Kenan Malik writes in the New York Times in support of Charlie Gard’s parents, presenting a secular, utilitarian argument for the continuation of the child’s treatment. In the article, Malik draws attention to a contradiction between the State’s position regarding Gard and its position regarding the wishes of a patient with a terminal neurological condition who wishes for assisted suicide. The practice of withdrawal of care is often invoked in the ...

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On the surface, the news from America about health care seems rather grim: cost and dissatisfaction keep rising, reforms are stalling, and, for some, even life expectancy may be declining.  If that wasn’t bad enough, President Trump issued a tweet on March 25 predicting that “Obamacare will explode.” For a small but growing number of doctors and patients, however, the future is surprisingly hopeful. The nascent direct care movement is made up ...

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Laws that allow assisted suicide restrict the provision of “aid-in-dying” drugs to patients whose mental status is not impaired and who are capable of sound judgment. Medscape recently featured a video interview of Timothy Quill, the palliative-care specialist and long-term assisted suicide activist. He is interviewed by the ethicist Arthur Caplan, and the two discuss the psychological evaluation of terminally ill patients who request physician-assisted suicide (PAS). Several points ...

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In his recent article “Feed Me, Pharma,” ProPublica’s Charles Ornstein has been calling attention to studies showing that the prescribing decisions of doctors are linked to the amount of money that drug companies can bestow on them, usually in the form of meals, travel expenses, tuition support to attend courses, and so on. I find nothing surprising about that, and Ornstein need not be so scrupulous when he clarifies that “the ...

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Transparency -- or its absence -- continues to fascinate health care analysts and health care economists.  A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine addresses the effects of public reporting of hospital mortality rates on outcomes.  Its senior author, Dr. Ashish Jha, offered his perspective on the study results and on the topic. According to the study investigators, mandatory public reporting of hospital mortality is not improving outcomes.  The result of their analysis surprised them ...

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Whenever I have the opportunity to suggest that good medicine is based on friendship, I usually get a nod of approval mixed with a quizzical look.  What’s that supposed to mean? At a recent meeting of an editorial board on which I serve,  the reaction to my suggestion was more forceful and perhaps more honest.  The topic of the day concerned patient education, and how hard it can be to move patients to do things ...

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I feel that I have been spending way too much time as a “chronicler of the decline,” to use von Mises' phrase.  The secular trend in health care (literally spanning the last 100 years) is one of increasing centralization, consolidation, and reduced choice.  Nevertheless, there are some promising developments that give me hope for a better future. Here are five notable trends, in no particular order: 1. Direct patient care. Direct care encompasses all ...

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The shaming campaign that followed the news of two generic drug prices somersaulting into the stratosphere after being acquired by private companies is not too surprising.  The idea that a drug that cost $13.50 one day can cost $750 the next, seemingly on the whim of greedy Wall Street investors and pharma start-ups, is fodder for the outrage machine. But what the outrage machine does not realize is the ...

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pnhp-long-setweisbartversion-52-638 In contrast to the expected shortage of tens of thousands of physicians, there appears to be an abundance of health care administrators, at least judging by graph above. The originators of the graph -- economists and physician-activists at Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) -- invoke the administrative bloat as reason to promote a single payer system.  With a single ...

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shutterstock_116371780 The war on medical error was officially launched in 1999, when the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published its landmark report To Err is Human, alleging that up to 98,000 yearly deaths in US hospitals were due to human missteps. Despite significant ambiguities in the definition of a medical error, numerous militias known as patient safety organizations ...

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