Health News Roundup

Racial disparities in ER restraints, and more in this week’s roundup

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Racial disparities persist in how emergency rooms use restraints. Police transport may play a role
Sujata Srinivasan, Connecticut Public Radio, Feb.29
Researchers from the Yale School of Medicine and Duke University found that Black patients are more likely than white patients to be restrained in hospital emergency rooms. The racial disparity persists even among patients from similar medical and demographic backgrounds. According to a new study, patients transported to a hospital emergency room by police were 550% more likely to be restrained than patients arriving by other means. The research also found that Black patients were more likely than white patients to be transported by police to ERs.

Many CT towns, cities still deciding how to spend opioid funds
Andrew Brown, The Connecticut Mirror, Mar. 3
Connecticut’s towns and cities recently received a combined $9.8 million in opioid settlement funds. While a Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services survey last fall found that some municipalities have started to spend the funds on things like harm reduction supplies and prescription drug take-back events, it also found that most have yet to spend the money at all. Many small towns have only received several thousand dollars from the settlements so far, making it difficult to use the funds to address the opioid epidemic. In some areas, towns have pooled their funds together. In the northwest corner for example, 11 towns contributed to their Regional Opioid Response Fund.

Medical debt in US associated with worse physical and mental health, premature death: Study
Dr. Rebecca Yao and Dr. Gabriela Cleary, ABC News, Mar. 5
Medical debt in the U.S. is associated with worse physical and mental health and premature death. A new study found that for every additional $100 increase in medical debt, there were eight more days of poor physical health and 6.8 more days of poor mental health in a month. Though most Americans have some sort of health insurance, out-of-network costs, high deductibles, and unexpected bills can lead to medical debt affecting both insured and uninsured adults. “[Medical debt] is a problem that needs to be addressed systematically,” said Dr. Xuesong Han, lead author of the study.

Virtual nursing positions grow across CT, in effort to retain nurses and boost patient care
Sujata Srinivasan, Connecticut Public Radio, Mar. 5
At Bridgeport Hospital, a team of six hybrid nurses works at the bedside and online. When working virtually, the nurses handle intake, check-ins with patients, liaising with families, and discharge. It allows the on-site nurses to focus on care that can only be delivered in person. Hospital administrators said virtual nurses can have an impact on patient well-being, by getting them discharged sooner and freeing up beds for more patients. Nationwide, the nurse workforce is shrinking, and this is an effort that aims to address that. More and more hospitals in Connecticut are also looking to follow suit.

Why even public health experts have limited insight into stopping gun violence in America
Christine Spolar, KFF Health News, Mar. 6
Gun violence is among America’s most deadly and costly public health crises, but little federal money goes into studying or preventing it. In 2021, more people died from gun incidents than in any year on record. Black people are nearly 14 times more likely to die from firearm violence than white people and communities largely populated by Black and Hispanic people are at risk of trauma from hearing gunshots and seeing gun injuries. A fresh generation of researchers is determined to learn more about the growing public health risk, pushing ahead without government funds.