FDA Warns Against Prescribing Codeine, Tramadol, to Children and Breastfeeding Mothers

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued its strictest warnings to date against the use of codeine and tramadol in children and breastfeeding mothers. The drugs carry serious risks involving slowed or difficulty breathing and death, especially for children younger than 12.

Codeine and tramadol are a type of narcotic medicine called an opioid.  Codeine is used to treat mild to moderate pain and also to reduce coughing.  Tramadol is a prescription medicine approved only for adults to treat moderate to moderately severe pain.

The FDA also recommended that these drugs should not be prescribed to teens to treat pain after surgery to remove tonsils or adenoids; to teens who are obese; or to teens who have sleep apnea or lung disease.

Parents, caregivers, and patients should always read the label on medicine bottles to find out if a medication contains codeine or tramadol. For prescription medications, consult with your health care provider at the time the prescription is written, and with your pharmacist when the prescription is filled.

If a child has been given either of these drugs or received it through breastfeeding, watch closely for signs of breathing problems. Danger signs include slow or shallow breathing, difficulty or noisy breathing, confusion, more than usual sleepiness, trouble breastfeeding or limpness. If you notice any of these signs, stop giving the medicine immediately and seek medical attention by going to an emergency room or by calling 911.

Click HERE to view the document on the FDA website.

Don’t Get Burned by Rental Listing Scammers

The real estate market in California is hot and some people searching for apartments and home rentals are getting burned by purchasing useless rental listings.

Crooks are ready to take advantage of the unwary by selling listings of rentals that either aren’t available, don’t exist or are in foreclosure.

The California Bureau of Real Estate (CalBRE) warns consumers not to become a victim of such scams, which are most prevalent in areas where affordable rental housing is difficult to find.

A prepaid rental listing service is a business that supplies people with lists of residential properties for rent. The prospective tenants are required to pay a fee in advance or at the time the listing is provided. This business requires a prepaid rental listing service (PRLS) license from the Bureau of Real Estate or the person running the business must be licensed with the bureau as a real estate broker.

Wayne Bell, Real Estate Commissioner and CalBRE chief officer, says that consumers must be careful when using PRLS companies and offers this information to help you avoid problems.

Red Flags

  • The PRLS company only accepts cash (because credit cards allow for disputing charges).
  • The PRLS company guarantees the prospective tenant will get a rental in his or her price range, as well as a desired location, along with other positive options (such as allowing pets).
  • The list of rentals is handwritten and not computer generated.
  • The company does not provide property management or owner contact information for a prospective renter to schedule an appointment to visit the property.
  • The company asks the consumer to contact them instead of the property manager or owner if there is an interest. Typically, a PRLS company will provide you rental property addresses and property manager or owner information so that direct contact can be made by the client.
  • Company representatives use only first names. Note: Last names may be omitted and first names are often changed to avoid detection by law enforcement or to keep from being sued.
  • The company has only been in business for a brief period of time. Some PRLS companies open, quickly close, and move around a lot to avoid customers seeking refunds.

Avoid Being a Victim

  • Check the real estate and/or PRLS license HERE. And please note that there are very few PRLS licensees statewide. The list of such licensees can be viewed HERE.  Companies operating lawfully under a PRLS license must maintain a $10,000 bond or cash deposit.  Scammers will just take your money and there is no recourse.
  • If the PRLS company is not licensed, consumers should not use that company and should report the company to CalBRE.
  • If licensed, also check the PRLS with the local Better Business Bureau.
  • Do a Google, Yahoo or Yelp search on the Internet to see what others say about the company.

Read Your Contract with the PRLS Company

Protect yourself by reading your contract carefully. Before any PRLS company accepts a fee for rental listings it must provide a contract stating the amount of the fee and specify what services will be performed in exchange for the fee.

  • The contract must include a description of the kind of rental unit the consumer wants to find.
  • Even if the contract is signed electronically, consumers can and should still request a printed copy of the contract. This must be provided within five working days of a request.
  • Consumers need to be sure the contract states exactly what sort of rental listings will be provided. For instance, if a consumer is looking for a specific number of bedrooms, a maximum rent amount or listings in a specific area, this must be written into the contract.
  • The contract must state an expiration date of no more than 90 days from the date it is signed.
  • The PRLS company must also disclose small claims court remedies available to you should any issues arise.
  • If the PRLS company fails to provide the specified features, this is one of several conditions that would form a basis for the customer to receive a refund.
  • Prospective renters using a PRLS must carefully review the refund section of the contract. It is important to understand what rights you have should a refund be requested.

If you feel you have been the victim of a prepaid rental listing service licensee, please file a complaint HERE.  And if you have been victimized by an unlicensed scammer, CalBRE wants to know.  Contact them at 1-877-373-4542.

Sources:

Consumer Fraud Alert and Warning – Prepaid Rental Listing Services (PRLS)

Consumer Alert: Warning Regarding Online Rental Schemes

California’s Drug Take Back Nets Largest Haul in U.S.

Californians dropped off 37 tons of unwanted medications during the thirteenth National Prescription Take Back Day on April 29 – netting the largest haul out of any state in the country.

California also boasted the most drop-off locations and the third highest number of law enforcement partners when compared to all 50 states. During the collection, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) worked with 204 law enforcement agencies in California at 346 different locations.

The DEA says its partners throughout the country collected more unused prescription drugs than at any of the 12 previous Drug Take Back Day events. Nationally, the event brought in 450 tons of medications at close to 5,500 sites. A total of 4,052 tons of prescription drugs have been collected and safely disposed of since the first Drug Take Back event in 2010.

According to the DEA, the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day Initiative addresses a crucial public safety and public health issue. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.4 million Americans abused controlled prescription drugs. That study showed that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet. The DEA’s Take Back Day events provide an opportunity for Americans to prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths.

The DEA’s next National Prescription Take Back Day is Saturday, October 28, 2017.

For more information, go HERE to the DEA website.

Public Service Employees Are the Unsung Heroes of Government

Public Service Recognition Week May 7-13, 2017

The first week of May marks Public Service Recognition Week which honors the men and women who serve our country as local, county, state and federal government employees.

These folks are the unsung heroes of government whose rank and file perform the daily tasks that keep government services rolling for all Americans. Many of these folks work behind-the-scenes and out of the limelight, but their dedication to their jobs benefits everyone.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines public service as “governmental employment” and civil service which it defines as “the branch of a government that takes care of the business of running the government and its programs.”

At the California Department of Consumer Affairs, our civil servants help to keep Californians safe as our 39 boards, bureaus, committees and commissions license and regulate many professions. Some of these professions are pharmacists, dentists, engineers, accountants, cosmetologists, contractors, physicians, psychologists, security guards, real estate agents, architects and court reporters, to name a few. For a full list of Department of Consumer Affairs licensing boards, bureaus, committees and commissions, click HERE.

The department also has staff that provides services to the boards, bureaus, committees and commissions. The various offices include the dedicated employees in Division of Investigation, Division of Legislative and Regulatory Review, Equal Employment Opportunity, Executive, Information Security, Internal Audits, Legal Affairs, Administrative Services, Professional Examination Services, Information Services, Communications, Strategic Planning and Development and Training Solutions.

We tip our hats to all civil servants and thank you for your service. Good government could not operate without you!

Public Service Recognition Week is organized annually by the Public Employees Roundtable and its member organizations to honor public service and connect citizens with their government. This week all across the country, mayors, governors, agency leaders, communities and public service organizations participate by issuing proclamations; hosting award ceremonies and special tribute events; and delivering messages about the value of public service.

Consider a Career in Nursing

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Considering a career in nursing is a smart move for high school or college students or those thinking of a career change.

According to a 2015 survey conducted by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and The Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers, 50% of the registered nurse (RN) workforce is age 50 or older and many will be retiring in the next 10 years. This, coupled with an increase in the health care needs of an aging baby boom population, means RNs will be in high demand during the next decade.  In fact, by 2024, the California Employment Development Department projects there will be 105,000 RN job openings in the state.

Nurses are the backbone of the medical community and they play an important role in health care. Every day, they make a positive difference in the lives of others.

RNs care for patients, keep records, administer medication, consult with other healthcare providers, monitor patients and educate individuals and family. They also have to stay up-to-date on new technology and tools. Nurses provide care to patients and families and support to doctors and other health care professionals involved in the care of their patient.

RNs can work in hospitals, clinics, schools, medical offices, nursing care facilities and correctional facilities. They also serve in the military. RNs may work with children in pediatrics, with newborns in neonatal care, with seniors in geriatrics and with women giving birth in the delivery room. They can also work in orthopedics, pain management, post-anesthesia care and a number of other health care fields.

A nursing career offers a flexible work schedule and an average income ranging from $60,700 to $162,900. While in the past nurses have mostly been women, more and more men are choosing  careers as registered nurses.

There are many paths you can take to become an RN. The California Board of Registered Nursing, the agency that licenses and regulates registered nurses, has resources available to help you explore and plan your nursing career.   For information on how to become a registered nurse, visit the board’s website here.

The board has also created a brochure to encourage and help you as you consider this important career. You can view it here.

For more information on the Board of Registered Nursing, visit www.rn.ca.gov.

DCA Daughters and Sons Discover the Working World

The California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) welcomed 18 young people for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day on Thursday, April 27, 2017.

The kids got the opportunity to see where their parents spend their days working and learned how the department operates by visiting various offices for a behind-the-scenes look.

The day’s highlights included a stop in the mail room where they learned to sort mail, a visit to the Executive Office and a chat with Director Dean R. Grafilo, and a trip to the Office of Public Affairs where they helped create social media messages for the department.

One of the kids said, “We got to experience everything that DCA is responsible for – from distributing mail to enforcing rules.”

Some children were interested to see where their parents worked and enjoyed meeting their parents’ bosses. Others were impressed with the fact that the DCA building was the original Arco Arena and was once home to the Sacramento Kings basketball team.

Delilah, 17, called her visit “informational” and said it helped her to explore different career options.

Mark, 12, deemed the day “good” and said he learned a lot especially about how many professions the department licenses.

Kamari, 13, said he learned “lots of real world stuff that is essential to actual life.”

Who knows, some of these daughters and sons could one day become DCA staffers!

Got Drugs? Clear Them Out Safely!

Do prescription bottles fall out of your medicine cabinet every time you open the door? Do you even remember what some of them are for? Here’s a safe way to clear that clutter: drop them off on April 29 from 10 am to 2 pm during National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

The event provides a free, safe, convenient and responsible way to dispose of unused, unwanted, and expired prescription drugs that might be hanging around in your medicine cabinet.

It’s important to get these drugs out of the house: In a recent survey, the majority of prescription drug abusers said they get their drugs from unsuspecting friends and family. Leaving medications around can be tempting for curious teens and anyone who enters your home.

The most heavily abused medications are prescription opioid painkillers, which many people are prescribed for pain—but they’re hard to get. Abuse of opioids can be devastating and can result in overdose and death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said opioids accounted for 20,808 drug overdoses—78 a day—in 2014.

Abusers are not the only ones at risk. Seniors may mistakenly take discontinued medications they have in their medicine cabinets and young children could be accidentally poisoned by swallowing medications not properly stored out of their reach.

The Department of Consumer Affairs’ California State Board of Pharmacy encourages the public to participate in Drug Take-Back Days; to get ready for the event, consumers are asked to remove pills from bottles and put them into a plastic bag and seal it. Liquids should be kept in the original bottle. Items that will be accepted during Drug Take-Back Day include prescription and non-prescription medications, controlled substances, and veterinary medications. Items that will not be accepted include sharps or lancets, medical waste, illicit drugs, marijuana products, aerosols, or hydrogen peroxide.

During last year’s Drug Take-Back event, Americans turned in 447 tons of unused prescription drugs—the largest amount since the event began in 2010. At the 2016 Drug Take-Back, Californians turned in 32 tons of medications, which put the state in the No. 2 slot for most drugs collected. This shows that Californians are taking the issue very seriously.

To find a collection site, go to the U.S. Department of Justice website or call 1-800-882-9539.

It’s Tax Time – Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute to File

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You know tax season has begun when your mailbox contains W-2s, 1099s and lots of other tax-related documents needed for filing annual state and federal income tax returns.

While many of us dread preparing our taxes, it’s one of those necessary tasks that we have to get through every year. At least those receiving tax refunds have something to look forward to! But, there is some good tax news this year because the filing deadline has been extended for three days and you have until April 18, 2017 at midnight to get your taxes filed.

We don’t recommend you wait until the last minute, though. Filing early is highly recommended. One of the main reasons is to avoid identity theft. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), identity theft has become a big problem and criminals file fraudulent tax returns and collect refunds in your name leaving you with a mess to clean up. Early filing will prevent this.

Starting early also gives you more time to prepare your returns so you can make sure they are accurate. Plus, you’ll get your refund earlier and if you do have to pay, you’ll have more time to plan for it.

Many wonder whether it’s better to prepare those tax forms themselves or hire a professional. It usually depends on how complicated your finances and returns are. Either way, there is some homework you’ll need to do to keep your stress level down and to complete your filing on time.

  1. Don’t wait until the last minute.
  2. Collect needed documents in advance.
  3. Review your documents to be sure you have everything you need and get what is missing.
  4. Determine if you’ll file online or by mail.
  5. Decide if you’ll prepare your tax returns yourself, use a computer tax program or have a tax preparer do it for you.
  6. Before choosing a professional, interview them over the phone or in person to verify their experience and ask any other questions you may have. Then, make an appointment and check their license and credentials.

According to the California Tax Education Council (CTEC) website, California professionals who can charge a fee to prepare tax returns must be licensed as an attorney or certified public accountant (CPA); or be a CTEC-registered tax preparer or an enrolled agent.

CTEC states that “choosing a tax preparer who is not one of those four professionals may prevent you from legal recourse against fraud. It may also increase your chances for additional taxes, interest and fines.”

Check the license

CPA: If you choose a CPA to prepare your taxes, the California Board of Accountancy (CBA) encourages you to check the status of a CPA’s license on their website. Or call the board at (916) 263-3680.  You can also find any public enforcement documents related to a California CPA here.

Attorney: To verify the license of an attorney, go to the California Bar Association website.

Tax Preparer and Enrolled Agent: To verify that a tax preparer or enrolled agent is certified, go the California Tax Education Council website.

Helpful Information

The CBA’s Consumer Assistance Booklet has helpful tax information and can be viewed here on their website.

If you need more information on your federal taxes, check the IRS website at www.irs.gov.

California tax information can be found  at the California Tax Service Center www.taxes.ca.gov and at the Franchise Tax Board website.

Take some time now to get those tax returns ready and avoid the headaches and stress of waiting until the last minute.

Ticks Don’t Take a Winter Vacation

You may think that in winter you don’t have to worry about tick prevention, but if you live in any of California’s snow-free, temperate regions, adult ticks and emerging nymphs pose a threat all year long. Adult ticks are active from October to May, while younger and smaller nymphal ticks—about the size of a sesame seed—are active from January to October.

The three most common ticks in California (from top to bottom): The Western Black-Legged Tick, the Pacific Coast Tick, and the American Dog Tick.

The three most common ticks in California (from top to bottom): The Western Black-Legged Tick, the Pacific Coast Tick, and the American Dog Tick.

Ticks are nasty parasites, but they serve a purpose in the circle of life. They are food for reptiles, amphibians and birds; they host a variety of other organisms (many of those bad for humans); and because they carry diseases and drain blood, they act as a natural population control for their larger hosts—we just don’t want those “larger hosts” to be ourselves or our pets.

These mini-vampires can transmit a number of diseases including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tick-borne relapsing fever, tularemia, babesiosis, anaplasmosis and erlichiosis. Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in California, but luckily, most tick bites don’t transmit disease.

If you’ve been bitten by a tick, the Medical Board of California offers some advice—and an illustration of how to take out the tick—on page 10 of this issue of the Medical Board of California Newsletter.  Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics and most patients recover completely without complications if the infection is caught early. But if left untreated, the disease can cause arthritis or nervous system disorders.

Once a tick is discovered, it should be pulled out as quickly as possible.  After you remove the tick, be sure to wash your hands and apply antiseptic to the bite area. Old-fashioned tick removal remedies such as insecticides, lighted matches, gasoline, petroleum jelly or liquid soaps don’t work and may cause injury to you or your pet.

The best way to protect your pets from ticks is through the use of monthly flea and tick preventatives, which are available from your veterinarian. If you are looking for a veterinarian, don’t forget to check the license first with the Veterinary Medical Board of California.

When working with or looking for tick prevention, the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends you:
  • Discuss the use of preventive products, including over-the-counter products, with your veterinarian to determine the safest and most effective choice for each pet.
  • Always talk to your veterinarian before applying any spot-on products, especially if your dog or cat is very young, old, pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.
  • Only purchase EPA-registered pesticides or FDA-approved medicines.
  • Read the entire label before you use/apply the product.
  • Always follow label directions! Apply or give the product as and when directed. Never apply more or less than the recommended dose.
  • Remember, cats are not small dogs. Products labeled for use only for dogs should only be used for dogs, and never for cats.
  • Make sure that the weight range listed on the label is correct for your pet because weight matters. Giving a smaller dog a dose designed for a larger dog could cause the animal harm.

Preventing a tick bite is important and you need to take precautions when you or your pets enter tick habitats such as tall grass and brush in urban, suburban, and rural settings. Below are a few things you can do while outdoors:

  • Wear light-colored clothing to make it easier to see ticks if they are on your clothes.
  • Tuck your pants into your socks when you are walking, hiking, or working in tick areas.
  • Use repellents containing at least 20% DEET.
  • Do tick checks for several days after you or your pets have been in tick habitat. Pay close attention to the hairline, waistline and armpits.
  • Remove attached ticks immediately. This can reduce the risk of transmission of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.
  • Seek medical attention if you, a family member, or your pet becomes ill after a tick bite.

To see additional photos or find out more information about ticks, visit the Centers for Disease Control’s information page.

 

 

Psychologist Surrenders License Due to Sexual Misconduct

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Southland Psychologist was accused of having sexual relations with a patient

SACRAMENTO – A psychologist has agreed to surrender her license after she was accused of sexual misconduct with a patient while she was a director of two recovery centers where the patient was being treated.

Read the entire news release here.