Inconsistent state laws may complicate medical decision-making

EurekAlert, 12 April 2017
Source: University of Chicago Medical Center
“A patchwork of state laws creates a labyrinth that can make it confusing to navigate incapacitated patients’ medical wishes. Without clear national standards, the problem may worsen as the nation’s 75 million baby boomers continue to age, according to medical ethics research published in the New England Journal of Medicine. On average, 40 percent of hospitalized adults can’t make their own medical decisions. In some intensive care units, that figure skyrockets to 90 percent.”
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‘Gamechanging’ cancer drug rejected for use on NHS

The Guardian, 11 April 2017
Author: Sarah Boseley
“A ‘gamechanging’ immunotherapy drug that can extend the life of patients with advanced head and neck cancer has been turned down for use in the NHS because of its high cost. Although nivolumab drug can give people with advanced head and neck cancers an extra three months of life, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has rejected it. Nice believes nivolumab would cost between £66,000 to £75,000 per year of quality life.”
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UK supreme court denies tobacco firms permission for plain packaging appeal

The Guardian, 12 April 2017
Author: Chris Johnston
“All cigarettes sold in the UK must have standardised packaging from next month after the supreme court refused permission to the tobacco industry to appeal against the new laws. This is the final domestic legal decision, meaning that plain packaging of cigarettes will come into force on 20 May, the Department of Health said.”
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Who will own your data when your electronic health records are linked to Aadhaar?

Scroll.in, 6 April 2017
Authors: Anumeha Yadav, Menaka Rao
“After making Aadhaar necessary to access a number of services, the government is now ready to start linking health records to the biometrics-based identity number system. “Patients’ Aadhaar numbers will be linked to a second health ID and these will be used in electronic health records,” The health records will contain all the information related to the patient including name, address, and the health records produced during his or her visit to the hospital such as X-ray reports, blood test reports among others.”
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Blocked from public health system, drunk doctor finds job at private hospital

SMH, 7 April 2017
Author: Harriet Alexander
“An anaesthetist who abandoned his patient mid-operation and then passed out from intoxication has found new employment at Shellharbour Private Hospital. The doctor who had a history of drinking on the job, has not returned to work at Wollongong Hospital since the incident on its premises in May last year. But the NSW Medical Board allowed him to continue practising under certain conditions”
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F.D.A. Will Allow 23andMe to Sell Genetic Tests for Disease Risk to Consumers

NYT, 6 April 2017
Author: Gina Kolata
“For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration said it would allow a company to sell genetic tests for disease risk directly to consumers, providing people with information about the likelihood that they could develop various conditions, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The move on Thursday is a turnaround for the agency, which had imposed a moratorium in 2013 on disease tests sold by 23andMe. The decision is expected to open the floodgates for more direct-to-consumer tests for disease risks, drawing a road map for other companies to do the same thing.”
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Stronger Indigenous culture would cut suicide rates, health congress told

The Guardian, 5 April 2017
Author: Calla Wahlquist
“The solution to reducing the staggering rates of suicide among indigenous communities worldwide lies in strengthening culture rather than just focusing on issues such as drug and alcohol abuse, experts at a global conference have said. Suicide is a leading cause of death among young indigenous people worldwide and efforts to solve the problem using methods developed in non-indigenous communities have not reversed the trend.”
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Alberta rushed $10-million grant, eliminated ethical oversight, for unproven health program

CBC, 4 April 2017
Authors: Jennie Russell, Charles Rusnell
“Six days before Alberta Health rushed to deliver a $10-million grant to a private alternative-health foundation, the ministry abruptly changed the grant’s purpose, eliminating the need for ethics approval for what experts say was a human-subject experiment on thousands of Alberta seniors. The decision was made against the advice of officials from several ministries who had determined the Pure North program was not adequately supported by scientific evidence, could not prove the incredible health and economic benefits it claimed, and could cause adverse health effects in participants.”
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Labor to fight anti-vaccination child care centres

Daily Telegraph, 4 April 2017
Author: Kirstie Chlopicki
“NSW Labor will fight to put a stop to legal loopholes and ban anti-vaccination child care centres across the state. As part of the legislation introduced to the NSW Parliament this week, the opposition will seek to remove the “conscientious objector clause” from the Public Health Act, to prevent unvaccinated children being enrolled in childcare centres. The bill will retain the specialist provision for children who cannot be vaccinated due to a medical condition such as a specialised cancer treatment.”
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Ethics complicate clinical interpretation & reporting of human genome sequence results

EurekAlert, 3 April 2017
Author: Mary Ann Liebert
“Medical use of a patient’s genomic sequence information can improve diagnostic capabilities and enable personalized therapies, but technical and practical barriers to understanding the clinical implications of sequence data and interpreting them for patients are contributing to ongoing ethical concerns. In the article entitled “From Sequence Data to Returnable Results: Ethical Issues in Variant Calling and Interpretation,” the authors discuss the potential harm that can be caused by overstating a result or reporting a false-positive finding.”
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