Things I’ve been thinking 6/17/2014


“Don’t think about where the lines are drawn, think about who draws the lines.” I rarely agree with The Last Psychiatrist, but it’s my go-to source for question assumptions and making the world look different. I found this post especially thought-provoking. 

This long blog post about disease diagnostics got me wondering if we’ve been prioritizing all the wrong things when we talk about improving laboratory skills. 

And, then, finally, these two pieces about children in the US just flat out devastated me. It’s conclusive evidence that we cant go around doing development work as though the US is the top of a pyramid we want everyone else to ascend in a similar way. 1) One American child in eight will experience maltreatment (abuse or negligence) in their lifetime that is confirmed by authorities. ONE IN EIGHT. and 2) One American child in four is born into poverty.  There is something deeply, deeply wrong in the way the US values (or doesn’t) children.

(photo credit: me)

Not talking about abortion

Outcry Over Search Word Ban on Health Site. Johns Hopkins recently made it impossible to search for the word “abortion” on their health information site, and then reversed the decision. Although I certainly agree that people need to be able to find information about abortion on a health website, I also feel bad for Johns Hopkins. They really can lose their USG funding for this.

The USG controls what you can say about abortion and family planning if you take their money. Agree or disagree with it, but that’s the way it is. The government’s policies put Hopkins in a terrible position. They have to choose what is “right” over what gets them money. That sounds like an easy decision. But it isn’t as if they were spending their government grants on strippers and hot air balloon rides. Their government funding goes towards vital research that benefits at least as many people as the information on abortion would. I wouldn’t want to have to make that decision.

Lesson: Diversify your donor base.

Health care quality is extremely difficult to teach and maintain

Nearly 40,000 Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada Patients Asked Hepatitis C Testing. What struck me about this story is how much it sounds like something you’d expect in the developing world. The clinic in question was reusing single-use medical supplies. In the developing world, of course, the reason is usually resource scarcity and not pure greed.

Either way, the fact that this happened in Nevada is reminded that even sophisticated licensing systems have flaws and fail sometimes. Medical care needs to have a constant focus on making quality better or it actually gets worse.