When it comes to reporting on breast cancer research, cover the work, not the parties

A letter writer chides the Globe for not covering the 20th anniversary gala for the Silent Spring Institute, a Newton-based research center looking into the links between breast cancer and the environment.

The organization deserves more attention. But, better to do stories on their work than stories on galas, where  even speaker Kristof of the NY Times takes a dig at the media.

Here are a few.

 

More here:

 

Overdiagnosis or overtreatment? Move to lung cancer screening fuels debate

A report from HLM on Siemens-sponsored, Atlantic-hosted event on “The Diagnostic Debate.”

Gregory Sorensen, the CEO of Siemens Healthcare North America opened the session by challenging the notion that screening drives overdiagnosis.

“We’re not over diagnosing,” he said. “We’re over treating.”

Sorensen used as an example, mammography. When doctors find a “low-grade” tumor like DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ), they may resort to a lumpectomy or chemotherapy despite questions about the efficacy of those treatments, he explained.

“This in turn leads us to question the value the mammography, because it leads to overtreatment. It is not the mammogram that’s the problem,” Sorensen asserted. “It’s the [healthcare] system’s lack of discipline.”

Atlantic’s event site. 

 

Tufts talk: #Upstreamist docs look beyond clinic #SDOH

Richi Manchanda came back to Tufts earlier this month to talk about his “upstreamist ” approach to health care — address causes of  patient ills  before they start drowning in health problems. Usually, that involves a look into home or work issues — the so-called social determinants of health.

It was a homecoming of sorts. Manchanda is a triple Jumbo — BS, MPH and MD at Tufts. HLM reports.

The health care system needs to do a better job identifying and addressing the social, environmental and economic conditions that play into the health of patient communities.

That was the message Rishi Manchanda, MD, MPH, delivered to a group of medical students at Tufts Medical Center in Boston this month. Manchanda is a nationally known advocate of healthcare that looks beyond the clinic and into the lives of the people it serves.

 

Science in the News lecture series: Sugar, RNA, cancer and the brain

Former Tufts doc: “Widespread dishonesty” leads to unjustified health care fees #HCR

Former Tufts doc and current Mainer Howard A.Corwin comments this weekend on the latest in Elizabeth’s Rosenthal’s great NYTimes series on insane health care costs. In her latest piece, she reports that “In operating rooms and on hospital wards across the country, physicians and other health providers typically help one another in patient care. But in an increasingly common practice that some medical experts call drive-by doctoring, assistants, consultants and other hospital employees are charging patients or their insurers hefty fees.”

To which Corwin notes: 

To the Editor:

Doctors call such billing “gaming the system.” There is widespread dishonesty that leads to these unjustified expenses throughout the medical profession. Members of Congress beholden to medical lobbyists allow flawed reimbursement systems and perpetuate them by preventing reform. There is an enormous disparity between what different medical specialists and personnel earn. Unable to rectify these disparities, many physicians resort to these gaming techniques. Unnecessary expensive tests and procedures, upgraded coding, “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” referrals and, of course, outright greed lead to extra medical expense.

Honest doctors are demoralized and suffer from this system. Doctors must regain leadership of medicine to rectify these aberrant and destructive practices.

HOWARD A. CORWIN
Center Lovell, Me., Sept. 21, 2014

The writer is a former clinical professor of psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine.

Partners in Health calls for community health worker networks fight ebola

Leave it to Dr. Paul Farmer to use the word “optimistic” in reference to the Ebola epidemic. Writing in the Globe op/ed section, he and Joia Mukherjee, chief medical officer of Partners in Health, call for the kind of community health worker programs they use to fight another raging epidemic — drug-resistant tuberculosis.

Community care could, when coupled with infection control, stop the epidemic. Of course, the region needs more treatment units for the sort of care that can only be provided in an in-patient setting. And hospital care can be improved long-term only by training and equipping Sierra Leoneans and Liberians: the staff and the “stuff” required to save lives. But it also needs to provide the tools that smaller clinics and front line health workers need to fight the virus in their neighborhoods and villages…

Years ago, when Partners in Health first engaged in fighting another deadly epidemic — drug-resistant tuberculosis — our colleague Jim Yong Kim (now president of the World Bank) and others referred to it as “Ebola with wings.” We learned then, in settings from the slums of Lima to the mountains of Lesotho, that community-based care, delivered in large part by community health workers, was not only safer than facility-based care, it was also more effective. This was true when caregivers had the staff, stuff, space, and systems required to prevent, diagnose, and treat tuberculosis with the tools of the trade. “Community-based care” does not mean “community-based no care”: that, we’re providing already, and at large scale

Cats, dogs and bacon to make you laugh, then think at the 2014 #IgNobel awards

2014-Ig-Nobel-poster-150Much for pet and bacon lovers at this years Ig Nobels, which were awarded Thursday night. Go to the source for worldwide coverage  or check out Carolyn Y. Johnson’s blog post for the Boston Globe.  

Thursday night at Harvard University, Nobel laureates took the stage to hand out the Ig Nobels, a satirical version of the Nobel prizes, which will be announced in early October. This year, the prizes were awarded in 10 disciplines, ranging from the physics prize for at last explaining why banana peels are slippery, to the medicine prize for using strips of cured pork to stop a gushing nosebleed

 Public Health: The award was split between two teams for an investigation of the mental hazards of owning a cat.

Czech researchers chronicled personality changes in young cat ladies and documented a decline in I.Q. and adventure-seeking behavior by men who were infected by toxoplasmosis, a parasite commonly found in cat excrement. A US team scoured medical records from 1.3 million patients and found that depression was relatively common among women who had reported being bitten by cats, and that screening those who had bitten by pets might be fruitful.

 Biology: A team of Czech and German researchers are being honored for their finding that when dogs poop and pee, they prefer to squat with their bodies facing in a north-south line. Even silly results aren’t trivial to arrive at: the team observed 70 dogs, from 37 breeds. That’s nearly 2,000 defecations and 5,582 urinations over two years of smelly observation.

Also, a nod to Our Lady of Perpetual Condensation:

 Neuroscience: In “Seeing Jesus in Toast,” a team from China and Canada have clinched the neuroscience prize with an exploration of a phenomenon called face pareidolia, in which people see nonexistent faces. First, they tricked participants into thinking that a nonsense image had a face or letter hidden in it. Then, they carefully monitored brain activity in the participants they managed to convince, to understand which parts of our minds are to blame.

 

 

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