Longer Looks: Medical Tourism; Meeting Your Pathologist
Every week reporter Ankita Rao selects interesting reading from around the Web.
The New York Times: For Medical Tourists, Simple Math
Michael Shopenn's artificial hip was made by a company based in this remote town, a global center of joint manufacturing. But he had to fly to Europe to have it installed. ... As the United States struggles to rein in its growing $2.7 trillion health care bill, the cost of medical devices like joint implants, pacemakers and artificial urinary valves offers a cautionary tale. Like many medical products or procedures, they cost far more in the United States than in many other developed countries (Elisabeth Rosenthal, 8/3).
The Motley Fool: Obamacare Spurs Hospital Takeovers (Video)
The Affordable [Care] Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, is dramatically changing the economics of the hospital industry. Because of that transformation, we're seeing some large mergers and acquisitions as companies seek to gain the size to profit in this Obamacare world. First, Tenet Healthcare purchased Vanguard at a 70% premium, becoming the nation's second largest publicly traded operator in the process. Tenet's CEO wanted to let it be known that purchasing Vanguard wouldn't stop it from pursuing other deals despite its size. … health-care analyst David Williamson discusses what these events mean for investors in the hospital sector, why they should expect the dealmaking to continue, and what his favorite hospital stock is (David Williamson, 8/4).
Slate: The Doctor Will See Your Electronic Medical Record Now
Like the mail carrier or the milkman of yore, the doctor makes rounds every day in the hospital. If it's an academic institution, a bevy of medical students, interns, and residents accompany an attending physician from room to room, checking up on the patient, doing a daily physical exam, reviewing the latest test results, and highlighting the relevant teaching points. That's been the mainstay of medical education, and that's how my colleagues and I were taught to train the next generation of doctors. Alas, this image would be true today only if a computer terminal were plunked in the bed instead of a patient. A new study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine confirms what any physician or patient could tell you: Doctors spend more time with computers than they do with patients (Dr. Danielle Ofri, 8/5).
The New York Times: End Of Life, At Birth
Fifty years ago this Wednesday, Americans were gripped by the fate of a baby — Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, the first child born to a sitting president since the 19th century, and John F. Kennedy's last. He arrived on Aug. 7, 1963, five and a half weeks premature. ... Were he born today, Patrick, who was delivered at 34 weeks' gestation, would very likely survive and have a healthy life, too. For all the biomedical advances, though, the key ethical problems surrounding premature birth remain. ... Most extremely premature babies will experience at least one complication — bleeding in the brain, infections, intestinal perforation, severe lung damage — before discharge. Many will need treatment long after birth, sometimes for life, at great financial and emotional cost to them and those around them (Dr. April Dworetz, 8/4).
KUOW (Seattle): Sponges, Tools And More Left Inside Washington Hospital Patients
About 30 times a year, a hospital in Washington state leaves a sponge or surgical instrument inside one of its patients. The accident known as a "retained foreign object" is one of the state's most commonly reported medical mistakes. Washington hospital patients in 2012 wound up with sponges, retractors, plastic tubing, wire fragments, catheter tips and endoscope tips, among other objects, left inside them. Hospitals take great pains to avoid these potentially harmful mistakes, but they have been mostly unable to achieve the goal of No Thing Left Behind (John Ryan, 8/1).
WBUR: The Unseen Pathologist: Why You Might Want To Meet Yours
"How much time do I have?" was the first question Mrs. C asked. She had called me in a panic. Earlier in the week, I had diagnosed her with breast cancer. She called me after learning the bad news from her radiologist. … you can ask — as Mrs. C did — to review your pathology, whatever the diagnosis, benign or malignant. No request is too small. ... You might be hesitant to seek out your pathologist. However, with healthcare reform, pathologists are becoming more and more involved with direct patient care. We welcome the opportunity (Dr. Michael Misialek, 8/7).