Monday, January 16, 2017
Judith Katherine Dunning had been waiting anxiously for California to adopt legislation that would make it legal for her to end her life.
The cancer in her brain was progressing despite several rounds of treatment. At 68, she spent most of her day asleep and needed an aide to help with basic tasks.
More centrally, Ms. Dunning — who, poignantly, had worked as an oral historian in Berkeley, Calif. — was losing her ability to speak. Even before the End of Life Option Actbecame law, in October 2015, she had recorded a video expressing her desire to hasten her death.
The video, she hoped, would make her wishes clear, in case there were any doubts later on.
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
When Dr. Elliott Haut and his team at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore designed their blood clot prevention protocol back in 2006, they didn't expect to discover systemic gender bias. But the data were clear and the implications were alarming: Women who were trauma patients at Johns Hopkins Hospital were in considerably greater danger of dying of preventable blood clots than men.
Why? Because doctors were less likely to provide them with the appropriate blood clot prevention treatment. At Hopkins, as at many hospitals, both men and women were receiving treatment at less than perfect rates, but while 31 percent of male trauma patients were failing to get proper clot prevention, for women, the rate was 45 percent. That means women were nearly 50 percent more likely to miss out on blood clot prevention.
Blood clots, gelatinous tangles that can travel through the body and block blood flow, kill more people every year than breast cancer, AIDS and car crashes combined. But many of these clots can be avoided — if doctors prescribe the right preventive measures.
Haut is a trauma surgeon, not a bias expert, so gender disparities were the last thing on his mind when he and his team put together a computerized checklist that requires doctors to review blood clot prevention for every patient. "Our goal was not to improve care for men or women or whoever, it was to improve the care of everybody," he said. But what they found was that after the introduction of the checklist, appropriate treatment for everyone spiked. And the gender disparity disappeared.
Friday, January 6, 2017
Public health officials have called the current opioid epidemic the worst drug crisis in American history, killing more than 33,000 people in 2015. Overdose deaths were nearly equal to the number of deaths from car crashes. In 2015, for the first time, deaths from heroin alone surpassed gun homicides.
More than one million people will be given access to a free app which means they can consult with a "chatbot" instead of a human being.
Hospitals across the country are struggling to cope with unprecedented demand, which has left thousands of casualty patients waiting on trolleys.
In the last week, growing numbers of hospitals and ambulance services have declared critical incidents - even though most operations have been stopped for the last month.
The new measure is part of a national drive by health officials to "digitise" the health service, while speeding up help for minor complaints to reduce strain on services.
The company behind the scheme said it would save the health service "substantial" money and time.
But leading doctors and patients' groups last night expressed fear that the experiment, due to start later this month, is too risky. They raised fears that serious conditions could be missed - or casualty units end up swamped - by too great a reliance on automated systems.
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Salaries for female physicians average some $19,879—eight percent—lower than male physicians. At academic hospitals, male physicians receive more research funding and are more than twice as likely as female physicians to rise to the rank of full professor.
These disparities have historically been attributed to the effects of disproportionate domestic responsibilities—including maternity leave and subsequent part-time schedules. As physicians Rita Redberg and Anna Parks note, this can be perceived to "undermine the quality of female physicians' work and explain male physicians' higher salaries."
But no. Female physicians actually tend to provide higher-quality medical care than males, according to research released today. If male physicians were as adept as females, some 32,000 fewer Americans would die every year—among Medicare patients alone.
Friday, December 16, 2016
Not all hospitals are created equal, and the differences in quality can be a matter of life or death.
In the first comprehensive study comparing how well individual hospitals treated a variety of medical conditions, researchers found that patients at the worst American hospitals were three times more likely to die and 13 times more likely to have medical complications than if they visited one of the best hospitals.
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Billions of dollars are spent every year on medications that reduce the risk of heart disease — the No. 1 killer in the United States.
But some people feel powerless to prevent it: Many of the risk factors seem baked into the cake at birth. Genetic factors can have a huge impact on people's chances of dying of heart disease, and it has long been thought that those factors are almost always outside of one's control.
Recent research contradicts this, though, and that should give us all renewed hope.
Sunday, November 27, 2016
Saturday, November 19, 2016
Hepatitis And Multiple Sclerosis Specialists Among Biggest-Dollar Prescribers In Medicare : Shots - Health News : NPR
The number of providers who topped the $5 million mark for prescriptions increased more than tenfold, from 41 in 2011 to 514 in 2015. The number of prescribers — mostly physicians but also nurse practitioners — exceeding $10 million in drug costs jumped from two to 70 over the same time period, according to the data.
Most of the doctors atop the spending list prescribed Harvoni or Sovaldi, relatively new drugs that cure hepatitis C. Other providers on the list prescribed pricey drugs to treat cancer, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.