Editorial pages focus on these health topics and others.
The New York Times: We’re Reading The Coronavirus Numbers Wrong
Numbers have a certain mystique: They seem precise, exact, sometimes even beyond doubt. But outside the field of pure mathematics, that reputation rarely is deserved. And when it comes to the coronavirus epidemic, buying into it can be downright dangerous. Naturally, everyone wants to know how deadly COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, is. The technical term for that is the case fatality rate — which is, put simply, the number of people who have died from the disease (D) divided by the total number of people who were infected with it (I), or D/I. As of Tuesday morning, at least 1,873 people were thought to have died from the disease worldwide and 72,869 people to have been infected.But those figures may not mean what you think. (John Allen Paulos, 2/18)
Stat: Coronavirus Outbreak Exposes A Weak Link In The U.S. Drug Supply
In the 21st century, Americans have found it far too easy to be complacent about public health emergencies like the ongoing coronavirus outbreak of the newly named Covid-19 that began in China and has since spread to other countries, including the U.S.To be fair, it has been more than 50 years since the last federal quarantine was issued, to control a deadly smallpox outbreak. A half-century gap is bound to instill a false sense of security, even when taking more recent threats into consideration. (Marsha Blackburn, 2/14)
The Washington Post: It’s Time For Bernie Sanders — And The Rest Of The Candidates — To Release Their Medical Records
During an interview on Feb. 9 on NBC’s “Meet the Press” with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chuck Todd played a clip of the presidential hopeful last September, before his heart attack, promising to release his medical records before “the first votes are cast” in the Democratic primaries. “The American people have the right to know whether the person they’re going to be voting for for president is healthy,” Mr. Sanders said at the time. “And we will certainly release our medical records before the primaries.” (2/17)
Stat: Without Oversight, Electronic Prescribing Can Harm Patients
The use of electronic health record systems in doctors’ offices and hospitals has hit a major speed bump, and rightly so, with the federal government winning a $145 million civil and criminal settlement against Practice Fusion, a San Francisco-based electronic health record company. The company admitted to taking payments from a major drug company in exchange for dropdown menus that persuaded doctors to prescribe opioid medications to their patients. Practice Fusion estimated internally that the drug company — reported by Reuters and STAT to be Purdue Pharma — could gain nearly 3,000 new customers and increase opioid sales to the tune of $11.3 million by implementing the change. (Jason N. Doctor and Liisa T. Laine, 2/18)
NBC News: Why Do We Love Fat Cats And Dogs But Discriminate Against Fat People?
An odd contradiction has snuck into public view. Many people feel free to criticize anyone in the public eye (or out) who is seemingly above a certain BMI (even though that’s a poor stand-in for health) — just look at anything from President Trump publicly fat-shaming one of his own supporters at a rally to Jillian Michaels concern trolling Lizzo’s health because of her weight. But at the same time, we are all making goo-goo eyes at pictures of obese animals. (Barth, 2/16)
The Washington Post: Women Can Have Heart Attacks Without Chest Pain And May Not Recognize Symptoms
“But, it’s not my heart. It’s not my heart,” my patient repeated to me. “It’s my stomach. Nothing is wrong with my heart.” A few minutes earlier, I had rushed to the emergency room in response to an alert from my pager. This pager was reserved for one specific occasion: Someone was concerned that a patient in the hospital was having a massive heart attack. (Ersilia M. DeFilippis, 2/16)
Boston Globe: Trump’s Xenophobic Travel Ban Punishes Americans Above All
Taken together, all Trump’s travel bans are closing the doors of America on a half-billion foreigners and roughly a quarter of Africa’s population. Let’s not forget Trump’s own words when referring to immigrants from Africa. In a now-infamous remark directed at immigrants from Africa and Central America, he whined: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” It should be self-evident by now that Trump’s new travel ban is not grounded on real national security concerns. Instead, it’s about selectively deciding who should be an American. (2/17)
The Washington Post: Why The DMV Should Check Up On Older Drivers Like Me
This week, I renewed my driver’s license in the District of Columbia. It was fast and easy. And I don’t have to do it again for eight years. This frightens me. Given the easy completion of what could be a vexing chore, my emotion may seem insane. In fact, it is not just rational; it is based on statistics. You see, I will turn 84 this year, and the license I shall receive by mail in a couple of weeks will be good until I am 92. (Henry Aaron, 2/14)
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Stories Of Pain, Loss Around Senior Care In Georgia
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s ongoing investigation “Unprotected” has elicited a lot of reaction from readers. Hundreds of comments have been received in some form so far.“Unprotected” hits home for many who’ve read it. The AJC’s series of reports on Georgia’s assisted living and large personal care homes is relevant to a large portion of our readers – and, really, to Georgians in general. (Andre Jackson, 2/15)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
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