KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Refusing A Mammogram; Video Monitoring In Hospitals; Peril Of Low-T Marketing

A selection of editorials and opinions on health care from around the country.

The New York Times: Why I Never Got a Mammogram
I have never had a mammogram. I'm almost 50 — nearly a decade into the age when the screening is recommended by the American Cancer Society. I'm college educated, adequately insured. And I am the bane of my health care providers. Once, my midwife went so far as to request that I never speak of my decision in any space where other patients might hear. This week, I was vindicated (Marie Myung-Ok Lee, 2/14).

The New York Times: A Watchful Eye In Hospitals
Yet we do expect some degree of privacy in hospitals. We trust doctors with our secrets in part because they take a 2,000-year-old Hippocratic oath to respect our privacy, an oath enforced by laws like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. But sometimes, doctors have to weigh patients' privacy against their health and safety, and that's when things get complicated. The use of video monitoring — covert or disclosed, of patients or providers — has proliferated as high-quality, inexpensive technology has become increasingly accessible. The possibilities range from watching elderly patients at risk of falling in their rooms to recording doctors and nurses at sinks to make sure they're washing their hands (Tim Lahey, 2/16).

USA Today: FDA's Slow Process Hurts Innovation
As the gatekeeper for new health information technologies trying to enter the marketplace, the Food and Drug Administration is tasked with keeping Americans safe. The FDA's work is important, but its processes are often painstakingly slow and based on outdated assumptions. ... Such heavy-handed moves have caused legitimate concern that the FDA could slow down the development of low-risk health technology, including mobile-wellness applications and electronic health records (Sens. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., and Angus King, I-Maine, 2/15).

Los Angeles Times: 'Low T' And The Peril Of Medicating Grumpy Old Men
By targeting men worried about weight, muscle tone, energy levels, mood and sexual satisfaction, the [low testosterone] campaigns imply that treatment will help them become thinner, more muscular, more energetic, less grumpy and more sexually satisfied. But there's a big problem: We really don't know if diagnosing and treating "low T" does any good (Drs. Steven Woloshin and Lisa M. Schwartz, 2/16).

Los Angeles Times: Extend Assisted Suicide To Children? Belgium Says Yes; So Should We.
The Belgian government this week approved new measures allowing the euthanasia of terminally ill children, a decision that on first reading would make most of us gasp. It is a distressing concept, and the idea of helping a child die sounds incredibly cold and morally and ethically unsound — until you dive into the issue. While it raises painful and conflicting emotions, and choices, the Belgians — who have pushed assisted suicide to the edge before — are on the right, groundbreaking track (Scott Martelle, 2/14).

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