If you were to judge by the media coverage the past few weeks, the Ebola virus poses an unprecedented threat to the US healthcare system. Unceasing bulletins bring news of possible exposures, contaminations, and new patients placed under medical supervision.
To be sure, the Ebola virus has had a devastating effect in West African countries like Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. The World Health Organization has estimated at least 4,447 people have died from Ebola in West Africa, but some think the number is much higher.
In spite of a number of possible new Ebola cases, the risk of infection in the US is low. Healthcare providers have moved quickly to contain the spread. While that notion may not jibe with our emotional alert-level, statistically there is a threat far greater to the average American: the flu.
The Massachusetts Nurses Association is voicing concern about identifying and treating patients with Ebola symptoms, after a patient in Braintree was quarantined and taken to a Boston hospital over the weekend. Nurses say they need better training and protective equipment.
Update, 8:45 p.m., Oct. 13, 2014: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has determined the man from the Braintree incident does not have Ebola.
Sometime Tuesday afternoon doctors at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center are expected to issue a definitive diagnosis on the condition of a man who was rushed to the hospital after he presented flu-like symptoms at a Braintree clinic that could be consistent with Ebola.
Singer Johnny Paycheck once wrote that "there's no easy way to die." Paycheck was a bummed-out country singer lamenting a fizzled relationship, but his tossed-off line is full of existential import. In fact, Paycheck cut to the very heart of a modern medical crisis: the inability of doctors to prepare patients for their eventual deaths.
In the wake of the death of Dallas Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, the Centers for Disease Control and U.S. Customs and Border Protection are beginning what they call enhanced Ebola screenings at five U.S. airports. The locations — New York's JFK International Airport, Washington-Dulles, Newark, Chicago-O'Hare and Atlanta — receive over 94 percent of travelers from Ebola-affected countries in West Africa.
The current Ebola outbreak has added urgency to research into the deadly disease — and it’s put a spotlight on Boston University’s controversial biolab in the South End. Activists have called the lab a danger to the neighborhood — but after years of delays, researchers there could soon be taking critical steps toward advancing our understanding of Ebola.
On Wednesday, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital announced Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian national being treated for Ebola, had died from the virus. Just under 4,000 people in Liberia and Sierra Leone have died from Ebola amid the rush to contain the virus' spread. Duncan was the first person this year to die from Ebola within US borders.
WGBH science reporter Heather Goldstone hosted a panel of experts to take a closer look at the growing public health threat of Lyme disease and how to stay safe from ticks, the tiny parasites that bear the infectious organism.
On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control confirmed a person who took a commercial flight from Liberia to Dallas had been diagnosed with the Ebola virus. This is the first documented Ebola case within US borders. The next day it was reported the patient may have exposed five young children to the virus.
This spring, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced an agreement with Partners HealthCare that she felt addressed antitrust concerns over the company’s acquisition of South Shore Hospital and Hallmark Health System, At the time, she hoped that the deal would close quickly, with little fanfare. But it’s now fall, and not only is the deal now mired in controversy, its future is also in doubt, with no resolution in sight.
There will be no final decision on a proposed deal between Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and Partners Healthcare, who are seeking to add Hallmark Health and South Shore Hospital to their network, until November at the earliest.
On Monday afternoon, Suffolk Superior Court judge Janet Sanders said she needed more time to parse the 163 public comments she received regarding the agreement - and a revised version of the deal put forth by the Attorney General last week.
The state's healthcare industry is waiting on a ruling on the agreement between the Attorney General and Partners HealthCare that would allow them to acquire Hallmark and South Shore hospitals.
The expansion of Partners HealthCare has been an issue in the Commonwealth for years. Some say the network's ongoing acquisition of hospitals has made Partners a monopoly and bad for consumers. Partners says it's all about serving the communities and providing better care. A superior court judge is now considering partners' latest move to acquire South Shore Hospital and Hallmark Health and will consider public comments on the case.
What do Patriots Owner Bob Kraft, Newton Mayor Setti Warren and Boston University Professor Alan Sager have in common? They’ve all gone on the record either for or against Partners HealthCare going from big to bigger.
Art Caplan on BPR, 9/24/14. Leonard Cohen conversation starts at 17:02.
Singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen announced he's started to smoke cigarettes again at the age of 80. With average male life expectancy in the US currently hovering at 76, Cohen has surpassed the mark and decided to focus on his happiness.
"If I had taken my doctor's advice and quit smoking when he advised me to, I wouldn't have lived to go to his funeral," cigar smoker George Burns famously quipped. When is it okay to ignore medical advice and just focus on being happy?
On Boston Public Radio, medical ethicist Art Caplan said his thinking runs counter to conventional medical wisdom. "I happen to agree with Leonard Cohen," Caplan said.
The bad news has been piling on lately. We chat about feelings of hopeless, and check in with you to see how you're feeling.
Andrew Cline, Editorial editor for the New Hampshire Union Leader on the Shaheen/Brown Senate race. He helps us follow the money, and talks about what politicians are testing this year in New Hampshire.
A coalition of health providers is asking Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley to reject a settlement with the state’s largest hospital and physician’s network. The coalition detailed their concerns in a Superior Court filing today.
Former Romney advisor Charlie Chieppo and former Treasurer Shannon O'Brien talk to Jim and Margery about primary election results.
Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory joins Jim and Margery to talk about his paper'sbusing coverage, as well as the New York Daily News editorial decision to stop using the name of Washington's professional football team. [50.09]
Juliette Kayyem will be Wednesday's Open Mic guest. Kayyem will talk about Mass. election results, Pres. Obama's speech Wednesday night about ISIS, and the new head of the Veterans Administration, Robert McDonald. Kayyem is a former Mass. gubernatorial candidate, and a current contributor to CNN. [1:10:31]
Medical ethicist Art Caplan talks about an excess of media coverage about the ebola virus when so many other deadly and widespread diseases need equal time. Caplan will also discuss new research showing that people eat at least twice as much when watching action films than they do in less exciting ones. Art Caplan is head of the division of medical ethics at NYU's Langone Medical Center. [1:28:36]
(Starts at 1:00) Former Homeland Security administrator Juliette Kayyem talked about the threat of ISIS and the prospect of Americans being recruited to the group. Kayyem also discussed her latest Globe piece about militarizing US police forces.
(Starts at 25:00) Would we have fewer armed conflicts — and less of a rush to take up arms in the first place — if the world had equal numbers of male and female leaders? Jim and Margery talked with listeners about the effect that greater numbers of female leaders would have.
(Starts at 44:00) Medical ethicist Art Caplan talked about a decrease in opiate overdoses in states where medical marijuana is now legal. Caplan also looked at the Ice Bucket Challenge, and why so many Americans are woefully uninformed about Ebola, how it's spread, and the risk it poses to people in the U.S. Art Caplan is head of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU's Langone Medical Center. He's also the co-host of the new podcast Everyday Ethics.
(Starts at 1:07:30) Should we push back school start times so teens can get more rest? The American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending doing so. Jim and Margery asked parents, teachers and teens whether they'd be open to the idea.
(Starts at 1:27:41) Ahead of Labor Day, film critic Garen Daly broke down the best workplace movies. Office Space, The Apartment, Glengarry Glen Ross — what's your favorite? Leave it in the comments below.
An Ebola virus quarantine in Eastern Sierra Leone. Harvard Business School historian Nancy Koehn said community leaders have been doing the bulk of work to combat the virus, while world leaders stand by.
Last week the head of Doctors with Borders, Brice de la Vigne, said world leaders are doing "almost zero" to help countries affected by an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus. When broad-shouldered world leaders — many of whom have enormous international stature — aren't pitching in, everyday local leaders have stepped in to fill the void.
(Starts at 50:07) To what extent should the United States be willing to negotiate for the release of American citizens from hostile groups? Jim and Margery asked listeners to weigh in.
(Starts at 1:03:16) Harvard Business School historian Nancy Koehn joined Jim and Margery in Studio Three to talk about leadership in the face of a deadly ebola threat in Africa.
(Starts at 1:23:29) Bob Thompson recapped the 2014 Emmy Awards, where Breaking Bad, Sherlock and Modern Family came up big winners. Thompson is director of the Bleier Center for Television & Popular Culture.
The US Food and Drug Administration, responding to growing concerns that a host of tests for illnesses from cancer to Lyme disease may be inaccurately diagnosing patients, announced Thursday that it intends to regulate many of the tests.
Police in Massachusetts will have new powers to disperse crowds around abortion clinics under a new law signed by Governor Deval Patrick Wednesday.
The governor signed the bill flanked by the Attorney General and the Senate President, the two most powerful women on Beacon Hill. He praised the lawmakers' speedy response to the recent supreme court decision which struck down Massachusetts' 35-foot buffer zone law around abortion clinics.
The Partners HealthCare agreement with the Massachusetts Attorney General came under fire this week by antitrust experts who are calling on a state judge to block the agreement, saying its unlikely to contain rising medical costs
A letter dated July 21 and signed by 21 national antitrust experts and health economists urges the judge to reconsider her support of the proposed settlement. BU economics professor Randall P. Ellis is among those who signed.