KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Longer Looks: Medical Mistakes; Overlapping Surgeries; Health Apps

Each week, KHN's Shefail Luthra finds interesting reads from around the Web.

Vox: Fatal Mistakes
Medical errors kill more people each year than plane crashes, terrorist attacks, and drug overdoses combined. And there's collateral damage that often goes unnoticed: Every day, our healers quietly live with those they have wounded or even killed. Their ghosts creep into exam rooms, their cries haunt dreams, and seeing new patients can reopen old wounds. (Sarah Kliff, 3/15)

Pacific Standard: The Youngest Casualties In The War On Obesity
Around the country, many psychologists and families are noticing an increasing number of children and teenagers with eating disorders that appear to be triggered by school-based obesity-prevention programs, ranging from discussions of healthy food in class to so-called "BMI report cards" that report a child's body mass index in a letter to parents. (Carrie Arnold, 3/14)

The Atlantic: A Pill For Down Syndrome
Myelin is the white substance that coats axons, the spokes than connect neurons to one another. A reduction in myelin has been linked to a variety of neurological conditions, including multiple sclerosis and Guillain-Barre syndrome, among others. And a few drugs related to myelin production are already in clinical trials, which means that what was once a parlor game—would you take away the Down syndrome?—may one day be a reality for parents like us. If and when drugs are developed that reverse myelin loss specifically in people with Down syndrome, we’ll join the many other parents of children with brain differences who face similar quandaries. (Amy Julia Becker, 3/15)

The California Health Report: As More California Counties Implement Laura’s Law, Advocates Push Back
Despite the fact that Laura’s Law was passed in California over 13 years ago, and that 44 other states have similar laws in place, adoption of Laura’s Law has been slow. Most counties who have attempted to adopt the law have faced strong opposition by mental health consumers, legal organizations and advocates from underserved and marginalized communities. The organization Disability Rights California has lobbied heavily against the law since 2002, threatening to sue counties that implemented Laura’s Law, saying assisted outpatient treatment doesn’t work. (Linda Childers, 3/15)

The Economist: Things Are Looking App
There are now around 165,000 health-related apps which run on one or other of the two main smartphone operating systems, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. PwC, a consulting firm, forecasts that by 2017 such apps will have been downloaded 1.7 billion times. However, the app economy is highly fragmented. Many providers are still small, and most apps are rarely, if ever, used. (3/12)

Vox: Uterus Transplants Are Extremely Risky. Doctors Should Keep Doing Them Anyway.
Lindsey's tragedy — after much fanfare — raises the question about whether it's really worth continuing with the operation at all. Though the doctors in Cleveland have nine additional uterus transplants in the works as part of an ongoing study, the procedure remains hugely controversial. I asked medical ethicists and doctors (including one of the authors of the global ethical guidelines for uterine transplants) for their opinion. They all pointed out that the uterine transplant is a supremely risky operation — but agreed that doctors and willing patients should continue experimenting with them anyway. (Julia Belluz, 3/10)

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