News

  • As Opioid Crisis Rages, Some Trade ‘Tough Love’ For Empathy
    It was Bea Duncan who answered the phone at 2 a.m. on a January morning. Her son Jeff had been caught using drugs in a New Hampshire sober home and was being kicked out. Bea and her husband, Doug, drove north that night nine years ago to pick him up. On the ride back home, to Natick, Mass., the parents delivered an ultimatum: Jeff had to go back to rehab, or leave home. Jeff chose the latter, Bea said. She remembers a lot of yelling, cursing and tears as they stopped the car, in the dead of night, a few miles from... Read more »
  • Doctors Reckon With High Rate Of Suicide In Their Ranks
    Alarms go off so frequently in emergency rooms, doctors barely notice. And then a colleague is wheeled in on a gurney, clinging to life, and that alarm becomes a deafening wake-up call. For Dr. Kip Wenger, that colleague, a 33-year-old physician, was also his friend. Wenger is regional medical director for TeamHealth, one of the country’s largest emergency room staffing companies, based in Knoxville, Tenn. “It’s devastating,” he said. “This is a young, healthy person who has everything in the world ahead of them.” His friend had confided in a few co-workers about recent relationship struggles, but none of that had affected her work. The medical... Read more »
  • Listen: Inexpensive Nerve Drug Often Abused As Opioid Epidemic Grows
    Kaiser Health News reporter Carmen Heredia Rodriguez joins the host of “On Point,” Anthony Brooks, to discuss public health officials’ concerns about the increasing use of the drug gabapentin by people addicted to opioids. Gabapentin is not an opioid, and it is approved to treat patients with nerve pain or epilepsy. However, some people are illicitly buying the drug and abusing it to enhance their opioid highs or stave off withdrawal from other drugs. Heredia Rodriguez wrote about the problem in an earlier story on KHN. The “On Point” discussion about the drug (cue it up at 39:22) follows a discussion on the... Read more »
  • Patients With Chronic Pain Feel Caught In An Opioid-Prescribing Debate
    It started with a rolled ankle during a routine Army training exercise. Shannon Hubbard never imagined it was the prologue to one of the most debilitating pain conditions known to exist, called ­­­­­­­complex regional pain syndrome. The condition causes the nervous system to go haywire, creating pain disproportionate to the actual injury. It can also affect how the body regulates temperature and blood flow. For Hubbard, it manifested years ago following surgery on her foot — a common way for it to take hold. “My leg feels like it’s on fire pretty much all the time. It spreads to different parts of your body,” the... Read more »
  • How Soon Is Soon Enough To Learn You Have Alzheimer’s?
    Jose Belardo of Lansing, Kan., spent most of his career in the U.S. Public Health Service. He worked on the front lines of disasters in such places as Haiti, Colombia, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. At home with his three kids and wife, Elaine, he’d always been unfailingly reliable, so when he forgot their wedding anniversary two years in a row, they both started to worry. “We recognized something wasn’t right and pretty much attributed it to being overworked and tired,” Elaine said. But the symptoms grew. Last year, when Jose was 50, he got an evaluation at the Walter Reed National... Read more »
  • From Crib To Court: Trump Administration Summons Immigrant Infants
    The Trump administration has summoned at least 70 children under 1 year old to immigration court for their own deportation proceedings since Oct. 1, according to new Justice Department data provided exclusively to Kaiser Health News. These children, who may be staying with a sponsor or in a foster care arrangement, need frequent touching and bonding with a parent and naps every few hours, and some are of breastfeeding age, medical experts say. They’re unable to speak and still learning when it’s day versus night. “For babies, the basics are really important. It’s the holding, the proper feeding, proper nurturing,” said Shadi... Read more »
  • California Clinic Screens Asylum Seekers For Honesty
    OAKLAND, Calif. — Dr. Nick Nelson walks through busy Highland Hospital to a sixth-floor exam room, where he sees patients from around the world who say they have fled torture and violence. Nelson, who practices internal medicine, is the medical director of the Highland Human Rights Clinic, part of the Alameda Health System. A few times each week, he and his team conduct medical evaluations of people who are seeking asylum in the United States. The doctors listen to the patients’ stories. They search for signs of trauma. They scrutinize injuries, including electrocution scars, bullet wounds and unset broken bones. As the... Read more »
  • Facebook Live: The Marketing Plan That Fueled An Addiction Epidemic
    Files from Fred’s basement: KHN senior correspondent Fred Schulte talks about a cache of files detailing Purdue Pharma’s early OxyContin marketing plan. These documents, which are more than 15 years old but still relevant now, offer insights into how these strategies contributed to the nation’s current opioid addiction epidemic. Here’s the recent story he wrote on the topic. Click here to view the files. For more in-depth conversations with KHN reporters, check out our Facebook video archive. KHN’s coverage related to aging and improving care of older adults is supported in part by The John A. Hartford Foundation. ... Read more »
  • Support Circle: Family Caregivers Share Stories And Tips To Ease Alzheimer’s Toll
    Vicki Bartholomew started a support group for wives who are caring for a husband with Alzheimer’s disease because she needed that sort of group herself. They meet every month in a conference room at a new memory-care facility in Nashville called Abe’s Garden, where Bartholomew’s husband was one of the first residents — a Vietnam veteran and prominent attorney in Nashville. “My husband’s still living, and now I’m in an even more difficult situation — I’m married, but I’m a widow,” she tells the group one day. These women — who are roughly 50 to 75 years old — draw the shades and open... Read more »
  • What A U.S.-China Trade War Could Mean For The Opioid Epidemic
    The American struggle to curb opioid addiction could become collateral damage in President Donald Trump’s showdown on trade. Trade tensions with allies were heightened by the White House announcement in March of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Now, another round specifically targeting China is set to take effect Friday. And that China focus could interrupt other trade-related issues — specifically, those targeting the flow of dangerous drugs like fentanyl into the United States. Though Chinese officials deny that most of the fentanyl or other opioid substances originate in their country, they have in the past cooperated with U.S. efforts to control the... Read more »