1.11.17: Using Hypothermia to Save Gunshot Victims, Treating Addicts, & The Bookshelf

Jan 11, 2017

The opioid epidemic profoundly affects families, communities, law enforcement and puts doctors and hospital staff on the front lines of addiction. Today, a physician and ethicist makes a radical suggestion - let addicts shoot up in the hospital.

Then, for most people who sustain traumatic injuries from bullets or car crashes death occurs within an hour. Now, what seems like a miracle cure is freighted with questions of consent, ethics and racism in a country with a sordid history of medical experiments on African Americans.

Listen to the full show. 

Using Hypothermia to Save Gunshot Victims

Almost two weeks into 2017, there have been 1322 gun-related incidents and 342 deaths - that's according to the gun violence archive. For most people who sustain traumatic injuries from bullets or car crashes death occurs within an hour. A trial at one of the country's leading trauma centers aims to keep victims alive longer using profound hypothermia - basically freezing circulation of critically wounded victims when every second counts.

The experiment at Baltimore's Shock Trauma Center has been called 'blasphemy’ by some in the medical community. It also raises questions of consent, ethics and racism in a country with a sordid history of medical experiments on African Americans. Nicola Twilley is co-host of the Gastropod  podcast and contributing writer for the New Yorker – that’s where she reported on the story.   

Exploring and Planning for Death At a New Kind of Festival

Talking about death and dying is a subject most people shy away from. The first “Before I Die” festival took place in Wales in 2013 and was designed to give people an opportunity to talk about how they want to approach the end of life. Producer Jake Harper attended the first “Before I Die” festival held in the United States last spring along with Side Effects Public Media, a reporting collaborative focused on public health.     

You can listen to this story again at PRX.org. 

Learning How to Treat Addicts

An estimated 28,000 people died from opioid drug overdoses in 2014. That's a 200% increase since 2000. While politicians, public health officials, and affected families grapple with the epidemic, it is professional caregivers who are increasingly on the front lines with addicts. Some of those doctors, hospital staff, addiction counselors and emergency responders advocates for innovative, even radical approaches to treatment.

Tim Lahey is a physician and ethicist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and director of education at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. In an op-ed for the New York Times, Tim proposed that opioid users be allowed to inject while in hospital care

The Last of the Iron Lungs

Among major medical advances in the last century one tends to stand out - the eradication of Polio. Though more than sixty years after Polio was eradicated in the US, a few people still rely on iron lungs to breathe. Producer Julia Scott brought us this story as part of the STEM story project - it was distributed by PRX and made possible with funds from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.   

You can listen to this story again at PRX.org

The Bookshelf: Novelist Jessica Estevao

This week on The Bookshelf, host Peter Biello is speaking with novelist Jessica Estevao, author of Whispers Beyond the Veil.   

You can listen to this full segment again here: The Bookshelf: Novelist Jessica Estevao