The problem of doctors’ salaries

Source: The problem of doctors’ salaries | Politico, by Dean Baker

an unavoidable part of the high cost of U.S. health care is how much we pay doctors — twice as much on average as physicians in other wealthy countries. Because our doctors are paid, on average, more than $250,000 a year (even after malpractice insurance and other expenses), and there are more than 900,000 doctors in the country, that means we pay an extra $100 billion a year in doctor salaries.

simply to fund more residency slots … could also limit the slots for many areas of specialization … end the requirement that foreign doctors complete a U.S. residency program in order to practice medicine in the United States … not only change the rules around who can practice, but to change the rules around what doctors do. There are many procedures now performed by doctors that can be performed by nurse practitioners and other lower-paid health professionals.

reduce the use of medical specialists by changing … the legal baseline that doctors and hospitals are expected to meet to avoid malpractice liability

Why I’m Digging Deep Into Alzheimer’s | Bill Gates

Source: Why I’m Digging Deep Into Alzheimer’s | Bill Gates

  • We need to better understand how Alzheimer’s unfolds.
  • We need to detect and diagnose Alzheimer’s earlier.
  • We need more approaches to stopping the disease.
  • We need to make it easier to get people enrolled in clinical trials.
  • We need to use data better.

This is a frontier where we can dramatically improve human life. It’s a miracle that people are living so much longer, but longer life expectancies alone are not enough. People should be able to enjoy their later years—and we need a breakthrough in Alzheimer’s to fulfill that.

Maternal mortality data in the US are so bad it doesn’t know how many new mothers die. — Quartz

Source: Maternal mortality data in the US are so bad it doesn’t know how many new mothers die. — Quartz

There is no comprehensive collection of data in the U.S. about women who died when they were pregnant or had recently given birth.

Part of the story of why is hidden in the numbers—and the ones about maternal deaths in the US are enough to give epidemiologists a serious headache. … It’s estimated that the spotty reporting that resulted missed up to half of all pregnancy-related deaths.

Unfortunately, the official CDC data are not updated to reflect the findings of the committees, which means the national numbers on record aren’t just likely to be inaccurate—they are known to be wrong. This is why there is such a discrepancy between the estimated ratio, 26.4 in 2015, and the numbers shared by the CDC (in the chart above). It is also one of the reasons why the US has failed to publish an official maternal mortality rate since 2007—“it’s inexcusable,” comments MacDorman.

Despite the discrepancies in the official rates—and whether or not there has been a steep increase in maternal mortality in the past few years, or instead the number was higher than believed in the past—one thing is for sure, says Main, “Either way we look at them, [the numbers] are high.”


Also: What’s killing America’s new mothers? — Quartz

While most of the world has drastically reduced maternal mortality in the past three decades, the US is one of just a handful of countries where the problem worsened, and significantly. … It’s an enormous problem to tackle for sure, but it is also one where the scope for improvement is as great as the gap between maternal mortality rates in the US and other countries of comparable wealth.

“The whole idea that in our backyard here is a problem [like this] when we have NGOs that do this work in Africa” was baffling, Rao told Quartz. “Of all the health issues affecting the US, [maternal mortality] is the most unacceptable,” he says.

The Unforgiving Math That Stops Epidemics | Quanta Magazine

Source: The Unforgiving Math That Stops Epidemics | Quanta Magazine

If you didn’t get a flu shot, you are endangering more than just your own health. Calculations of herd immunity against common diseases don’t make exceptions.

The necessary level of immunity in the population isn’t the same for every disease. … The number of people infected by each contagious individual is known as the “basic reproduction number” of a particular microbe (abbreviated R0), and it varies widely among germs. … Note that the R0 isn’t related to how severe an infection is, but to how efficiently it spreads.

Determining the R0 of a particular microbe is a matter of more than academic interest. If you know how many secondary cases to expect from each infected person, you can figure out the level of herd immunity needed in the population to keep the microbe from spreading. This is calculated by taking the reciprocal of R0 and subtracting it from 1. For measles, with an R0 of 12 to 18, you need somewhere between 92 percent (1 – 1/12) and 95 percent (1 – 1/18) of the population to have effective immunity to keep the virus from spreading. For flu, it’s much lower — only around 50 percent.

Legal marijuana is saving lives in Colorado, study finds – The Washington Post

Source: Legal marijuana is saving lives in Colorado, study finds – The Washington Post

Researchers say the trend is worth watching in other states.


Also: Ex-DEA agent: Opioid crisis fueled by drug industry and Congress – CBS News

Whistleblower Joe Rannazzisi says drug distributors pumped opioids into U.S. communities — knowing that people were dying — and says industry lobbyists and Congress derailed the DEA’s efforts to stop it