Vancouver health system ignored warnings that its wireless paging system transmits sensitive patient data in the clear

The Canadian activist group Open Privacy Research Society has discovered that Vancouver, BC hospitals routinely wirelessly broadcast patient telemetry and admissions data, without encryption to doctor paging systems. It is trivial to intercept these transmission. Read the rest

Purdue's court filings understate its role in the opioid epidemic by 80%

Purdue Pharma (and its richer-than-the-Rockefellers owners, the Sackler family are increasingly being dragged into state courts to account for their role in the opioid epidemic, which has claimed more American lives than the Vietnam War. Read the rest

Here's what happens when you touch a wild monkey

The large primate could not resist touching the little primate.  The little primate didn't want to be touched by the large primate, and showed its displeasure by scratching the large primate.

Let me just touch this monkey to see what happens

Read the rest

Optimists live longer

According to data from two large studies spanning thirty years, optimistic people live considerably longer than pessimists. Read the rest

Big Pharma's origin: how the Chicago School and private equity shifted medicine's focus from health to wealth

Between 2010 and 2016, the FDA approved 210 new medicines and every single one was produced at public expense, part of a $1T US government investment project in medical research. Despite this massive public subsidy, the pharma industry has only grown more concentrated and rapacious, raising prices and diverting the profits to their execs and investors, who now pocket 99% of industry profits: the industry made $500B in profits between 2006 and 2015, and during that time, the US government pumped $33b/year into pharma research. Read the rest

Hospital checklists work really well -- except when they're not used

Atul Gawande (previously) made an enormous shift in the practice of medicine with his research on checklists, summarized in his book The Checklist Manifesto; Gawande identified a core paradox with checklists, which is that surgeons hate to use them, finding them reductive and tedious, but overwhelmingly, surgeons would prefer to be operated on by other surgeons who were using a checklist to guide the procedure. Read the rest

The only thing health insurance companies are good at is scaring us about socialized medicine

In a new column in the LA Times, business columnist Michael Hiltzik makes the argument that the only thing health insurers have done with any effectiveness is scare us into thinking that the socialized medicine services that every other advanced country has will not work in America. Read the rest

How Quebec's health-care system uses "vaccine whisperers" to keep "vaccine hesitancy" from turning to anti-vax

A French neonatal specialist named Dr Arnaud Gagneur has created a "vaccine counselling" program within Quebec's health-care system that uses a non-judgmental technique called "motivational interviewing" with parents of newborns to allay their fears about vaccines. Read the rest

Trans woman trains her new vagina's pelvic floor with a kegel-controlled version of Flappy Bird

Laura Dale is a trans woman who got a "new vagina" through "bottom surgery"; afterwards, as she cast about for ways to strengthen her pelvic floor muscles, she discovered Perifit, a Bluetooth kegel-based video-game controller that registers every time the user bears down on it with their pelvic floor muscles. Read the rest

Oregon now excuses students for "mental health days"

Oregon governor Kate Brown signed a bill that excuses public school students for taking "mental health days" just as they are excused for other illnesses. The bill was spearheaded by youth activists. From the Associated Press:

(Eighteen-year-old Hailey) Hardcastle, who plans to attend the University of Oregon in the fall, said she and fellow youth leaders drafted the measure to respond to a mental health crisis in schools and to “encourage kids to admit when they’re struggling.”

Debbie Plotnik, vice president of the nonprofit advocacy group Mental Health America, said implementing the idea in schools was important step in challenging the way society approaches mental health issues.

“We need to say it’s just as OK to take care for mental health reasons as it is to care for a broken bone or a physical illness,” she said.

(Image: "Conceptual illustration of mental health" by Quince Media, (CC BY-SA 4.0)) Read the rest

E.P.A. won't ban chlorpyrifos pesticide that scientists say damages children's brains

In the Federal Register, EPA said “critical questions remained regarding the significance of the data” that show chlorpyrifos causes neurological harm to young children.

Anti-vaxxer escalates from wishing children dead to threatening to kill adult lawmakers

A Pentagon cybersecurity contractor threatened to murder Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) if she advanced a bill to vaccinate children in public schools, The Daily Beast reports today. Yes, we are in a dystopian hellscape. Read the rest

Youth cannabis use declined in states that legalized, new study finds

Report says legalization associated with decline in youth cannabis use

Robotic nursing aide wins over both skeptical nurses and their patients

Diligent Robotics's Moxi is a robot created by Andrea Thomaz (a former robotics professor at UT Austin and Georgia Tech's Socially Intelligent Machines Lab) and Vivian Chu (one of Thomaz's former grad students); they funded by a National Science Foundation grant to create a robotic nursing aide that is designed to do routine, non-human-interaction chores for nurses with a minimum of effort from nurses. Read the rest

After Propublica expose, the "nonprofit," "Christian" Memphis University Hospital suspends practice of suing the shit out of poor people

Memphis University Hospital is a tax-exempt nonprofit whose CEO, Dr. Michael Ugwueke, took home $1.6m last year; the hospital itself makes an operating surplus of $80m/year -- and it also sues the shit out of its patients, running its own in-house collection agency and filing more garnishment claims than any other hospital in the state. Read the rest

The widening health gap between America's rich and poor is the result of worse health for the poor, not better health for the rich

Apologists for wealth inequality often argue that inequality is a poor measure of whether a society is just or not: in the gospel of the right, society naturally forms hierarchies with the "best people" at the top (depending on what kind of right winger you are, that's either rich people or male people or white people or straight people, or some combination thereof), and they proceed to bring prosperity to all of us by ordering us around and telling us what to do, so that their wisdom can be played out for the world (see also: "job creators"). Read the rest

Why is the American Medical Association finally weighing to oppose anti-abortion bills

In the late 1800s, the American Medical Association invented the anti-abortion movement, but over time, its ceased to advocate on either side of the debate -- until a bizarre 1997 statement supporting a GOP bill banning late-stage abortions (later revealed to be a "blunder" on the part of the trustees), after which the group returned to silence. Read the rest

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