Advocates Say Releasing Dying Prisoners Is Humane And Fiscally Smart. But It’s Rarely Done.
Despite support from both parties, the Bureau of Prisons rarely approves a compassionate release request intended to allow frail and sick patients to die outside of prison. In other public health news: ears, blood pressure, the flu, selfies and raw water.
The New York Times:
Frail, Old And Dying, But Their Only Way Out Of Prison Is A Coffin
Kevin Zeich had three and a half years to go on his prison sentence, but his doctors told him he had less than half that long to live. Nearly blind, battling cancer and virtually unable to eat, he requested “compassionate release,” a special provision for inmates who are very sick or old. His warden approved the request, but officials at the federal Bureau of Prisons turned him down, saying his “life expectancy is currently indeterminate.” (Thompson, 3/7)
The New York Times:
How The Shape Of Your Ears Affects What You Hear
Ears are a peculiarly individual piece of anatomy. Those little fleshy seashells, whether they stick out or hang low, can be instantly recognizable in family portraits. And they aren’t just for show. Researchers have discovered that filling in an external part of the ear with a small piece of silicone drastically changes people’s ability to tell whether a sound came from above or below. But given time, the scientists show in a paper published Monday in the Journal of Neuroscience, the brain adjusts to the new shape, regaining the ability to pinpoint sounds with almost the same accuracy as before. (Greenwood, 3/6)
The New York Times:
The Best Way To Monitor Your Blood Pressure? Do It Yourself
The most effective way to monitor blood pressure may be to do it yourself. British researchers randomly assigned 1,003 patients with hypertension to one of three groups. The first took their own readings daily for one week every month over the course of a year and mailed them to a doctor. A second used a phone app, sending their readings to the doctor through a web-based system. A control group was assigned to “usual care,” in which patients had their blood pressure checked at their doctor’s office. The data gathered was used to adjust medication. (Bakalar, 3/6)
Kaiser Health News:
Crowded Shelters And The Vicious Flu Brew Perfect Storm For The Homeless
The flu descended on Connie Gabaldon like a fog, she recalled, clouding her mind and compromising her judgment. It progressed to chest and back pain, the aches perhaps made worse by a fall the 66-year-old had while riding the bus in Santa Fe, N.M. Gabaldon is homeless. When she went to the emergency room in late January, doctors told her she also had pneumonia, a sinus infection and the flu. (Heredia Rodriguez, 3/7)
The Washington Post:
Hate Your Selfie? There May Be A Good Reason, Says New Study.
How many times have you taken a selfie, only to hate how you looked? You aren’t the only one. It’s common problem, but not everyone is picking a new Instagram filter as a quick-fix. Some people are resorting to expensive surgery in hopes of snapping a better picture, according to a recent survey by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. (Andrews, 3/7)
San Jose Mercury News:
Can Raw Water Make You Sick?
Camping out, sleeping under the stars and waking up to fill your canteen from a beautiful mountain stream. That’s part of the appeal of raw water, which has become the latest trend du jour. It seems like the most natural thing in the world. As the Live Water company puts it, it is “naturally probiotic” and “perfected by nature.” True believers claim that fresh, unadulterated water is chock full of beneficial minerals that you may not get from the tap. As the Washington Post reports, raw water is all the rage here in Silicon Valley where you often pay top dollar (say $15 a gallon) for what some fear may be very bad for you. These pricey bottles of the wet stuff may well be bursting with dangerous bacteria, viruses and parasites that can make you sick. Gulp. (D'Souza, 3/6)