KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Longer Looks: Doctor Training For ADHD, Obamacare And Epilepsy, Clues In A Drop Of Blood

Every week reporter Ankita Rao selects interesting reading from around the Web.

The New York Times: Doctors Train To Spot Signs Of A.D.H.D. In Children
Jerry, 9 years old, dissolved into his Game Boy while his father described his attentional difficulties to the family pediatrician. The child began flitting around the room distractedly, ignoring the doctor's questions and squirming in his chair — but then he leapt up and yelled: "Freeze! What do you think is the problem here?" Nine-year-old Jerry was in fact being played by Dr. Peter Jensen, one of the nation's most prominent child psychiatrists. On this Sunday in January in New York, Dr. Jensen was on a cross-country tour, teaching pediatricians and other medical providers how to properly evaluate children's mental health issues — especially attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which some doctors diagnose despite having little professional training (Alan Schwarz, 2/18).

Salon: Obamacare Again: How The Law's Changed Life With Epilepsy 
I was diagnosed with epilepsy at 14, after I had a seizure in my junior high school cafeteria. ... For those unaccustomed to neurological illness, navigating the healthcare system is nightmarish. A series of increasingly specialized doctors is required: not only a neurologist, but a pediatric neurologist, and not only a pediatric neurologist, but a pediatric epileptologist. ... As a sophomore in college, I worked for the national office of the Epilepsy Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to furthering the quality of life of people with epilepsy. It was there that I became aware of a pertinent and disturbing reality of this disease: It not only disproportionately occurs in the poor, but also inflicts greater suffering upon them than on their wealthy counterparts (Elizabeth Stoker, 2/14).

The New York Times Magazine: How Obamacare Could Unlock Job Opportunities
In a sense, Obamacare amounts to a massive transfer of risk. Under the old system, if you quit your job and couldn’t get health insurance, you courted financial ruin every time you did something as mundane as riding your bike or playing pickup basketball. Now that risk is distributed to everyone who buys health insurance (including the government). Free of the massive financial risk of being alive, unemployed Americans can more easily take on risks associated with doing what they want to do (Shaila Dewan, 2/20).

Politico: The Next Battle In The Abortion Wars
If you want to know how the abortion wars will be waged in the months ahead, pay attention to what’s happening far away from the media's glare, in South Dakota, a state that has long been on the front lines of America’s still very much unresolved conflict over how and when women can end an unwanted pregnancy. In both 2006 and 2008, South Dakota’s voters rejected full abortion bans, and since then anti-abortion legislators have debuted a variety of abortion restrictions meant to close the last abortion clinic in the state or promote continuing unwanted pregnancies. Within just the last few years, South Dakota has passed multiple bills to restrict abortion access (Robin Marty, 2/17).

Slate: Himalayan Bath Salts Will Not Save Your Life
Have you heard that eating whole lemons prevents cancer? Or that bathing in Himalayan salt rids the body of harmful toxins? ... If you have a few Facebook friends, you've probably encountered some of these claims. The website Natural News—which seems like a parody but is unfortunately quite serious—published these preposterous stories, and many others just as silly, last week alone. Hokum like this is best ignored, but hundreds of thousands of Americans fail to do so. ... Natural News has an uncanny ability to move unsophisticated readers from harmless dietary balderdash to medical quackery to anti-government zealotry (Brian Palmer, 2/18).

Wired: This Woman Invented A Way To Run 30 Tests On Only One Drop Of Blood
As a college sophomore, Elizabeth Holmes envisioned a way to reinvent old-fashioned phlebotomy and, in the process, usher in an era of comprehensive superfast diagnosis and preventive medicine. That was a decade ago. Holmes, now 30, dropped out of Stanford and founded a company called Theranos with her tuition money. Last fall it finally introduced its radical blood-testing service in a Walgreens pharmacy near the company headquarters in Palo Alto, California. ... Instead of vials of blood—one for every test needed—Theranos requires only a pinprick and a drop of blood. With that they can perform hundreds of tests, from standard cholesterol checks to sophisticated genetic analyses. The results are faster, more accurate, and far cheaper than conventional methods (Caitlin Roper, 2/18).  

Notre Dame Magazine: My Two Emilys
Jennifer shivers, then drapes one of the white blankets over her daughter’s shoulder. Like every hospital, this one keeps the temperature low to limit nausea. I notice the particular coolness and recoil, not from the strangeness of these circumstances but from over-familiarity. My stepdaughter, Emily, looks pale. She’s in pain, which makes her angry. She will not meet anyone's eyes or respond to their questions. She is 11 years old. The medical staff members of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital probably think they can wear her down, win her over, but I know better (Mike Smith, 2/14).

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