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Mental Health Care Accounts for a Growing Number of Private Insurance Claims, Report Finds

May 17, 2019

(STAT News) – Mental health care is accounting for a growing number of private insurance claims, according to a new report out Friday. But experts caution that more than anything else, the new data underscores just how tricky it is to tease out what’s driving increases in mental health care use. The report found that claims related to depression, anxiety, and a handful of other mental health conditions are on the rise.

‘Sham’ Sharing Ministries Test Faith of Patients and Insurance Regulators

May 17, 2019

(Kaiser Health News) – Each of these Washington state residents required medical treatment during the past few years, and each thought they had purchased health insurance through an online site. But when it was time to pay the bills, they learned that the products they bought through Aliera Healthcare Inc. weren’t insurance at all — and that the cost of their care wasn’t covered. Lewis and the others had enrolled in what Aliera officials claimed was a health care sharing ministry (HCSM) — faith-based co-ops in which members agree to pay one another’s medical bills.

Baby with Spina Bifida Receives Pioneering Keyhole Surgery

May 17, 2019

(The Guardian) – For the first time in the UK, doctors have performed pioneering keyhole surgery to repair the spine of a baby with spina bifida while still in the womb. Surgeons from King’s College hospital in London used the cutting-edge technique to successfully close a hole in the spine of Jaxson Sharp 27 weeks into the pregnancy.

As ER Wait Times Grow, More Patients Leave Against Medical Advice

May 17, 2019

(Kaiser Health News) – Emergency room patients increasingly leave California hospitals against medical advice, and experts say crowded ERs are likely to blame. About 352,000 California ER visits in 2017 ended when patients left after seeing a doctor but before their medical care was complete. That’s up by 57%, or 128,000 incidents, from 2012, according to data from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. Another 322,000 would-be patients left the emergency room without seeing a doctor, up from 315,000 such episodes in 2012.

Caster Semenya Ruling: Sports Federation Is Flouting Ethics Rules

May 17, 2019

(Nature) – While controversy swirls around issues of sport, sex, gender and fairness, another crucial issue is being overlooked: in my view, such athletes are in effect being asked to act as guinea pigs in medical research, but without the oversight or qualifications that society demands.

Ontario’s Top Court Rules Religious Doctors Must Offer Patients an ‘Effective Referral’ for Assisted Dying, Abortion

May 17, 2019

(The Globe and Mail) – Physicians who object on moral grounds to providing health-care services such as assisted dying, abortion and birth control must offer their patients an “effective referral” to another doctor, Ontario’s highest court has ruled. In a unanimous decision released Wednesday, the Court of Appeal for Ontario reaffirmed a lower court’s conclusion that it was a reasonable limit on the religious freedom of doctors to require them to connect their patients with willing providers of medical assistance-in-dying (MAID) and other contentious health services.

Appeals Court to Decide Surgery for Idaho Transgender Inmate

May 16, 2019

(ABC News) – Attorneys for Idaho prison officials argued Thursday that a transgender inmate who is suing for access to gender confirmation surgery is too mentally unstable to receive the irreversible medical procedure. Lawyer Brady Hall told a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that Idaho has no policy barring gender confirmation surgery for transgender inmates and that the Department of Correction specifically allows the treatment if it’s deemed medically appropriate.

Five More U.S. States Sue OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma Over Opioid Epidemic

May 16, 2019

(Reuters) – Five U.S. states on Thursday filed lawsuits accusing Purdue Pharma LP of illegally marketing and selling opioids, escalating the wave of litigation over a nationwide abuse epidemic. Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, West Virginia and Wisconsin joined 39 states to file lawsuits targeting Purdue Pharma and its leaders, including former president Richard Sackler and his family.

Investigators Found Autopilot Was Engaged in a Tesla Crash in Florida

May 16, 2019

(Quartz) – Tesla’s semi-autonomous Autopilot software was engaged during a fatal crash in March, according to a report released by the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) May 16. On March 1, a Model 3 car slammed into a tractor-trailer attempting to cross a Florida highway traveling around 68 miles per hour, according to investigators who reviewed video footage from the car and nearby surveillance cameras. The impact sheared the roof off of the car, killing the driver, 50-year-old Jeremy Beren Banner. Investigators say Banner had engaged Autopilot about ten seconds before the crash, and did not have his hands on the wheels for up to eight seconds beforehand. NTSB did not assign blame to anyone for the incident and continues to investigate.

Neural Cell Types Tied to Autism Identified in Single-Cell Study

May 16, 2019

(The Scientist) – Sequencing the nuclear RNA of more than 100,000 individual postmortem brain cells from people with and without autism spectrum disorder indicates the types of genes dysregulated in the condition and the types of cells in which such dysregulation occurs. The results, reported in Science today (May 16), help narrow the focus of future ASD studies to the most likely molecular and cellular anomalies, say researchers.

Cambodian Surrogates Freed After Agreeing to Keep Babies

May 16, 2019

(The Jakarta Post) – Eleven women allegedly paid to be surrogate mothers have been released on bail after agreeing to keep the babies, Cambodia’s trafficking czar said Wednesday, as the poor Southeast Asian nation seeks to regulate the womb-for-hire trade. The women were charged in November with human trafficking and acting as intermediaries for surrogacy agents after they were discovered in a raid on a house in the capital Phnom Penh.

With a ‘Recoded’ Bacteria Genome Made from Scratch, Scientists Give Life a New Dictionary

May 16, 2019

(STAT News) – The bacteria happily eating and reproducing and respiring in little plastic dishes sprinkled with nutrient broth in Jason Chin’s lab outside London look ordinary enough, but they differ in a fundamental way from every other living thing on earth, from fungi and avocados to tulips, robins, and elephants. They use a different genetic code — and yet, these artificial microbes are doing just fine. In fact, these Escherichia coli have the most extensively “recoded” genome ever created, Chin and his colleagues at England’s Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge reported on Wednesday in Nature.

Beaumont Family Fighting to Keep Woman Alive Despite State’s ’10-Day Rule’ for Hospitals

May 16, 2019

(KHOU) – A Beaumont family is fighting to keep a beloved wife and mother alive. Carolyn Jones has had serious health issues ever since she suffered a stroke in 2017. She’s been at Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital since the fall. Her family says doctors turned off her ventilator Monday, against their wishes. Jones survived the night and now, her family claims Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital is withholding dialysis as well.

Second Worst Ebola Outbreak in History Is Now Killing 66 Percent of People Who Become Infected

May 15, 2019

(Gizmodo) – The current outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has infected 1,720 and killed 1,136, giving the viral disease a whopping 66 percent fatality rate. And the situation is making public health experts on the ground increasingly nervous.

Benzodiazepines in Early Pregnancy Tied to Heightened Risk of Miscarriage

May 15, 2019

(Reuters) – Pregnant women who take a class of drugs that’s often prescribed for anxiety or insomnia may run a higher risk of miscarriage, a new study suggests. Canadian researchers looked at the outcomes from more than 160,000 early pregnancies and found that women taking benzodiazepines, such as Alprazolam (Xanax), Diazepam (Valium) and Clonazepam (Klonopin), were nearly twice as likely to miscarry, according to the results in JAMA Psychiatry. 

Teenage Girl Kills Herself ‘After Instagram Poll’ in Malaysia

May 15, 2019

(The Guardian) – A 16 year-old girl has reportedly killed herself in Malaysia, after posting a poll on her Instagram account asking followers if she should die or not, and 69% of responders voting that she should. Police in the east Malaysia state Sarawak said the girl, who has not been named, posted the poll on the photo sharing app with the message: “Really Important, Help Me Choose D/L”. After most responders voted for “death”, she killed herself.

Blurred Lines: A Pregnant Man’s Tragedy Tests Gender Notions

May 15, 2019

(ABC News) – When the man arrived at the hospital with severe abdominal pains, a nurse didn’t consider it an emergency, noting that he was obese and had stopped taking blood pressure medicines. In reality, he was pregnant — a transgender man in labor that was about to end in a stillbirth. The tragic case, described in Wednesday’s New England Journal of Medicine, points to larger issues about assigning labels or making assumptions in a society increasingly confronting gender variations in sports , entertainment and government .

Alabama Governor Signs Controversial Abortion Ban into Law But Will Likely Face Legal Challenges

May 15, 2019

(ABC News) – Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed the state’s controversial abortion ban into law, though it is expected to face near-immediate legal challenges. The ban makes it a felony for doctors in the state to perform abortions in all cases, with the only exception being when the life of the mother is threatened. The law, which was passed by the state’s Senate on Tuesday, does not include exceptions in cases of rape or incest.

Judge Orders FDA to Begin Regulating E-Cigarettes

May 15, 2019

(ABC News) – A federal judge is ordering the Food and Drug Administration to begin reviewing the health effects of e-cigarettes. The ruling handed down Wednesday says the agency abdicated its legal duty when it postponed reviewing all U.S. vaping products by several years.

Opinion: Keep Limits Intact on Medical Residents’ Work Hours

May 15, 2019

(NPR) – Would you rather your doctors be well-rested, with a limit on how many hours they can work? Or would you rather they work longer shifts, seeing you through the critical hours of your illness and with fewer handoffs of your care? That’s the choice being reexamined after a study published in March in the The New England Journal of Medicine found that longer shifts for medical residents were just as safe as shorter shifts. The results, which support an earlier study that also found no association between shift length and patient safety, have led some physicians to suggest that the issue of how long residents should work has now been “laid to rest.” 

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