Daily Rounds: More Women Docs; Partners Goes Personal; Polio Outbreak; Risky Ibuprofen

Women Notch Progress: Females Now Constitute One-Third of Nation’s Ranks of Doctors and Lawyers (The Wall Street Journal) –‘Despite women’s greater presence in law and medicine, wage gaps between men and women persist in both fields. In 2007, the median income—the point at which half earn more and half earn less—of female lawyers was $90,000, compared with $122,000 for male lawyers, according to research by Harvard economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz. The median income of female physicians was $112,128, compared with $186,916 for male physicians. Those differences are largely explained by individual choices, including women taking off time to raise children or opting for less-demanding career tracks or positions that pay less, said Mr. Katz. But a small portion of the gap exists for unclear reasons, he said. Discrimination could also be a factor, though it isn’t clear how much, he said. Ms. Goldin said women’s gains in medicine have coincided with the rise of corporate-owned hospitals and medical practices, in many cases making it easier for women to balance work and family. Health-care companies have bought up many small, previously male-owned independent practices and raised women’s wages closer to men’s, while offering more flexible work schedules, Ms. Goldin said.’

Partners Going Personal (The Boston Globe) — “Starting next month, Boston-based Partners will launch a “whole genome” sequencing and interpretation service for patients at its nine hospitals across Eastern Massachusetts, including Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s. The service, which will cost about $9,000, is intended to help doctors and patients make critical decisions about treatments — for example, which breast cancer drug could work best based on a patient’s genetic makeup. Once it is up and running, the genetic screening and interpretation service — using a suite of proprietary Partners software — could be extended to hospitals elsewhere. Partners hopes the bulk of the cost in most cases will be picked up by private and government insurers that would otherwise pay more for trial-and-error treatments that may ultimately prove less effective.”

A Polio Outbreak In Pakistan Reveals Gaps In Vaccination (NPR) — “The World Health Organization says 10 cases of so-called vaccine-derived polio were reported in Pakistan between the end of August and the end of October. What’s that? The oral polio vaccine contains a weakened version of the virus. In very rare instances — and when a population isn’t well immunized — the weakened virus can circulate in the community, mutate and infect unvaccinated people, causing paralysis. This is known as a vaccine-derived polio. Fully immunized kids are protected against both vaccine-derived and wild polio. So the problem isn’t so much with the vaccine as it is with gaps in immunization.”

For Athletes, Risks Of Ibuprofen Use (The New York Times) — “…the Dutch study is not the first to find damage from combining exercise and ibuprofen. Earlier work has shown that frequent use of the drug before and during workouts also can lead to colonic seepage. In a famous study from a few years ago, researchers found that runners at the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run who were regular ibuprofen users had small amounts of colonic bacteria in their bloodstream. Ironically, this bacterial incursion resulted in “higher levels of systemic inflammation,” said David C. Nieman, a professor of health and exercise science at Appalachian State University who conducted the study and is himself an ultramarathoner. In other words, the ultramarathon racers who frequently used ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory, wound up with higher overall levels of bodily inflammation. They also reported being just as sore after the race as runners who had not taken ibuprofen.”

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