Health Care

Local News
8:51 am
Fri January 30, 2015

Competition Concerns Killed Partners' HealthCare Deal

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

A Suffolk Superior Court Judge Thursday struck down a controversial deal that would allow Partners Healthcare to add three hospitals to its already expansive statewide network.

The deal — years in the making — was architected by former Attorney General Martha Coakley and Partners HealthCare, who were seeking to add South Shore Hospital and two north shore hospitals to its network. The complex agreement would have allowed the acquisitions to proceed, provided Partners agreed to a series of conditions, including caps on prices. It was rejected by a judge Thursday evening.

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Politics & Government
7:22 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Judge Blocks Partners Healthcare Merger

Massachusetts General Hospital, a Partners HealthCare member.
Credit AP Photo

A Massachusetts court has blocked an agreement that would have allowed Partners Health Care to acquire three community hospitals in exchange for capping their prices.

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BOSTON PUBLIC RADIO
4:27 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

Ask The Ethicist: Sitting Dangers, Why No One Doubts Doctors, And 'Vaccine Truthers'

Medical ethicist Art Caplan looked at the implications of a workforce sitting on its duff -- as well as how treadmill desks can make the workplace more exercise-friendly.
Credit https://www.flickr.com/photos/sharynmorrow/ / Flickr

Sitting is the new smoking

There's a new battle cry emanating from the cubicle. Workers are waking up to the fact that inactivity — save for some crazy typing fingers — has now become a health hazard. Computers keep workers close to their desks. Studies show the harm of prolonged sitting; some suggest lawsuits many not be far off.

Medical ethicist Art Caplan told Boston Public Radio on Wednesday that the health of the American workforce is imperiled by our need to sit.

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BOSTON PUBLIC RADIO
3:08 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

BPR's Blizzard Postmortem

A woman cross country skis on snow-covered roads during a winter blizzard in Boston on Tuesday.
Credit Brian Snyder / Landov via NPR

  • Yesterday we went all-in on our blizzard coverage, talking to everyone from Harvey Silverglate, to Governor Charlie Baker, to you. Today we began our show with Nantucket Police Chief, William Pittman, who updated us on how things are going on the Island. Then, we asked listeners what snow they were still seeing on the streets.
  • We talked to The Globe's Brian McGrory about storm coverage, and asked about the editorial process of covering monster storms. [26:08]
  • Next, Juliette Kayyem shared her thoughts on storm coverage. She analyzed the White House drone situation, and other drone-related security issues. [53:04]
  • We talked to medical ethicist, Art Caplan, about 'anti-vaxxers,' Medicaid, and sitting being the new smoking. Then we got your take on standing desks and other tools to keep us upright. [1:19:58]
  • Then we got back to our storm postgame. We got Sue O'Connell's take, and asked for yours. [2:23:07]
BOSTON PUBLIC RADIO
3:14 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

What To Do When Medical Caretakers Become Targets

How can we make hospitals safer? After a Tuesday shooting at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, medical ethicist Art Caplan looked at what -- if anything -- can be done to protect hospital staff.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

The Fourth Geneva Convention was an international provision adopted by the United Nations Security Council in 1949 to, among other things, protect hospitals, doctors and care workers in times of war. The UN passed the measure so that even in war zones, hospital workers could performe services and administer proper medical care.

However, even in peaceful countries far from war zones, such measures cannot be fully guaranteed.

On Tuesday, a gunman entered Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and opened fire on a cardiac surgeon. The gunman died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds. The cardiac surgeon — Dr. Michael Davidson — died as well.

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BOSTON PUBLIC RADIO
4:14 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Medical Students Study... Seinfeld?

Tom's Restaurant was the model for Monk's Restaurant in the NBC show 'Seinfeld.' A professor at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School is using Seinfeld episodes to teach students about mental illness.
Credit By Wally Gobetz (NYC - Morningside Heights: Tom's Restaurant) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons / Wikimedia Commons

A professor at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey is using unorthodox methods to teach students about psychiatric conditions. According to reporter Adam Clark, Prof. Anthony Tobia is using episodes of Seinfeld to illustrate patient characteristics that his future doctors will encounter.

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BOSTON PUBLIC RADIO
4:13 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Ask The Ethicist: Keeping Prescriptions Straight, 'Bad Luck' And Cancer, Reality TV In E.R.s

Do TV cameras belong in the emergency room? Medical ethicist Art Caplan talked about the ethics of ER reality TV.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Medical ethicist Art Caplan joined Boston Public Radio for his regular Wednesday segment. Each week, Caplan tackles ethical questions surrounding medical issues. On Wednesday, Caplan talked about the rationale behind prescribing drugs for the elderly, the role "bad luck" may play in the likelihood of getting cancer, reality TV in the E.R., and sledding bans.

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BOSTON PUBLIC RADIO
2:01 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

Getting Down To This Sick Beat: Surgeons And Music In the O.R.

Listening to Taylor Swift and other tour-de-force singers may improve concentration and reduce errors in the operating room, according to a new study.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Surgeons have tough jobs. Their work often means the difference between life and death. Supreme regimentation and meticulousness are required, as Dr. Atul Gawande outlined in his widely-read book, The Checklist Manifesto.

Besides checklists and standard practices, surgeons have also turned to an unlikely aid — music — to keep them focused and relieve occupational tension. The medical journal BMJ reported 62 to 72 percent of surgeons play music during surgery.

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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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