Weekend reads: Canines help Boston heal

Interesting stories and studies from the past week

The Daily Briefing editorial team highlights several interesting health care stories and studies that didn't quite make this week's Briefing. What are you reading this weekend? Let us know in the comments.

Juliette Mullin's reads

Six years of waiting for the ED? BBC Wales reports that ambulances over a six-month period spent nearly 55,000 hours waiting outside Welsh hospitals. That adds up to over six years spent waiting to transfer patients out of emergency vehicles and into hospital departments.

Men aren't mind readers. Research published this week in PLoS ONE confirms the long-held belief that men struggle to understand women—at least based on their eyes. The study found that, when examining images of eyes, men had twice as much trouble deciphering the emotions of women than the emotions men.

Is fame deadly? An analysis of New York Times obituaries finds that people who live their lives in the spotlight tend to die earlier than those who do not. And those who found their fame through sports, acting, or music tended to die earlier than those who found their fame elsewhere.

Paige Bashuck's reads

The second responders: Comfort dogs deployed to Boston. Shortly after news broke that more than 180 runners and spectators at the Boston Marathon had been injured in horrific twin blasts, the Lutheran Church Charities comfort dogs packed their bags and headed for Boston. These golden retrievers have been specially trained as part of a Northern Illinois University program and are stationed at hospitals for the injured, at the finish line for runners retrieving their bags, and on the street for passersby who need a furry hug.

Why are Parkinson's patients hospitalized more than others their age? According to Paula Span, the problem lies in hospital staff not getting Parkinson's patients their medications on time—and sometimes not even giving them the right medications. Span tells the story of one Parkinson's patient who developed delirium because of poor care, moved in and out of rehab centers and hospitals, took a fall, and lost 60 pounds. The National Parkinson's Foundation is working to educate hospitals about the disease and is asking Parkinson's patients to wear bracelets identifying their condition.

Dan Diamond's reads

How damaged are NFL players' brains? There's no debate, at this point: Football isn't great for a player's long-term cognitive health. But is too much being made of the connection between the sport and risk of dementia? Virginia Hughes goes deeper on a new study that suggests some of the hand-wringing may be overblown.

Arkansas private option clears legislature, but hurdles to come Project Millennial's Adrianna McIntyre has a good, quick update on the much-watched battle over Arkansas' alternative to Medicaid expansion.

One man's plot for the next Star Wars movie Ok, this isn't health care-related and it's not even a read. But it's been a really, really dark week—and comedian Patton Oswalt's ridiculous, nerdy riff, which he improvised for the TV show "Parks and Recreation," made me smile amid a lot of very sad news.

Michael Jordan didn't really have the flu; he was 'poisoned' Again: Thinking about some lighter reads today.

Hanna Jaquith's reads

How terror hijacks the brain. Traumatic events—like Monday's bombings at the Boston Marathon—short circuits the brain's normally logical and reasoned thinking, triggering intense anxiety that can become debilitating in the long term. The effect is exactly what terrorists aim to achieve, TIME's Maia Szalavitz points out. Fortunately, social support—combined with the kinds of selfless and altruistic acts we've seen in the days following the marathon attack—is the key to returning to our normal selves.

Don't forget to wash your hands. Startup company intelligentM has introduced a new wristband monitor that reminds doctors to wash their hands when they enter a patient's room or when cleaning isn't up to snuff. Although the reminders may be an annoyance for some, the Shepherd Center's Ford Vox argues such measures are necessary to reduce high rates of hospital-acquired infections.


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