Health Care

BOSTON PUBLIC RADIO
4:20 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Medical Ethicist: Doctors Should Talk To Patients About Guns

Medical ethicist Art Caplan said guns have become a public health issue doctors should ask patients about.
Credit https://www.flickr.com/photos/auraelius/ / Flickr

It's been more than two years since the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Since that time, community leaders have debated ways to keep guns off the streets, and lawmakers have pursued sweeping gun control legislation. President Obama went so far as to pass 23 executive orders regarding guns in the US. By and large, very little changed.

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BOSTON PUBLIC RADIO
3:21 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

BPR: Cuba, Computer Hacks, and Christmas Movies

The Sony hacks have turned dangerous. What do you think is the best approach to new threats?
Credit Frederic J. Brown / Getty Images via NPR

  • It's entirely possible that the two front-runners in 2016 could be a Bush and a Clinton. Does America need to move beyond political dynasties?
  • Brian McGrory discusses the Globe's relationship with Boston.com vis-à-vis their recent reporting errors and the fact that the Globe's staff still hasn't seen any financial information from the 2024 Olympic Bid team. [29:10]
  • Juliette Kayyem discusses gun control after Sandy Hook, Obama's new Cuba policy, and the implications of the Sony hackers. Then we talk to you to see what you think about the decision to cancel "The Interview's" New York premier. [53:00] >>Read more here.
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BOSTON PUBLIC RADIO
3:30 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Ask The Ethicist: Capital Punishment And Mental Illness

Texas inmate Scott Panetti was sentenced to die for shooting and killing two people. Last week, the state's Attorney General's office granted a stay due to Panetti's documented mental illness.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Scott Louis Panetti is a death row inmate in a Texas prison. Last week, a judge granted a stay of execution because Panetti — who once represented himself in a trial, and called Jesus Christ and the Pope as witnesses — has a history of mental illness.

Panetti was convicted of killing Joe and Amanda Alvarado. Under Texas law, he was sentenced to die by lethal injection. The court determined Panetti's schizophrenia to be no impediment in terms of mental acumen. Last Wednesday, Panetti's attorney Gregory Wiercioch successfully petitioned to reverse the decision — citing the Eighth Amendment's protection against cruel and unusual punishment — and the execution order was suspended.

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BOSTON PUBLIC RADIO
2:37 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

The NFL's Potential Painkiller Problem

Football players at all levels of the game face down physical pain on a daily basis. One of the ways team doctors help with that pain is through prescription painkillers, a practice some say is irresponsible.
Credit https://www.flickr.com/photos/26686573@N00/ / Flickr

The Drug Enforcement Agency recently detained three NFL teams as they passed through airports en route to games. The DEA's aim: to uncover illegal prescription drug use. A lawsuit by over 750 former NFL players alleges team physicians illegally provided prescription painkillers to keep players on the field.

Right now, television ratings for NFL teams are incredibly high — a November matchup between New England and Detroit had an estimated 70 percent viewership across New England — and the league continues to make an astonishing amount of revenue.

Medical ethicist Art Caplan — host of the Everyday Ethics podcast — said fans are part of the problem. "We are so sports-crazy in this country, and so football-crazy," Caplan said Wednesday on Boston Public Radio. "It's partly because the culture accepts that this is a risky game."

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Local News
5:26 pm
Mon November 24, 2014

Health Connector Hiccups For Immigrants

Some immigrants are having trouble signing up for insurance on the Massachusetts health care exchange website. 

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UNDER THE RADAR
11:36 am
Mon November 24, 2014

Vermont Fires Gruber, Electricity Sticker Shock, Aging New England: Under The Radar

This week, Callie Crossley took a look at the stories you may have missed across New England this week with Arnie Arnesen of WNHN; Ted Nesi, politics reporter at WPRI; and Paul Pronovost, the editor of the Cape Cod Times.

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BOSTON PUBLIC RADIO
4:11 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

When Is It Right To Tell An Employer About Your Mental Illness?

Employees living with a mental illness face the difficult decision of whether to disclose their condition to employers.
Credit https://www.flickr.com/photos/perki2000/ / Flickr

Should an employee with a history of mental illness disclose that to an employer? New York Times writer Alina Tugend recently wrote about the case of Patrick Ross, an employee at the US Patent and Trademark Office. Ross's colleagues were confused by his erratic behavior, which included outbursts and unprovoked abrasiveness.

Eventually, Tugend writes, Ross disclosed to his employer that he'd been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. His supervisors were understanding, and Ross later wrote a book about the experience.

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BOSTON PUBLIC RADIO
3:10 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

BPR: From The Country Club To The Symphony

Andris Nelsons leads the Boston Symphony Orchestra last weekend at Symphony Hall. WCRB's Brian McCreath and Ron Della Chiesa spoke to Jim Braude and Margery Eagan about the show.
Credit Dominick Reuter / Boston Symphony Orchestra
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BOSTON PUBLIC RADIO
4:07 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

OK Google, What's Wrong With Me? The Perils And Pitfalls Of Self-Diagnosis

When does online self-diagnosis cross the line from helpful to dangerous? Medical ethicist Art Caplan talked about a wealth of online health information, and what happens when people start searching for their symptoms.
Credit Google

A recent ad campaign by the DDB Brussels agency was launched to protect Belgians from potential misdiagnoses of health symptoms. The ads encourage Belgians to stop entering their ailments into Google and other search engines to come up with possible causes.

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Science and Technology
1:12 pm
Thu November 13, 2014

Nurses Call For Federal Ebola Precautions

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Over  100,000 nurses nationwide held a day of action yesterday to protest the lack of preparedness, training, and federally enforced safety precautions against Ebola.

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BOSTON PUBLIC RADIO
4:46 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

The Supreme Court Fields Another Challenge To The ACA

The Supreme Court will soon hear a challenge to a provision in the Affordable Care Act. Suffolk Law professor Renée Landers previewed the case.
Credit "Supreme Court Front Dusk" by Noclip at en.wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Supreme_Court_Front_Dusk.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Supreme_Court_Front_Dusk.jpg / Wikimedia Commons

The United States Supreme Court will soon take up the case of King v. Burwell, a case involving ObamaCare and its provision giving federal money to offset the cost of individuals' health care plans.

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LOCAL NEWS
7:00 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

Obamacare Consultant Jonathan Gruber Worries More About SCOTUS Than Congress

Jonathan Gruber was one of the central architects of the Affordable Care Act and hailed as the crowning achievement of the current administration. For the second time this year, he's under fire over videotaped comments that surfaced online.
Credit WGBH News

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Politics & Government
8:33 am
Tue November 11, 2014

Judge Apologizes To Coakley After Suggesting Partners Deal Was Politicized

Superior Court Judge Janet Sanders, left, and Attorney General Martha Coakley, right.
Credit Edgar B. Herwick III / WGBH News

After five hours of highly detailed — often dry — testimony on the proposed expansion of Partners HealthCare, an unusually spirited exchange erupted between Suffolk Superior Court Judge Janet Sanders and Attorney General Martha Coakley, whose office has negotiated limits on the deal.

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Politics & Government
2:38 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

Judge Grills Partners, AG's Office On Merger

Credit Flickr, jdlasica

Suffolk Superior Court Judge Janet L. Sanders dove deep this morning into the details of a negotiated antitrust settlement agreement between Attorney General Martha Coakley's office and Partners HealthCare, as Partners seeks to add two hospitals, one on the North Shore and one on the South Shore, to their already expansive statewide network.

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BOSTON PUBLIC RADIO
4:07 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

Brittany Maynard, Poster Child For Doctor-Assisted Suicide

Brittany Maynard was a 29-year-old cancer patient who chose to end her life under the provisions of the state of Oregon's law permitting physician-assisted suicide.
Credit Compassion & Choices/AP / NPR

On November first, cancer patient Brittany Maynard followed through on long-held plans to end her life.

Maynard made use of a controversial Oregon law permitting physician-assisted suicide. Maynard didn't want to subject herself — and her family — to the kind of suffering cancer patients can endure in the final days of their lives. With her husband's and family's blessing, Maynard set a date to die, and on that day took the lethal pills that ended her life.

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Local News
4:00 am
Mon November 3, 2014

Massachusetts Courts Partner With UMass Medical School

Judicial officials in Massachusetts are partnering with the University of Massachusetts Medical School to create a center that will help establish uniform and best practices for specialty courts around the state.

The Center of Excellence is designed to strengthen the state's ability to increase public safety while addressing issues of mental health, substance abuse and trauma within the criminal justice system.

Specialty courts focus on improving the treatment and management of defendants with serious substance abuse and health problems.

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Local News
9:11 am
Thu October 30, 2014

How Should Boston Hospitals Prepare For Ebola?

Massachusetts General Hospital.
Credit AP Photo

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health's suggestion for a single Ebola treatment center in Boston is not sitting well with many local hospitals. They argue such a plan would prove burdensome and say it's better for multiple facilities to treat small numbers of patients.

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BOSTON PUBLIC RADIO
4:06 pm
Wed October 29, 2014

'Quarantine Is Not Necessary In The War Against Ebola'

Kaci Hickox in quarantine in University Hospital in Newark, NJ. Hickox said she has no intention of maintaining an in-home quarantine now that she is back in Maine.
Credit Associated Press / courtesy NPR

Kaci Hickox is a nurse who worked with Ebola patients in Sierra Leone as part of a Doctors Without Borders team. Last week she returned to the US, where Hickox was ordered immediately quarantined by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. After three days Hickox returned to Maine, where state officials expected she would stay in self-imposed home quarantine. Hickox and her lawyer have said she will not remain inside because she has not displayed Ebola-like symptoms.

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Local News
9:08 am
Tue October 28, 2014

Why Aren't There Any Medical Marijuana Dispensaries In Massachusetts?

Boston Gardner in Dudley Square. Owner Jon Napoli wants to open a medical marijuana dispensary next door.
Credit WGBH

Next week will mark two years since Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly said yes on a ballot question legalizing the use of medical marijuana. When it first passed, would-be dispensary owners and entrepreneurs were seeing green. But now, they’re seeing red — frustrated by what they call foot-dragging by the state Department of Public Health in approving licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries.

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BOSTON PUBLIC RADIO
5:06 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

'Ostrich Effect': How Much Do You Want To Know About Your Health?

How much do you want to know about your medical condition? Some people want to know every detail. Others ....... as little as possible.
Credit https://www.flickr.com/photos/meddygarnet/ / Flickr

Want to know how many steps you took today? Fitbit counted. How about the calories you burned on the elliptical? The machine tallied them for you. Need a pulse check? Here's an instantaneous readout. Consumer health products have become more sophisticated thanks to tiny computers packing lots of punch.

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Local News
11:26 am
Wed October 22, 2014

Unions Offering Ebola Training To Mass. Health-Care Workers

Union health-care workers demonstrate safety procedures during a training presentation.
Credit Screen shot

Ebola is sometimes called the "caregivers disease." It's transmitted by bodily fluids that people can come in contact with when caring for an infected person. Nurses and healthcare workers are particularly at risk, and both here in Massachusetts and across the country, they're advocating for increased education in dealing with Ebola.

They say the issue of training has taken on even greater urgency since Monday’s announcement that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have revised their recommended guidelines for handling the virus.

So, unions are mobilizing their own training.

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Local News
7:53 am
Thu October 16, 2014

Is Massachusetts Prepared For Ebola?

Fallon Ambulance employees demonstrate Ebola protocol on a dummy.

When it comes to Ebola, Gov. Deval Patrick has been striking a reassuring note.

“There is not a cause for alarm,” Patrick said at a press conference earlier this week. “We are coordinating well."

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BOSTON PUBLIC RADIO
4:07 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

The Next Threat — Pandemic Flu?

Got your flu shot yet? Medical ethicist Art Caplan said Ebola fear in the US is overblown -- we should worry more about a flu pandemic.
Credit https://www.flickr.com/photos/aneedleinthearm/ / Flickr

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.

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Local News
4:19 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Nurses Say They Need Better Training, Equipment For Ebola Treatment

David Schildmeier of the Massachusetts Nurses Association shows a gown given to some nurses as protection from serious viruses like Ebola. He says it's inadequate.
Credit Anne Mostue

  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.

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Local News
11:30 am
Tue October 14, 2014

Mass. Governor And Boston Mayor Reassure Public Of Ebola Threat

BOSTON — State and city officials say there are no confirmed cases of Ebola in Massachusetts, and no cause for alarm.

Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh were among officials who met at Logan Airport on Tuesday and declared that the state was well-prepared to deal with Ebola.

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Local News
8:53 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Boston Ebola Update: Anxiety Appears To Outstrip Infection

Electron micrograph of an Ebola virus virion.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

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.

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Local News
5:44 pm
Sun October 12, 2014

Health Officials: Patient Not High Risk For Ebola

Beth Israel Hospital
Credit Anne Mostue / WGBH News

Boston public health officials say a patient who had been to Liberia and whose symptoms forced a brief shutdown of a Braintree medical center was not a high risk for Ebola.

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BOSTON PUBLIC RADIO
4:47 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Atul Gawande On Radically Rethinking Patients' Last Days

The newest book by Dr. Atul Gawande deals with end-of-life care and the responsibility doctors have to find out what patients want.
Credit https://www.flickr.com/photos/americanprogress/ / Flickr

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.

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Local News
10:42 am
Thu October 9, 2014

Massport: Logan Airport Is Ready For Ebola

Logan International Airport

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.

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Local News
9:36 am
Thu October 9, 2014

Does Ebola Belong In The South End? Inside The BU Biolab

National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory at Boston University in the South End.

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.

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