Doctors Examine Themselves: Barron H. Lerner, a professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, has written an interesting review of two books by doctors who are also frequent contributors to The New Yorker magazine:
The new books — “Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance” by Atul Gawande and “How Doctors Think” by Jerome Groopman — share a similar message: The performance of physicians is less than perfect. The question is whether scrutiny of such imperfections can lead patients to become better medical consumers and thus receive better care. […]
Physician-writers have only recently detailed the deficiencies of medicine to the public. For most of the 20th century, doctors urged one another to conceal medical errors, largely because they feared lawsuits. But as a result of a series of research scandals in the 1970s, charges of paternalism and spiraling health care costs, medicine could no longer remain insular. Greater scrutiny of what doctors do came from journalists, bioethicists, insurers and economists — and, eventually, from doctors themselves.
Birth Control Prices Soar on Campus: “Millions of college students are suddenly facing sharply higher prices for birth control, prompting concerns among health officials that some will shift to less preferred contraceptives or stop using them altogether,” reports The AP’s Justin Pope (via Washington Post). “Prices for oral contraceptives, or birth control pills, are doubling and tripling at student health centers, the result of a complex change in the Medicaid rebate law that essentially ends an incentive for drug companies to provide deep discounts to colleges.”
It’s astounding that apparently no one saw this coming when Congress passed a deficit-reduction bill in 2005. The bill took effect in January of this year, and the way Pope explains it, “the discounts to colleges mean drug manufacturers have to pay read to participate in Medicaid. The result: Fewer companies are willing to offer discounts.”
Cosmetics Industry Tries to Build Case with Consumers: Kara Alaimo reports for Women’s eNews on the public relation efforts by the Cosmetics, Toiletry and Fragrance Association to reassure consumers that the use of phthalates — a chemical used to prolong color, scent and absorption — doesn’t pose a health risk. “There are huge gaps in what we know about cosmetic chemicals,” said Stacy Malkan, a spokesperson for the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. “There is new science coming out almost daily about the negative effects of these chemicals. The industry is under increased regulatory pressure.”
Modern Makeup: Reading Seth Stevenson’s take on a new Dove commercial led to this 1998 piece by Judith Shulevitz on the feminist history of beauty products.
Teaching Moment: Rocky Mountain News columnist Tina Griego weighs in on the challenge of raising girls, a la the American Psychological Association’s recent report on the sexualization of young girls and Judith Warner’s recent New York Times (Select) op-ed on mothers as “agents of destruction requiring change” because they don’t practice what they preach around their daughters when it comes to, say, promoting a healthy body image. Griego’s comments about her daughter are incredibly sweet.
New Magazine Debuts for Teenage Girls: Muslim Girl magazine, geared for 12- to 19-year-olds, “profiles professional women like BBC broadcast journalist Mishal Husain, shows off models sporting cute-yet-conservative clothes and offers specialized advice, such as how to deal with a crush in a culture that looks down on dating,” writes Michelle S. Keller in the Chicago Tribune. “I wanted to provide girls with an alternative to Cosmo Girl! and Seventeen, where they would see fun stories about popular culture but … also provide guidance and information to boost their self-esteem, develop their self-confidence,” said the magazine’s founder, Ausma Khan, a former lawyer who taught international human rights law at Northwestern University.
“New Face” of Cancer: “Just two decades ago, a breast cancer diagnosis was something a patient likely wouldn’t share beyond close family and friends. Even the word ‘cancer’ was barely spoken out loud. And no wonder: It raised immediate thoughts of a death sentence,” writes Jocelyn Noveck in the Washington Post. “So when Elizabeth Edwards greeted the waiting media with a smile, a frank account of her worsening illness and a declaration that her life would go on exactly as before, it was an important reminder to many in the cancer community of how far things had come — and how people like Edwards are representing a new face of the disease.”
Plus: See The New York Times story on Kay Yow, the Hall of Fame women’s basketball coach at North Carolina State who is battling Stage 4 breast cancer.
Are We There Yet?: Lucinda Marshall interviews Katha Pollitt about women’s equality and how the media influences perceptions of women. “Once you get rid of the idea that you can’t, or shouldn’t, do this or that because you’re a woman — whether it’s learning calculus or having an orgasm — the world gets a lot bigger, and a lot read interesting,” said Pollitt.