Saturday, November 10, 2018

Laura Levis died outside a Boston-area ER. The doors were locked. Why? - The Boston Globe

SEPTEMBER 16, 2016, 4:23:59 A.M.

911 operator: "This line is recorded. Where is your emergency?"

Laura: "I'm at Somerville Hospital."

911 operator: "I'm sorry. Where are you?"

Laura: "Somerville Hospital."

911 operator: "OK, what's the emergency?"

Laura: "I'm having an asthma attack. I'm dying."

911 operator: "Whereabouts are you at the hospital?"

Laura: "Emergency room."

911 operator: "OK."

Laura: "I can't get in."

911 operator: "Let me get you into Somerville. You're outside?"

Laura: "Mm-hm."

911 operator: "Are you in the parking lot?"

Laura: "Yeah."

911 operator: "Are you in a vehicle?"

Laura: "No. I'm just outside it."

911 operator: "At the door?"

Laura: "Asthma. Asthma."

911 operator: "Are you at the door?"

Laura: "Yeah."

911 operator: "Yes?"

Laura: "Yes, I'm just at the door. I feel like I'm dying."

* * *

MY NAME IS Peter DeMarco, and I am Laura's husband. And I didn't know any of this.

When I finally arrived at the emergency room that morning, I was told that Laura never made it there. That she collapsed on a street leading to CHA Somerville Hospital, or possibly in a parking lot on the outskirts of the property. No one in the emergency room could tell me the full story, as there had been a shift change at 7 a.m., and everyone who'd treated her was gone. All they knew was that my wife had called 911 just after 4 a.m., before she lost consciousness, but she wasn't able to give her exact location.

It took emergency responders a long time to find her, they told me.

"She was in the last place they looked," someone in the emergency room said.

Some 10 minutes passed between the time Laura called 911 and the time she was found, in cardiac arrest following a devastating asthma attack. Those 10 minutes meant her life.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

What if the Placebo Effect Isn’t a Trick? - The New York Times

The Chain of Office of the Dutch city of Leiden is a broad and colorful ceremonial necklace that, draped around the shoulders of Mayor Henri Lenferink, lends a magisterial air to official proceedings in this ancient university town. But whatever gravitas it provided Lenferink as he welcomed a group of researchers to his city, he was quick to undercut it. "I am just a humble historian," he told the 300 members of the Society for Interdisciplinary Placebo Studies who had gathered in Leiden's ornate municipal concert hall, "so I don't know anything about your topic." He was being a little disingenuous. He knew enough about the topic that these psychologists and neuroscientists and physicians and anthropologists and philosophers had come to his city to talk about — the placebo effect, the phenomenon whereby suffering people get better from treatments that have no discernible reason to work — to call it "fake medicine," and to add that it probably works because "people like to be cheated." He took a beat. "But in the end, I believe that honesty will prevail."

Lenferink might not have been so glib had he attended the previous day's meeting on the other side of town, at which two dozen of the leading lights of placebo science spent a preconference day agonizing over their reputation — as purveyors of sham medicine who prey on the desperate and, if they are lucky, fool people into feeling better — and strategizing about how to improve it. It's an urgent subject for them, and only in part because, like all apostate professionals, they crave mainstream acceptance. More important, they are motivated by a conviction that the placebo is a powerful medical treatment that is ignored by doctors only at their patients' expense.

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