KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Longer Looks: Music As A Means Of Treatment For PTSD

Every week, Kaiser Health News reporter Shefali S. Kulkarni selects interesting reading from around the Web.

The Associated Press: Iraq Veteran Uses Rap To Treat His PTSD
On one of the many days Leo Dunson wanted to die, the Iraq veteran put a gun to his temple and pulled the trigger. The loaded weapon misfired. For the troubled former soldier, it was another inexplicable failure, like his divorce or inability to make friends after returning from the war. In a Las Vegas recording studio, Dunson rapped about his life: "What's wrong with me? Got PTSD. These pills ain't working, man, I still can't think." ... The use of music to heal war wounds is part of an emerging field of alternative treatment being embraced by military officials eager to help veterans suffering from PTSD. In Wisconsin, New Jersey, California and other states, government doctors in recent months have launched experimental music therapy programs that rely on the smoothing sounds of classical or acoustic music to help veterans get well (Christina Silva, 5/15).

Forbes: Pills Still Matter; So Does Biology -- Managing Expectations About Digital Health
I read a tweet recently asserting that physicians may soon prescribe health apps as an alternative to medications; my initial reaction: good luck with that one. It's certainly easy enough to envision how magical thinking about the power of health apps will soon be replaced by disappointment as app developers realize something drug makers have known for years: it's hard to improve health, and it can be very difficult to get patients to stick with a treatment long enough to make a difference. At the same time, it's clear there are profound opportunities in digital health; I imagine the most effective applications will find a way to complement and enhance traditional therapeutics, rather than position themselves as "alt apps" – the alternative medicines of the digital age (you can just see the eBook now: "Health Apps 'They' Don't Want You To Know About") (David Shaywitz, 5/14).

The Atlantic: Women And Ob-Gyns Need Reliable Medical Justice
Ob-gyns are among the most frequently sued medical specialists. According to a 2009 survey, 90 percent of board-certified members of The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) have been sued. ... Rather than reflecting rampant negligence and maltreatment of patients, these numbers reflect that even the best care cannot guarantee a perfect birth outcome. Ob-gyns get sued for less-than-perfect outcomes--instances in which no one may be at fault but family medical costs can quickly skyrocket. Our current medical liability system fails to provide appropriate and timely compensation to persons injured, fails to deter real negligence, and impedes efforts to correct medical errors and improve patient safety. Under the current system, medical justice is unreliable for both patients and physicians, and patient care is harmed (Dr. Al Strunk, 5/15).

The Atlantic: Your Heart On Air Pollution: An Olympic Case Study
U.S. Olympic distance runner Amy Yoder Begley, who had previously visited Beijing, declared air quality "better than expected" upon arriving for the 2008 games. The IOC was pleased too. "I think, objectively, we can say that the Chinese authorities have done everything that is feasible and humanly possible to solve the situation or to address the situation," Olympic Committee chief Jacques Rogge reported during a press conference. "What they have done is extraordinary." ... Although the period of blue skies in Beijing may have been fleeting, researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) and colleagues have found that even such a small window of cleaner air may have proved useful for residents' cardiovascular health (Nadja Popovich, 5/16).

Huffington Post: The W Connection: Support For Widows By Widows
Dawn Nargi, a New Yorker, lost her husband, Norman Ferren, just two months after she gave birth to their son William. Dawn is one of 11 million widows in America today. There will be 1 million more by the end of 2012. ... When she lost her husband, Dawn herself was at a loss. Who to turn to? Who would understand? Who would help her through the maze of questions she had, from the deeply personal to the very practical? As it turned out, she found very few social service agencies that could help; and what information she did find was dispersed among several resources. It was this frustrating experience that motivated her and Ellen Kamp, a former colleague at Morgan Stanley, where Dawn is an IT vice president, to establish the W Connection. The W Connection calls itself "a one-stop Internet-based resource center and a national network of community-based organizations run by widows" (Perry Garfinkel, 5/14).

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