Category: Public Health

Laws Limiting Vaccine Exemptions Work

It’s nice when a question can be resolved with objective numbers of unequivocal outcomes. Subjective outcomes give scientists a headache. In this case we are talking about the effect of vaccine exemption laws on vaccine compliance rates. The question here is not the ethical one, the rights of parents to determine the fate of their children vs the right of the state...

/ February 3, 2016

Science-based medicine versus the Flint water crisis

One aspect of science-based medicine that is not covered frequently on this blog, aside from vaccines and antivaccine pseudoscience, but perhaps should be, is the intersection of SBM and public health. Unfortunately, living as I do in southeast Michigan right now, I’ve been on the receiving end of an inescapable lesson in what happens when the government fails in its mission to...

/ January 25, 2016

Docs v. Glocks: government regulation of physician speech

A few years ago, an Ocala, Florida, pediatrician, as part of a routine visit, asked a patient’s mother whether she kept firearms in the home. She refused to answer, feeling the question constituted an invasion of her right to privacy. The pediatrician then terminated the relationship and told the mother she had 30 days to find a new doctor for her child....

/ January 21, 2016

The cost of repealing mandatory motorcycle helmet laws

It’s a seldom mentioned aspect of my professional history that I used to do a lot of trauma surgery in my youth. I did my residency at a program that included a county hospital with a busy trauma program where I saw quite a bit of vehicular carnage and an urban hospital (which has since closed) where I saw a fair amount...

/ January 18, 2016
A vaccine to prevent cancer

HPV Vaccine Safety and Acceptance

The public fight over the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is still raging. The debate partly reflects the underlying logic of health prevention measures, which is essentially a statistical game of risk vs benefit. Unfortunately thrown into the mix are ideological opponents to vaccines who are distorting the facts at every turn. Notice that I said this was a “public” fight, because it...

/ January 13, 2016
china-medicine-herbs-greenpeace_wh1376_36580889

What’s in your Traditional Chinese Medicine?

What's in your Traditional Chinese Medicine? An Australian analysis of 26 products found 92% were contaminated with heavy metals, undeclared plants, pharmaceuticals, or even animals like the endangered snow leopard, cat, dog, rat and pit viper.

/ December 17, 2015
Michigan Legislature

Michigan HB 5126: Who thought it was a good idea to make it easier for parents to obtain nonmedical exemptions to school vaccine mandates and harder for local county health officials to do their jobs?

The Michigan Department of Community Health recently passed a regulation that requires parents seeking personal belief exemptions to school vaccine requirements to receive counseling at a local state or county health office, and the regulation has worked. Personal belief exemptions are down. No wonder the Michigan legislature is trying to reverse the rule and ban the MDCH from enforcing similar rules in...

/ December 14, 2015

Home birth tragedies lead to changes in Oregon

Oregon Health Plan (OHP), the state’s Medicaid insurer, will no longer cover planned home and birth center births for women whose pregnancies aren’t classified as low risk, based on newly-established criteria. The Health Evidence Review Commission (HERC), a group of experts designated by the state, came up with criteria that will exclude women with a substantial list of conditions, such as high...

/ December 10, 2015
Electromagnetic wave

“Electromagnetic hypersensitivity” and “wifi allergies”: Bogus diagnoses with tragic real world consequences

"Electromagnetic hypersensitivity" and "wifi allergies" are two names given to a nonexistent medical condition in low energy electromagnetic fields like wifi are blamed for a variety of health conditions. This is a story in which the parents' insistence that their teenage daughter, who had posted threats to commit suicide on social media, had this condition appears to have interfered with seeking mental...

/ December 7, 2015

Holding the supplement industry to account: Can we learn from tobacco regulation?

A new paper compares the supplement industry to Big Tobacco and argues that states should use the same tactics to improve consumer safety and protection.

/ December 3, 2015