Longer Looks: Covering Mental Health; Doctors And Torture; Bogus Health Claims
Each week, KHN's Shefali Luthra finds interesting reads from around the Web.
CBS News/60 Minutes:
When insurance companies deny the mentally ill the treatment their doctors prescribe, seriously ill people are often discharged, and can be a danger to themselves or others. (Video) (Scott Pelley, 12/14)
Mental-Health Funding: A Bitter Pill
Non-profit agencies that provide mental-health services in Maricopa County failed to tighten their belts on administrative costs in recent years, despite public funding declines that left some clients waiting months for services and others denied them entirely. A five-month Arizona Republic investigation, including a review of financial records for 28 non-profit mental-health agencies and their clients, found that: --Since the Great Recession began in fiscal 2007-08, average executive compensation at 19 non-profit charitable mental-health organizations has quadrupled the rate of inflation. --Some non-profit executives with six-figure salaries received annual bonus-and-incentive packages ranging from a few thousand dollars to nearly $100,000. One had a car allowance large enough to lease a Porsche. ... At the same time, underfunded agencies say families have been denied services or waited months for them because of diminished public funding that passes through the organizations in question. A three-part series. (Craig Harris, 12/15-12/16)
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
He might have chosen an easier path to contentment, this husband and father of three, a man who enjoys hiking and camping, fish fries and music in the park. But in the pursuit that dominates his life, the quest to cure spinal cord injuries, experiments fail. Under the microscope, a treated mouse shows no improvement. In the cage, it cannot grip a food pellet. And later, at dinner with his family, [Murray] Blackmore is quiet and distant. A four-part series. (Mark Johnson, 12/14-12/17)
Final Independence: Nobody Wants A Protracted, Dehumanised Death: Why Is It Still So Easy For Doctors To Ignore A Dying Patient's Wishes?
In 1969, to protect the living and the brain-dead, the US attorney and human right advocate Luis Kutner, co-founder of Amnesty International, proposed the idea of living wills. These wills could protect people from futile end-of-life treatment, as long as medical professionals respected their wishes. But very few young people had documents drawn up, and those who wanted loved ones off ventilators, feeding tubes or both had to petition the courts, and found pushback at every turn. The first such case came in 1976, in the US. Karen Ann Quinlan was 21 when she collapsed at home after attending a party where she mixed alcohol and tranquilisers. (Jeanne Erdmann, 12/15)
‘Do No Harm’: When Doctors Torture
The Senate released its report on the CIA’s interrogation program on Tuesday, revealing horrendous details of the torture tactics used on prisoners, including waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and “rectal feeding.” Complicit in this treatment were several “medical officers” (it’s not explicitly stated whether they hold M.D.s), who enabled, oversaw, and designed many of the techniques. (Julie Beck, 12/12)
The Eight Most Bogus Health Claims Of 2014
Every day seems to turn up opportunities to abuse science in new and perverse ways, especially when it comes to health. You open a newspaper or news site, and you read about a health claim making the rounds: a diet that will give you the energy of a teenager, an exercise routine that will elongate your legs, a policy that will protect Americans from scary viruses. Many of these claims — even the ones that come from the lips of the most esteemed doctors and public officials — aren't backed by any good evidence. Some even run in the opposite direction of what the best-available evidence tells us. (Julia Belluz, 12/16)