Policy & Ethics

Much of the concern over CDC guidelines for COVID-19 have come from mixed messages. The apparent “flip-flops” have been political fodder. While some mixing is due to our changing understanding of COVID-19, it may often stem not from ill-intent but the struggle between messages directed at public health versus individuals. 
It has been a tough year for the CDC, with missteps and mixed messaging. The end result, as a new RAND study shows, is declining trust.
Urgent care centers are more than first aid, less than a full-service Emergency Department (ED). It was hoped that they would reduce expensive ED visits and save money. Well, at least half of that hope has been met.
COVID-19 has taken a toll on our mental health. With more and more cases of depression, the deadly virus has made us more aware of our fragile existence. Perhaps, as a result, more attention is being paid to end-of-life issues, including hospice, and more controversially, euthanasia. Are we going down a slippery slope?
Plumbum is the Latin word for lead. It’s also the root of the term, plumber. Part of President Biden’s infrastructure bill proposes to remove the last of our country’s lead pipes. But why do we have lead pipes anyway?   
As we try to reopen our domestic and global markets, as well as entertainment venues, increasingly there are voices calling for a method to ensure safe passage. That method is a so-called immunity or vaccine passport. But each comes with its own price – and ethical problems.
ABC News really pulled a stinker when it published an online article entitled "Over 100 fully vaccinated people contract COVID-19 in Washington state, officials say." Sounds scary, right? No. The results paint a very different picture. Cheap scare tactics are the last thing we need right now.
Back in 2019 I did an April Fool's Day 'interview' with Andrew Kolodny. Many of you enjoyed it. He did not. Here's a new one. Have fun!
When it comes to medications and advertising, the FDA has a host of regulations designed “to better inform us,” helping to separate fact from hype. The evidence for food labels helping nudge better choices is plus-minus. How about preventative care, like sunscreen? A new study shows that labeling regulation is failing.
There has for some time been a schism in medicine between the doers and the thinkers. I’m a doer, a surgeon. My friends include a lot of thinkers, oncologists, infectious disease, primary care, pediatrics. I also have “thinker-friends” that are often more like me than their thinker brothers and sisters. They are often referred to as interventionalists – cardiologists in the catheterization laboratory or gastroenterologists with their scopes. 
Indisputable evidence shows the absence of a correlation between the number of opioid prescriptions and opioid abuse or addiction. This has not, however, dissuaded practicing physicians from buying into the false narrative that prescribing opioids for pain is fueling the overdose crisis.
Are you being overcharged for aspirin in the hospital? Is it cheaper to pay for drugs in cash rather than go through your insurance plan? How can you find out? Robert Popovian and Wayne Winegarden argue that healthcare cost transparency will bring down healthcare costs.