Different Takes: How Should Doctors Help Chronic Pain Patients?; Fentanyl Is Killing Our Teens
Editorial writers delve into these public health issues.
Medicine Needs To Do Right By People Living With Chronic Pain
As a medical student, the prism of pain helped me begin seeing patients as people — discerning their stories, examining their bodies, understanding their lives, and more. In medical schools around the world, the first simulated patient students encounter to emulate the rituals and mannerisms of medicine is someone in pain. Yet chronic pain, particularly the kind not emanating from a broken bone or an inflamed appendix, seemed like a distant, hazy concept for me. That changed when, one day while exercising, I heard a loud click in my back and the metal bar I was holding with 200 pounds of weights came crashing down on my chest, pinning me to the bench. (Haider J. Warraich, 4/19)
The Washington Post:
Teen Overdose Deaths Are Surging To New Heights. Where Is The Outrage?
Teens now make up the fastest-growing age cohort for overdose deaths in the United States. Take a moment and think about what that says about this country. And consider that, without a fundamental rethinking of drug policies, this problem will only get worse. From January to June 2021, about 1,150 adolescents aged 14 to 18 died of drug overdoses, a research letter published recently in JAMA found. That’s a 20 percent increase from 2020 — and more than double the 2019 death toll. This is a small portion of the more than 100,000 Americans who died of overdoses in the first half of last year, but the surge is horrifying nonetheless. (Robert Gebelhoff, 4/18)
Los Angeles Times:
Is My Copay Coupon Charity — Or A Bribe?
Before my insurer had even preapproved coverage of the new injectable medicine my doctor had prescribed, I got a voicemail from its manufacturer informing me that I might qualify for its co-pay assistance program. That meant the company would cover at least the lion’s share of my copay, leaving me with a minimal, if any, out-of-pocket contribution. My antennae were up: If a drug maker is offering copay assistance, you can assume the list price of the drug is high, but I wasn’t sure how high. Did this outwardly kind offer represent, essentially, a kind of bribe? (Elizabeth Rosenthal, 4/19)
Medicaid Needs Partners To Smooth The Off-Ramp For Millions Of Americans
Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services extended the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration for another 90 days, perhaps for the last time. For nearly two years, state Medicaid leaders have been actively preparing for the end of this declaration—an event that could trigger the largest health coverage changes since the Affordable Care Act. (Lindsey Browning and Heather Howard, 4/19)
RaDonda Vaught Serves As The Scapegoat, But Is Not Solely To Blame
RaDonda Vaught, the former Vanderbilt nurse whose mistaken administration of a paralytic resulted in a patient’s death, was found guilty by a system that has failed to understand how safety is created in health care. Vaught made a mistake that ordinarily would be difficult to make, because of the many safety checks that are usually a part of a drug administration system. It is that system which should be the object of scrutiny— this case is a symptom of its failure. (John Corsino, 4/18)
With A Physician Leading Your Team, You're Getting The Best Quality Healthcare
The world of healthcare and medicine can be complicated. From APRNs, NPs and PAs to MDs and DOs, how is a patient to understand the differences between the many medical professionals they see?You likely recognize the titles nurse practitioner (NP) and physician assistant (PA), and you’ve probably been treated by them many times. The ecosystem of each of these highly trained medical professionals is a valuable one when all are working together to achieve a common goal: providing patients the highest quality care in the most efficient manner. (Michael Swartzon, 4/18)
The Colorado Sun:
Banning All Flavored Tobacco Doesn’t Work
Colorado lawmakers are attempting to ban the sale of flavored tobacco and vapor products under the auspice of “protecting the children.” It’s laudable to reduce youth use of age-restricted products, but a ban on all flavored tobacco and vapor products disregards data indicating youth are not overwhelmingly using combustible tobacco products. This could lead to more harm than good and ultimately fails to address why youth use vapor products. (Lindsey Stroud, 4/19)