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Daily Rounds: Face Of The Uninsured; Meningitis In NH; Ideal Food Labels; Unwashed Brits

A possibly fatal mistake (The New York Times) "Remember also that while Scott was foolish, mostly he was unlucky. He is a bachelor, so he didn’t have a spouse whose insurance he could fall back on in his midlife crisis. In any case, we all take risks, and usually we get away with them. Scott is a usually prudent guy who took a chance, and then everything went wrong. The Mitt Romney philosophy, as I understand it, is that this is a tragic but necessary byproduct of requiring Americans to take personal responsibility for their lives. They need to understand that mistakes have consequences. That’s why Romney would repeal Obamacare and leave people like Scott to pay the price for their irresponsibility. To me, that seems ineffably harsh. We all make mistakes, and a humane government tries to compensate for our misjudgments. That’s why highways have guardrails, why drivers must wear seat belts, why police officers pull over speeders, why we have fire codes. In other modern countries, Scott would have been insured, and his cancer would have been much more likely to be detected in time for effective treatment. Is that a nanny state? No, it’s a civilized one."

Fungal infection strikes four in New Hampshire (The Boston Globe) - "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday confirmed that four people in New Hampshire have fungal infections linked to a meningitis outbreak that has swelled to more than 200 confirmed cases nationwide and claimed the lives of 15 people. Three patients have fungal meningitis — an inflammation of the brain — and a fourth person has a peripheral joint infection, according to the CDC, and all cases are related to apparently tainted steroids produced by a Framingham facility. The New Hampshire patients are between the ages of 40 and 60 and are the first confirmed victims of the outbreak in New England."

My dream food label (The New York Times) - "Choices based on dietary guidelines are all well and good — our health is certainly an important consideration — but they don’t go nearly far enough. We need to consider the well-being of the earth (and all that that means, like climate, and soil, water and air quality), the people who grow and prepare our food, the animals we eat, the overall wholesomeness of the food — what you might call its “foodness” (once the word “natural” might have served, but that’s been completely co-opted), as opposed to its fakeness. (“Foodness” is a tricky, perhaps even silly word, but it expresses what it should. Think about the spectrum from fruit to Froot Loops or from chicken to Chicken McNuggets and you understand it.) These are considerations that even the organic label fails to take into account."

Handwashing: Why are the British so bad at washing their hands? (BBC) - "Poo, it's getting everywhere. Faecal bacteria is present on 26% of hands in the UK, 14% of bank notes and 10% of credit cards, according to new research carried out by hygiene experts from Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL) and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). It has been published to promote the UN's Global Handwashing Day. They say one of the biggest shocks is the level of germs. Findings suggest 11% of our hands are so "grossly contaminated" they are carrying as many germs as a dirty toilet bowl. It's the same for 8% of cards and 6% of notes. We already know faecal matter can be found on one in six mobile phones. "People may claim they wash their hands regularly but the science shows otherwise," says QMUL's Dr Ron Cutler, who led the study."

This program aired on October 15, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

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