I have gushed praise for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for a long time. (Disclosure: I cut my teeth in journalism as a Journal Company employee way back in 1973. No ties since 1976.) As a mid-market newspaper facing all of the same hurdles as other newspapers, it consistently demonstrates tenacity and creativity in tackling vital healthcare issues in this country. The latest: A project called “Empty Cradles: Confronting Our Infant Mortality Crisis.”
While there is a great health/medicine/science team in place at the Journal Sentinel, I believe that much of the credit goes to the top — to editor Marty Kaiser, who clearly understands that healthcare issues are among the most important his paper can report on in serving public needs. Kaiser writes:
“The Journal Sentinel today takes on an issue we have too long ignored — the death of children before their first birthday. Infant mortality is a crisis not just of public health, but of ethics and morality. The rate at which infants die in our city is unacceptable. In 2011 we will examine the problem and point to solutions.”
The project is off to a great start, taking a global picture and focusing it locally. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*
It’s the dog days of what seems to have been an unusually hot summer (though DrRich does not know whether it has been sufficiently warm to affect the global cooling trend we’ve been in for the past decade), and as is all too common at this time of year, we are seeing extraordinarily heartbreaking stories (like this one) about healthy, robust young athletes dying suddenly on the practice fields.
Most of these tragic sudden deaths are due to a heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy often does not produce any symptoms prior to causing sudden death. But it can be easily diagnosed, before exercise-induced sudden death occurs, by screening young athletes with electocardiograms (ECGs) and echocardiography.
A couple of summers ago, the New York Times wrote about such an athletic screening program at the University of Tennessee. Based on the U of T’s results, “cardiologists and other heart experts say that the screenings could help save the lives of the 125 American athletes younger than 35 who die each year of sudden cardiac death.” Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at The Covert Rationing Blog*
I lost a patient this season, an infant, to whooping cough (pertussis). After falling ill, he lived for nearly a month in the intensive care unit on a ventilator, three weeks of which was spent on a heart/lung bypass machine (ECMO) due to the extent of the damage to his lungs. But all our efforts were in vain. The most aggressive and advanced care medicine has to offer couldn’t save his life. The only thing that could have saved him would have been to prevent him from contracting pertussis in the first place.
He was unvaccinated, but that was because of his age. He was part of the population that is fully dependent on herd immunity for protection, and that is exquisitely prone to a life-threatening course once infected. This is a topic we’ve covered ad nauseum, and I’m not inclined to go into greater depth in this post. Suffice it to say his death is a failure at every level. We, both as medical professionals and as a society at large, need to do a better job of protecting our children from preventable diseases. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*
I hate pediatrics. People who don’t understand the life of surgery may think this means I don’t like children, but in fact the contrast is true.
Surgery is suffering and heartache. Surgery is pain and misery. It’s stuff children aren’t supposed to experience.
Children are supposed to be caught up in the joys of life. They’re supposed to play and smell the roses along life’s paths. Pain will come later, but childhood is supposed to be a sanctuary, albeit temporary from the harsh realities of life. And when life gets harsh, they may need to come to me.
I once spoke about a very special boy who crossed my path. His death still haunts me, but there was another incident which drove the wedge between myself and pediatric surgery forever. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at other things amanzi*