Longer Looks: New Doubts About Shaken Baby Syndrome; Arresting The Mentally Ill

Every week, KHN reporter Marissa Evans selects interesting reading from around the Web.

Seattle Met: The Trouble With Shaken Baby Syndrome
A number of reexamined cases in recent years—aided by new technology and debate among medical experts—have put proponents of the (Shaken Baby Syndrome) hypothesis on the defensive. Ernie Lopez, who was serving a 60-year-sentence for shaking an infant in his care to death, is now free, thanks in part to the work of retired Seattle lawyer Heather Kirkwood. So is Audrey Edmunds, a woman charged with the murder of a child in her care in the 1990s.  Yet even if they're ultimately absolved of any wrongdoing, those suspected of SBS are left to pick through the debris of their former lives: loss of employment, financial ruin, the stigma of having been labeled a child abuser.  Over the course of the past year I have contacted Washingtonians who've either been acquitted of SBS or whose cases showed sufficient reason for the possibility of exoneration. And in nearly every instance, they either refused to speak to me or asked that any identifying biographical details be left out of my account (James Ross Gardner, 4/1).

The New York Times: Police Confront Rising Number Of Mentally Ill Suspects
In towns and cities across the United States, police officers find themselves playing dual roles as law enforcers and psychiatric social workers. County jails and state prisons have become de facto mental institutions; in New York, for instance, a surge of stabbings, beatings and other violence at Rikers Island has been attributed in part to an influx of mentally ill inmates, who respond erratically to discipline and are vulnerable targets for other prisoners. "Frequent fliers," as mentally ill inmates who have repeated arrests are known in law enforcement circles, cycle from jail cells to halfway houses to the streets and back. The problem has gotten worse in recent years, according to mental health and criminal justice experts, as state and local governments have cut back on mental health services for financial reasons (Fernanda Santos and Erica Goode, 4/1). 

Salon: Report: Doctors At Oklahoma Hospital Banned From Prescribing Birth Control
Doctors affiliated with a small Catholic hospital in Bartlesville, Okla., are no longer allowed to prescribe contraception for the purposes of birth control, according to a report from the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise. According to the report, a meeting was held last week to inform doctors of the new directive barring them from prescribing contraceptives as birth control; according to the Examiner-Enterprise, doctors are allowed to prescribe contraceptives for non-birth control purposes, such as cramps, menstrual pain or endometriosis. ... A representative for St. John Health Systems, the Catholic health conglomerate that owns Jane Phillips Medical Center, said that the hospital's policy on contraception is "consistent with all Catholic health care organizations," but that physicians are able to prescribe medicine as they see fit (Katie McDonough, 4/1).

WBUR: The Woman Who Couldn't Stop Buying Self-Help Books
At first, I couldn’t understand why this new psychotherapy client had settled on my couch. Sure, Kaye (not her real name) was unhappy with her weight, and yet, she enjoyed an enviably healthy diet. With the aid of self-help books, she had not only taught herself to cook delicious, nutritious dishes, she'd also learned to meditate and eat mindfully. This unusually self-motivated working mother of two not only read each book from cover to cover, she practiced what the most helpful authors preached. As time went on, I came to understand that as much as self-help books helped Kaye eat more healthfully, they were effectively hindering her happiness. You see, she used self-help books the same way she used food – to stuff her feelings (Jean Fain, 3/28).

The Atlantic: Making Profits And Differences At Hospitals
Fifty years ago, healthcare was not so tightly linked to money. It has become so money-focused largely because, over the same period, healthcare spending increased from 5 percent to 18 percent of GDP, greater than any other segment of the U.S. economy. In some respects, the growing focus on money is completely natural. For one thing, someone needs to pay the bills of physicians, hospitals, health insurers, and even publicly-funded health programs. Even if healthcare workers give their time and hospitals donate the supplies, equipment, and facilities, someone ultimately pays out of pocket or in uncompensated effort for the care of every patient. The question is not so much whether money should enter into the conversation, but how prominent a role should it play, and where the loyalties of the people involved ultimately lie (Richard Gunderman, 3/27).

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