Archives for July, 2012

Malpractice lawsuits not a driver in skyrocketing healthcare costs

Reform of the medical malpractice system is frequently mentioned as a way to control U.S. health care costs. A study of health care spending following a cap on damage awards in Texas shows no effect on spending levels or trends.

Coal miner killed in West Virginia while memorial to Upper Big Branch unveiled

Coal miner Johnny Mack Bryant II, 35, was killed on Friday, July 27 in the “red zone” when he was struck and pinned by a continuous mining machine. Let’s see whether this work-related fatality gives the Labor Department a greater sense of urgency to finalize safety regulations to require proximity detection devices on certain types of mining equipment.

In the fall of 2011, a new Texas statute took effect against employers who engage in wage theft, putting in place real consequences for employers found guilty of stealing wages from workers. It was a big step forward in a state where wage theft has become as common as cowboy boots and pick-up trucks. It was especially good news for workers in El Paso, where wage theft has become so rampant that workers rights advocates have dubbed it an “epidemic.”

Chinese factory-fire victim turned activist to be honored by world’s largest public health group

Yuying Chen transformed from a 15 year old girl who worked in a factory making toys for export, to a woman empowered by a workplace disaster, to an internationally recognized human rights leader. She will receive the American Public Health Association’s International Health & Safety Activist’s award at the group’s annual meeting to be held October 27-31, 2012 in San Francisco.

The fact that an International AIDS Conference is happening in the US is a big deal — and the Washington, DC location is meaningful not only because this is the nation’s capital, but because the District has a high rate of HIV infections.

Occupational Health News Roundup

Members of Congress and the Mine Safety & Health Administration respond to an investigative series on the resurgence of black lung disease among miners; OSHA cracks down on railroad employers who retaliate against whistleblowing employees, and relies on education rather than an emergency standard to address heat stress; and gunmen in Pakistan attack the vehicle of a doctor involved in a polio vaccination campaign.

Revealing the location of the hydrofracking operations where the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found levels of respirable silica at 10-100 times above the recommended safety limits is important to the health of those who have worked at those sites or others like them.

Gun violence is a U.S. public health problem

Gun violence is uniquely an American problem compared to other industrialized countries. Firearm-related fatality rates in the U.S. are four times the rates in other industrially advanced countries. We continue to relegate this social ill it to our criminal justice system when it needs a public health solution.

Legislative attacks on women’s health care are so commonplace these days that they make proposals that don’t include a state-mandated vaginal probe seem moderate. In fact, so many legislators are introducing proposals under the guise of protecting women’s health, that it was pretty refreshing to read how the Affordable Care Act will actually protect women’s health. Like, for real.

House Republicans say the heck with black lung disease, have a coal miner postage stamp instead

While investigative reporters are exposing the plague of black lung disease in U.S. coal miners, the best Members of Congress are willing to do is ask for a postage stamp commemorating the American Coal Miner.