If you want a refresher on how far society has come on dealing with end-of-life care issues — and what issues are still to be resolved — then this retrospective article in the Feb 12 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine from experts at The Hastings Center is a great place to begin. It reviews the history of the end-of-life care movement in the U.S., takes a look at the integration of palliative care into health care delivery, discusses the still controversial “death with dignity” laws and ethical issues like removal of feeding and hydration tubes.
Last year, AHCJ awarded five Reporting Fellowships on Health Care Performance and the fellows produced a rich variety of projects on the health care landscape, investigating little-known stories such as state Medicaid models and the cancer care migration.
We’re highlighting each fellow and their accomplishments. Continue reading
More than a dozen journalists gathered at the ECRI Institute’s Plymouth Meeting, Pa., research campus, for sessions focused on gadgets, the built environment and safety innovations on Jan. 29. Continue reading
On Sunday, the Pew Research Center released the results of a survey on the interaction between scientists, the media and the public. The survey revealed how scientists engage with the public, and how different demographics view scientific issues.
Pew released the report in collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the findings were presented at the AAAS 2015 Annual Meeting on Sunday. The report included feedback from 3,784 AAAS scientists, and it is the second in a series of surveys canvassing both scientists and the American public on the interface of scientific data and public understanding.
“How Scientists Engage the Public,” reveals that most scientists – 87 percent – feel they should participate in the public policy process and in relevant debates about science and technology. Not surprisingly, almost all of them said they engaged on some level with journalists or members of the public.
AHCJ members likely weren’t too surprised on Feb. 3, when the New York Office of the Attorney General ordered four major companies to stop selling certain herbal supplements, because in 2013, USA Today reporter Alison Young won an Award for Excellence in Health Care Journalism for investigating the lucrative and shadowy world of dietary supplements.
Research in New York showed many products did not contain any of the advertised ingredients, and in the series “Supplement Shell Game,” Young showed that some drugs – and their makers – can be downright dangerous. Even worse, industry players often clash with regulators, and many have criminal backgrounds.
In its ongoing effort to shed light on physician residency programs, AHCJ is announcing a new benefit for members: Access to national rankings calculated based on 50,000 peer nominations from board-certified physicians, with geographic weighting.
Last summer, AHCJ called for more transparency about the accreditation of physician residency programs, so the public can be better informed about the quality of graduate medical education programs in their communities.
In a letter sent to the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, AHCJ praised the group for having a website that includes accreditation decisions for institutions and their individual training programs. But AHCJ asked ACGME to publish additional information, including why individual programs and institutions have favorable or less-than-favorable accreditation status and the percentage of residents who pass their board exams.
We’ve read about the difficulties of getting dental care to patients in nursing homes and other institutions. People living with disabilities in the community may also face formidable challenges in getting the dental care they need.
Finding a dentist with the training and willingness to accept a patient with special needs can be tough. Medicare and Medicaid benefits may be inadequate. Patients who need to undergo general anesthesia in a hospital because they are frightened or physically unable to lie still in a dental chair often face particularly high barriers to getting dental treatments.
Elizabeth Simpson offered readers of The Virginian-Pilot a detailed look at this issue in a January story that centered on the experiences of one local woman and her family. Continue reading
We’ve posted a new tip sheet and a new “How I did it” piece that may yield some story ideas for reporters.
In her “How I did it” essay, Karen Brown describes how she tracked a group of primary care residents for a year of their training – a year in which two of the three she chose to focus on ultimately decided not to go into primary care after all.
“Their decisions may have been disappointing for the field, but they did make for a more compelling story. I was able to use their personal dilemmas, unfolding in real time, to illustrate the crisis in primary care,” she writes. Brown had an AHCJ fellowship to do her project, but she gives advice on how to embark on a similar project – without a fellowship – in your community.
In the tip sheet, Lola Butcher explains the 340B drug program, which requires pharmaceutical companies to sell discounted drugs to eligible health care organizations that serve a lot of poor people. The drugs are for outpatient use.
But the program has continued to grow, prompting questions about its cost and purpose. “Like all good controversies,” Butcher writes, “this one has enthusiastic advocates and wild-eyed opponents, and it’s easy to get snagged by the passion of the partisans.”
Both feature projects were funded with AHCJ Reporting Fellowships in Health Care Performance.
Why do the brains of some older adults look very different than those of their peers? Scientists at Northwestern University say the answer may explain why these elders don’t suffer the same cognitive decline that affects other seniors.
These so-called “SuperAgers,” all age 80 and older, have memories as sharp as those of healthy people 30 years younger, according to a small study by researchers from the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine. This is the first study to quantify brain differences of SuperAgers and normal older people.
When compared with people of similar ages, the “brain signature” of SuperAgers have a thicker region of the cortex; significantly fewer tangles — a primary marker of Alzheimer’s disease – and a substantial supply of von Economo neurons, which are linked to higher social intelligence.
Sullivan, the founding dean of the Morehouse School of Medicine – the first predominantly black medical school – served as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under President George H.W. Bush from 1989-93. Continue reading