Hot Topics: Health Care

Blog Posts (3705)

January 6, 2017

Party politics, people’s lives

As health care financing rises yet again to the top of our national legislative agenda, some fundamental questions ought to be strongly considered. First, and most fundamental: Is some level of healthcare a right, that the government is therefore obligated to protect? Is it better viewed as a common good, like roads and fire protection services, that everybody pays for through taxes and everybody benefits... // Read More »
January 6, 2017

Are Your Healthcare Prices Outrageous? Here’s What Happens When Prices Come Out Of The Dark

They both had shoulder pain, persistent despite weeks of physical therapy. Both received MRI examinations at reputable radiology facilities, looking for things like rotator cuff tears, labral disruptions and other anatomical abnormalities. What was different was the price they paid … Continue reading

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January 6, 2017

Exercise is good for you and High Heels are not: Health Reports on the Obvious

In a quest for health news which might spark some meaningful topic worth sharing with the Bioethics community, I was repeatedly dismayed at the number of articles offering relatively little useful information at all. In fact, there seemed to be a surprising number of articles that offer scientific support for topics that might be tempting for a superficial glance, but do not add meaningfully to the much broader well-being of individuals and communities. I strongly support using any tools necessary to disseminate health information to persons who may benefit from evidence based health information, but the focus of this effort ought to address more meaningful goals of medicine and human welfare.

An article published in Substance Use and Misuse points out that of the over 15,000 individuals there was no significant relationship between alcohol consumption and physical activity (PA) study link. This article offers common sense health advice for future efforts: “Prevention programs to increase PA levels from low to moderate combined with a reduction of alcohol intake in men who regularly drink alcohol should be considered.” This conclusion is based on the finding that persons who drink heavily also have lower physical activity levels. Hardly seems groundbreaking. Yet, if there had been a correlation suggesting that heavy drinkers are also quite physically active, what would this offer as a useful nugget of health information? Don’t worry about heavy alcohol consumption?

Studying the long term effect of wearing high heel shoes has also gained attention in the media and academic literature. Though, in fairness, I suppose someone has to study it so we can provide evidence based practice considerations to persons who develop foot or ankle problems, or are required to wear high heels as part of a work uniform. “One condition known to compound the difficulty of walking is the use of high heeled shoes.”  study link #2.  I believe all who have worn high heels are likely to agree on this point. The piece does offer some considerations about blood flow to the lower extremities, which could be helpful to physicians treating patients with high heeled related ambulatory difficulties, so a relevant factor in advising patients. Nonetheless, it seems a bit startling that such research is surfacing in the media to answer this question for consumers.  A recent New York Times blog ( titled “Reducing the frequency of wearing high-heeled shoes and increasing ankle strength can prevent ankle injury in women” leads off with a critique of having a character run from Jurassic dinosaurs while she is wearing high heels, and offers evidence for negative effects of long term high heeled shoe wearing. Just in case there was any doubt, the article concludes with sound advice for not wearing high heels as the footwear of choice if escaping a fast moving deadly animal.

Media is a powerful too, and so is scientific inquiry. I believe the public can digest more meaningful discussions of health related matters than those which confirm common sense.

 The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and Graduate Certificates in Clinical Ethics and Clinical Ethics Consultation. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our website.



January 6, 2017

CGI Turing Test

[Star Wars fans spoiler alert: The following contains potential story information from “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”, the Star Wars Episode IV prequel] I confess that I am a Stars Wars geek in particular and a science fiction movie buff in general. Like many, I am old enough to have seen the first Star Wars movie at its 1977 release, before it was re-indexed... // Read More »
January 6, 2017

NQF Issues National Standards for Tools to Help Patients Make Healthcare Decisions

The National Quality Forum recently issued a set of national standards for decision aids, which are key resources for improving shared decision making between providers and patients.  Decision aids--such as videos, online tools, and other resourc...
January 5, 2017

“The [Customer] Patient is Always Right?”

I recently received email notification of the 2016 update of the “Medscape Ethics Report: Life, Death, and Pain.”  Follow the link to view a slide set summarizing the results from 7505 surveyed physicians, 63% of whom were female: Physician-assisted suicide (PAS) for “terminally ill patients”: DOCTORS now favor it, 57%-29%, up from 46%-41% in 2010. The proportion saying “it depends” remains at 14%.  What’s driving... // Read More »
January 5, 2017

Role for Law in Medical Practice at End of Life

In the latest issue of the Journal of Law & Medicine, Lindy Willmott and colleagues discuss the role for law in medical practice.  One respondent colorfully conveyed that law should stay out of the clinical encounter.  
January 4, 2017

The High Costs of Chasing Immortality

John G. Carney, President and CEO of the Center for Practical Bioethics will present “The High Costs of Chasing Immortality” on January 19, 2017, 4:30 to 5:30 pm CST.

This is part of the Center’s 2017 Bioethics Lecture Series and will be both in person at the Kauffman Conference Center in Kansas City and on Facebook Live.

January 4, 2017

Last Days of the ACA

by Craig M. Klugman, Ph.D.

Politicians are notorious for making campaign promises and then not carrying them out. With the beginning of the 115th Congress, the GOP has doubled-down on its promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”).…

January 4, 2017

The High Costs of Chasing Immortality

John G. Carney, MEd
John G. Carney, MEd, President and CEO of the Center, will present a free lecture on “The High Costs of Chasing Immortality” at the Center’s 2017 Bioethics Lecture Series on January 19, 2017, 4:30 to 5:30 pm CST, in person at the Kauffman Conference Center in Kansas City and on Facebook Live. To attend in person, please RSVP to

Americans undoubtedly cherish the science of medicine, whether it be “moonshots” to cure fatal diseases, research to augment our genetic code, or the development of new “breakthrough” drugs for debilitating conditions.

But how good are we at separating the financial considerations and “return on investment” from the human factors involved in living with incurable diseases and chronic conditions? What is the actual cost – in terms of patients’ lives? What is the value of a day, a week, a month of additional life? Who gets to decide? Who pays? Does every life get valued the same? Should it?

This brief but thoughtful inquiry into the personal and societal questions that we face will attempt to narrow the lens of focus to the human considerations involved in prolonging life for those with life-limiting conditions.

-       How should individual responsibilities in managing care be measured?

-       If we are going to shift from a world that pays for services based on their availability to one that measures “success” in terms of outcomes – whose outcomes are we adopting? 

Patient-centered care is designed to give patients a voice – not only in deciding how important it is to pursue a critical path but in deciding what even the goals of care and treatment ought to be. In doing so, we open ourselves up to a whole new set of questions and a shift from the traditional paternalistic approach where “doctor knows best.”

The whys and wherefores of patient and proxy choices at the edge of life may just give us a peek into how valuing patients decisions could change the dialogue about outcomes and goals of care more generally.

What we may find in exploring our mortal natures is a different kind of answer - or certainly a different set of questions that need to be answered rather than the elusive and costly pursuit of immortality.