It’s Tuesday again! Feels like only a week ago that we had the last one. Funny how that works.
Today and yesterday I’ve been reading a lot of really good, really thoughtful pieces by responsible journalists trying to stem the flow of the “WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!” Ebola coverage. In last week’s blog, I did write that the CDC says the risk of Ebola spreading to the U.S. is very small, but I still worry I contributed to panic-coverage. So I’m sharing some posts that offer good perspective on the actual risks associated with the current outbreak. Basically, two aid workers treated at Emory under the most sterile and cautious conditions possible ≠ African patients being treated in (unfortunately) unsanitary conditions where local customs and misinformation contribute to the spread of the disease. Start with Maryn McKenna’s Superbug blog at Wired (and follow her on Twitter because she’s super smart and sassy and I want to be her friend), and then read some of the links she includes, like this one from a health care worker explaining the precautions taken to treat the patients at Emory. Also, here’s an AP story with a little background on the experimental serum that’s been given to the two U.S. aid workers, and a New York Times story on the possible patients that are being tested in New York City.
Whew, that’s a lot of links.
Next up, a Wall Street Journal piece on the risks of overtreatment, particularly for patients with diabetes and high blood pressure. The story looks at a study from California that shows patients who were “aggressively” treated for diabetes were sometimes hospitalized for blood sugar that was too low, and patients who were aggressively treated for high blood pressure sometimes had their blood pressure drop too far below the healthy level and were at a higher risk of death and kidney failure. Not that the whole “too much of a good thing” idea is anything new, but it’s interesting to read about it in the medical setting.
And finally, because I haven’t posted anything from Charlie Ornstein for a while, here’s a ProPublica story on a drug that cost Medicare $141 million in 2012 (up from just $7 million in 2008) and hasn’t proved to be more effective than other, more affordable drugs. This is one of those stories that, by singling out one example, offers a peek at what is so broken within the Medicare/health care payment system.