Wednesday, October 16, 2019

"Welcome to Coffeyville, Kansas, where the judge has no law degree, debt collectors get a cut of the bail, and Americans are watching their lives — and liberty — disappear in the pursuit of medical debt collection."

From Pro Publica, yet another stunning consequence of late-stage medical capitalism:

On the last Tuesday of July, Tres Biggs stepped into the courthouse in Coffeyville, Kansas, for medical debt collection day, a monthly ritual in this quiet city of 9,000, just over the Oklahoma border. He was one of 90 people who had been summoned, sued by the local hospital, or doctors, or an ambulance service over unpaid bills. Some wore eye patches and bandages; others limped to their seats by the wood-paneled walls. Biggs, who is 41, had to take a day off from work to be there. He knew from experience that if he didn’t show up, he could be put in jail.

Before the morning’s hearing, he listened as defendants traded stories. One woman recalled how, at four months pregnant, she had reported a money order scam to her local sheriff’s office only to discover that she had a warrant; she was arrested on the spot. A radiologist had sued her over a $230 bill, and she’d missed one hearing too many. Another woman said she watched, a decade ago, as a deputy came to the door for her diabetic aunt and took her to jail in her final years of life. Now here she was, dealing with her own debt, trying to head off the same fate.

"It's not the way you treat me, baby. It's the way you can't remember my name."

No, it's not a Bob Wills song, but it should be. For a cleaner studio version, listen here.

"How did a 19-year-old Stanford dropout with bottle-blond hair, enormous unblinking eyes, a wardrobe of only black turtlenecks and a weird, seemingly feigned way of speaking in baritone convince investors to part with $700 million for a blood-testing machine she had no hopes of building?"

The Theranos whistleblowers came to Minneapolis. Paul Scott was there. 

He writes:

Holmes' fifteen-year, unfulfilled promise to deliver a desktop-sized wonder-machine capable of conducting over 200 common medical tests from "one tiny drop of blood," is still slated for a cable series, a major motion picture and a criminal trial. But the lessons of the debacle are no closer to being understood.

That's the takeaway after hearing from Erika Cheung and Tyler Schultz, two twenty-something Bay Area lab professionals-turned whistleblowers at the center of the Theranos story. The pair appeared for the opening day of the influential Manova Summit on the Future of Global Health in downtown Minneapolis Monday, Oct. 14. They sat on sleek armchairs in front of a cavernous ballroom of believers in medical innovation who watched with morbid fascination as the ABC journalist and Minneapolis native Rebecca Jarvis led the pair through their impressions of the scandal and its implications for the ethics of health technology.

Friday, October 11, 2019

"The Sackler Distinguished Lecture series, which has brought social-justice advocates to speak on the campus, seems to trigger particular revulsion among some faculty members."

The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Endowed Assistant Professor at the University of Connecticut says it was really about the prestige, not the money.

Chamberlain declined to say what she wants to see the University of Connecticut do with its Sackler grants. “On the one hand, at least they did something good with their money. On the other hand, should a dirty name be associated with your university? If the money’s given back, do they owe that money to somebody else who needs it more? That’s way above my pay grade.”

Professor, Authority on All Things

James Mickens has tenure at Harvard. His announcement:

BREAKING NEWS: I’ve received tenure at Harvard! I want to thank all of the enemies that I had to destroy to achieve this great honor. Roger Davis at Princeton’s department of nutrition—you questioned my research on the efficacy of an all-Pop-Tart diet, but I am living proof that the diet works. Yes, I have nose bleeds every day and my pancreas has the dysfunction of a failing Soviet client state, but I believe that having constant double vision makes me twice as optimistic about life. 

The rest is here.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Failure to Disclose

Highly recommended: a new documentary from The Athletic:

A nine-month investigation by The Athletic raises troubling questions about abnormally high ADHD rates among Tar Heels football players and the failure to disclose that data in concussion research papers coming out of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill's renowned brain injury research center, potentially putting student-athletes' health and safety at risk.

"The state Office of Professional Medical Conduct received a steady stream of sexual abuse complaints about Mr. Copperman for nearly two decades, but did not strip him of his medical license until December 2000. By then, he was 65 years old and ready to retire. No criminal charges were ever filed."

From The New York Times:

Stuart Copperman was, to all appearances, an old-fashioned pediatrician. For 35 years, he ran a bustling practice in Merrick, Long Island, where he was revered by parents as an authority on everything from colic to chickenpox. Well-dressed, affable and tan year-round, he was always available in an emergency, and even made house calls.

When he told mothers that their daughters were old enough to see him alone — without a parent in the room, so the girls could speak freely — they accepted it as sound medical practice. Girls who told their mothers that the pediatrician had rubbed their genitals or inserted his fingers into their vaginas were often met with disbelief.

“He was such a charming, affectionate, involved man — we all thought he was a god,” said Dina Ribaudo, 43, who lives in Arizona. “You just couldn’t imagine this bright, shining light ever hurting anyone.” Mr. Copperman started molesting her when she was 8, she said.