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kottke.org posts about healthcare

A group of federal researchers reports that

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 07, 2007

A group of federal researchers reports that there were 100,000 fewer deaths in 2004 among the overweight than would have been expected of people of normal weight.

Overweight people have a lower death rate because they are much less likely to die from a grab bag of diseases that includes Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, infections and lung disease. And that lower risk is not counteracted by increased risks of dying from any other disease, including cancer, diabetes or heart disease.

Related to the dentistry post from the

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 16, 2007

Related to the dentistry post from the other day, comes word from England that even with socialized medicine, six percent of people questioned in a survey “admitted they had resorted to self-treatment using pliers and glue”.

As dentists push their fees higher and

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 11, 2007

As dentists push their fees higher and make more money on high-end services like cosmetic dentistry, a growing number of people cannot afford treatment for even minor work like fillings. And even though the dentists won’t treat those patients who can’t pay, the ADA has “fought efforts to use dental hygienists and other non-dentists to provide basic care to people who do not have access to dentists”.

“Most dentists consider themselves to be in the business of dentistry rather than the practice of dentistry,” said Dr. David A. Nash, a professor of pediatric dentistry at the University of Kentucky. “I’m a cynic about my profession, but the data are there. It’s embarrassing.

When celebrities have heart attacks, they go

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 10, 2007

When celebrities have heart attacks, they go to *two* hospitals.

Brown had severe chest pains Tuesday night and was taken to two hospitals.

I wish Mr. Brown a speedy recovery and hope he isn’t required to visit too many more hospitals before receiving the care he needs.

In order to minimize recovery time and

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 30, 2007

In order to minimize recovery time and scarring, doctors are attempting to make use of existing holes in the body for surgery instead of making new ones. “Much of the discomfort and recovery time after conventional surgery — even keyhole surgery — is due to the incisions made in the abdominal wall. However, because transgastric surgeons reach the abdominal cavity through the mouth, there is no need for an incision, so patients should be back up on their feet much faster.”

Atul Gawande on the state of health

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 30, 2007

Atul Gawande on the state of health care for the elderly. “Mainstream doctors are turned off by geriatrics, and that’s because they do not have the faculties to cope with the Old Crock. The Old Crock is deaf. The Old Crock has poor vision. The Old Crock’s memory might be somewhat impaired. With the Old Crock, you have to slow down, because he asks you to repeat what you are saying or asking. And the Old Crock doesn’t just have a chief complaint — the Old Crock has fifteen chief complaints. How in the world are you going to cope with all of them? You’re overwhelmed.” This article depressed the hell out of me.

A personal experience with and a decision

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 26, 2007

A personal experience with and a decision on the abortion issue. “I think about all those meddling politicians that would want to interject themselves into everything that just happened to me, interject themselves between me, my wife, and her doctors.”

Short profile of Atul Gawande, surgeon and

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 04, 2007

Short profile of Atul Gawande, surgeon and writer, one of the few New Yorker contributers I make a point of reading every single time I see his byline. “I now feel like writing is the most important thing I do. In some ways, it’s harder than surgery. But I do think I’ve found a theme in trying to understand failure and what it means in the world we live in, and how we can improve at what we do.”

How doctors make their decisions is being

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 20, 2007

How doctors make their decisions is being studied in the hopes of making medical care better. “Doctors can also make mistakes when their judgments about a patient are unconsciously influenced by the symptoms and illnesses of patients they have just seen. Many common infections tend to occur in epidemics, afflicting large numbers of people in a single community at the same time; after a doctor sees six patients with, say, the flu, it is common to assume that the seventh patient who complains of similar symptoms is suffering from the same disease.”

Interview with Jill Youse, who started the

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 22, 2007

Interview with Jill Youse, who started the International Breast Milk Project because she has excess breast milk that she wanted to donate to African babies in need. “Breast milk has this fascinating aspect to it. It’s not something you look at in your freezer and say, ‘Mmmm, boy, I’m hungry.’ It’s kind of gross, but it’s also kind of cool, and there’s this element of pride to it. It’s got this ick factor and this awe factor. So I had my baby and I had my breast milk, and I thought that donating seemed like an easy thing that I could do.”

Surprising factoid from an article on legalizing

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 19, 2006

Surprising factoid from an article on legalizing kidney sales: “America already lets people buy babies from surrogate mothers, and the risk of dying from renting out your womb is six times higher than from selling your kidney”. (via mr)

In his book, Urban Sprawl and Public

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 31, 2006

In his book, Urban Sprawl and Public Health, public-health advocate Richard Jackson says that “our car-dependent suburban environment is killing us”. “If that poor woman had collapsed from heat stroke, we docs would have written the cause of death as heat stroke and not lack of trees and public transportation, poor urban form, and heat-island effects. If she had been killed by a truck going by, the cause of death would have been ‘motor-vehicle trauma,’ and not lack of sidewalks and transit, poor urban planning, and failed political leadership.”

PopTech, day 3 wrap-up

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 23, 2006

Notes from day 3 at PopTech:

Chris Anderson talked about, ba ba baba!, not the long tail. Well, not explicitly. Chris charted how the availability of a surplus in transistors (processors are cheap), storage (hard drives are cheap), and surplus in bandwidth (DSL is cheap) has resulted in so much opportunity for innovation and new technology. His thoughts reminded me of how surplus space in Silicon Valley (in the form of garages) allowed startup entrepreneurs to pursue new ideas without having to procure expensive commercial office space.

Quick thought re: the long tail…if the power law arises from scarcity as Matt Webb says, then it would make sense that the surplus that Anderson refers to would be flattening that curve out a bit.

Roger Brent crammed a 60 minute talk into 20 minutes. It was about genetic engineering and completely baffling…almost a series of non sequiturs. “Centripital glue engine” was my favorite phrase of the talk, but I’ve got no idea what Brent meant by it.

Homaro Cantu gave a puzzling presentation of a typical meal at his Chicago restaurant, Moto. I’ve seen this presentation twice before and eaten at Moto; all three experiences were clear and focused on the food. This time around, Cantu didn’t explain the food as well or why some of the inventions were so cool. His polymer box that cooks on the table is a genuinely fantastic idea, but I got the feeling that the rest of the audience didn’t understand what it was. Cantu also reiterated his position on copyrighting and patenting his food and inventions. Meg caught him saying that he was trying to solve the famine problem with his edible paper, which statement revealed two problems: a) famines are generally caused by political issues and therefore not solvable by new kinds of food, printed or otherwise, and b) he could do more good if he open sourced his inventions and let anyone produce food or improve the techniques in those famine cases where food would be useful.

Richard Dawkins gave part of his PopTech talk (the “queerer than we can suppose” part of it) at TED in 2005 (video).

Bob Metcalfe’s wrap-up of the conference was a lot less contentious than in past years; hardly any shouting and only one person stormed angrily out of the room. In reference to Hasan Elahi’s situation, Bob said that there’s a tension present in our privacy desires: “I want my privacy, but I need you to be transparent.” Not a bad way of putting it.

Serena Koenig spoke about her work in Haiti with Partners in Health. Koening spoke of a guideline that PIH follows in providing healthcare: act as though each patient is a member of your own family. That sentiment was echoed by Zinhle Thabethe, who talked about her experience as an HIV+ woman living in South Africa, an area with substandard HIV/AIDS-related healthcare. Thabethe’s powerful message: we need to treat everyone with HIV/AIDS the same, with great care. Sounds like the beginning of a new Golden Rule of Healthcare.

2.7 billion results for “blog” on Google. Blogs: bigger than Jesus.

I recently linked to a debate between

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 05, 2006

I recently linked to a debate between Adam Gopnik and Malcolm Gladwell about health care that took place in 2000. Gladwell has recently updated his thinking on the issue here and here, saying that “I now agree with virtually everything Adam said and disagree with virtually everything I said”. (via lots of readers last week, when I forgot to post about it…was spurred into action this AM by this)

Debate between Malcolm Gladwell and Adam Gopnik

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 21, 2006

Debate between Malcolm Gladwell and Adam Gopnik on the health care systems in the US and Canada. “Adam Gopnik and Malcolm Gladwell have both lived in Canada and developed strong feelings about socialized health care — pro and con.”

Planned Parenthood in Southeastern Pennsylvania is running

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 19, 2005

Planned Parenthood in Southeastern Pennsylvania is running a unique pledge drive. The idea is that you pledge an amount of money for each anti-abortion protestor that shows up outside of the PP health center. “We will place a sign outside the health center that tracks pledges and makes protesters fully aware that their actions are benefiting PPSP”. That’s genius. (via freak)

March of the Penguins has become a

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 13, 2005

March of the Penguins has become a favorite for conservative moviegoers, who cite it as making a good case for monogomy, intelligent design, and a pro-life stance on abortion. I wonder if liberals watch the film and come out advocating universal health care…all those dead penguin babies could have been saved with proper medical care.

Health care in America

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 06, 2005

Sorry for the extensive quote, but this paragraph (along with the following one) in Malcolm Gladwell’s article about health care in America does a fine job in laying out why it’s failing:

The U. S. health-care system, according to “Uninsured in America,” has created a group of people who increasingly look different from others and suffer in ways that others do not. The leading cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States is unpaid medical bills. Half of the uninsured owe money to hospitals, and a third are being pursued by collection agencies. Children without health insurance are less likely to receive medical attention for serious injuries, for recurrent ear infections, or for asthma. Lung-cancer patients without insurance are less likely to receive surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation treatment. Heart-attack victims without health insurance are less likely to receive angioplasty. People with pneumonia who don’t have health insurance are less likely to receive X rays or consultations. The death rate in any given year for someone without health insurance is twenty-five per cent higher than for someone with insurance. Because the uninsured are sicker than the rest of us, they can’t get better jobs, and because they can’t get better jobs they can’t afford health insurance, and because they can’t afford health insurance they get even sicker. John, the manager of a bar in Idaho, tells Sered and Fernandopulle that as a result of various workplace injuries over the years he takes eight ibuprofen, waits two hours, then takes eight more—and tries to cadge as much prescription pain medication as he can from friends. “There are times when I should’ve gone to the doctor, but I couldn’t afford to go because I don’t have insurance,” he says. “Like when my back messed up, I should’ve gone. If I had insurance, I would’ve went, because I know I could get treatment, but when you can’t afford it you don’t go. Because the harder the hole you get into in terms of bills, then you’ll never get out. So you just say, ‘I can deal with the pain.’”

You can point fingers at what’s wrong or who’s responsible all day long, but the facts remain, America’s health care system sucks…well, unless you’re rich, in which case nothing really sucks. The BBC put it well earlier this week in writing about the crisis in New Orleans:

The uneasy paradox which so many live with in this country - of being first-and-foremost rugged individuals, out to plunder what they can and paying as little tax as they can get away with, while at the same time believing that America is a robust, model society - has reached a crisis point this week.