Neti Pots: Tap Water is a No-No

Spring is almost over, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the end of allergies. Those
who suffer year-round look for relief in a number of ways—from daily doses of allergy medicine to regular sessions of acupuncture. Another popular—as well as drug-free and inexpensive—method is nasal rinsing.

A common nasal irrigation device is the neti pot—a small, teapot-like container that you fill with a saline solution to clear nasal passages. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the neti pot can flush out dust, pollen, and other debris, and also help to loosen thick mucus.

The FDA states that, when used properly, the neti pot is safe and effective in reducing allergy symptoms—as long as they are used correctly. Neti pots must only be filled with distilled, sterile, or previously boiled water. If you use tap water, you risk putting organisms in your nasal passages that can cause serious infections, or even result in death. You don’t get sick from drinking tap water because your stomach acid can kill low-level organisms.

According to the FDA, other tips for safe use of your neti pot include:

  • Making sure your hands are clean before use.
  • Checking that the device is clean and completely dry.
  • Carefully following the manufacturer’s directions for use.

Before using any nasal rinsing device, consult with your doctor to see if it’s the best solution for you. Be sure to check the license of your doctor by going to the Medical Board of California’s website, www.mbc.ca.gov.

 

 

Celebrating Diversity and Showing the Path to Licensure in Two New Videos From DCA

Did you know that the State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology (BBC) offers assistance and materials to consumers and licensees in Korean, English, Spanish, and Vietnamese?

Did you know there are four easy steps on the path to obtaining professional licensure with the Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists (BPELSG)?

You can learn about one—or both—of these subjects by watching two new videos available on the Department of Consumer Affairs’ YouTube channel.

BBC Celebrates Diversity” highlights the board’s recognition of California’s diverse population and its continuing efforts to provide meaningful access to its services, programs, and activities to all of its consumers and licensees. Its expanded language accessibility includes interpreter services via a toll-free language phone service as well as specialized training for board staff.

Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists—Apply for EIT or LSIT” provides a step-by-step roadmap for students on the four components necessary for obtaining a certificate as an engineer-in-training or land surveyor-in-training—both essential in the path to licensure.

Visit the Department of Consumer Affairs’ YouTube channel for a variety of instructional videos, public service announcements, webcasts, and much more, then subscribe to be notified when new videos are available.

Expert Practice Consultants Wanted by the Board of Registered Nursing

Nearly all industries have them. From medicine to technology. Expert Practice Consultants (EPCs), also known as Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) are bona fide experts in a particular field who are called upon to provide guidance or counsel, and sometimes expert testimony in lawsuits or other legal matters.

Typically, EPCs have developed proficiency in their career after a great deal of immersion in their particular field over a period of time.  Many EPCs have advanced degrees in their area of specialization and maintain continuous study in their profession as required for licensure.

The California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) is actively recruiting EPCs who are experts that specialize in various areas from emergency room to risk management.  

An EPC plays a crucial role in the investigation process of an enforcement case.  By providing an objective, reasoned and impartial evaluation of the matter, the EPC is primarily concerned with whether there was a departure from the standard of nursing practice.

These experts must meet the specific criteria set by BRN and possess a current and active California RN license devoid of any disciplinary action.

EPCs have day jobs and their responsibilities are very specific as they serve in this capacity for a limited term.

Duties include case review, preparation and creation of an expert report and possibly, testifying at an administrative hearing.

Sound interesting?  For more information about EPCs or if you are interested in performing a greater service for the State of California by becoming one, you can view BRN’s new brochure Become An Expert Practice Consultant or contact the board via phone (916) 322-3350 or email Expert.BRN@dca.ca.gov.

June is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is most often associated with military veterans but PTSD affects more than those who have experienced combat warfare.

The National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder defines PTSD as a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault.

PTSD does not discriminate, it can happen to anyone.

Here are some facts from the National Center for PTSD:

  • About 7 or 8 out of every 100 people will have PTSD at some point in their lives
  • About eight million adults have PTSD during a given year
  • About 10 out of every 100 women develop PTSD sometime in their lives compared with about 4 out of every 100 men

Symptoms of PTSD vary from person to person, but the most common symptoms are:

  • Replaying the traumatic event over in your mind
  • Anxiety around people or places that trigger memories of the event
  • Feeling on edge and angered easily
  • Feelings of guilt, shame or depression

In 2014, to increase the promotion and public awareness of PTSD and the availability of effective treatments, PTSD Awareness Day, formerly June 27, was expanded to the entire month of June and 2017 marks the fourth consecutive year of the awareness campaign.

Only a mental health or medical professional can properly diagnose PTSD.  The California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) licenses such professionals through the Board of Psychology, Board of Behavioral Sciences and the Medical Board of California.

To check the license status of a mental health or medical professional in California click here.

For more information about PTSD and the National Center for PTSD, view the PTSD Awareness PSA below and visit the VA’s website at https://www.ptsd.va.gov/

 

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

Mark Your Calendar: Medical Cannabis Public Hearings Are Just Days Away!

Public comment period open

DCA’s Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation (BMCR) recently announced the release of proposed medical cannabis regulations which include general provisions applicable to all bureau licenses, distributors, transporters, dispensaries, and testing laboratories. Part of BMCR’s regulations announcement includes the news of  public hearings to collect public comment on the proposed regulations.

The bureau encourages all interested stakeholders to review the proposed regulations and attend a hearing near you to provide feedback. Hearing dates and locations are as follows:

June 1, 2017
10 a.m. – 1 p.m. (dispensaries, transportation and distribution regulations)
1 p.m. – 3 p.m. (testing lab regulations)
Adorni Center
1011 Waterfront Drive, Eureka, CA 95501

June 8, 2017
10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (dispensaries, transportation and distribution regulations)
1 p.m. – 3 p.m. (testing lab regulations)
Junipero Serra Building
320 W. Fourth Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013

June 9, 2017
10 a.m. – 1 p.m. (dispensaries, transportation and distribution regulations only)
Department of Consumer Affairs, Hearing Room, S-102
1625 North Market Boulevard, Sacramento, CA 95834

June 13, 2017
1 p.m. – 4 p.m. (dispensaries, transportation and distribution regulations)
4 p.m. – 6 p.m. (testing lab regulations)
King Library, Second Floor
150 E. San Fernando Street, San Jose, CA 95112

June 20, 2017
10 a.m. – 12 p.m. (testing lab regulations only)
Department of Consumer Affairs, Hearing Room, S-102
1625 North Market Boulevard, Sacramento, CA 95834

To review the medical regulations for licensing dispensaries, distributors and transporters, visit the BMCR website at http://bmcr.ca.gov/laws_regs/mcrsa_ptor.pdf; Proposed testing laboratory regulations can be found at http://bmcr.ca.gov/laws_regs/mcrsa_lab_ptor.pdf. Links to all key bureau regulations information can be accessed on BMCR’s website home page, including the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and the Initial Statement of Reasons. You can also find these documents and more valuable information by visiting the new Cannabis Web Portal, www.cannabis.ca.gov.

Get involved!

Can’t make a meeting but still want to give feedback? Get involved in the regulatory process by following the steps listed on BMCR’s website at www.bmcr.ca.gov/about_us/documents/17-065_public_comment.pdf. This includes what to include in your public comments as well as how and when to submit them.

For additional information about BMCR, or to subscribe to email alerts to hear about updates as they become available, please visit http://www.bmcr.ca.gov/.

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.

Governor Appoints New Chief for Professional Fiduciaries Bureau

The Department of Consumer Affairs is pleased to announce the appointment today of Rebecca May as Chief of the Professional Fiduciaries Bureau by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr.  Read the Governor’s press release here.

Having Dense Breasts: What Does It Mean?

When women get their mammogram results, they may be notified that they have “dense breast tissue.” Starting in April 2013, California law requires that patients be informed if they have dense breasts, and if they do, they may want to consult with their doctor about additional screening options.

Density is apparent only in mammograms and has nothing to do with firmness. Breasts appear dense if there is a great deal of fibrous or glandular tissue, and less fatty tissue. According to the American Cancer Society, about 40 percent of women in the U.S. over age 40 have dense breasts.

Having dense breasts increases your risk of getting breast cancer—the second-leading cause of cancer death in women, with lung cancer as the number one-leading cause. A February 2017 University of California, San Francisco, study showed that women with dense breast tissue are at a greater risk for breast cancer compared to women with a family history of the disease, their own history of benign lesions, or a first full-term pregnancy over age 30. However, it’s still not understood why there is a link. But what is clear is that dense breast tissue makes it more difficult to see tumors in mammograms.

If you do receive notice that you have dense breasts, be sure to discuss with your doctor about what follow-up tests (e.g., an MRI, ultrasound, or 3D mammography) may be necessary. To check the license of a doctor, visit the Medical Board of California website at www.mbc.ca.gov.