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June 7th, 2010
05:15 PM ET

Report: Hospitals lacking protection for gays and lesbians

By John Bonifield
CNN Medical Producer

A review of 200 of the nation's largest hospitals finds 42 percent do not have policies in place to protect gay and lesbian patients from discrimination based on sexual orientation, according to a new report by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

The gay and lesbian civil rights organization also says 93 percent of hospitals in its review fail to protect transgender patients from discrimination based on gender identity.

"The results clearly reflect that we have a long way to go," said Tom Sullivan, co-author of the HRC's report, "Affirming and protective policies must be in place."

In April, President Obama ordered hospitals that receive money from the government's Medicare and Medicaid programs to eliminate restrictive hospital visitation rights for gays and lesbians. A draft regulation of the rule is expected in the coming months.

"While the good news is the health care landscape is about to change dramatically...the sad reality it the status quo is very poor," said Joe Solmonese, HRC's president, in a teleconference with reporters today.

Solmonese is encouraging hospitals to act ahead of the new legislation to draft more inclusive policies on their own.

"There is no reason to wait," he said. "Go ahead of the curve now."

The American Hospital Association says it looks forward to learning details of the new regulations.

“We recognize how important family support is to a patient's well-being and we work hard to involve patients and their loved ones in their care,” the association says in a statement to CNN. “The executive order states that changes will take place through the federal rule-making process, including guidance on how hospitals can best comply with new regulations.”

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation has advice about hospital visitation and decision-making for gays and lesbians.


June 7th, 2010
05:01 PM ET

Progress against cancer reported on multiple fronts

By Miriam Falco
CNN Medical Managing Editor

Since Saturday, about 30,000 of the world’s top cancer experts have been in Chicago for the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncologists, the largest conference of the year on cancer care and treatment. Researchers are presenting more than 4,000 different studies – some very small and preliminary; some large and probably practice-changing. Here a few that could have an impact on how patients will be treated in the future.

FULL POST


June 7th, 2010
12:56 PM ET

What is Darth Vader's diagnosis?

By Elizabeth Landau
CNN.com Health Writer/Producer

The manipulations of  Anakin Skywalker, also known as Darth Vader in the "Star Wars"  saga, have long been ascribed to the Dark Side of the Force. Now, psychiatrists suggests that the actions of the Jedi Knight could be used in teaching about a real-life mental illness.

A letter to the editor in the journal Psychiatry Research explores just what is wrong with Vader. French researchers posit that Vader exhibits six out of the nine criteria for borderline personality disorder. Unstable moods, interpersonal relationships, and behaviors are all characteristics of this condition, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health. It affects 2 percent of adults, mostly young women.

The young Anakin Skywalker was separated from his mother at an early age, and his father was absent, factors that could have contributed to borderline personality disorder. His "infantile illusions of omnipotence" and "dysfunctional experiences of self and others" are also indicative of this condition from an early age.

The researchers argue that Vader experienced two "dissociative episodes," one when he exterminated the Tusken people after his mother's death, and the other when he killed all of the Jedi younglings. He often showed impulsive behavior and had difficulty controlling his anger. He also may have showcased a disturbance in identity by turning to the dark side and changing his name.

Darth Vader may thus be used to educate the public about borderline personality disorder and help combat stigma associated with mental illness.

But Emory psychiatrist Dr. Charles Raison, CNNhealth.com's mental health expert, has a different take. In the original three movies - which are the last three chronologically - Vader appears to be under the control of an evil emperor, making his character difficult to ascribe to a psychiatric disorder.

UPDATE: Dr. Raison would like to clarify that his comment was specific to Darth Vader and not to Anakin Skywalker. "Anakin is a much better exemplar of personality disturbance," he says. "On the other hand Darth Vader laid down his life to save his son and kill the evil emperor when all was said and done. Perhaps there is a lesson here, too, on type casting people who struggle with personality disturbances?"


Editor's Note:
Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


June 7th, 2010
09:28 AM ET

Suspected ADHD could be a sleep disorder

By Georgiann Caruso
CNN Medical Associate Producer

Symptoms that look much like attention-deficit disorder  or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in children could be a misdiagnosed sleep disorder.  And according to research presented this weekend at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, about 18 percent of patients in the study were at risk for sleep-disordered breathing, which includes sleep apnea and snoring.

Dr. Rose Sheats from the University of North Carolina, who specializes in orthodontics, helped to lead the research.  Sheats said the take-home message is, "You can't rely on the type of face a child has, to assume that they are or are not at risk for sleep-disordered breathing."

Researchers studied 100 children ages 7-17.  Slightly more than half were female, and the group was three-quarters Caucasian.  The scientists used detailed questionnaires and also looked at race, age, gender, body mass index and skull X-rays to see the jaw.  Their results showed no associations with these factors, making the condition hard to detect in the children.

"We as orthodontists and dentists who see children regularly have an opportunity to recognize the possibility that a child is at risk for sleep apnea or disordered breathing," Sheats said.  "If you treat it, many of these conditions can be reversible at a young age."

For parents, Sheats said,  it's important for your child's dentist or orthodontist to be asking a few simple but relevant questions about their sleep pattern and behaviors, including snoring, inattention in class, misbehaving in class or waking up having a hard time breathing in the middle of the night.  The child can then be referred for a sleep study and seen by a physician.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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