Healthcare (& Related Issues) News Roundup: 3 February 2017

tree-in-masai-mara-july-2015
A Tree in Masai Mara (July 2015 – Photo by Arrianna Planey)

Chicago Tribune | (31 Jan 2017) Hearing Aids May Soon Be Sold Over-the-Counter

  • Following the FDA scrapping a regulation that required patients to get medical clearance from a physician prior to purchasing a hearing aid, the loosening of regulations on the sale of hearing aids raises interesting questions about healthcare accessibility in the US.
  • If hearing aids are sold over-the-counter, what does that mean for insurance coverage of these devices?
  • What are the implications for audiologists and hearing instrument specialists?

ASHA Leader | FDA Announcement Signals Deregulation of Hearing Aids, Eliminates Medical Evaluation Requirement

  • This announcement followed the publication of a May 2016 consensus report entitled, “Hearing Healthcare for Adults: Priorities for Improving Access and Affordability” was released.[1] This consensus report was drafted and sponsored by 6 federal agencies (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), National Institute on Aging (NIA), National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDOCD)) and one non-profit advocacy group (Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA)).
    • Consensus Report: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Hearing health care for adults: Priorities for improving access and affordability. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi:10.17226/23446.
    • Article Citation: The ASHA Leader, February 2017, Vol. 22, 12. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB5.22022017.12

Pamplin Media | The High Cost of Being Black in Multnomah County (Oregon)

“Our review of records shows that white residents charged in relatively minor cases in Multnomah County — those with a single count — paid a median fine of $181, while African- American defendants paid $261.

Since 2005, that disparity added up to about $5.6 million.

If you look at fines related to all cases, African-American defendants in Multnomah County paid about $21.5 million more than they would have if their fines had been equal to those levied on white defendants.”


“Spitting in public? Black people were charged at 27 times the rate of white residents.

Failing to cross the street at a right angle? 15 times the rate of whites.

Jaywalking? 8 and a half times the rate of whites.

Walking in the road? 5 and a half times the rate of whites.

Littering? Nearly 4 times the rate of whites.”

Chicago Reader | Police in Chicago Public Schools Operate with No Special Training and Little Oversight

“In several months of reporting, City Bureau and theChicago Reader found a small handful of cops stationed in CPS schools with disturbing complaints on their records: Of the nearly 250 police officers serving in CPS schools as of April 2016, two have killed teenagers, one was sued for beating a minor, and one was recommended for firing by the police board. In addition, 33 school officers have nine or more misconduct complaints on their records, while 80 percent of all CPD officers have four or fewer complaints, according to data released by the Invisible Institute. Records from CPS’s own incident tracking system, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, revealed more than 8,000 alleged incidents involving a CPD officer and students between 2013 and 2015.”

STAT News | (1 Feb 2017) Medicare patient deaths shortly after leaving the ER raise questions about rural hospitals

“The study’s lead author said that while the data reflect a fraction of Medicare patient deaths, the finding raises questions about the adequacy of hospital resources in rural and underserved areas and whether the US government’s quest to cut costs — and reduce inpatient admissions from ERs — is also cutting out essential care.

“There’s no doubt there’s a lot of unnecessary hospital admissions, but this study suggests there’s also avoidable harm from sending people home that shouldn’t go home,” said Dr. Ziad Obermeyer, an emergency medicine physician and professor at Harvard Medical School.

The study’s lead author said that while the data reflect a fraction of Medicare patient deaths, the finding raises questions about the adequacy of hospital resources in rural and underserved areas and whether the US government’s quest to cut costs — and reduce inpatient admissions from ERs — is also cutting out essential care. 

“There’s no doubt there’s a lot of unnecessary hospital admissions, but this study suggests there’s also avoidable harm from sending people home that shouldn’t go home,” said Dr. Ziad Obermeyer, an emergency medicine physician and professor at Harvard Medical School.

Under the Affordable Care Act, hospitals are under financial pressure to deliver care more efficiently and reduce unnecessary admissions that drive up costs. That has encouraged hospitals to explore alternatives to admitting patients from the ER, such as monitoring them remotely or providing more care at home or in outpatient settings.

AAIHS | Race, History and the #ScienceMarch

  • A necessary intervention amid claims that science is politically neutral and an objective good. We must study the history and philosophy of science and proceed accordingly as ethical researchers.

 “Because of science,” the University of Cincinnati, with the help of the Pentagon, conducted experiments on 88 cancer patients from 1960–1971 by exposing them to intense doses of radiation and recording their physical and mental responses. They endeavored to answer the following question: “In the event of a nuclear explosion, how much radiation could a soldier withstand before becoming disoriented or disabled?” According to reporting in The New York Times, “most were poor; 60 percent were black.” 

“Because of science,” psychiatrists Walter Bromberg and Frank Simon diagnosed Black Power as a form of “protest psychosis” in 1968. They described it as a form of “delusional anti-whiteness.” Four years later, in “Symbolism in Protest Psychosis,” they said the disorder was “a psychotic illness with strong elements of racial hostility and black nationalism [that entails] the release of previously repressed anti-white feelings, which combine with African ideology and beliefs.” In short, “[the illness is oriented toward] reversing the white supremacy tradition or stating an objection to the accepted superiority of white values in terms of an African ideology.” 

“Because of science,” over 310 HIV+ Haitian asylum seekers were detained at a Guantánamo Bay prison camp from 1991–1993. At the time, federal law prohibited individuals with HIV from entering the United States even if they qualified for political asylum. 

“Because of science,” over 60,000 women and men—the majority of whom are women of color— were involuntarily sterilized from 1907–2003 in 32 U.S. states. Black and Latina women in Puerto Rico, New York, North Carolina, and California were targeted by the U.S. government for sterilization throughout the 20th century. North Carolina involuntarily sterilized 7,600 people from 1929–1974. During that time period, 85 percent of the victims were women and 40 percent were people of color. Native American women were also subjected to coercive and involuntary population control practices throughout much of the 20th century. The Indian Health Service (IHS) began providing family planning services to Native American families in 1965. According to the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, over 25 percent of Native American women were sterilized between 1970 and 1976.”

  • Suggested further readings:

National Science Foundation (NSF) | Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Engineering and Science

  • Biannual report on the participation of underrepresented populations in science and engineering. Datasets and reports at the link.

 

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