Opinion writers weigh in on these health topics and others.
The Hill: From Doctors To Legislators: Vote Yes On Current Vaccine Bills And Then Do More
As a hospital pediatrician, I was heartbroken to care for my first patient with measles. Despite knowing intellectually that, due to poor vaccine uptake, this completely preventable disease would make a resurgence in my career, the severity of the illness still took me by surprise. There is a striking difference between textbook descriptions of rash, fever and pneumonia; and seeing a small child connected to a breathing tube to help her damaged lungs obtain air. Like most physicians, I was hit by a wave of emotion- anger at the opportunistic anti-vaccine lobby for causing so much unneeded suffering, fear for the long term effects including brain damage and death that this girl might suffer and above all else, sadness that so many innocent children will continue to be hurt. (Rebekah Diamond, 5/5)
USA Today: Measles Spread With Viral ‘Anti-Vaxxer’ Misinformation On The Internet
When I first began using the “virus” analogy to describe the rapid spread of misinformation and its potential to do serious harm, I didn’t realize how fitting, or timely, that comparison would become. The recent outbreaks of measles, one of the most contagious diseases in the world, make that connection alarmingly real. (Alan C. Miller, 5/3)
The Wall Street Journal: Weeding Out Dubious Marijuana Science
Academics depict the peer-review process as the gold standard for intellectual honesty, ensuring published scholarly work is unbiased and accurate. But ideological conformity makes peer review a far thinner defense than advertised.In January I published a book about the mental-health and violence risks of cannabis. Several dozen scholars signed a petition expressing in unison their objection to my work. Thus I’ve recently spent an inordinate amount of time reading papers seeking to prove that marijuana is a cure-all whose deleterious consequences are a figment of our collective imagination. The shoddiness of much of the work has shocked me. (Alex Berenson, 5/5)
The New York Times: 80,000 Deaths. 2 Million Injuries. It’s Time For A Reckoning On Medical Devices.
When the Food and Drug Administration announced last month that it couldn’t guarantee the long-term safety and efficacy of vaginal mesh products — medical devices that have been on the market for decades — the collective response from tens of thousands of women harmed by the products sounded something like this: Duh. The mesh, which is used to hold pelvic organs in place when muscles become too weak to do the job, has long been tied to life-altering injuries, including nearly 80 deaths as of 2018. In the past decade, seven companies have spent a collective $ 8 billion to resolve more than 100,000 patient claims — making litigation over vaginal mesh (or pelvic mesh, as it is sometimes called) one of the largest mass tort cases in United States history. (5/4)
Stat: Nurses Can Help Doctors Regain Their Patients’ Trust
Physicians, once among the most trusted professionals in the United States, now face a credibility crisis. Only one-third of Americans say they have a great deal of trust in physicians, down from around two-thirds in the 1970s. This lack of trust is leading to a burgeoning appetite for medical misinformation, causing many Americans to avoid vaccines and cholesterol-lowering statins. To quell this rising tide, I believe that my physician colleagues and I should learn from the most trusted professionals in America for 16 straight years: nurses. (Haider Warraich, 5/6)
The Washington Post: ‘Heartbeat Bills’ Are Wholesome Provocations In The Abortion Debate
While constitutional lawyers, ethicists and theologians — in descending order of importance in the abortion debate — have been arguing in the 46 years since the Supreme Court attempted to settle the debate, some technologists have been making a consequential contribution to it. They have developed machines that produce increasingly vivid sonograms of fetal development. This concreteness partially explains the intensification of the debate. …The “heartbeat bills” are wholesome provocations: One of their aims is to provoke thinking about the moral dimension of extinguishing a being with a visibly beating heart. Furthermore, pro-life people are being provoked in different ways.(George Will, 5/3)
The Hill: The Term ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ Should Be Laid To Rest
These mix-ups often have at their center patient, family and health-care provider misunderstanding regarding the meaning of a single term: “do not resuscitate,” (DNR) for short. The term DNR means that a patient should not receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the event of cardiopulmonary arrest (i.e., when the patient has died; is unresponsive, has no pulse and is not breathing).But many patients and health-care providers misinterpret a DNR order to mean that no life support should be given in the event of clinical deterioration (i.e., the patient has not yet died but is getting much sicker). (Amber Barnato, 5/5)
The Washington Post: Can My Baby Inherit My Eating Disorder?
I write this as I’m about to give birth to my baby girl. I’m full of excitement and disbelief at how much I already love this tiny stranger poking my rib cage. But I’m also tormented by a deep-seated fear. I’m terrified that my daughter will inherit my eating disorder, that my own decades-long struggle with anorexia will ruin my child’s life. Of course, parents don’t cause eating disorders. Although they used to be the main object of blame, increasing evidence suggests the real culprits are things such as altered neurological function, certain personality traits (including perfectionism, rigidity and tunnel-vision toward goals), and the way semi-starvation changes the brain. (Kate Willskey, 5/4)
Stat: Urgent Steps Needed To Prevent Ebola From Spinning Out Of Control
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is experiencing the second largest Ebola outbreak in history. This week has been the worst by far, with more than 100 new cases in the last 5 days. Since the outbreak began last summer, there have been more than 1,500 cases, with just over 1,000 deaths. (Tom Inglesby and Jennifer Nuzzo, 5/3)
The New York Times: The Myth Of Testosterone
On Wednesday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that female athletes with naturally elevated levels of testosterone could not compete as women unless they made efforts to reduce the hormone in their bodies. The ruling came in a case brought by the middle-distance runner Caster Semenya against the International Association of Athletics Federations that challenged longstanding myths about the presumed masculinity of testosterone and its role in the body. Her loss demonstrates just how entrenched those myths have become. (Katrina Karkazis and Rebecca M Jordan-Young, 5/3)
San Jose Mercury News: Close California Vaccination Legislation Loophole
Pan, D-Sacramento, is a pediatrician with a master’s in public health from Harvard. His legislation, which passed the Senate Health Committee on April 24, would have public health officials — rather than doctors — decide who qualifies for a medical exemption to being vaccinated. The bill is needed to close a loophole in Pan’s 2015 law that eliminated the personal belief exemption and gave California some of the toughest immunization legislation in the nation. (5/5)
Austin American-Statesman: Birth Control Should Be As Easy To Buy As Cold Medicine
The consequences of limited access to hormonal contraception are unplanned pregnancies. Unsurprisingly, the women who cannot afford doctors’ visits to obtain birth control cannot afford the medical costs associated with pregnancy. As a result, the government frequently foots the shockingly large tab for their medical care. In fact, in 2010, Texas pregnancies cost taxpayers $ 2.9 billion. (Marc Hyden and Courtney M. Joslin, 5/3)
Los Angeles Times: My Patient Was Homeless. I Knew She Was Going To Die, But My Hands Were Tied
As a physician practicing on L.A.’s skid row, I’ve seen a lot of deaths among homeless people, but this one broke my heart. My outreach nurse announced the news after a call from the coroner’s office: There’d been another death on skid row. “Who now?” I asked. Her answer was devastating. It was J, whose full name I am not using to protect her privacy. As a physician practicing on L.A.’s skid row, I’ve seen a lot of deaths among homeless people, but this one broke my heart. (Susan Partovi, 5/4)
Sacramento Bee: Patients Suffering From Mental Illness Need Long-Term Care
After the county decreased mental health services in 2009, the average number of daily psychiatric evaluations in the emergency department nearly tripled within the first year, according to a study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine. Also, the average length of stay in the emergency department for patients in a mental health crisis increased by more than 50 percent during the same period. (Lorin Scher, 5/5)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.