News

  • Readers And Tweeters Demand Action On Gun Violence, Mental Health Care Options
    Letters to the Editor is a periodic feature. We welcome all comments and will publish a selection. We edit for length and clarity and require full names. Behind The Bloodshed In 2018 alone, there have been more than 300 mass shootings in the United States (“Gun Control Vs. Mental Health Care: Debate After Mass Shootings Obscures Murky Reality,” Nov. 19). That’s almost equivalent to the number of days in the year. When so many shootings occur in such a short period of time, it’s clear there’s at least one common reason behind them. But many people assume there’s only one reason and are divided... Read more »
  • Must-Reads Of The Week From Brianna Labuskes
    The Friday Breeze Newsletter editor Brianna Labuskes, who reads everything on health care to compile our daily Morning Briefing, offers the best and most provocative stories for the weekend. Happy Friday! I don’t know about you, but I have been absolutely riveted by the ethics controversy that has sent the scientific community into a shocked-and-appalled, pearl-clutching frenzy this week. I’ll get to that in a second. First, another too-frequent example of the current pitfalls in our health system: A hospital turned down a woman’s heart transplant request because she lacked a secure source of financing for the drugs necessary for the procedure.... Read more »
  • Overshadowed By Opioids, Meth Is Back And Hospitalizations Surge
    The number of people hospitalized because of amphetamine use is skyrocketing in the United States, but the resurgence of the drug largely has been overshadowed by the nation’s intense focus on opioids. Amphetamine-related hospitalizations jumped by about 245 percent from 2008 to 2015, according to a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. That dwarfs the rise in hospitalizations from other drugs, such as opioids, which were up by about 46 percent. The most significant increases were in Western states. The surge in hospitalizations and deaths due to amphetamines “is just totally off the radar,” said Jane Maxwell, an... Read more »
  • Nonprofit Bets Asian-American Students Can Learn To Avoid Unhealthy Gambling
    The students listened attentively as Ryan Wong explained how casinos keep customers chasing that elusive jackpot. Labyrinthine layouts force guests to walk past card tables and slot machines in search of well-concealed restrooms and exits, said Wong, an intern at the nonprofit NICOS Chinese Health Coalition, a San Francisco partnership of health and social service organizations. Casinos ply customers with free alcohol to loosen inhibitions, and clocks are nowhere to be found. “You lose track of time,” Wong, 23, told the members of an Asian-American studies class at City College of San Francisco. “The more you gamble, the more it favors the... Read more »
  • Gun Control Vs. Mental Health Care: Debate After Mass Shootings Obscures Murky Reality
    After the recent mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, Calif., in which 11 people were killed at a country music bar, President Donald Trump struck a familiar refrain: “It’s a mental health problem,” he said of the gunman, Ian David Long. “He was a very sick puppy.” Similarly, after a school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 students and staff members in February, Trump tweeted that there were “so many signs that the shooter was mentally disturbed.” Public health and mental health experts counter that blaming the violence on the mentally ill is unfair and inaccurate, pointing instead to lax gun laws.... Read more »
  • Must-Reads Of The Week From Brianna Labuskes
    The Friday Breeze Newsletter editor Brianna Labuskes, who reads everything on health care to compile our daily Morning Briefing, offers the best and most provocative stories for the weekend. Welcome back to the Friday Breeze! Brace yourself, because with the midterms in the rear-view mirror (psshh, the 2018 elections are so five minutes ago), lawmakers, hopefuls and sideline experts are all barreling toward 2020. (I have only just this moment realized the vast opportunity for puns we’ll see when it’s over. Hindsight being … you get it.) First, though, everyone has to make it through two years of likely gridlock with a split... Read more »
  • Women Applaud Michelle Obama’s Decision To Share Her Trauma Of Miscarriage
    Miscarriage is “lonely, painful, and demoralizing,” Michelle Obama writes in her new memoirs. Yet, by some estimates, it ends as many as 1 in 5 pregnancies before the 20-week mark. The former first lady’s disclosure that she and former President Barack Obama suffered from fertility issues, including losing a pregnancy, has sparked conversations about miscarriage, a common but also commonly misunderstood loss. Psychologists say that ignorance can contribute to the emotional and psychological toll of losing a pregnancy, isolating women and their partners and leaving loved ones uncertain of how to comfort them. Nearly five years later, Becky Shaw of Woodbridge, Va., still... Read more »
  • With Hospitalization Losing Favor, Judges Order Outpatient Mental Health Treatment
    When mental illness hijacks Margaret Rodgers’ mind, she acts out. Rodgers, 35, lives with depression and bipolar disorder. When left unchecked, the conditions drive the Alabama woman to excessive spending, crying and mania. Last autumn, Rodgers felt her mind unraveling. Living in Birmingham, she was uninsured, unable to afford treatment and in the throes of a divorce. Although Rodgers traveled south to her brother’s house in Foley, Ala., for respite, she couldn’t escape thoughts of suicide, which one day led her to his gun. “I hit bottom,” she recalled. But she didn’t pull the trigger. Rodgers told her brother about the close call. News... Read more »
  • Deadly Shootings Are Rising In U.S. After Steady Declines
    After steadily declining for more than two decades, deadly shootings are rising across the country, according to a new government report. The researchers also said that the number of suicides involving a firearm grew 21 percent between 2006 and 2016. The report, published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, looked at gun deaths around the country and in 50 major metropolitan areas. The researchers found a rise in gun homicides in 2015 and 2016, reversing a downward trend and bringing them to a level comparable to a decade ago. It also reported that deadly shootings were up across all age... Read more »
  • Measure To Cap Dialysis Profits Pummeled After Record Spending By Industry
    Record-breaking spending by the dialysis industry helped doom a controversial California ballot measure to cap its profits. The industry, led by DaVita and Fresenius Medical Care, spent nearly $111 million to defeat Proposition 8, which voters trounced, 62 to 38 percent, and appeared to approve in just two of 58 counties. The measure also faced strong opposition from medical organizations, including doctor and hospital associations, which argued it would limit access to dialysis treatment and thus endanger patients. The opposition presented a powerful message that “if you can’t get dialysis, you will die,” said Gerald Kominski, a senior fellow at the UCLA... Read more »