Longer looks: Searching for a dementia gene; The trouble with medical device patents; Blue dog Matheson's re-election quest

Published on November 2, 2012 at 12:34 AM · No Comments

Every week Shefali S. Kulkarni selects interesting reading from around the Web.

Time: Lessons from Storm Sandy: When Hospital Generators Fail
When it comes to preparing for a natural disaster like superstorm Sandy, hospitals drill for such evacuations and activate emergency command centers to manage any increase in patients. Still, events like superstorm Sandy are hard to prepare for. "It's been an unprecedented situation that has required an unprecedented response from the whole tri-state health care system," says Jim Mandler, assistant vice president for public affairs for Continnum Health Partners hospitals. All three hospitals took in patients from NYU with St. Luke's and Roosevelt Hospital taking in 63 patients ranging from cardiac patients to preemies (Alexandra Sifferlin, 10/30).

Fortune Magazine/CNN: The Bloody Patent Battle Over A Healing Machine
It's pronounced "vack" and stands for vacuum-assisted closure. Here's what it is: You cut a piece of foam to size and place it in a wound as a barrier and protector. Then you cover the wound and seal it up. ... If it sounds simple, it's because it is simple. For much of the past 20 years this device was controlled by a San Antonio company called Kinetic Concepts Inc. The VAC transformed KCI from a second-tier medical manufacturer into a global juggernaut. For Wake Forest University, which licensed the VAC patents to KCI, the device has meant about $500 million in royalties. ... This is the story of what happens when there are billions of dollars wrapped up in a prosaic piece of technology. ... It's a story about luck and timing and the squeezing of the health care dollar (Ken Otterbourg, 10/30).

Slate: The Undecided Voter Revealed
For these undecided voters, this election is a referendum on Romney. They've mostly already made up their mind about the incumbent. ... These voters think Romney can handle the economy, but they worry he will embrace an extreme agenda on social issues ranging from abortion to gay marriage. ... Jenelle Kirchoff is a pro-choice Catholic, but she is considering voting for Romney because "I am struggling with Obama's insistence that all entities mandate birth control coverage." Kirchoff is also the mother of seven, and though after her divorce she accepted limited government assistance, she thinks Obama is in favor of subsidies that are too generous (John Dickerson, 10/31).

Mother Jones: Rep. Jim Matheson: Endangered Species 
The congressional career of Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) has often seemed like a decadelong exercise in political survival. Utah Republicans have twice tried to redistrict him out of office, and he presently represents the most solidly GOP district in America held by a Democrat. ... Nationally, conservative Democrats like Matheson are an endangered species. ... Despite this disadvantage, Matheson has managed to hang on to his seat, in part due to his conservative credentials. He was one of 34 House Democrats to vote against Obamacare, and his pro-business voting record is so solid that he is one of just five House Democrats this year to win an endorsement from the US Chamber of Commerce (Stephanie Mencimer, 10/31).

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