KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Viewpoints: Health Risks And Information Security; How To Catch Up On Medical Drones

A selection of opinions on public health issues from around the country.

The New England Journal Of Medicine: Threats To Information Security — Public Health Implications
In health care, information security has classically been regarded as an administrative nuisance, a regulatory hurdle, or a simple privacy matter. But the recent “WannaCry” and “Petya” ransomware attacks have wreaked havoc by disabling organizations worldwide, including parts of England’s National Health Service (NHS) and the Heritage Valley Health System in Pennsylvania. These events are just two examples of a wave of cyberattacks forcing a new conversation about health care information security. With the delivery of health care increasingly dependent on information systems, disruptions to these systems result in disruptions in clinical care that can harm patients. Health care information security has emerged as a public health challenge. (William J. Gordon, Adam Fairhall and Adam Landman, 8/24)

The Charlotte Observer: Quiet Health Crisis Plagues North Carolina
Charlotte doctors tell the Observer editorial board that every week, they see a person die from overdosing on prescription painkillers or heroin. ... There is much to be done, though legislators took an important step this summer. The House and Senate unanimously approved the STOP Act to more tightly regulate the prescription of painkillers. The law limits doctors to prescribing a five-day supply for acute pain and a seven-day supply after surgery. It also requires them to use a statewide database that tracks whether patients have multiple prescriptions from multiple doctors. But much more needs to be done. (8/24)

The New England Journal Of Medicine: Stretching The Scope — Becoming Frontline Addiction-Medicine Providers
On our infectious diseases (ID) consult service, we recently cared for Mr. C., a young man with Staphylococcus aureus tricuspid valve endocarditis, septic arthritis, and empyema that were consequences of his opioid use disorder (OUD). Several years earlier, he had started taking oxycodone at parties, and eventually, when the cost of pills became prohibitive, he’d progressed to injecting heroin. His days were consumed by the logistics of obtaining heroin to stave off the exhausting cycle of opioid withdrawal. Despite his deep desire to stop using, he was initially ambivalent when we offered to start treatment with buprenorphine, which is commonly coformulated with naloxone as Suboxone (Reckitt Benckiser). “Doc,” he said, “you gotta understand that as an addict, the scariest thing right now is the idea of putting another opioid in my body, even if it’s going to help me.” (Alison B. Rapoport and Christopher F. Rowley, 8/24)

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