Health News Roundup

Week of December 4, 2017

Health equity

Hospitals find asthma hot spots more profitable to neglect than fix
Jay Hancock and Rachel Bluth of Kaiser Health News, and Daniel Trielli of Capital News Service, December 6
Darlene Summerville and her family live in the worst asthma hot spot in Baltimore: where decrepit houses, rodents and bugs trigger the disease and where few community doctors work to prevent asthma emergencies. Residents of this area visit hospitals for asthma flare-ups at more than four times the rate of people from the city’s wealthier neighborhoods. The medical system knows how to help. But there’s no money in it.

Cocaine deaths among blacks on par with opioid deaths among whites, study finds
Susan Scutti, CNN, December 4
The American opioid crisis is only part of an overall drug abuse emergency. Cocaine-related overdose deaths among non-Hispanic blacks are on par with overdose deaths caused by heroin and prescription opioids among whites, according to a study published Monday in the medical journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

New program in New Haven will help in efforts to prevent, treat HIV
Ed Stannard, New Haven Register, November 27
The goal is to create an integrated model of HIV prevention and treatment for the most vulnerable populations, combining testing, providing the preventive drug known as PrEP to those who test negative and drugs to treat HIV in those who test positive.“We’re going to actually provide onsite assessment and delivery of treatment,” he said. “This could be incredibly complicated for many patients who have incredibly complicated lives, so we’re trying to make it as simple as possible by making it all integrated.”

mental health

If your insurer covers few therapists, is that really mental health parity?
Jenny Gold, Kaiser Health News, November 30
It’s been nearly a decade since Congress passed the mental health parity act, with its promise to make mental health and substance abuse treatment just as easy to get as care for any other condition. Yet today, in the midst of the opioid epidemic and a spike in the rate of suicide, patients still struggle to access treatment.

first person

I’ve unconsciously contributed to the racial gap in infant mortality. Not anymore
Nana Matoba, STAT, November 14
I realized that I have sometimes treated babies and their parents differently because of their race or ethnicity. I’m not proud to admit that, but I can recall occasions when it happened. I wish I could take them back If a physician like me — one who took an oath to do no harm, who dedicated herself to giving every baby a chance, who knows what it’s like to be discriminated against, and whose research focuses on disparities in neonatal care — can unintentionally practice medicine with implicit bias, then anyone could be doing it.