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Coal and the Hidden Threat to Health

We will not find “exposure to burning coal” listed as the cause of death on a single death certificate, but tens of thousands of deaths from asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and other illnesses are clearly linked to coal-derived pollution. As politicians and advertising campaigns extol the virtues of “clean coal,” the dirty secret is that coal kills. In The Silent Epidemic, Alan Lockwood, a physician, describes and documents the adverse health effects of burning coal.

Envisioning Health Care 2020

Contrary to popular opinion, one of the main problems in providing uniformly excellent health care is not lack of money but lack of knowledge—on the part of both doctors and patients. The studies in this book show that many doctors and most patients do not understand the available medical evidence. Both patients and doctors are “risk illiterate”—frequently unable to tell the difference between actual risk and relative risk. Further, unwarranted disparity in treatment decisions is the rule rather than the exception in the United States and Europe.

This book introduces students to the growing research field of health economics. Rather than offer details about health systems around the world without providing a theoretical context, Health Economics combines economic concepts with empirical evidence to enhance readers’ economic understanding of how health care institutions and markets function. It views the subject in both microeconomic and macroeconomic terms, moving from the individual and firm level to the market level to a macroeconomic view of the role of health and health care within the economy as a whole.

Why Single Payer Won't Work

In the battle over health care reform we can try to fashion new policies based on old ideas--or we can acknowledge today’s demographic and economic realities. In Health Care Turning Point, health policy expert Roger Battistella argues that the conventional wisdom that dominates health policy debates is out of date. Battistella takes on popular misconceptions about the advantages of single-payer plans, the role of the market, and other health policy issues and outlines a pragmatic new approach.

One of the most daunting challenges facing the new U.S. administration is health care reform. The size of the system, the number of stakeholders, and ever-rising costs make the problem seem almost intractable. But in Chaos and Organization in Health Care, two leading physicians offer an optimistic prognosis. In their frontline work as providers, Thomas Lee and James Mongan see the inefficiency, the missed opportunities, and the occasional harm that can result from the current system. The root cause of these problems, they argue, is chaos in the delivery of care.

The widespread but virtually invisible problem of pesticide drift—the airborne movement of agricultural pesticides into residential areas—has fueled grassroots activism from Maine to Hawaii. Pesticide drift accidents have terrified and sickened many living in the country’s most marginalized and vulnerable communities. In this book, Jill Lindsey Harrison considers political conflicts over pesticide drift in California, using them to illuminate the broader problem and its potential solutions.

How All of Us Can Help Veterans

Traumatized veterans returning from our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are often diagnosed as suffering from a psychological disorder and prescribed a regimen of psychotherapy and psychiatric drugs. But why, asks psychologist Paula J. Caplan in this impassioned book, is it a mental illness to be devastated by war? What is a mentally healthy response to death, destruction, and moral horror? In When Johnny and Jane Come Marching Home, Caplan argues that the standard treatment of therapy and drugs is often actually harmful.

A Patient-Centered Approach to Diabetes

The healthcare industry has been slow to join the information technology revolution; handwritten records are still the primary means of organizing patient care. Concerns about patient privacy, the difficulty of developing appropriate computing tools and information technology, high costs, and the resistance of some physicians and nurses have hampered the use of technology in health care. In 2009, the U.S. government committed billions of dollars to health care technology. Many questions remain, however, about how to deploy these resources.

Most experts would agree that the current medical malpractice system in the United States does not work effectively either to compensate victims fairly or prevent injuries caused by medical errors. Policy responses to a series of medical malpractice crises have not resulted in effective reform and have not altered the fundamental incentives of the stakeholders. In Medical Malpractice, economist Frank Sloan and lawyer Lindsey Chepke examine the U.S.

An Institutional Compromise

Physicians in the United States who refuse to perform a variety of legally permissible medical services because of their own moral objections are often protected by “conscience clauses.” These laws, on the books in nearly every state since the legalization of abortion by Roe v. Wade, shield physicians and other health professionals from such potential consequences of refusal as liability and dismissal.

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