Viewpoints: Lessons On Gene Therapy And Needs Of The Patients; VA Is Letting Down Suicidal Veterans
Opinion writers weigh in on these health topics and others.
Genetic Medicine Isn't Moving Faster Than The Speed Of Ethics
There’s a belief that became pervasive in the 1990s that medicine is moving so fast that ethics can’t keep up. Science stories in the news would refer to “Brave New World” or Frankenstein’s monster. But now that we’re living in that long-imagined future, it looks like science isn’t keeping pace with the hype, which over the years has included promises of cures tied to the human genome project, the expectation that gene therapy would be commonplace, and even the weird belief that cloning would replace sex as the preferred method of human reproduction. (Faye Flam, 4/30)
Stopping Veteran Suicide Starts On The Front Lines, Not In DC
“When I asked for help, they opened up a Pandora's box inside of me and just kicked me out the door. That’s how they treat veterans 'round here." These were the last words of U.S. Army Sergeant John Toombs in a message he’d recorded shortly before taking his own life on VA property, near the emergency room that had reportedly turned him away. John couldn't get his memories of combat in Afghanistan out of his head. He had developed a drug problem that landed him in the residential treatment program at the Murfreesboro Veterans Affairs in Tennessee. (Sherman Gillums, 4/30)
The Washington Post:
I’ve Been A Surgeon In Australia For 16 Years. I’ve Seen Only Two Gunshot Wounds.
Australia’s lack of gun violence has largely been attributed to the aftermath of the Port Arthur massacre in 1996. On April 28 of that year, Martin Bryant shot and killed 35 people and injured 23 others using semi-automatic weapons. Weeks after the event, Australian politicians across the political spectrum legislated a gun buyback program, a ban on self-loading guns, a requirement to prove a genuine need to own a firearm, a licensing scheme, and strict stipulations on the storage of weapons and ammunition. The public supported these moves, selling thousands of guns to the government.Following Port Arthur, not only have gun-related homicides dropped, but gun-inflicted suicides have fallen as well, with some reports showing as much as a 58-percent decrease. (Nikki Stamp, 4/30)
Los Angeles Times:
As A Medical Student, I Was Told We Had Conquered Measles. I Wish
In the 1980s, when I was a medical student and later a pediatrics resident, grizzled old pediatricians would tell us how lucky we were that we’d probably never see a case of measles or diphtheria or polio. Images and descriptions of these diseases were still classic favorites on medical board exams, though, so we dutifully committed information about them to memory. That was a good thing. (Linda Schack, 5/1)
Me Too Has Done Little To Improve Medicine For Female Physicians
It isn’t easy being a female physician these days. Although new data may suggest progress in several gender equity areas, deep-seated inequality still exists. The pay gap between male and female doctors decreased for the first time in three years, yet women physicians still earned an average of $90,490 less than their male counterparts (down from a difference of $105,000 a year ago). Advancement for female physicians continues to lag in academic medicine, as well as in NIH grants, clinical trial roles, and publications. And in a recent study sponsored by the American Medical Association, female physicians reported routinely being perceived as a nurse or other type of non-physician during day-to-day work. (Janet Klosoff, 5/1)
Medicare For All Would Also Be Expensive For All
Medicare for All gets its very own hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives today, but congressional leaders are only beginning to come to grips with the true costs of the proposal — or, for that matter, the battle that lies ahead. Most of the Democrats’ proposals claim that they can reduce costs, but they cannot do so unless they take on two of the most sympathetic and powerful actors in the U.S. health care system: hospitals and physicians. Both of them are more likely to co-opt Medicare for All than to allow it to harm their interests. (Karl W. Smith, 4/30)
A Watershed Day For 'Medicare For All'
I recently spoke with a woman whose mother put off seeing a doctor until she became eligible for Medicare. When she finally did see a doctor, she learned that she had cancer, and it was too late for treatment. She died shortly after her diagnosis. Her story is all too common. In the richest nation on earth, people are suffering and dying because they cannot afford quality health care. That is unacceptable. In 2018, Democrats campaigned on the declaration that health care is a human right. The American people responded by voting many of them into office. Now the people we elected have the opportunity to deliver on the promise of quality, guaranteed health care for each and every American. (Liz Watson, 4/30)
The New York Times:
I’m Embarrassed By My Prenatal Depression. Here’s Why I Talk About It Anyway.
I had prenatal depression when I was expecting my first daughter in 2012. It’s not something I think about often, seven years after the worst of my symptoms, though I occasionally have a flash of sweaty, humiliating memory. Like when I’m on the A train and I pass Canal Street — the subway stop I used for work during my darkest days — I’m reminded that I was so anxious it took me hours to get on the train because I was irrationally afraid of a terrorist attack or of fainting onto the third rail. (Jessica Grose, 4/30)
A Researcher With ALS Wishes A Polygenic Analysis Had Warned Him
If a fortune teller had “read” my future two years ago, I would have learned that I was at high risk of dying. Soon. A year ago I was diagnosed with the disease that killed baseball legend Lou Gehrig. It’s called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, and mine is moving swiftly. I’d have wanted to know what was headed my way so I could start preparing for it and make every hour count. ...We are at the point where such “fortunes” can be told. I’m not talking about the kinds of genetic analyses done by 23andMe or Ancestry.com. I’m talking about something called polygenic analysis. (Rahul Desikan, 4/30)