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Archive for February, 2006

Saturday, February 25th 2006

'Walmart Death'

Such is titled a Slate article comparing the current situations of physicians refusing to help with executions and pharmacists refusing to hand out morning after pills.

It is indeed a shame that California is a state with a law on the book requiring pharmacists, despite any conscientious objector claims, to dispense morning after pills but looking like it will pass a law prohibiting physicians from taking part in executions (at the behest of the CMA). The two situations, as Slate points out, are certainly analogous, but California is close to taking two very different positions on each.

Saturday, February 25th 2006

The March to the Supreme Court

In case you somehow missed it, South Dakota has sent a law to the governor which would outlaw abortions unless the mother’s life was at risk.

We’ve got years of court battles until this thing is appealed to the Supreme Court, and certainly the first court that hears this law will strike it down (meaning it won’t be enforced between now and the time the Supreme Court is petitioned to hear it).

Personally, if this was put to the Supreme Court today I’m not sure they’d even agree to hear the case. What some people fail to realize is the broad powers the justices have in actually deciding which cases they’ll even hear. The court receives petitions to hear far, far, far more cases than it could ever possibly handle.

But that is right now, who knows what it will look like in a few years with this conservative court.

Friday, February 24th 2006

Prostate Cancer Virus

UCSF and Cleveland Clinic researchers have found a previously unknown virus in a significant number of men suffering from prostate cancer.

While the genetics of prostate cancer are complex, one of the first genes implicated in the process was RNaseL, which serves as an important antiviral defense mechanism. Given the anti-viral role of this gene, some scientists have speculated that a virus could be involved in a subset of prostate cancer cases.

“While we can’t state that this virus causes prostate cancer, these are remarkable findings because of the association of the virus with the mutation,” said Dr. Robert Silverman, collaborating investigator in the study. “This project was possible only because of the willingness of physicians and scientists in different areas of expertise at the two institutions to work closely together towards a common goal, that of identifying a new infectious agent in prostate cancer.”

Friday, February 24th 2006

Don't Ask About Guns

In Virginia it may soon become illegal for pediatricians to ask parents about gun ownership or provide unsolicited counsel to parents on gun safety. Is this for real?

I am for broad gun ownership protections but this has nothing to do with firearm rights. This has to do with free speech protections and the fact that guns really do cause injuries, none of which are more tragic than when it involves a child.

If gun owners with children are really that offended they should find new pediatric care or new insurance that allows them to choose another pediatrician.

H/T Kevin, MD

Friday, February 24th 2006

Civil War Health

From AMNews (subscription required), is the summary of a study of the post-war mental problems of Civil War veterans. Being a big Civil War history buff…

Dr. Silver and fellow researchers analyzed the military and medical records of 15,027 Union Army veterans from the Civil War. They looked at cardiac, gastrointestinal and mental illnesses during the soldiers’ lifetimes. Confederate soldiers did not have a comparable database for study, but researchers suspect that those troops had similar problems.

Civil War soldiers were vulnerable due to close-up combat, bloody battles and other reasons, researchers said. For one thing, family members and friends were often assigned to the same company, and when there were casualties, survivors were left with few remaining friends.


Soldiers in military companies with larger percentages of fatalities were 51% more likely to have cardiac, gastrointestinal and mental diseases, the study showed.

Friday, February 24th 2006

Walmart Insurance

No, they’re not starting to sell it in store. Instead they’re about to expand their notoriously poor healthcare insurance coverage provided to employees, even as they fight Fair Share Health. Although, I must say Fair Share sounds like a misguided idea.

The Fair Share Health Care Act, the first of its kind, passed recently in Maryland. The bill requires any company with 10, 000 or more workers to spend 8 percent of its payroll on health insurance. The bill inspired similar proposals in other states.

Friday, February 24th 2006

Off Topic Vidal Hazelton

The #2 wide receiver in the country, Vidal Hazelton, has signed with USC football, all that can be said is finally.

Wednesday, February 22nd 2006

Off Topic Iran to The Rescue

So it begins, even as I predicted it wouldn’t.

Iran pledged on Wednesday to provide financial assistance to the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority following threats by Western nations to halt aid to a Hamas-controlled government.

“We will definitely provide financial aid to this government so that they can stand up against the oppression of America,” Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, was quoted as saying by the semi-official ISNA students news agency.

He was speaking after a meeting with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, who is touring regional countries in search of financial support.

“We hope that the new Palestinian government overcomes its current problems with the help of Islamic countries, including Iran,” Larijani said.

U.S. President George W. Bush on Tuesday said a Hamas-dominated Palestinian Authority should not be funded until it recognised Israel’s right to exist.

U.S. and Israeli officials are concerned that Tehran, which also refuses to recognize Israel, will gain influence over a Hamas-led government, hampering efforts to reach a Middle East peace settlement.

Tuesday, February 21st 2006

Don Herbert

Trapped without oxygen for several minutes more than a decade ago, this firefighter apparently went into a coma. Ten years later he suddenly comes about and talks with family members for fourteen hours before regressing a bit and finally, yesterday, dying from pneumonia.

Ten years without a word, and then he comes to almost as if nothing was wrong. Only to be taken away months later.

Tuesday, February 21st 2006

Physician Assisted Execution

Okay, not quite physician assisted execution but this is pretty weird. How did I not here about this ruling by a federal judge that a physician be on hand for a California execution that was to take place last night, or the execution would violate the 8th Amendment?

The exact wording of the judge’s order was not immediately available, but the anesthesiologists issued a statement through the prison saying they were concerned about a requirement that they intervene in the event that Morales woke up or appeared to be in pain.

“Any such intervention would clearly be medically unethical,” said the doctors, who have not been identified. “As a result, we have withdrawn from participation in this current process.”

The American Medical Association, the American Society of Anesthesiologists and the California Medical Association all opposed the anesthesiologists’ participation as unethical and unprofessional.

Prison officials rescheduled the execution for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and said they would employ a different technique: administering a fatal overdose of barbiturate in lieu of the three-drug cocktail typically used in lethal injections.

Morales’ attorneys had argued that the three-part lethal injection cocktail used in California and 35 other states violated the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. They said a prisoner would feel excruciating pain from the last two chemicals if he were not fully sedated.

[Federal Judge] Fogel refused to derail the execution. But he gave prison officials two options: retain the doctors to ensure Morales would be properly anesthetized, or forgo the paralyzing and heart-stopping drugs and overdose him on a sedative. With the anesthesiologists withdrawing, prison officials said they would use the second option.

Arguments that lethal injection constitutes cruel and unusual punishment have been shot down for years by the courts, so I’m wondering what new enlightening information was this judge presented with that prompted this kind’ve bizarre ruling?

By the way I’m against the death penalty (unless the victim was someone I cared for).