the important and the not-so-important, horribly conflated.

5 JAN 2011

In as seen by a liberal vegetarian english major in medschool with a subscription to the NYT on January 5, 2011 at 10:30 pm

“I was under huge pressure 2 cow down b4 rightest pressure on blasphemy.” Tweeted Salman Taseer, the governor of Pakistan’s Punjab region, shortly before he was assassinated by a religious zealot in broad daylight. “Refused.” he continued, nearing his 140 character limit, “Even if I’m the last man standing.” Taseer was murdered b/c of the attention he brought to the plight an elderly Punjab woman who could face a life sentence for “blasphemy”—an accusation often used in the region to seize a neighbor’s farmland or jail an overly moderate frenemy. If the governor were alive today, he would surely be firing up his Twitter account to comment on what has become the most controversial detail of his assassination: whether 9 or 24 bullets were found in his body. “9 or 24, 140 or 1, the # of bullets or characters doesn’t matter—truths or falsehoods, cowardice or passion come in all sizes” // A Palestinian woman killed over the weekend during a demonstration in the West Bank border town of Bilin may or may not have had a preexisting condition that exacerbated the suffocating effect of the cloud of tear gas that killed her. Israeli officials consider this a very serious question; Palestinians see the larger picture—resolving conflicting medical records of the 36 year-old’s death doesn’t reanimate this woman, and it certainly doesn’t reverse what could be called the perpetual “preexisting condition” of Palestinian life in the West Bank: poor medical care, a lack of economic opportunity, and a general dis-ease that emerges when checkpoints or the ghosts of lost sons and daughters hide behind every street corner. Who’s fault is that, Israel? // A study in JAMA found that one quarter of Americans with implanted¬†defibrillators do not meet the guidelines to justify these $35,000+ procedures; at the same time, 100,000 qualified patients do NOT receive the defibrillators. Interestingly, those receiving defibs too early or outside of the AHA recommendations for implantation are predominantly Hispanic or African American. 2 correlates to take from these findings: 1) Hispanics and Blacks make up a large proportion of Medicaid recipients. The authors argue that the implantation procedure does not have a large enough reimbursement value to incentivize heart surgeons to do unnecessary procedures to make an extra buck—but it’s worth noting that these two groups have the lowest frequency of voluntary medical visits, so with a borderline at-risk patient in the office, surgeons¬†do have a temporary marginal incentive to do the procedure (vs. sending them to a primary care physician for water pills or statins). 2) A guess: those not receiving defibs are most likely those underinsured individuals with plans that only provide minimal patient reimbursement for expensive preventative measures. // In other news, like Darth Vader, defib-implanted Dick Cheney appears to be making a political comeback. Please join twitter, former Vice President—if only for my amusement.


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