Tuesday, March 29, 2011
On March 23, 2011, Tenet Healthcare Corporation settled a class action suit stemming from injuries and deaths of several patients in its Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Victims and their families claimed Tenet was liable for damages resulting largely from its failure to implement emergency preparedness measures.
Monday, March 28, 2011
One of the most endearing traits of public health professionals is their humility. Whether it is a local health department employee who spent his weekend weeding in the community garden or a high-level state official who works through the night determining the best way to allocate the newest flu vaccine in the wake of an outbreak, public health professionals are dedicated and determined to protect and improve the community’s health. They do so with little resource and even less recognition. Current threats to funding for public health programs push against this inherent humility. In response, it is imperative that unassuming, modest public health professionals be proud and loud about their accomplishments and the continuing need for their work. We must incite the community whose needs are always foremost in the development of our programs, so that they understand the devastating impact of the draconian budget cuts that threaten the public health.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Baseball season is upon us, and I survey its coming with the same indifference every year. I know this pains my Dad, a lifelong Red Sox fan, but I just can’t get into baseball. I am more of a football and hockey girl, myself. I prefer the raw, hard‑hitting competition of these sports, and if I’m honest, I like the fights, too. But having spent the last few months researching the risks of concussion in sports, I have to acknowledge that my beloved sports are in need of culture change
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Two bills are pending in the Texas legislature, House Bill 2110 and Committee Substitute House Bill 411 (companion bill, SB 507), that propose to change the way newborn screening is conducted in Texas and may set dangerous precedents for other states. These bills arose in response to privacy activists’ concerns about patient privacy rights in the state’s storage and use of materials containing DNA.
Monday, March 21, 2011
A few weeks ago a notice in the Federal Register caught my eye. It said that the Surgeon General had determined that syringe services programs (what used to be called needle exchange or syringe exchange programs) “would be effective in reducing drug abuse and the risk of infection for… acquired immune deficiency syndrome.” This is almost certainly true. There has been strong evidence dating back to the early 1990s that syringe access programs (SAPs) are cost-effective interventions that reduce HIV risk behavior and act as a gateway to social services and drug treatment. More recent studies strongly suggest that they are effective in reducing HIV incidence with few if any negative effects. This evidence base is well known, at least among public health officials. But why was the Surgeon General posting a notice in the Federal Register?
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
On February 23, 2011, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Williamson v. Mazda. In an 8-0 ruling (Justice Kagan did not participate in the decision), the Court concluded that the Williamsons’ lawsuit was not preempted by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) that permitted Mazda to install a lap-only seat belt in the rear aisle seat of the Williamsons’ mini-van. This means only that the lawsuit against Mazda may proceed, not that the Williamsons will necessarily prevail in that suit.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
On February 22, 2011 the United States Supreme Court decided Bruesewitz v. Wyeth regarding vaccine manufacturers’ liability for design-defects. At issue was whether state law claims for design defects are preempted under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) of 1986. Although the Court’s decision that NCVIA preempts design-defects claims is lauded as a win for public health, others criticize the decision as creating a dangerous regulatory vacuum for vaccine improvement and safety.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
New ideas are often the starting point for change, and that is true in public health as well as in other parts of society. A new publication from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, To Improve Health and Health Care, reflects on how innovative ideas supported by the Foundation have moved into the mainstream.