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Daily Rounds: The $8K MRI; A Renaissance Scientist; Safe HPV Vaccine; A Specialist Shortage In Mass.

Sticker Shock: My $8,000 MRI (WBUR) — "You called some labs beforehand to try to get an estimate. One of the labs you called was Shields. It’s a chain that specializes in MRIs and other radiology tests, and Shields said it would have charged you between $2,000 and $3,600 for this same set of tests. Do you know why there’s that huge price difference? I can tell you what Newton-Wellesley told me – which is that it costs a lot to keep a hospital open 24 hours a day. Hospitals lose a lot of money on some services and make it up other other services. MRIs or other tests are a place that they often make it up. And hospitals say they lose money taking care of patients with Medicare — that’s mostly for the elderly — or Medicaid — that’s government insurance mostly for the poor. So private insurance payers, like me, end up paying more for these tests so that the hospitals can have everything on balance in the end."

Barry Commoner, 1917-2012: Scientist, Candidate and Planet Earth's Lifeguard (The New York Times) — "His four informal rules of ecology were catchy enough to print on a T-shirt and take to the street: Everything is connected to everything else. Everything must go somewhere. Nature knows best. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Although the rules were plain enough, the thinking behind them required leaps of faith. Dr. Commoner’s overarching concern was not ecology as such but rather a radical ideal of social justice in which everything was indeed connected to everything else. Like some other left-leaning dissenters of his time, he believed that environmental pollution, war, and racial and sexual inequality needed to be addressed as related issues of a central problem."

Study Finds HPV Vaccine Gardisil Safe (The Wall Street Journal) — "A new study of Merck & Co.'s Gardasil cervical-cancer vaccine showed it was associated with fainting on the day of inoculation and skin infections two weeks afterward, but no link with more serious health problems was found. The vaccine protects against four strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV, two of which account for about 70% of cervical-cancer cases in women. HPV is also linked to vaginal cancer in women and mouth and throat cancer in both men and women. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates about 15,000 women and 7,000 men are diagnosed with an HPV-related cancer each year in the U.S."


Report: Mass. Has Shortage Of Medical Specialists
(AP via The Boston Globe) — "Shortages in internal medicine, psychiatry, urology and neurosurgery met the study’s criteria of ‘‘critical.’’ Three other specialties were classified as ‘‘severe"— family medicine, dermatology and general surgery. The medical society also found what it called ‘‘mixed results regarding the recruitment and retention of physicians in the state.’’ The study said more than 94 percent of community hospitals reported significant difficulty in filling vacancies. That’s compared with about 7 percent of the state’s teaching hospitals reporting similar difficulties."

This program aired on October 2, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

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