Health News Roundup

Questions about prison medical care, what race has to do with self-driving cars, and more


Inmate who delivered baby in prison cell sues state for denying medical care
Jenna Carlesso, The Connecticut Mirror, March 4
Concerns about the standard of health care in Connecticut’s prisons have festered for years but returned to the public eye last winter when the correction department said it would take over inmate medical care, ending its 21-year contract with UConn Health. Substantial budget cuts, a lack of outside oversight and a history of complaints had fanned fears among some lawmakers and civil rights groups about the quality of medical and mental health care being provided to prisoners.

Shifting social attitudes, stagnant budgets fuel dramatic rise in STDs
Elizabeth Heubeck, Connecticut Health Investigative Team, February 27
Despite the best efforts of health departments across the state, the number of reported cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) continues to rise dramatically. Many communities, like Waterbury, Hartford, and Bridgeport, are expanding their outreach efforts to get to the source: those at a high risk of contracting an STD.


A new study finds a potential risk with self-driving cars: failure to detect dark-skinned pedestrians
Sigal Samuel, Vox, March 6
In addition to worrying about how safe they are, how they’d handle tricky moral trade-offs on the road, and how they might make traffic worse, we also need to worry about how they could harm people of color. If you’re a person with dark skin, you may be more likely than your white friends to get hit by a self-driving car, according to a new study out of the Georgia Institute of Technology. That’s because automated vehicles may be better at detecting pedestrians with lighter skin tones. The findings speak to a bigger problem in the development of automated systems: algorithmic bias.


Every black woman deserves a doula
Collier Meyerson, New York Magazine, March 5
Doulas are generally perceived in popular culture as extraneous, a tool for the bourgeois. But doulas serving communities of color are anything but. Doulas help mothers through pregnancy and the birthing process, making sure unneeded medical interventions don’t take place, and being around after it’s done for support. For low-income mothers, a doula can help find free or low-cost resources. But low-income mothers in New York don’t have access to this kind of support, and the state is trying to change that with a new pilot program that expands doula services and birth coaches to women on Medicaid in Erie County.