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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
Boston Globe Health and Science staff:
Scott Allen
Alice Dembner
Carey Goldberg
Liz Kowalczyk
Stephen Smith
Colin Nickerson
Beth Daley
Karen Weintraub, Deputy Health and Science Editor, and Gideon Gil, Health and Science Editor.
 Short White Coat blogger Ishani Ganguli
 Short White Coat blogger Jennifer Srygley
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August 10, 2007

Health workers win discrimination case 13 years after they lost jobs

Five Boston health workers will finally receive monetary awards stemming from a 2000 discrimination ruling, for what one of the employees said was "being treated like a criminal" when they were laid off 13 years ago.

Today the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that five black women who worked for the Healthy Baby/Healthy Child Program run by the Trustees of Health and Hospitals and the City of Boston were treated differently than a white man who was laid off at the same time.

After a series of appeals and reviews, the payments, with interest dating back to 1994, will more than double the $20,000 to $30,000 each woman originally would have received.

Gloria Coney, Marlene Hinds, Victoria Higginbottom, Belinda Chambers and Betty Smith lost their jobs in July 1994. Given no notice of the layoffs, they were monitored as they gathered their belongings and not allowed to speak to their co-workers. One woman had her lunch bag searched while she packed, a court summary says.

Coney "felt humiliated, mortified and angry at being treated like a criminal," the document says, and she believed her employer had acted on a presumption "that black women steal things."

A white male worker was told in advance that he would be laid off and was allowed to walk around the office freely before he left.

The city argued that because the white man's job was different his layoff was carried out in a different manner.

The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination ruled that the city agency had discriminated against the women based on their race and gender. It awarded them damages for emotional distress, plus attorney's fees and costs.

The initial MCAD ruling was appealed or reviewed five times.

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 06:58 PM
August 10, 2007

Update on Harvard stem cell scientist

Here's an update from Harvard stem cell scientist Kevin C. Eggan on a report in today's New York Times –- denied earlier today by a Harvard spokesman -- that he is delaying a move to Kansas City because of political opposition in Missouri to human embryonic stem cell research.

The Harvard spokesman said Eggan has never had plans to leave Harvard. But Eggan said in an interview later this afternoon that a move to Kansas City was "always on the table" as part of his contract with the Stowers Medical Institute, which is based in Harvard Square and supports two investigators: Eggan and Chad Cowan at Massachusetts General Hospital.

"Our contracts say that advancement in the institute would be tied to moving to Kansas City if the political situation improved," Eggan said. "It was always very much on the table."

Even though Missouri voters approved a constitutional amendment in November to allow stem cell research, state legislators have proposed many bills that would limit any research on human embryonic stem cells.

"The political situation is anything but clear," Eggan said.

Jim and Virginia Stowers of Kansas City, who have delayed a $300 million expansion of their Stowers Institute for Medical Research there, started supporting Eggan and Cowan because they thought Missouri would ban stem cell research.

If the climate for stem cell research changes in Missouri, Eggan and his lab colleagues will have a decision to make.

"It's certainly something we would have to seriously consider," he said.

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 06:39 PM
August 10, 2007

Beth Israel Deaconess posts inspection results

By Liz Kowalczyk, Globe Staff

Following the lead of Boston's other large teaching hospitals, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center today released results of its inspection by a national oversight organization -- results usually kept secret by hospitals across the US.

Beth Israel Deaconess posted on its website its report from the Joint Commission, which has told the hospital to improve in nine areas.

In the past few months, five academic medical centers in Boston have released their results, and several said more problems were found than in the past under a revised inspection system. The Joint Commission, based in Illinois and the country's primary inspector of hospitals, now conducts surprise visits, rather than telling hospitals weeks in advance when inspectors will arrive.

This year, the commission issued Massachusetts General Hospital 10 requirements for improvement; Brigham and Women's Hospital, nine, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, which does not have overnight patients, three; and Children's Hospital Boston, three. Boston Medical Center initially received eight requirements for improvement but disputed two.

At Beth Israel Deaconess, inspectors found several instances of nurses or doctors failing to ask patients to list their medications, or to otherwise update patients' medication lists. In at least two cases, doctors did not update the electronic list of patients' medications, creating discrepancies between computer and paper records. In another case, a patient was transferred to another hospital without a complete list of medications.

Updating medication records is done to ensure patients are not given drugs or treatments that could cause dangerous reactions, or to "reconcile" their medications as they are transferred or discharged. Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women's hospitals and Boston Medical Center all were cited for this shortcoming.

In five other instances at Beth Israel Deaconess, nurses or doctors did not properly assess patients' pain levels, or record them in their medical records. This is important partly so caregivers can determine whether a treatment is working to improve a patient's pain.

Hospital President Paul Levy said in a letter to staff today that doctors now will be required to use the electronic medication reconciliation system.

August 10, 2007

Stem cell scientist never planned to leave, Harvard says

kevin eggan85.bmpHarvard Stem Cell Institute scientist Kevin C. Eggan (left) has no plans to move to a Kansas City, Mo., research center, a Harvard spokesman said today, despite a report in today's New York Times saying he has delayed leaving because of political opposition in Missouri to working with embryonic stem cells.

Eggan, whose Harvard lab is supported by the same Kansas City donors that built the Missouri research center, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment, but a Harvard Stem Cell Institute spokesman said Eggan isn't going anywhere.

"There are not and there have not been any plans for Kevin Eggan to leave the Harvard Stem Cell Institute," B.D. Colen said in an interview. "He was making a general comment about anyone who was considering going to Missouri to do stem cell research."

The Times quoted Eggan in a front-page story about political and financial roadblocks to a $300 million expansion of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, funded by Kansas City philanthropists Jim and Virginia Stowers. Even though Missouri voters approved a constitutional amendment in November that allows embryonic stem cell research, many new bills to limit research have been proposed in the state legislature, stalling the recruitment of scientists, the story said.

Eggan is a founding member and assistant investigator of the separate Stowers Medical Institute based in Cambridge, which supports researchers in an arrangement that follows the Howard Hughes Medical Institute model of funding scientists' work at their home institutions. Stowers is providing $5.9 million over five years to Eggan's lab, according to a 2005 Harvard statement.

The Stowers Medical Institute also supports Chad Cowan at the Center for Regenerative Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.

Jim Stowers said in 2005 that he and his wife were supporting research at Harvard rather than in Missouri because of fears that the Missouri legislature would ban stem cell research, according to that Harvard statement.

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 01:46 PM
August 10, 2007

Coming Sunday: A trusted doctor's sex change tests his patients

mag-cover-aug-12_100.bmpDr. Roy Berkowitz-Shelton had been practicing family medicine for almost 18 years in Somerville's Davis Square. At 52, he'd been married for 25 years and was devoted to his family.

Last year he began telling his patients there would be a major change.

"I will begin practicing medicine as a woman," his letter said.

Instead of taking the usual route of moving to a distant city and starting a new life, Berkowitz-Shelton was staying put for his life-changing journey, asking his family, his staff and his nearly 4,000 patients to make a decision.

Would they choose to come along?

Globe Magazine Staff Writer Neil Swidey followed the doctor's transition from man to woman for a year. The first installment of a two-part series will appear Sunday; part 2 appears August 19.

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 11:22 AM
August 10, 2007

Today's Globe: shots in abortions, Myozyme doses, Alnylam-US pact, heartburn drugs

In response to the Supreme Court decision upholding the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, many abortion providers in Boston and around the country have adopted a defensive tactic. To avoid any chance of partially delivering a live fetus, they are injecting fetuses with lethal drugs before procedures.

Genzyme Corp. is asking adult US patients with Pompe disease to skip two doses of its drug Myozyme in coming months so the Cambridge company can stretch supplies until regulators allow the treatment to be distributed from a new manufacturing plant.

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Cambridge said yesterday that it has been awarded a $38.6 million government contract to develop RNAi therapeutics for biological threats.

The popular heartburn drugs Prilosec and Nexium don't appear to spur heart problems, according to preliminary results of US and Canadian probes disclosed yesterday.

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 06:39 AM
August 09, 2007

Beth Israel Deaconess names research operations head

mason150.bmpBeth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has named Randy Mason (left) vice president of research operations, the hospital said today.

He comes to Beth Israel Deaconess from Partners HealthCare, where he was chief of staff to the chief academic officer and director of research operations. Before that he had been chief administrative officer for the Harvard/Partners Center for Genetics and Genomics and budget director and comptroller for Partners Corporate.

Mason will be responsible for research administration functions, including grant administration, research facilities and clinical trial operations. He received a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Albany and an MBA in health care administration from the Baruch College Zicklin School of Business/Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 05:40 PM
August 09, 2007

BU neuroscience student on the game show hot seat again

ogi ogas on grand slam150.jpgBoston University graduate student Ogi Ogas (on right in photo) used his knowledge of how the brain works to prepare for "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," as he described in this Globe story last year. He was one answer away from winning it all, but he did take home $500,000. In a quiz show airing at 7 p.m. Sunday he gets another chance.

The cognitive neuroscience student is competing for a smaller prize -- $100,000 -- on the Game Show Network's Grand Slam, which pits 16 game show players in head-to-head confrontations. All of the contestants except Ogas are either game show champions or million-dollar winners on "Jeopardy," "Millionaire" or other game shows. Ranked ninth, Ogas faces 8th-seed Nancy Christy (at left), who won $1 million on "Millionaire."

In an interview, he wouldn't say how the match turns out. He plans to watch the previously taped show with friends at home in the Leather District, where he bought a condo with his "Millionaire" winnings.

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 12:36 PM
August 09, 2007

On the blogs: hospital infections, healthcare quality and cost

On Running a Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CEO Paul Levy weighs in on the state Public Health Council's recommendation that hospitals post some of their infection rates, as reported in this Globe story.

"When I proposed similar ideas back in February, I was characterized by some of my colleagues as attempting to create a marketing advantage for BIDMC and/or proffering bad information to the public," he writes. "I hope these recommendations by the PHC will lend credibility to the usefulness of this kind of disclosure and will help eliminate the feeling that we were guided by selfish motives."

On WBUR's CommonHealth, Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. JudyAnn Bigby talks about overusing medical interventions, some of which are later found to be harmful, at the expense of promoting prevention and wellness.

"There remains widespread use of procedures, medications and other therapies before their benefits and risks are fully understood. As providers, payers and policymakers, we all contribute to this phenomenon," Bigby writes. "But, ultimately, everyday people bear the consequences: higher costs and lower quality in health and health care."

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 12:27 PM
August 09, 2007

Beth Israel Deaconess takes over cardiothoracic surgery at St. Vincent

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has taken over the cardiothoracic surgery program at St. Vincent Hospital previously run by Tufts-New England Medical Center and is starting a transplant referral program at the Worcester hospital, the hospitals said.

BIDMC physicians already staff the 348-bed medical center's emergency and radiation oncology departments. The change in cardiothoracic surgery took place July 1, when Dr. Robert M. Bojar, a surgeon based at St. Vincent, switched from Tufts-NEMC to BIDMC. Bojar and Dr. David C. Liu, another BIDMC surgeon, now operate in Worcester.

Tufts-NEMC spokeswoman Brooke Tyson Hynes said yesterday the cardiothoracic surgery change came about because of BIDMC's new surgical residency program at St. Vincent. On July 1, seven surgical residents began the first BIDMC rotations at the Worcester hospital, a year after University of Massachusetts Medical School and its clinical partner, UMass Memorial Medical Center, ended their surgical residency programs at St. Vincent.

Under the new arrangement for transplant patients, St. Vincent specialists will refer patients to BIDMC for kidney, liver or pancreas transplants, Dr. Douglas W. Hanto, chief of transplantation at BIDMC, said yesterday. Most St. Vincent patients had previously been referred to UMass Memorial, which provides kidney, liver and pancreas transplants through a joint program with the Lahey Clinic.

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 08:16 AM
August 09, 2007

Today's Globe: hospital infections, in-store clinics, healthcare disparities, Bush's Lyme disease, Brenda Finn-Cochran

Potentially lethal infections contracted during hospital stays could be causing up to $473 million in medical costs annually in Massachusetts, according to a state report released yesterday that recommends publicizing hospitals' infection rates for such common surgeries as hip and knee replacements.

State health regulators expressed deep concern yesterday about proposals to open medical clinics in retail stores, fearing that patient care could be compromised.

A report on healthcare disparities issued yesterday calls for the creation of a statewide agency to track differences in health status among racial and ethnic groups and to work to bridge gaps in care.

President Bush was treated for Lyme disease last August, the White House announced yesterday after failing to disclose the problem for nearly a year.

brenda finn-cochran85.jpgAs a longtime charge nurse and recently a nurse practitioner, Brenda Finn-Cochran (left) made certain that nothing got in the way of her patients receiving the medical care they needed. A charge nurse at Carney Hospital for two decades and then a nurse practitioner at Wollaston Medical Associates for seven years, she died Sunday of brain cancer. She was 59.

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 06:45 AM
August 08, 2007

Today's Globe: birth video, Tufts Health Plan purchase, 'Einstein' videos

birth video150.jpgDeployed to Iraq in March, Lance Corporal Tyrelle Greene, 22, knew he would not be able to return for the birth of his first child. On Monday night, as his child was about to be born at Caritas Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton, Greene, in a way, was at his wife Melissa's side, linked by two-way video.

Tufts Health Plan yesterday said it bought its landmark headquarters building at 705 Mt. Auburn St. in Watertown for $85.5 million from Prospectus Inc.

Parents hoping to raise baby Einsteins by using infant educational videos instead might be creating baby Homer Simpsons, according to researchers.

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 06:55 AM
August 07, 2007

Underinsured children fall into vaccine gap

By Elizabeth Cooney, Globe Correspondent

Children whose private health insurance does not pay for new recommended vaccines may not be eligible to receive them in public programs, leaving them more vulnerable than if they had no insurance, according to a Harvard study.

These gaps are occurring as the number and cost of new vaccines have escalated. New vaccines recommended for children have doubled in the past five years and the cost to fully vaccinate a child -- about $1,170 -- is 7.5 times higher in 2007 than it was in 1995, Dr. Grace M. Lee of Harvard Medical School and colleagues write in tomorrow’s Journal of the American Medical Association. They surveyed state immunization program managers in 48 states from January to June 2006.

"We assumed kids with health insurance would have coverage for vaccinations, but we found a group of children whose insurance didn’t cover the cost of vaccine. That to me was surprising," Lee said in an interview.

Those children were referred to public health clinics, but they were still unable to receive vaccine because funding to pay for it was not available, the researchers found. The work was funded by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"To us that was alarming because we had always seen the public sector as a safety net for vulnerable children," said Lee, also of Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. "Now we find that with the newer, more expensive vaccines, a lot of states are unable to provide these vaccines to kids who can’t afford them."

Massachusetts covers all children for all vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, except the new vaccine against human papillomavirus. ACIP sets policy for the federal Vaccines for Children program, which pays for all vaccinations for children who are uninsured, eligible for Medicaid, of American Indian or Alaskan Native origin, or seen at a federally qualified community health center.

In July, Massachusetts began providing rotavirus and meningococcal conjugate vaccines for all children, Dr. Susan M. Lett of the state Department of Public Health and a co-author of the JAMA article said in an interview. The vaccines to protect against severe diarrhea in infants and meningitis in teenagers, respectively, were included in the state budget recommended by Governor Deval Patrick. The governor's budget had also proposed coverage for a vaccine for adolescent girls against HPV, the virus that causes cervical cancer, but the legislature requested a study on it instead.

The JAMA study did not attempt to find out how many families might pay out of pocket for vaccines. The HPV vaccine costs about $120 for each of three doses, the meningitis vaccine costs about $80, and the rotavirus vaccine costs about $60.

"I imagine that if a family can’t afford health insurance that covers vaccines, they probably wouldn’t be able to afford to pay for that," Lee said.

Based on a 2000 estimate by other researchers that 14 percent of children in the United States are underinsured, the JAMA authors estimate that 2.3 million children are unable to receive meningococcal conjugate vaccine from their private health care providers and 1.2 million children can’t get it from public health clinics.

In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Matthew M. Davis of the University of Michigan suggests a tiered approach to financing newly recommended vaccines for underinsured children where funding is not available.

"Vaccines that benefit more of the population per individual immunized would receive higher priority," he writes.

Lee and her co-authors suggest working with insurance plans to include coverage.

"Until those enhancements can be made to health insurance plans, I think we need to support our public sector safety net," she said. "We need to come up with funding for these kids who are falling through the cracks to bridge the gap until we can have all health insurance plans covering vaccines."

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 07:07 PM
August 07, 2007

Red Cross needs blood donors

The American Red Cross has cut shipments of blood to hospitals in the Northeast because of a shortage, it said today in an appeal for blood donors to help replenish its supply.

Last weekend's heat caused blood drives to be canceled in New England, the organization said. Summer is traditionally a slow time for donations. The Red Cross has a shortfall of about 2,000 units of blood and platelets.

Blood donors can call (800) GIVE LIFE or go to the Red Cross website for New England.

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 06:55 PM
August 07, 2007

More help for those seeking insurance

By Alice Dembner, Globe Staff

The Boston Public Health Commission today launched an effort to help the uninsured -- and particularly Latinos -- sign up for new health coverage.

Multilingual staff at the commission will be available all day Thursday at its 1010 Massachusetts Ave. offices to aid individuals and also to train healthcare providers in the enrollment process. In addition, the commission will host enrollment days from 9 to 11 every Wednesday this year at Boston Public School family resource centers in Roxbury, Roslindale, Dorchester and East Boston.

Barbara Ferrer, the commission’s new executive director, announced the initiative at the Dominican Festival in Jamaica Plain, saying in Spanish that she wants to “knock down any barriers that stand between residents and the doctor’s office.”

In Boston, fewer Latinos have insurance than any other ethnic or racial group, according to the commission.

Posted by Karen Weintraub at 04:36 PM
August 07, 2007

Mosquitoes with Eastern equine virus found in SE Mass.

By Stephen Smith, Globe Staff

For the second time this summer, mosquitoes carrying Eastern equine encephalitis have been detected in Massachusetts. The infected insects were discovered in Seekonk, in far Southeastern Massachusetts.

The earlier batch of mosquitoes carrying the viral ailment was found in Raynham, not far from Seekonk. In past summers, Eastern equine encephalitis has been rampant in the marshy terrain of Southeastern Massachusetts.

No human cases of the disease have been reported this year in the state. Last year, two people died from the disease and three others were infected but survived.

To avoid contact with infected mosquitoes, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health recommends limiting outdoor activities from dusk to dawn, peak biting times for mosquitoes. Otherwise, wear as much clothing as comfortable and apply insect repellent such as DEET, permethrin, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

DEET should not be used on infants under the age of 2 months and should be used in concentrations of 30 percent or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under 3 years old.

August 07, 2007

Today's Globe: beta-blockers, insurance snag, MHA head, FDA bill, kids' tastes, healthcare disparities

Doctors should stop routinely using beta-blockers to control high blood pressure, said researchers who reviewed dozens of previously published studies and found that other hypertension pills work better and cause fewer side effects.

A total of 950 people got caught in a computer glitch as they tried to enroll in the Commonwealth Care insurance program, according to a state official.

lynn b. nicholas85.jpgBefore she met with the five members of the Massachusetts Hospital Association's CEO Search Committee a few weeks ago, Lynn B. Nicholas (left) did her homework.

The Food and Drug Administration could face a tough new assignment from Congress: Eliminate all conflicts of interest on outside advisory panels whose votes heavily guide the agency's decision-making.

Anything made by McDonald's tastes better, preschoolers said in a study that powerfully demonstrates how advertising can trick the taste buds of young children.

In order to figure out the full breadth of healthcare disparities, and why they exist and what can be done to eliminate them, we must address a critical, yet controversial issue: the gathering of race and ethnicity data on medical patients, Dr. Paul Mendis of Neighborhood Health Plan and Dr. James O'Connell of Boston Health Care For the Homeless write on the op-ed page.

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 06:57 AM
August 06, 2007

Mosquitoes with West Nile found for first time in Boston

By Stephen Smith, Globe Staff

For the first time this summer, mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus have been detected in Boston. Statewide, insects carrying West Nile have been identified in six cities and towns.

In Boston, the infected mosquitoes were found in West Roxbury. No human cases of the potentially lethal disease have been reported in Boston or elsewhere in the state. Last year, three people contracted the illness; all survived.

The other cities and towns where West Nile has been found in mosquitoes include Berkely, Brookline, Marlborough, Medford, and Salem. August is usually when West Nile begins widely circulating in mosquitoes.

So far this year, most of the 185 human cases of the disease in the United States have been reported west of the Mississippi River. California has the most, with 42. In the most severe cases, the infection can cause a high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one of every 150 people infected with West Nile develops severe symptoms.

To avoid contact with infected mosquitoes, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health recommends limiting outdoor activities from dusk to dawn, peak biting times for mosquitoes. Otherwise, wear as much clothing as comfortable and apply insect repellent such as DEET, permethrin, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

DEET should not be used on infants under the age of 2 months and should be used in concentrations of 30 percent or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under 3 years old.

Posted by Karen Weintraub at 05:39 PM
August 06, 2007

Changing of the guard on health insurance board

By Alice Dembner, Globe Staff

Nancy Turnbull, an insurance expert who helped shape Massachusetts’ landmark health coverage initiative, is joining the board overseeing implementation of the experiment.

Attorney General Martha Coakley today appointed Turnbull to the unpaid board of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector.

Turnbull, who advocated for the full insurance coverage as president of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, recently stepped down from that post to become an associate dean for educational programs at the Harvard School of Public Health.

“Nancy Turnbull is a leading advocate in Massachusetts health policy and she will be a powerful voice for consumers,” Coakley said in a statement.

Turnbull’s appointment on the 10-member board runs through June 2010. Coakley appoints three of the board's members.

“There’s a lot more to do,” Turnbull said in a phone interview. The issues she expects to focus on include outreach, affordability of coverage, and the long-term financing of the initiative.

Turnbull replaces Charles Joffe-Halpern, president of the board of the advocacy group Health Care for All, whose term on the Connector expired last month.

Joffe-Halpern, who is executive director of Edu-Health Care, which helps Berkshire residents gain access to health services, will serve Coakley as a member of a new health care advisory board.

Posted by Karen Weintraub at 05:08 PM
August 06, 2007

Belly dancing in the delivery room

Cathy Moore is a midwife at Brigham and Women's Hospital and a belly dancer with Goddess Dancing. Now she is bringing those two skills together, gradually introducing belly-dance techniques to some patients and birth specialists, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal that says there may be an ancient connection between childbirth and the dance form.

At the Brigham, Moore says in the story, she has to tread carefully with expectant mothers, for whom belly-dancing remains outside the medical mainstream. She also warns against certain movements: sharp hip drops and pops, and anything up on the toes.

Dr. James Greenberg, the hospital's chairman of obstetrics, told the Journal he's not sure if belly-dancing offers proven benefits.

"But there's certainly no scientific reason to think it's bad, so if it makes you feel good, and it's safe -- do it," he said.

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 11:01 AM
August 06, 2007

Former BU doctor creating sexual-medicine center in San Diego

irwin goldstein150.bmpAfter spending three decades in Boston, sexual-medicine expert Dr. Irwin Goldstein (left) has landed in San Diego, where he is creating a center to treat and study sexual problems at Alvarado Hospital, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

Goldstein, 57, left Boston University School of Medicine and the 5,000-patient Institute for Sexual Medicine two years ago. The urologist told the Globe at the time that he lost the school's support for a more multidisciplinary approach in the institute he founded.

Unlike professors elsewhere, faculty at BU's School of Medicine have no tenure, allowing them to be dismissed at any point, the Globe story said.

"The medical center was unable to reach an acceptable agreement with Dr. Goldstein and therefore decided not to continue his contract," BU spokeswoman Ellen Berlin said in May 2005.

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 10:23 AM
August 06, 2007

Today's Globe: residency rules, fitness and cancer, bending it like Beckham, poison ivy, C-sections

Limiting medical residents' hours has helped relieve their exhaustion. But patients aren't yet much better off, and training may be suffering, anecdotal evidence and the first round of studies on the impact of the rules suggest.

There's actually surprisingly little evidence that dietary changes that cancer patients make prolong survival -- except perhaps for colon cancer. What is crystal clear, though, is the importance of exercise and weight control.

David Beckham's skill is so impressive that it sent a team of international scientists into the lab to answer a question that soccer fans have long asked themselves: How do you bend it like Beckham?

jon sachs.jpgJon Sachs (left) is an accidental enthusiast with a very traditional poison ivy story: it started with an unintentional encounter and has turned into a long-term itch.

Also in Health/Science, do masks provide protection for healthy people in airplanes and how can a person drill a hole into glass?

Vice President Cheney's
"One Percent Doctrine" -- the title of Ron Suskind's 2006 book on post-9/11 national security policy -- perfectly captures an approach to decision-making in American medicine that misallocates resources and undermines primary care, Eugene Declercq of the Boston University School of Public Health and Judy Norsigian of Our Bodies Ourselves write on the op-ed page. One shift -- the rapidly rising caesarean rate -- exemplifies this problem.

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 06:52 AM
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