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Interview with Jessica Martuccia about her new book 'Back to the Breast'

Jessica Martucci's fascinating new book traces the emergence, rise, and continued practice of breastfeeding in America in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Back to the Breast: Natural Motherhood and Breastfeeding in America (University of Chicago Press, 2015) looks at the lives and work of scientists, nurses, medical researchers, lay groups,…

The Power of an Empty Podium

The Republican National Committee and Fox News say there won't be an empty podium on the stage during the Iowa Republican debate to symbolize the absence of Donald Trump. The implication is that that's not fair game. In 1980, Jimmy Carter refused to appear in a League of Women Voters debate…

Is It Better to Die in America or in England?

WE frequently hear complaints about how people near the end of life are treated in America. Patients are attached to tubes and machines and subjected to too many invasive procedures. Death occurs too frequently in the hospital, rather than at home, where the dying can be surrounded by loved ones. And…

Insurer Rewards Push Women Toward Mammograms

A 53-year-old woman on Medicaid in Washington State who has never had a mammogram elects to get one in return for a $15 gift card. A 35-year-old woman in Florida chooses to get her first mammogram because her insurer, Aetna, offers a $50 payroll check. In Iowa, a 46-year-old woman who…

Can Science Predict Political Turmoil?

The big brain pundits are engaged in their annual round of new year-predictions about major world events. But if the past is any measure they will fail miserably. A legion of experts on the Middle East failed to predict the rise of the Islamic State, much less the attacks in Paris…

Mediation Techniques for Managing Clinical Conflict

Special Section: Mediation Techniques for Managing Clinical Conflict Teaching and Learning the Techniques of Conflict Resolution for Challenging Ethics Consultations Edward J. Bergman and Autumn Fiester       Professional mediators have long possessed a skill set that is uniquely suited to facilitation of difficult conversations between and among individuals in emotionally charged…

Dept. of Medical Ethics and Health Policy is closed until Jan. 6

The Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy is closed for relocation and for the University winter break from December 18 - January 6. Our new address, effective Dec. 22nd, is: Blockley Hall, 14th Floor 423 Guardian Drive Philadelphia, PA 19104 Have a happy and safe holiday season!

From Alienism to ACOs: Integrating Psychiatry, Again

This column describes the gradual integration of psychiatrists into mainstream general medical care, from their exile as “alienists” in isolated asylums to their current roles in accountable care organizations. The authors note that a contemporary form of alienism persists and argue that conceptual parity—the idea that mental illnesses exist within the…

Governing for the Common Good

The proper object of global health governance (GHG) should be the common good, ensuring that all people have the opportunity to flourish. A well-organized global society that promotes the common good is to everyone’s advantage. Enabling people to flourish includes enabling their ability to be healthy. Thus, we must assess health…

Where to Draw the Line on Gene-Editing Technology

The biologists have done it again. Not so long ago it was cloning and embryonic stem cells that challenged moral imagination. These days all eyes are on a powerful new technique for engineering or “editing” DNA. Relatively easy to learn and to use, CRISPR has forced scientists, ethicists and policymakers to…

Are Good Doctors Bad for Your Health?

One of the more surprising — and genuinely scary — research papers published recently appeared in JAMA Internal Medicine. It examined 10 years of data involving tens of thousands of hospital admissions. It found that patients with acute, life-threatening cardiac conditions didbetter when the senior cardiologists were out of town. …

Lessons in End-of-Life Care from the V.A.

The voice on the phone was that of an older man. He sounded cultured, well educated, and thoughtful. Also very angry. The man, Roy, had called me to describe some of the ways in which the health care system had failed his wife, Sheila, and him, when she was hospitalized for…

Robin Williams' Last Act and the Stigma of Loss

One year after the comedian Robin Williams’ suicide, his widow, Susan Williams, has declared that her husband’s suicide was not, as had been suspected, a devastating symptom of a depression. He was, she insists, “killed” by Lewy Body Dementia, a neurodegenerative disease. Her remark suggests her husband’s suicide was the…

Penn study: Pay patients to take pills

Statins are proven to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, yet as many as half of patients with prescriptions eventually stop taking the pills. A possible solution, says a team of University of Pennsylvania researchers: Pay the patients. And for those whose good pill-taking habits lead to lower levels…
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Effectively Communicating the Uncertainties Surrounding Ebola Virus Transmission

The current Ebola virus outbreak has highlighted the uncertainties surrounding many aspects of Ebola virus virology, including routes of transmission. The scientific community played a leading role during the outbreak—potentially, the largest of its kind—as many of the questions surrounding ebolaviruses have only been interrogated in the laboratory. Scientists provided an…

Ben Carson: The candidate from bioethics

During the George W. Bush administration, Ben Carson was a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics.  Compared to separating conjoined twins in a landmark surgical procedure, this might seem like a small item on his resume. But there’s good reason to think that his bioethics experience helped shape the thinking…

Working Late, Courting Stroke

When Jeb Bush told a crowd in New Hampshire this past summer that people in the United States need to “work longer hours,” presumably he didn’t know that working longer hours is associated with a higher risk of strokes. According to a recent review and meta-analysis in The Lancet, if…

2015 Influencers in Aging: Zeke Emanuel

Meet Next Avenue’s 2015 Influencers in Aging. These 50 thought leaders, innovators, writers, advocates, experts and others are changing how we age and think about aging. --- Dr. Zeke Emanuel, an oncologist, author and medical ethicist, is a provocateur who suggests we skip our annual physical and ask ourselves if we…

Toward Evidence-Based End-of-Life Care

The disquieting patterns of end-of-life care in the United States have been well documented. In the last month of life, one in two Medicare beneficiaries visits an emergency department, one in three is admitted to an intensive care unit, and one in five has inpatient surgery. But one of the most…

Erin Aakhus: A doctor trapped between medical oath and health laws

Maria is a tiny woman in her late 30s. Though she is a mother of two, she hasn't seen her children in more than 10 years. In 2004, she entrusted them to her mother in Honduras when Maria made her way, on foot, to the United States to find work. As…