small notebook computer I decided to configure a hot spare to work from ( I just happened to have an old Windows machine in the house).  So ultimately my solution to my computer crash was to configure and hook up another computer.

Can your remote underwriters do this?  If your company uses remotes and you are the manager responsible for their production, what does your remote technology support plan look like?  Do you have a remote tech support plan? Does your IT area have a remote support plan?

I am still working off my hot spare five days after my initial crash.  When I picked up my main box, disconnected the spare, reconnected my main, and powered up it still didn’t boot up.  I took it back to the shop and I await its return.

But I can work.

Would You Like Some Statins With That Double Cheeseburger?

I’ve been thinking about this for a few days, pondering what to write. It’s simple really.

This is just so wrong…

So would you rate an 8 year old on statins?


Below is a policy on a clinical report appearing in the July issue of Pediatrics, the peer-reviewed, scientific journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

For Release: July 7, 2008, 12:01 am (ET)

The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued new cholesterol screening and treatment recommendations for children. The policy statement, “Lipid Screening and Cardiovascular Health in Childhood,” recommends cholesterol screening of children and adolescents with a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease. It also recommends screening patients whose family history is unknown or those who have other factors for heart disease including obesity, high blood pressure or diabetes. Screening should take place after age two, but no later than age 10. The best method for testing is a fasting lipid profile. If a child has values within the normal range, testing should be repeated in three to five years. For children who are more than eight years old and who have high LDL concentrations, cholesterol-reducing medications should be considered. Younger patients with elevated cholesterol readings should focus on weight reduction and increased activity while receiving nutritional counseling. The statement also recommends the use of reduced-fat dairy products, such as two percent milk, for children as young as one year of age for whom overweight or obesity is a concern.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.