Abortion figures prompt fresh calls for reform of Northern Irish law

The Guardian, 13 June 2017
Author: Amelia Gentleman
“More than 700 women traveled from Northern Ireland to England for an abortion in 2016, obliged to travel because the procedure remains illegal in most circumstances in the region. Figures released by the Department of Health on Tuesday will attract renewed attention to Northern Ireland’s restrictive abortion legislation. Terminations are illegal in Northern Ireland unless a woman’s life is in danger or there is a serious risk to her physical or mental health.”
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Physicians recognize new psychoactive substances as health threat

AMA, 12 June 2017
Author: Sara Berg
“New psychoactive substances (NPS) are quickly emerging, transient and difficult to track. While some coordinated public health responses have been used to combat NPS outbreaks, most strategies and solutions remain disconnected, lacking necessary information and data sharing capability. With the eruption of both illicit and synthetic drugs, as well as a lack of regulation, physicians are also searching for further education to aid in treating patients. Delegates at the 2017 AMA Annual Meeting voted to support multifaceted, multiagency approaches to combat NPS.”
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Health and Public Policy to Facilitate Effective Prevention and Treatment of Substance Use Disorders Involving Illicit and Prescription Drugs: An American College of Physicians Position Paper

Ann Intern Med. 2017;166(10):733-736.
Authors: Ryan Crowley, Neil Kirschner, Andrew S. Dunn, Sue S. Bornstein
“Substance use disorders involving illicit and prescription drugs are a serious public health issue. In the United States, millions of individuals need treatment for substance use disorders but few receive it. The rising number of drug overdose deaths and the changing legal status of marijuana pose new challenges. In this position paper, the American College of Physicians maintains that substance use disorder is a treatable chronic medical condition and offers recommendations on expanding treatment options, the legal status of marijuana, addressing the opioid epidemic, insurance coverage of substance use disorders treatment, education and workforce, and public health interventions.”
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Italy has introduced mandatory vaccinations and other countries should follow its lead

The Conversation, 2 June 2017
Author: Alberto Giubilini
“Parents will have to provide proof of vaccination when they enrol their children in nursery or preschool. In this respect, the Italian policy follows the example of vaccination policies in the US. But there’s one crucial difference: the Italian law doesn’t allow parents to opt out on the grounds of ‘conscientious objection’.”
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Independent expert panel to begin mental health review

NSW Health, 22 May 2017
“Five mental health experts with wide reaching clinical and lived experience will join NSW Chief Psychiatrist Dr Murray Wright to begin a review of the practice of seclusion, restraint and observations across the NSW mental health system. Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Mental Health Minister Tanya Davies confirmed the review will consider whether existing legislation, policy, clinical governance and practice standards are consistent with national standards, international best practice and the expectations of patients and the community.”
Find media release here.

Many patients with early-stage breast cancer receive costly, inappropriate testing

EurekAlert, 24 May 2017
Author: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
“A study from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center shows that asymptomatic women who have been treated for early-stage breast cancer often undergo advanced imaging and other tests that provide little if any medical benefit, could have harmful effects and may increase their financial burden.”
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Ethics Survey: Drug testing remains a clinical tug of war

Behavioural Net, 18 May 2017
Author: Julie Miller
“In recent weeks, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) prepared comprehensive guidelines on drug testing within the continuum of care. The goal is to present evidence-based recommendations for the frequency and application of testing, which payers and providers can adopt as best practices. It’s significant because up until now, there was no true consensus. And there’s also no denying that some treatment operators have aimed to maximize their profit streams through the overuse of testing and subsequent billing of insurance companies.”
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New laws in UK ‘stifling vaping’s success’ in curbing smoking

The Guardian, 20 May 2017
Author: Jamie Doward
“Britain’s burgeoning vaping industry is warning of a rise in homemade versions of the liquids used in the devices as new laws governing their strength take effect this weekend. Vape shops warn that the health of consumers will be put at risk because people will end up buying stronger products from the black market or the internet that do not meet safety standards. The new rules include restrictions on the size of the e-cigarette tanks and refill containers that vapers can use.”
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NHS faces staggering increase in cost of elderly care, academics warn

The Guardian, 24 May 2017
Author: Sarah Boseley
“The NHS and social care system in the UK is facing a staggering increase in the cost of looking after elderly people within the next few years, according to major new research which shows a 25% increase in those who will need care between 2015 and 2025. Within eight years, there will be 2.8 million people over 65 needing nursing and social care, unable to cope alone, largely because of the toll of dementia in a growing elderly population.
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Trump Seeks Delay of Ruling on Health Law Subsidies, Prolonging Uncertainty

NYT, 22 May 2017
Author: Robert Pear
“The Trump administration asked a federal appeals court on Monday to delay ruling on a lawsuit that could determine whether the government will continue paying subsidies under the Affordable Care Act to health insurance companies for the benefit of low-income people — effectively prolonging uncertainty that is already rattling the health law.”
Find article here.