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These Are the Organs Transplant Patients Need the Most

June 3, 2019

(Quartz) – Today, there are more than 114,000 patients waiting for organs in the US. The most in-demand organ, by far, are kidneys, which have a waiting list seven times longer than that for livers, the next most needed organ.

Clarence Thomas Knows Nothing of My Work

June 3, 2019

(The Atlantic) – In Tuesday’s ruling on Indiana’s abortion law, Justice Clarence Thomas took the national debate over the right to choose to a dark new place: eugenics. His 20-page concurring opinion included an extensive discussion of the eugenics movement of the early 20th century. Thomas argued that as the justices consider abortion going forward, they should pay more attention to its potential to become a “tool of eugenic manipulation.” In making his argument, Thomas cited my book Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck repeatedly. (He also cited an article I wrote about Harvard’s ties to eugenics). 

A Doctor Speaks Out About Ageism in Medicine

June 3, 2019

(Kaiser Health News) – Society gives short shrift to older age. This distinct phase of life doesn’t get the same attention that’s devoted to childhood. And the special characteristics of people in their 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond are poorly understood. Medicine reflects this narrow-mindedness. In medical school, physicians learn that people in the prime of life are “normal” and scant time is spent studying aging. In practice, doctors too often fail to appreciate older adults’ unique needs or to tailor treatments appropriately.

Race Disparity in U.S. Prostate Cancer Deaths Disappears with Equal Care

May 30, 2019

(Reuters) – Black men are more likely to die of prostate cancer than white men in the U.S., but a new study suggests this racial disparity may be largely due to differences in the medical care men receive. Black men are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer, more apt to have advanced disease at the time of diagnosis, and more than twice as likely to die of the disease than white men in the U.S., researchers note in JAMA Oncology. 

Children Under Five Dying at Higher Rate in Congo Ebola Epidemic: WHO

May 30, 2019

(Reuters) – Children under five infected with Ebola in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo are dying at a higher rate than other patients as their parents shun special treatment centers, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday. Three out of four of the under-fives, or 77%, are succumbing to the disease, compared with 57% for older youngsters and 67% for all infected people, the U.N. body said in a new analysis of the epidemic – the world’s second worst on record. 

U.S. Measles Cases Hit 971, Highest Single-Year Total Since 1994

May 30, 2019

(UPI) – Measles cases in the United States have hit a high of 971, shattering the 943 cases in 1994 to be the highest number of cases in 25 years — and it comes barely halfway into the year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the number on Thursday afternoon, the agency’s second measles count released this week. Monday’s report, of 940 cases reported through May 24, already was the second highest since 1994.

Palliative Care Beyond Hospice Is Spreading to More States

May 30, 2019

(Pew Research) – His recommended treatment plan — chemotherapy, radiation, a mastectomy, more chemo and likely hospitalizations — would have jeopardized all those wishes. “I would have been living a medicalized existence,” Berman said, and a debilitating one at that. Instead, she chose palliative care — no surgeries or chemo, just medicines to manage her pain and slow the spread of the disease, while allowing her to pursue a fulfilling career and active personal life. Nearly a decade later, to her surprise and everybody else’s, Berman is still alive — 59 years old and still living “a really great life.”

Nurses Say Staff Shortages Pose Barrier to End of Life Care

May 30, 2019

(Medscape) – Short staffing has led to some nurses spending their break times sitting with dying patients, a survey suggested. The poll carried out by the charity Marie Curie and the magazine Nursing Standard found that 65% of nurses surveyed said that staffing shortages were the main barrier to providing good care for dying patients. In 2018, 38% reported the same reason. Meanwhile, 57% of nurses reported time constraints as the biggest obstacle to providing care for people approaching the end of life, up from 25% the previous year. The survey also found that 33% of nurses felt they were not sufficiently supported at work to manage grief and emotional stress.

Why Alabama’s Abortion Law Includes an Exemption for Infertility

May 30, 2019

(Bloomberg) – The fertility industry didn’t support the Alabama bill, nor did it lobby for an exemption, says Sean Tipton, spokesman for the Birmingham-based American Society for Reproductive Medicine. It didn’t need to, he says: Politicians recognized that the popularity of fertility treatments was preventing anti-abortion laws from passing.

Million-Person U.S. Study of Genes and Health Stumbles Over Including Native American Groups

May 29, 2019

(Science) – Earlier this month, leaders of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, celebrated the 1-year anniversary of the effort, which aims to gather DNA and health records for 1 million volunteers by the end of 2024. They pointed with pride to the study’s diversity: More than 50% of the 143,000 volunteers fully enrolled so far belong to minority groups. They did not mention that Native Americans, who make up 1.7% of the U.S. population, are not formally on board.

Transgender No Longer Recognised as ‘Disorder’ by WHO

May 29, 2019

(BBC) – Transgender health issues will no longer be classified as mental and behavioural disorders under big changes to the World Health Organization’s global manual of diagnoses. The newly-approved version instead places issues of gender incongruence under a chapter on sexual health. A World Health Organization expert said it now understands transgender is “not actually a mental health condition”.

San Diego Hospital Reveals World’s Tiniest Surviving Baby

May 29, 2019

(ABC News) – A San Diego hospital on Wednesday revealed the birth of a girl believed to be the world’s tiniest surviving baby, who weighed just 245 grams (about 8.6 ounces) before she was discharged as a healthy infant. The baby named Saybie was born at 23 weeks and three days and was sent home this month weighing 5 pounds (2 kilograms) after nearly five months in the neonatal intensive care unit, Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns said in a statement.

Most Face Transplant Patients Continue to Report Better Quality of Life

May 29, 2019

(Reuters) – Doctors at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston say most of the face transplant patients they have been following for about five years are continuing to show improvement in quality of life.  Their new faces are functioning – in terms of movement control – at about 60 percent of what a normal face would, and the patients are seeing “significant improvement” in the ability to feel hot, cold and pressure on the skin. 

Supreme Court Avoids Abortion Question, Upholds Fetal Burial Measure

May 29, 2019

(Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday sent a mixed message on abortion, refusing to consider reinstating Indiana’s ban on abortions performed because of fetal disability or the sex or race of the fetus while upholding the state’s requirement that fetal remains be buried or cremated after the procedure is done. 

Half of H.I.V Patients Are Women. Most Research Subjects Are Men.

May 29, 2019

(New York Times) – Inspired by reports of a second patient apparently freed of infection with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS, scientists are pursuing dozens of ways to cure the disease. But now, researchers must reckon with a longstanding obstacle: the lack of women in clinical trials of potential H.I.V. treatments, cures and vaccines. Women make up just over half of the 35 million people living with H.I.V. worldwide, and the virus is the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age. In Africa, parts of South America and even in the southern United States, new infections in young women are helping to sustain the epidemic.

U.S. Dentists Prescribe Opioids Far More Often Than British Counterparts

May 29, 2019

(Reuters) – Dentists in the U.S. prescribe opioids at a rate 70 times higher than dentists in England, a new study finds. Moreover, the types of opioids prescribed by U.S. dentists are more likely to be those “with a high potential for abuse, such as oxycodone,” researchers reported in JAMA Network Open. 

A Shocking Share of the Public Thinks Randomized Trials Are Immoral

May 29, 2019

(Vox) – Randomized trials are one of the best tools scientists have for learning about the effects of new policies. There’s just one problem — the public kinda hates them. At least, that’s the takeaway from a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A significant share of the public finds conducting randomized studies morally objectionable. 

A Final Comfort: ‘Palliative Transport’ Brings Dying Children Home

May 29, 2019

(Kaiser Health News) – Palliative transport lets families move critically ill children from the hospital intensive care unit to their home or hospice, with the expectation they will die within minutes to days after removing life support. It means “having parents go through the hardest thing they’ll ever know — in the way they want to do it,” Nelson said. Boston Children’s has sent 19 children to home or hospice through palliative transport since 2007, she said.

A Final Comfort: ‘Palliative Transport’ Brings Dying Children Home

May 28, 2019

(Kaiser Health News) – Palliative transport lets families move critically ill children from the hospital intensive care unit to their home or hospice, with the expectation they will die within minutes to days after removing life support. It means “having parents go through the hardest thing they’ll ever know — in the way they want to do it,” Nelson said. Boston Children’s has sent 19 children to home or hospice through palliative transport since 2007, she said.

A Shocking Share of the Public Thinks Randomized Trials Are Immoral

May 28, 2019

(Vox) – Randomized trials are one of the best tools scientists have for learning about the effects of new policies. There’s just one problem — the public kinda hates them. At least, that’s the takeaway from a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A significant share of the public finds conducting randomized studies morally objectionable. 

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