KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Survey: 40 Percent Of Physicians Report Bias Toward Certain Patients

Doctors reported that factors such as emotional problems, weight, intelligence, language barriers and attractiveness determined how they viewed a patient. Other media outlets examine if a yearly physical is necessary, a new procedure for cataract blindness, and organ transplant numbers.

CNN: The Doctor Will Judge You Now
If you are overweight, have emotional problems or have difficulty with English, there's a good chance your doctor could be judging you because of it. That troubling finding comes from a [Medscape] survey conducted over email of 15,800 physicians across the United States from more than 25 specialties. (Storrs, 1/19)

The Wall Street Journal: Is an Annual Physical Necessary?
Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults say they get a physical exam every year, according to a 2014 Kaiser Family Foundation survey of 1,500 people. The federal Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover annual physicals free of charge. In the medical community, however, experts are divided on whether there is a benefit to getting an annual exam. Some research has shown regular physicals don’t reduce rates of illness or mortality and are a waste of health-care resources. They also could be harmful, for example, when false positives result in additional, unnecessary testing. Other experts say a yearly checkup is an important part of building a physician-patient relationship and can lead to unexpected diagnoses such as of melanoma and depression. (Reddy, 1/18)

Bloomberg: Can Virtual Reality Be The Next Big Thing In Curing Blindness?
What affects 20 million people, robs the global economy of billions of dollars and can be fixed with a five-minute procedure? The answer is cataract blindness. The disease, which begins with clouding of the eyes and can lead to loss of vision without treatment, will probably afflict 12 million more people by 2020, as a shortage of skilled doctors limits access to care in developing nations, according to the Rand Corporation. (Harvey, 1/19)

The Columbus Post-Dispatch: Organ Transplant Numbers On The Rise Nationwide
Surgeons notched more than 30,000 transplants nationwide for the first time in 2015, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. The reasons for the 5 percent jump in organ transplants are unclear, though better communication between organ-procurement agencies and hospitals might be a factor, said Dr. David Klassen, the network's chief medical officer. (Sutherly, 1/18)

In other public health news —

The Associated Press: Court Overturns Tobacco Company Victory Over FDA On Menthols
A federal appeals court has ruled that tobacco companies had no basis to challenge a Food and Drug Administration report on menthol cigarettes, which the industry alleged was written by experts with conflicts of interest. The decision by a three-judge panel overturns a lower court ruling that barred the FDA from using the report and ordered the agency to reform its committee of tobacco advisers. (Perrone, 1/15)

Reuters: EPA Defends Flint Water Crisis Response
The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Monday defended the Obama administration's handling of a crisis in Flint, Michigan with lead-contaminated drinking water. Speaking to reporters after an event at a Washington soup kitchen, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy defended the federal government's response. (Shepardson, 1/18)

NPR: Can't Focus? It Might Be Undiagnosed Adult ADHD
[Dr. David Goodman at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine says he's] seeing more and more adults over the age of 50 newly diagnosed with ADHD. The disorder occurs as the brain is developing, and symptoms generally appear around age 7. But symptoms can last a lifetime. For adults, the problem is not disruptive behavior or keeping up in school. It's an inability to focus, which can mean inconsistency, being late to meetings or just having problems managing day-to-day tasks. Adults with ADHD are more likely than others to lose a job or file for bankruptcy, Goodman says. They may overpay bills, or underpay them. They may pay bills late, or not at all. (Neighmond, 1/18)

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