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Meta Sued for Violating Patient Privacy with Data Tracking Tool

August 2, 2022

(The Verge) – Facebook’s parent company Meta and major US hospitals violated medical privacy laws with a tracking tool that sends health information to Facebook, two proposed class-action lawsuits allege. The lawsuits, filed in the Northern District of California in June and July, focus on the Meta Pixel tracking tool. The tool can be installed on websites to provide analytics on Facebook and Instagram ads. It also collects information about how people click around and input information into those websites.  (Read More)

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Thousands of Lives Depend on a Transplant Network in Need of ‘Vast Restructuring’

August 2, 2022

(Washington Post) – The system for getting donated kidneys, livers and hearts to desperately ill patients relies on out-of-date technology that has crashed for hours at a time and has never been audited by federal officials for security weaknesses or other serious flaws, according to a confidential government review obtained by The Washington Post. The mechanics of the entire transplant system must be overhauled, the review concluded, citing aged software, periodic system failures, mistakes in programming and overreliance on manual input of data. (Read More)

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The Prosecution of Russian War Crimes in Ukraine

August 2, 2022

(The New Yorker) – Never before have investigations and trials begun within weeks of the crimes, as they have in Ukraine. A unique set of circumstances has made this possible: Ukraine has an intact judicial system; investigators have had nearly immediate access to crime scenes and evidence, including copious amounts of video footage; and Ukraine is holding several hundred Russian prisoners of war, some of whom are or will be suspects in war-crime investigations. (Read More)

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Synthetic Mouse Embryos Created from Stem Cells–Without Sperm, Eggs, or a Uterus

August 1, 2022

(STAT News) – Lit from below by the microscope’s soft glow, the translucent mouse embryos looked exactly as they should. On day 3 they began to elongate, from spheres into cylinders. On one end, the neural tube started to fold around day 6, on the other a tail began to bud. By day 8, a beating heart began to circulate blood through vessels forming around the embryo’s yolk sac. But these embryos weren’t the product of an egg and a sperm. They weren’t even growing in the uterus of a female mouse. They were developed inside a bioreactor, and made up entirely of stem cells cultured in a Petri dish. (Read More)

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Data Brokers Shrug Off Pressure to Stop Collecting Info on Pregnant People

August 1, 2022

(Politico) – Democratic lawmakers are piling pressure on data brokers to stop collecting information on pregnant people in order to protect those seeking abortions. They’re not having much luck. For years, brokers have sold datasets on millions of expectant parents from their trimester status to their preferred birth methods. Now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, that same data is becoming a political issue, with abortion-rights groups warning that states with abortion bans are likely to weaponize it. (Read More)

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Conjoined Twins Separated with the Help of Virtual Reality

August 1, 2022

(BBC) – Brazilian twins who were joined at the head have been successfully separated with the help of virtual reality. Three-year-olds Bernardo and Arthur Lima underwent surgeries in Rio de Janeiro, with direction from Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. The teams spent months trialling techniques using virtual reality projections of the twins, based on CT and MRI scans. It was described by surgeon Noor ul Owase Jeelani as “space-age stuff”. It was one of the most complex separation processes ever completed, according to the charity which funded it – Gemini Untwined – which Mr Jeelani founded in 2018. (Read More)

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After Receiving Millions in Drug Company Payments, Pain Doctor Settles Federal Kickback Allegations

August 1, 2022

(ProPublica) – Nevertheless, companies continued to pay Sacks large sums. From 2015 to 2021, he received more than $2 million from companies to speak and consult on their behalf, including spending on travel and meals, federal data shows. But last month — 12 years since we first wrote about him — Sacks’ puzzling role as one of the drugmakers’ chosen pain doctors took a different turn: Federal prosecutors allege he’d been paid to prescribe. (Read More)

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New York City Declares Monkeypox a Public Health Emergency

August 1, 2022

(Associated Press) – Officials in New York City declared a public health emergency due to the spread of the monkeypox virus Saturday, calling the city “the epicenter” of the outbreak. The announcement Saturday by Mayor Eric Adams and health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan said as many as 150,000 city residents could be at risk of infection. The declaration will allow officials to issue emergency orders under the city health code and amend code provisions to implement measures to help slow the spread. (Read More)

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UK Court Says Hospital Can End Comatose Boy’s Life Support

August 1, 2022

(Associated Press) – A British court on Monday refused to block a hospital from ending life-support treatment for a 12-year-old boy who has suffered catastrophic brain damage. The parents of Archie Battersbee have fought unsuccessfully in the courts to prevent the Royal London Hospital from turning off the boy’s ventilator and stopping other interventions that are keeping him alive. That had been due to happen Monday, but after the family appealed to the United Nations, the British government asked the Court of Appeal to take another look at the case. After an emergency hearing, the court said it would not extend a stay on the withdrawal of life support beyond noon on Tuesday. (Read More)

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How the Covid-19 Pandemic Changed Americans’ Health for the Worse

August 1, 2022

(Wall Street Journal) – The ripple effects of the Covid-19 pandemic’s influence on nearly every aspect of health in America are becoming clear. Covid-19 has killed more than one million people in the U.S., a toll mounting by some 350 people a day. A range of other chronic diseases and acute threats to health also worsened during the pandemic, data show, as people missed screenings, abandoned routines and experienced loss and isolation. (Read More)

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Facebook Approved Pro-Genocide Ads in Kenya After Claiming to Foster ‘Safe and Secure’ Elections

August 1, 2022

(Gizmodo) – Kenya’s national cohesion watchdog threatened to suspend Facebook from the country Friday if it doesn’t mitigate hate speech ahead of the country’s general elections next month. The regulator has given the company one week to remediate the problem, which included Facebook’s approval of ads advocating for ethnic cleansing. Human rights organizations and the Facebook whistleblower are calling on Facebook to immediately suspend all advertising in Kenya and take other emergency steps. (Read More)

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The M.M.A. Doctor’s Dilemma: To Stop or Not to Stop the Fight

July 29, 2022

(New York Times) – Referees, often former fighters or trainers themselves, can stop a fight if they think a fighter is too injured to defend him- or herself. So can ringside physicians, who determine whether fighters are fit to step into the ring and to stay there. In combat sports, physicians have had to reckon with the precarious ethics of their role. “I’m clearing someone to fight today, 20 years from now he walks into my office and has C.T.E., he has Parkinson’s,” said Dr. Nitin Sethi, a neurologist at Weill Cornell Medicine and board member of the Association of Ringside Physicians, or A.R.P., which formed in 1997. “Every doctor who works ringside should feel conflicted.” (Read More)

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Hospices Have Become Big Business for Private Equity Firms, Raising Concerns About End-of-Life Care

July 29, 2022

(Kaiser Health News) – Hospice care, once provided primarily by nonprofit agencies, has seen a remarkable shift over the past decade, with more than two-thirds of hospices nationwide now operating as for-profit entities. The ability to turn a quick profit in caring for people in their last days of life is attracting a new breed of hospice owners: private equity firms. That rapid growth has many hospice veterans worried that the original hospice vision may be fading, as those capital investment companies’ demand for return on investment and the debt load they force hospices to bear are hurting patients and their families. (Read More)

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What the Polio Case in New York Tells Us About the End of Polio

July 29, 2022

(Kaiser Health News) – No one studying polio knew more than Albert Sabin, the Polish-American scientist whose vaccine against the crippling disease has been used worldwide since 1959. Sabin’s oral vaccine provides lifelong immunity. It has one drawback, which Sabin, who died in 1993, fiercely disputed: In rare cases, the weakened live poliovirus in the vaccine can mutate, regain virulence, and cause polio. Those rare mutations — one of which appears to have paralyzed a young man in Rockland County, New York, who belongs to a vaccine-resistant Hasidic Jewish community, officials there reported July 21 — have taken center stage in the global campaign to eradicate polio, the largest international public health effort in history. (Read More)

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Employees Are Increasingly on the Hook for Their Medical Costs

July 29, 2022

(Axios) – The growth of high-deductible health plans led to people with employer-sponsored coverage paying for a larger share, on average, of their health care costs between 2013 and 2019, according to a new analysis by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (Read More)

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America Should Have Been Able to Handle Monkeypox

July 29, 2022

(The Atlantic) – For years, the warning signs about monkeypox have been there. Decades of sporadic outbreaks in Central and West Africa had made the virus’s toll clear: It can cause a painful, debilitating sickness, with bouts of fevers and rashes, and in numerous cases leaves permanent scars behind; on occasion, certain strains of the pathogen can even kill. And though in many places the virus has infected indiscriminately, striking communities in close physical proximity to wildlife, a 2017 outbreak among young men in Nigeria hinted that sex could pose a particular risk. (Read More)

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Abortion Foes Downplay Complex Post-Roe v. Wade Realities

July 29, 2022

(Associated Press) – In televised statements and interviews, anti-abortion advocates have used misleading rhetoric about abortion access to downplay fallout and complications from restrictive abortion laws as doctors, struggling to interpret laws that have largely been untested in courts, turn away pregnant patients for care. Those efforts have had an immediate impact, casting a narrative about a post-Roe v. Wade world that overlooks how abortion laws enacted in recent weeks have complicated the way doctors treat rape victims, miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies. (Read More)

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US Reaches Deal with Moderna for Omicron COVID-19 Vaccine

July 29, 2022

(Associated Press) – The Biden administration said Friday it has reached an agreement with Moderna to buy 66 million doses of the company’s next generation of COVID-19 vaccine that targets the highly transmissible omicron variant, enough supply this winter for all who want the upgraded booster.  The order of the bivalent shot follows the announcement last month that the federal government had secured 105 million doses of a similar vaccine from rival drugmaker Pfizer. (Read More)

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California Aims to Make Its Own Insulin Brand to Lower Price

July 29, 2022

(Associated Press) – Health care advocates have bemoaned for years that insulin, while inexpensive to produce, is held hostage by a U.S. health care system stubbornly resistant to reforms as companies monopolize and maximize profits. Now, with several insulin patents nearing their expiration dates, California is looking to disrupt that market by making its own insulin and selling it for a much cheaper price. (Read More)

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NJ Police Used Baby DNA to Investigate Crimes, Lawsuit Claims

July 29, 2022

(The Verge) – New Jersey police may have used blood samples taken from babies to investigate crimes, according to public defenders in the state. According to a lawsuit filed by the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender (OPD), the practice came to light after a case in which New Jersey State Police successfully subpoenaed a testing lab for a blood sample drawn from a child. Police then performed DNA analysis on the blood sample that reportedly linked the child’s father to a crime committed more than 25 years ago. (Read More)

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