Our Common Good

motherjones:

NO SRSLY. Fresh steaming piece of WTF? here.

The countries that allow assisted dying are careful democracies, just like us. It’s not a free for all. There are rules, rules everywhere. Some time ago I set out to track down every rumour of assisted dying abuse on the planet and when electronically cornered, people making allegations of abuse lamely said that it was on the internet. I think everything on the internet is true, don’t you?

Unfortunately, those irrevocably against assisted dying will continue to muddy the waters and so there will continue to be more tragedies like that of Tony Nicklinson and more people trailing off to Dignitas to the embarrassment of the Swiss and the shame of Britain.

Discworld author Terry Pratchett, a long-time campaigner for assisted dying, writes for The Times today

(via timesopinion)

shychemist:

ScienceDaily (Sep. 13, 2012) — An ultra-low cost scanner that can be plugged into any computer or laptop to reveal vital information about the unborn child has been developed by engineers at Newcastle University.

The hand-held USB device — which is roughly the size of a computer mouse — works in a similar way to existing ultrasound scanners, using pulses of high frequency sound to build up a picture of the unborn child on the computer screen.

However, unlike the technology used in most hospitals across the UK costing anywhere from £20,000-£100,000, the scanner created by Jeff Neasham and Research Associate Dave Graham at Newcastle University can be manufactured for as little as £30-40.

Tested by experts in the Regional Medical Physics Department at the Freeman Hospital, part of the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the scanner produces an output power that is 10-100 times lower than conventional hospital ultrasounds.

It is now hoped the device will be used to provide medical teams working in the world’s poorest nations with basic, antenatal information that could save the lives of hundreds of thousands of women and children.

Click title to read more.

"The question of rape always stirs the emotions whenever it is introduced into the abortion debate," Dr. Fred Mecklenburg wrote in 1972. "Unfortunately, the emotional impact of rape often clouds the real issues and the real facts."

Mecklenburg — an assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Minnesota Medical School at the time — could not have known how prescient his words would feel 40 years later.

While U.S. Rep. Todd Akin cited only “doctors” as his source of information about the rarity of pregnancy resulting from rape, it is two pages, from Mecklenburg’s 1972 article, “The Indications for Induced Abortion: A Physician’s Perspective,” that have influenced two generations of anti-abortion activists hoping to build a medical case to ban all abortions without exception.

In Mecklenburg’s original article, he wrote that pregnancy resulting from rape “is extremely rare,” and cited as an example the city of Buffalo, N.Y., which had not seen “a pregnancy from confirmed rape in over 30 years.” Other cities — Chicago, Washington, St. Paul — also had experienced lengthy spells without a rape-caused pregnancy, Mecklenburg wrote.

The reasons were numerous: Not all rapes result in “a completed act of intercourse,” Mecklenburg wrote, adding that it was “improbable” that a rape would occur “on the 1-2 days of the month in which the woman would be fertile.”

Mecklenburg’s third reason seems to have been picked up by Akin.

A woman exposed to the trauma of rape, Mecklenburg wrote, “will not ovulate even if she is ‘scheduled’ to.”

[…]

Mecklenburg’s article was one of 19 in a book called, “Abortion and Social Justice,” published a year before the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.

In supporting his claim about trauma and ovulation, Mecklenburg cited experiments conducted in Nazi death camps.

The Nazis tested this hypothesis “by selecting women who were about to ovulate and sending them to the gas chambers, only to bring them back after their realistic mock-killing, to see what the effect this had on their ovulatory patterns. An extremely high percentage of these women did not ovulate.”

Finally, Mecklenburg said it was likely that the rapists — because of “frequent masturbation” — were unlikely to be fertile themselves.

The book was edited by a doctor and a lawyer, and funded by Americans United for Life, the major legal arm of the anti-abortion movement.

theatlantic:

Here Comes Super Gonorrhea

Over the past decades, gonorrhea has been mowing down our antibiotics. If this was the Olympic 400 IM, gonorrhea would be the Ryan Lochte and our antibiotics would be the guy from Moldova.
The list of effective antibiotics has been dwindling as the bacteria became resistant, and now it’s down to one.

Read more. [Image: tonrulkens/Flickr]

theatlantic:

Here Comes Super Gonorrhea

Over the past decades, gonorrhea has been mowing down our antibiotics. If this was the Olympic 400 IM, gonorrhea would be the Ryan Lochte and our antibiotics would be the guy from Moldova.

The list of effective antibiotics has been dwindling as the bacteria became resistant, and now it’s down to one.

Read more. [Image: tonrulkens/Flickr]

Texas medical groups are pushing back against new restrictions proposed by the state Department of Health and Human Services that would prevent any doctor from discussing abortion with patients. The restrictions would apply to doctors participating in the Texas Women’s Health Program (WHP). The Texas Medical Association and four other groups, who represent 47,000 doctors and medical students, say they might stop participating in the WHP if these restrictions go into effect.

Louisiana state prisons appear to be dumping grounds for doctors who are unable to find employment elsewhere because of their checkered pasts, raising troubling moral questions as well as the specter of an accident waiting to happen. At stake is the health of nearly 19,000 prisoners who are among the most vulnerable of patients because they have no health care options.

About 60 percent of the state’s prison doctors have disciplinary records, compared with 2 percent of the state’s 16,000 or so licensed medical doctors, according to data from the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners. The medical board is aware of the prison pipeline — in fact, a board-employed headhunter has sometimes helped problem doctors get prison gigs.

“Aside from being unethical, it is dangerous,” said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, a physician and director of health research at the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen. “You’re winding up having people who don’t have any choice being where they are, getting taken care of by people with demonstrable previous records and problems with the way they practice medicine.”

gaywrites:

Two more men seem to have been cured of HIV through bone marrow transplants, according to news out of the International AIDS Conference.

This is in addition to Timothy Brown, who earlier underwent similar treatment that seemed to have removed HIV from his body. Researchers are preparing to study other HIV-positive people who have undergone bone marrow transplants to look for similar results.

The two men who were being treated at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston for cases of cancer at different times. One of the men is in his 20s and was infected at birth, while the other man is in his 50s, and has been infected with HIV since the early 1980s. After each receiving bone marrow transplants, the men also remained on their antiretroviral medication regimens, according to NBC News. 

Within eight months of their respective transplant surgeries, it was discovered that the patients’ cells were replaced by cells from the HIV-negative bone marrow donors. The men also now show no signs of HIV in their DNA or RNA. Levels of HIV antibodies have also decreased.

Amazing.

It’s one of those secrets you normally don’t learn in nursing school: “Don’t go to the hospital in July.” That’s the month when medical residents, newly graduated from medical school, start learning how to be doctors, and they learn by taking care of patients. And learning means making mistakes.

There’s disagreement in the medical literature about whether a so-called July Effect, where medical error rates increase in the summer, actually exists. But a 2010 article in the Journal of General Internal Medicine and a 2011 article in the Annals of Internal Medicine both found evidence of it. In an interview, Dr. John Q. Young, lead author of the latter review, likened the deployment of new residents to having rookies replace seasoned football players during “a high-stakes game, and in the middle of that final drive.”

From what I’ve experienced as a clinical nurse, whether or not the July Effect is statistically validated as a cause of fatal hospital errors, it is undeniably real in terms of adequacy and quality of care delivery. Any nurse who has worked in a teaching hospital is likely to have found July an especially difficult month because, returning to Dr. Young’s football metaphor, the first-year residents are calling the plays, but they have little real knowledge of the game.

msnbc:

On Feb. 24, Ukrainian authorities made an alarming discovery: bones and other human tissues crammed into coolers in a grimy white minibus.

Investigators grew even more intrigued when they found, amid the body parts, envelopes stuffed with cash and autopsy results written in English.

What the security service had disrupted was not the work of a serial killer but part of an international pipeline of ingredients for medical and dental products that are routinely implanted into people around the world.

kp777:

by Karen Weintraub
July 11, 2012

From the article: The research, published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, provides a timeline of the subtle changes that begin in victims’ brains and, importantly, can be detected years ahead of time by MRI exams, blood analyses, or other tests.

Read more.

When Abington decided to merge with Catholic hospital Holy Redeemer, there is little doubt that they expected the uproar that ensued over their announced plan to stop offering abortions.  The outcry has moved far beyond just the residents who use the hospital, and now is coming from a large portion of the doctors on staff, too.

"During the year of negotiations behind closed doors, no staff or community members were involved in the decision-making process," wrote the 20 residents in Abington’s ob-gyn program, in a letter they released after the meeting. "There is strong opposition to having our medical practice dictated by Catholic doctrine rather than our patients’ best interests and standard of care."

[…]

According to the site, 150 physicians met to condemn the merger of abortion services that would not be offered as a result. Modern Healthcare magazine report lists physician opposition as the second biggest factor for mergers failing to go through. Although the hospital performs few abortions yearly, they are often performed for fetal anomalies or when a woman’s health is at risk. One example given by the Montgomery News involved a woman who went to another hospital’s emergency room after her water broke at 19 weeks, and she and the fetus developed an infection. She was then transferred to Abington to have an abortion to save her life and future fertility.

The original emergency room was at Holy Redeemer. When they won’t perform abortions to save women, those women have traditionally been sent to Abington, which, based on this agreement would now have to turn them away as well.

Engineers at UCLA, led by Bahram Jalali and Dino Di Carlo, have developed a camera that can take 36.7 million frames per second, with a shutter speed of 27 picoseconds. By far the fastest and most sensitive camera in the world — it is some 100 times faster than existing optical microscopes, and it has a false-positive rate of just one in a million — it is hoped, among other applications, that the device will massively improve our ability to diagnose early-stage and pre-metastatic cancer.

GlaxoSmithKline was socked with $3 billion in fines by US authorities over charges it marketed drugs for unauthorized uses, held back safety data, and cheated the government’s Medicaid program.

[…]

GSK, one of the world’s largest health care and pharmaceuticals companies, pleaded guilty on three counts and agreed to the fines in what the department called the largest health care fraud settlement in US history.

The British drugmaker admitted to charges that it had promoted antidepressants Paxil and Wellbutrin for uses not approved for by US regulators, including treatment of children and adolescents.

The company also conceded charges that it held back data and made unsupported safety claims over its diabetes drug Avandia.

[…]

And separately, GSK is being fined $300 million to settle charges it underpaid rebates it owed to the US Medicaid program.

The Affordable Care Act will add complexity to some aspects of health care as organizations re-tool, and it may increase some costs in the short term. But ultimately it will improve the quality of patient care and reduce costs as providers and their organizations focus as much on keeping people healthy as they do on healing them when they’re sick. That’s something patients, providers, and employers who subsidize care — and want healthy employees — should be happy about.