Yale Friday Newsletter – Jan. 18, 2013

Here’s this week’s Yale Friday Newsletter, as always, slightly edited for our readers.  Enjoy!

Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics Director Steve Latham posts a reminder about the Yale Animal Welfare Alliance hosting the Ivy League Vegan Conference on the weekend of February 15-17. Speakers will include Wayne Pacelle ’87, president of the Humane Society of the United States; Dr. Milton Mills, director of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine; and an impressive line-up of academics.

And Associate Director Carol Pollard passes along a message about an upcoming edition of Virtual Mentor focused on ethical issues in cancer screening and diagnosis.  They are  looking for potential authors on topics such as: end-of-life care, off-label drug use, diagnosis disclosure to children, patient refusal of screening, cancer drug shortages, whole genome sequencing, Affordable Care Act basic package screening, and graphic cigarette warning labels.  If you are interested, please email mark.mercurio@yale.edu or contact the theme editor directly (dhruv.khullar@yale.edu).

  BIOETHICS EVENTS
Wed, Jan 23  4:15 PM

Technology & Ethics group

Location: 77 Prospect St, rm B012

Speaker: Gualberto Ruaño, President and CEO, Genomas Inc., Director of Genetics Research, Hartford Hospital

Topic: Personalizing Public Health: the Ethical Practice of Personalized Medicine

 

Thur, Jan 24  4 PM

Animal Ethics group

Location: 77 Prospect St, rm B012

Speaker: Ralph R. Acampora, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Hofstra University

Topic: Creating Conviviality with Other Creatures: Artful and Ethical Designs for Animal Encounter

This Week on Campus

Tuesday, January 22

ISPS Public Policy Panel Discussion
Time: 12 PM
Location: 77 Prospect St, room A002
Panelists: Amanda Kowalski, Assistant Professor of Economics
Eleanor Neff Powell, Assistant Professor of Political Science
Vesla M. Weaver, Assistant Professor of African-American Studies and Political Science
Moderator: Jacob S. Hacker, Stanley Resor Professor of Political Science and Director, ISPS
Topic: The Next Four Years: A Policy Agenda for the Second Obama Term

Antisemitism Lecture
Time: 5 PM
Location: 53 Wall St, room 208
Speaker: Prof. Timothy Snyder, author of Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin
Topic: Global Holocaust: A History Lesson for the Future

Wednesday, January 23

Yale/CURE BioHaven Enterpreneurship Lecture
Time: 4 PM
Location: Anlyan Auditorium, 300 Cedar St.
Speaker: Richard N. Foster
Topic: Transformational U.S. Healthcare Opportunities in the Decade Ahead

Thursday, January 24

Humanities in Medicine Howard Spiro Panel Discussion
Time: 5 PM
Location: Anlyan Auditorium, 300 Cedar St.
Panelists:Pauline Chen, MD, author of Final Exam: A Surgeon’s Reflections on Mortality, and New York Times Doctor and Patient columnist
Christine Montross, MD, author of Body of Work: Meditations on Mortality from the Human Anatomy Lab
Dena Rifkin, MD, Yale Internal Medicine Residency Writers’ Workshop graduate, contributor to New York Times, American Journal of Kidney Disease, Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine, Discovery
Douglas Olson, MD, Yale Internal Medicine Residency Writers’ Workshop graduate, contributor to Hastings Center Report, KevinMD, SGIM Forum, AOA Pharos
Christine Sunu, Yale Medical Student, winner of 2012 Rush-Lerner contest
Topic: Writing and the Body

Friday, January 25

Zigler Center Lecture
Time: 11:30 AM
Location: 100 Wall St, room 116
Speaker: Adrian Cerezo, PhD, Associate Director Conservation Edu. Research, St. Louis Zoo, MO; School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University
Topic: Nature Nurtures Nature: Biophilic Design Elements in Childcare Centers and the Developmental Outcomes of Children 34 to 38 Months of Age

 

Off Campus Events & Conferences

The YCEI Climate System and Human Health Initiative Presents a Forum on:
THE INTEGRATION OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH
Friday, January 25, 2013, 8:15 AM – 5:30 PM
Luce Auditorium, 34 Hillhouse Ave
www.climate.yale.edu/events/climate-health-forum

The Yale Climate & Energy Institute’s Climate System and Human Health Initiative recognizes the need for sound science in evaluating the potential impacts of climate change upon infectious diseases of humans. This forum will facilitate a cross disciplinary dialogue to determine what is needed to more effectively integrate climate science and infectious disease research. Presentations will address the impacts of temperature and hydrological changes on human health and vector borne diseases.

 

Next month, Yale — and specifically the Yale Animal Welfare Alliance — will be hosting the annual Ivy League Vegan Conference. It lasts a whole weekend, features many exciting speakers, and is open free of charge to all. Animal advocates from all eight Ivy League schools will descend on Yale to explore the academic basis for plant-based diets and hear talks and panels by distinguished guests, including Wayne Pacelle ’87, President of the Humane Society of the United States; Dr. Milton Mills, Director of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine; Yale Philosophy Professor Shelly Kagan; and dozens more. While the focus will be on diets free of animal products, any member of the Yale or New Haven community is welcome, whether or not you’re a veg(etari)an. Get more info here. Sign up to attend here.

 

The Donaghue Foundation’s Beyond Eureka! 2013 conference will explore the role of science in our society today by highlighting some of the key issues and trends shaping the way that science is carried out and what this means for the future. Our keynote speakers will offer a historical perspective on modern science; talk about internal and external pressures on the conduct of science, discuss how the public views science and scientists and why science literacy and citizen involvement in the conduct of science are so important in our world today.  The panel and audience discussion that follows will explore ways we can all engage in answering the question:  How is science serving us? Who should attend: Anyone interested in understanding the historical, economic and political drivers to the practice and business of science today; public policy makers, business leaders and educators who view STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) literacy as a global competitive imperative; and anyone who wants to learn about the opportunities to experience the satisfactions that participating in scientific inquiry and discovery can bring. CME, CEU and CEC credits for physicians, nurses and social workers will be offered at this conference.  For more information click here.

 

Association for Practical and Professional Ethics Twenty-second Annual Meeting
St. Anthony Riverwalk Wyndham Hotel, San Antonio, Texas
February 28 – March 3, 2013

This is a reminder that the deadline for On-Time Registration for the Annual Meeting is fast approaching!  The deadline is Friday, January 18, 2013. You can access the online Registration portal here. The deadline for Hotel Reservations at the Group rate is February 3, 2013.  You can access the hotel reservation page for our group through our website at: http://appeonline.com/22nd-annual-meeting/

 

Grants, Fellowships, & Jobs

NIEHS seeks research proposals on toxic exposures impacts from Sandy impacted communities. http://1.usa.gov/WduwCI The purpose of this Notice is to inform the extramural community that NIEHS is accepting time-sensitive research applications related to potential exposures and health outcomes as a result of Superstorm Sandy. Applications should be submitted to the NIEHS PAR-10-084 “Mechanism for Time-Sensitive Research Opportunities in Environmental Health Sciences (R21)”. Time-sensitive applications focusing on Superstorm Sandy will only be accepted up to the February 20, 2013 due date. The unprecedented and widespread damage caused by Superstorm Sandy in the northeastern states is significant. The potential for exposures to biological and chemical hazards and its effects on physical and mental health for responders and residents could be substantial. Applications are being sought that focus on novel questions of public health importance that will provide new insights into exposures and/or potential health effects as an aftermath to Superstorm Sandy. Applications focusing on environmental exposure assessment necessary to understand short and/or long term health effects as well as human health studies are appropriate. It is expected that the research conducted will provide information necessary for the rapid translation of the science to protect the health and safety of affected communities.

 

The Division of Medical Humanities in the College of Medicine at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS—the state’s only health sciences institution with a medical school) seeks to appoint a tenure-track faculty member at the level of assistant professor to focus on ethical issues in research. Along with education and consultation in research ethics and participation on the university’s IRBs, the Division provides support for the UAMS CTSA and participates in national research collaborations as well.  While applicants must have particular interests and experience in research ethics, more broadly, they should be familiar with all aspects of bioethics and be prepared to teach medical students, residents, faculty, and others in various areas of medical ethics and humanities.  Further, applicants must have a terminal degree in a humanities discipline, law, medicine, nursing, or other health profession.  Salary will be commensurate with rank and experience and will be in line with the AAMC’s figures for PhDs in bioethics. Established in 1982, the Division of Medical Humanities (www.uams.edu/humanities/) provides ethics education, consultation and other support throughout the institution and its affiliated partners—Central Arkansas VA and Arkansas Children’s Hospital.  The Division is particularly proud of its many offerings by nationally recognized faculty in a broad range of medical humanities, including literature, history, anthropology, and law. Review of applications will begin in February 2013 and continue until the position is filled.  The intended start date is July 1, 2013. To apply, an applicant should send a cover letter, CV, three letters of recommendations, and a sample of scholarship to:
Carol VanPelt
Administrative Assistant
UAMS/Humanities
4301 W. Markham St., #646
Little Rock, AR  72205humanities@uams.edu

UAMS is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

 

Calls for Papers & Nominations

Beastly Morality: Emerging scholarship in ethology, neuroscience, philosophy, religion, law and other disciplines contends that humans are not the only creatures who evaluate their behaviors against standards of right and wrong, good and bad: other animals also have been shown to judge actions and adjust their behaviors accordingly.  What are the scientific, moral, philosophical and political implications of these findings? How might these lines of investigation influence our understanding of evolution and morality?  Should species, or individuals within certain species, who display such a sense of morality be given greater moral consideration or status than those who do not?  Why or why not? In which ways are the notions of humanity and animality challenged by these recent claims? This workshop welcomes presentations wrestling with beastly morality from any discipline.  Projects may be at any stage of development.  Indeed, incipient ones may benefit  from receiving constructive feedback.  Presentations will be kept to 30 minutes, allowing ample time for group conversation. Please submit an abstract (~500 words) to Jonathan Crane (jonathan.k.crane@emory.edu) no later than Friday, February 1st, 2013. Notification of decisions will be made by Friday, February 15th.  The workshop will be held at the Emory University’s Center for Ethics, 1531 Dickey Drive, on April 5 from 9 AM to 3 PM (or later).  Lunch will be served. Note: Frans B. M. de Waal, PhD, world-renowned ethologist, will share some critical reflections emerging from his most recent work, The Bonobo and the Atheist: In search of humanism among the primates (WW Norton & Company, 2013).

 

Join us as the Connecticut Stem Cell research community hosts StemCONN 2013, a symposium focused on cutting-edge stem cell research in Connecticut and beyond. This conference features international leaders in stem cell research and biotechnology and provides a forum for education, exploration, and discussion of stem cells and their clinical applications, now and in the future. Check out the complete program! Conference Date: April 3, 2013, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm Conference Location: The Omni Hotel, New Haven, CT Poster Session: Call for Abstracts. Abstract submission deadline is January 20, 2013. Registration now open!

 

The Eleventh Annual Medical Humanities Consortium (MHC) meeting will be held at Drew University, 36 Madison Avenue, Madison, NJ, 07940, on Wednesday evening May 22 through Thursday afternoon, May 23, 2013.  To explore this year’s theme, Medical Humanities in Clinical Practice, we are seeking abstracts of papers as well as proposals for panels, posters, workshops, readings, and performances that examine topics relevant to medicine and healthcare.  We will give preference to abstracts that contemplate how medical humanities currently contributes to and enhances clinical practice, as well as those that explore the potential roles of medical humanities in the future. The approach should represent the orientation of at least one of the medical humanities (e.g. history, literature, art, bioethics, philosophy, religious studies/spirituality, sociology, psychology, and anthropology).  All presenters must be registered conference participants. We particularly welcome submissions from students at all levels and from all relevant disciplines. Presentations should be 10-15 minutes and prompt discussion. Panels and performances may span 60-75 minutes. Possible topics include but are not limited to the following: Implementing medical humanities into undergraduate medical education, graduate medical education, and beyond; Representations of health and illness in literature, art, photography, film, music, dance, or mass media; Various perspectives of medical humanities- patients, trainees, practitioners, healthcare team members, the public, etc.; Evolving relationships between members of the healthcare team; Shifting paradigms in the provision of primary care; “Disability” and disabilities studies in historical context; Gender issues in medicine and healthcare; Evolving perceptions of aging and death;  The implications of healthcare reform on access to care. Proposals should be of interest to a general audience (e.g. healthcare professionals, humanities scholars, hospital chaplains, laypersons, students), and serve as a departure point for lively discussion. We welcome interdisciplinary work as well as that of single disciplines. For more information or to submit a proposal, click here. Additional information regarding the meeting will be forthcoming.  For general inquiries about submissions or the meeting itself, or to be added to our mailing list, please contact Phyllis DeJesse at pdejesse@drew.edu.

 

Other Items of Interest

Can democracy in crisis deal with the climate crisis? From the Center for Humans and Nature, “In the wake of superstorm Sandy and an election process that all but ignored climate change, HumansandNature.org looks ahead.  As Obama begins his second term, our Scholars and Contributors initiate a critical discussion, reflecting on if—and how—the “last, best hope on earth” can tackle one of the most significant challenges the world faces. We invite you to join the conversation and share your thoughts on how we can reshape the democratic process and meet the climate crisis. We are thrilled to have Center Senior Scholars Ben Barber and Carol Gould take the lead on this series.  Click here to read their essays. Four other Contributors are also kicking off the conversation: Bill McKibben: Currencies of Movement Are the Key; Robyn Eckersley: The Tyranny of the Minority;  Tim Hayward: Why Taking the Climate Challenge Seriously Means Taking Democracy More Seriously; John Dryzek: Deliberative Democracy and Climate Change. We encourage you to think here with us, weigh in with your thoughts, and stay tuned as more Contributors join the conversation in the coming weeks.

 

 

There is a new online service coming out of Johns Hopkins that assists clinical ethics consultants in documenting and managing bioethics consults. “We have drawn upon emerging best practices from across the community to build a system that best meets the needs of ethics consultants and helps to improve staff productivity, team communications, consult consistency and quality of patient care. This HIPAA-compliant, on-demand service is easily accessible to ethics consultants worldwide through the use of a standard web browser for a moderate recurring subscription fee. Institutions are already using this new service.  We invite you to visit us at www.bioethx.net to explore the many reasons they have signed on to utilize its exciting new capabilities. Be sure to register while you’re there and let us know how we might be of service to you. Please feel free to share this message with colleagues who you think might have an interest in our new service.

 

 

Articles of Interest

 

In the News

 

Featured Article 

Marcus, Amy Dockser. A Little Digging Unmasks DNA Donor Names. Wall Street Journal. 17 January 2013.
Genetic information stored anonymously in databases doesn’t always stay that way, a new study revealed, raising concern about how much privacy participants in research projects can expect in the Internet era. Continue reading…

Abortion

Wisniewski, Mary. As “Roe v. Wade” Turns 40, Most Oppose Reversal of Abortion Ruling. Reuters. 17 January, 2013.
Most Americans remain opposed to overturning the controversial Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, which 40 years ago legalized abortion at least in the first three months of pregnancy, according to a poll released Wednesday. The poll by the Pew Research Center found that 63 percent of Americans believe that Roe v. Wade should not be completely overturned, compared to 29 percent who believe it should be. These opinions have changed little from surveys conducted in 2003 and 1992, Pew reported. Continue reading…

Disability

Pilon, Mary. Forging Path to Starting Line for Younger Disabled Athletes. New York Times. 15 January 2013.
Some young disabled athletes are having their own Oscar Pistorius moments — not by breaking barriers in the Olympics, but by battling sports officials over whether and how they should be accommodated in competitions with able-bodied athletes. Continue reading…

Drugs & Pharmaceuticals

Study Questions Generic HIV Drug Use. BBC News. 16 January 2013.
Rises in the use of cheaper, non-branded HIV drugs could potentially see more patients with treatment failure, claim US researchers. They say, based on modelling and trial data, that generic medicines may be slightly less effective. And as they require users to take three daily pills instead of one, this ups the risk some patients may miss doses. Continue reading…

Rovner, Julie. Post-Election, ‘Morning After’ Pill Advocates Want Age Rules Revisited. NPR. 7 December 2012.
Since 2009, emergency contraceptives have been available under what’s known as a split label. That means those ages 16 and under need a prescription for the product, which is really just a high dose of regular birth control pills. It is not the same as the abortion pill, RU-486. But the split label also means that even those old enough to buy the product without a prescription must ask a pharmacist for it — and show ID. Moore says that’s not the ideal situation for a product that works best when taken as soon as possible: Plan B is most effective if taken within 24 hours of unprotected intercourse. Continue reading…

Environment

On Louisiana Range, the Giraffe and Antelope Will Play. New York Times. 14 January 2013.
The Audubon Nature Institute and San Diego Zoo Global were expected on Tuesday to announce the development of a breeding program for rare and endangered species on 1,000 acres south of this city, bringing herds of antelope, okapi and Masai giraffe to graze on the banks of the Mississippi River. Continue reading…

Law and Bioethics

Schultz, David. It’s Legal For Some Insurers To Discriminate Based On Genes. NPR. 17 January 2013.
Getting the results of a genetic test can be a bit like opening Pandora’s box. You might learn something useful or interesting, or you might learn that you’re likely to develop an incurable disease later on in life. There’s a federal law that’s supposed to protect people from having their own genes used against them, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, or GINA. Under GINA, it’s illegal for an employer to fire someone based on his genes, and it’s illegal for health insurers to raise rates or to deny coverage because of someone’s genetic code. Continue reading…

Medical Ethics

Lauerman, John. DNA in Mother’s Blood Can Spot Genetic Mutations in Fetus. Bloomberg. 10 January 2013.
Fetal DNA circulating in a pregnant mother’s blood can be used to detect a wide variety of genetic abnormalities before birth, opening the door for noninvasive testing for more conditions. By sequencing DNA that escapes into women’s bloodstreams, scientists were able to detect disease-causing mutations that are now normally found by piercing a mother’s womb with a needle to get amniotic fluid, according to a study in the American Journal of Human Genetics. Continue reading…

Harmon, Katherine. Coughs Fool Patients into Unnecessary Requests for Antibiotics. Scientific American. 16 January 2013.
No one wants a hacking cough for days or weeks on end. But research shows that it generally takes about 18 days to get over a standard cough-based illness. Most of us grow impatient after a week or so and head to the doctor to get a prescription. The problem with that recourse, however, is that antibiotics are usually useless against typical respiratory infections that cause coughs. Continue reading…

Reuters. When hospitals make mistakes with medications, they rarely tell the patient. Washington Post. 14 January 2013.
Patients and their families are rarely told when hospitals make mistakes with their medicines, according to a new study. Most medication mistakes did not harm patients, the researchers found, but those that did were more likely to happen in intensive care units. And ICU patients and families were less likely to be told about errors than patients in other hospital units. Continue reading…

Research Ethics

Experts Aim to Redefine Healthcare and Research Ethics. Science Daily. 11 January 2013.
In what they acknowledge as a seismic shift in the ethical foundation of medical research, practice and policy, a prominent group of interdisciplinary healthcare experts, led by bioethicists at Johns Hopkins, rejects an ethical paradigm that has guided the American system since the 1970s and calls for morally obligatory participation in a “learning healthcare system” more in step with the digital age. Continue reading…

 

In the Journals

Haimes, Erica. Eggs, ethics and exploitation? Investigating women’s experiences of an egg sharing scheme. Sociology of Health & Illness. November 2012.
There is a growing global demand for human eggs for the treatment of sub-fertile women and for stem cell-related research. This demand provokes concerns for the women providing the eggs, including their possible exploitation, whether they should be paid, whether they can give properly informed consent and whether their eggs and bodies are becoming commodified. However, few of the debates have benefitted from insights from the women themselves. We address this gap in knowledge by reporting on a study investigating women’s views and experiences of a scheme in which they can volunteer, in their capacity as fertility patients, to ‘share’ their eggs with researchers and receive a reduction in in vitro fertilisation fees. We focus our discussion on the question of exploitation, a concept central to many sociological and ethical interests. In brief, our analysis suggests that while interviewees acknowledge the potential of this scheme to be exploitative, they argue that this is not the case, emphasising their ability to act autonomously in deciding to volunteer. Nonetheless, these freely made decisions do not necessarily take place under circumstances of their choosing. We discuss the implications of this for egg provision in general and for understandings of exploitation. Continue reading…

Iacono, T. The human rights context for ethical requirements for involving people with intellectual disability in medical research. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research. November 2012.
Background: The history of ethical guidelines addresses protection of human rights in the face of violations. Examples of such violations in research involving people with intellectual disabilities (ID) abound. We explore this history in an effort to understand the apparently stringent criteria for the inclusion of people with ID in research, and differences between medical and other research within a single jurisdiction.
Method: The history of the Helsinki Declaration and informed consent within medical research, and high-profile examples of ethical misconduct involving people with ID and other groups are reviewed. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is then examined for its research implications. This background is used to examine a current anomaly within an Australian context for the inclusion of people with ID without decisional capacity in medical versus other types of research.
Results: Ethical guidelines have often failed to protect the human rights of people with ID and other vulnerable groups. Contrasting requirements within an Australian jurisdiction for medical and other research would seem to have originated in early deference to medical authority for making decisions on behalf of patients.
Conclusions: Stringent ethical requirements are likely to continue to challenge researchers in ID. A human rights perspective provides a framework for engaging both researchers and vulnerable participant groups. Continue reading…

Low, Wah-Yun, Public Health Laws and Ethics. Asian-Pacific Journal of Public Health. September 2012.
This editorial provides an overview of public health laws and ethics. The health of the poor, eliminating poverty, promoting health equity, and ensuring responsibility and accountability in the healthcare systems are objectives with a well-founded legal basis. International health law provides for standards that protect human rights and government is under obligations to implement these in their own countries. Laws are essential to modern public health to control and protect against avoidable health problems, including communicable and non-communicable diseases and disasters. The editorial focuses on ethical and legal issues in humanitarian responses, health finance systems, medical disputes, assessment of public health laws, end-of-life decision making, organ donation and transplantation, and specific issues in public health laws for the Pacific islands. There is also a growing awareness of the ethical issues that arise in humanitarian responses to disasters, whether natural or human-made. Public health laws and ethics are constantly evolving to meet changing health needs and this issue is just the beginning of an understanding of the basic ethical and legal issues related to public health. Continue reading…

Tonti-Filippini. Religious and secular death: a parting of the ways. Bioethics. October 2012.
Most organized religions have indicated a level of support for organ donation including the diagnosis of death by the brain criterion. Organ donation is seen as a gift of love and fits within a communitarian ethos that most religions embrace. The acceptance of the determination of death by the brain criterion, where it has been explained, is reconciled with religious views of soul and body by using a notion of integration. Because the soul may be seen as that which integrates the human body, in the absence of any other signs of human functioning, loss of integration is considered to be an indication that soul and body have separated. To some extent this view would seem to be informed by an Aristotelian notion of the soul, but it fits well enough with religious notions of the person continuing after death. There have been several developments internationally that indicate that the acceptance of so-called ‘brain death’ by organized religions has been challenged by new developments including the acceptance of a lesser standard than loss of all brain function and a rejection by the US President’s Council on Bioethics of the notion of loss of integration as an explanation of death by the brain criterion. Continue reading…

Routledge is pleased to make the following article from The Journal of Legal Medicine Free Access until February 28th 2013: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: A 50-State Survey Exploring Federal and State Firearm Regulations Related to Mental Health

 

Opinion

Ars Technica

Timmer, John. Melanoma misdiagnosis. January 17, 2013.Most of the controversy that has erupted over smartphone apps has focused on things like the sharing of personal information and the presence of malware. But the wild-west craziness of the app world apparently extends to the medical arena, where the Food and Drug Administration is still pondering if and how to regulate smartphone software that interacts with medical devices. The FCC has been forced to act, fining app makers who claimed that their software could treat acne simply by turning the smartphone screen a specific color. Continue reading…

Boston Globe

Editorial. Mass. Should give registry data for mental-health gun checks. January 13, 2013.
Massachusetts be justly proud of its strong gun laws, but that attitude shouldn’t lead to self-congratulation or, worse, complacency. As many states consider tighter gun-control regulations after the Newtown, Conn., massacre last month, Massachusetts has work to do, too. Lawmakers should start by fixing two glaring weaknesses in the Commonwealth’s gun policies: Massachusetts withholds too much information from the public about gun ownership in the state, and lags behind other states in cooperating with the national registry designed to prevent gun sales to dangerous individuals. Continue reading…

Los Angeles Times

Editorial. A crucial time for Medi-Cal. January 17, 2013.
Gov. Jerry Brown has thrown his support behind expanding Medi-Cal, the health insurance program for impoverished Californians, to the full extent authorized by the 2010 federal healthcare reform law. It was the right choice, and Brown deserves credit for recognizing that the benefits to public health and the economy outweigh the potential costs. But his budget proposal left state lawmakers to decide whether to keep responsibility for the expanded program in Sacramento or hand it off to the counties. And while it’s worth reevaluating how to pay for the medically indigent, it would be a disaster to transfer so much of Medi-Cal’s duties to ill-prepared local authorities. Continue reading…

Editorial. Food safety and the FDA. January 14, 2013.
In addition to the 3,000 deaths it causes each year, contaminated food is very expensive. The cost of food poisoning in this country comes to $14 billion a year, according to a July 2012 study published in the Journal of Food Protection, including the medical expenses of the 128,000 who are hospitalized annually. That figure does not include the millions of dollars that each food recall costs the company involved, the legal expenses from victims’ lawsuits or losses incurred by other companies when consumers hear, for example, about contaminated cantaloupes and then avoid all cantaloupes, including those that are perfectly safe. Continue reading…

Editorial. The sorry state of Americans’ health. January 12, 2013.
For all of our sophisticated medical care, Americans can expect shorter lives and more health troubles than the people of other well-off nations, according to a new report. And that’s not just true of infants and poor people, the groups usually pinpointed as particularly vulnerable to health issues; it is also the case for the affluent, teenagers and middle-aged people. Some of this can be traced to a lack of preventive and primary care, some to car accidents and violence, some to obesity and poor health habits. The United States clearly cannot rest on its past laurels; nor can it expect medical laboratories and research hospitals, for all the lifesaving work they do, to solve the problem. Continue reading…

National Review

Smith, Wesley. Human exceptionalism. January 17, 2013.
The Center for Bioethics and Culture has again asked me to prognosticate on all things bioethical for 2013. Regular readers will recall how stunningly accurate I was for 2012.  And now, I have seen what will happen this year. As before, the primary action in bioethics will surround Obamacare, specifically, the Free Birth Control Rule. Continue reading…

Washington Post

Editorial. A bad flu season. January 13, 2013.
Your neighbor the next cubicle over coughs loudly, then you overhear him complaining about a fever — and you wonder if you might be the next victim. You quickly type “preventing the flu” into Google, and your query becomes one more indication to the search engine’s mavens that this year’s influenza season is bad. In conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Google’s Flu Trendstracks influenza activity in real time by monitoring how often people search for flu-related terms. It wouldn’t surprise anyone who has tried to sign in at a packed emergency room or who is trying to obtain scarce vaccine that Google reckons that flu activity in the United States is “intense.” Continue reading…

Editorial. Chinese media opens up about Beijing smog. January 16, 2013.
Add air pollution to the list of challenges that China’s new leadership must address to satisfy its increasingly restless citizenry. Over the weekend, Beijing and more than 30 other cities were enveloped by a thick haze. Measurements of hazardous particles spiked to unprecedented levels — and so did complaints on the country’s social media. On Monday, the government’s principal propaganda organs essentially surrendered to public sentiment, breaking their silence and publishing a host of articles and editorials calling the pollution “choking, dirty and poisonous,” among other things. Continue reading…

 

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