By Tara Templin
Stanford health law experts Michelle Mello and David Studdert discuss the ongoing pandemic, proof of vaccination “passports” at the state and federal levels, and a July 19 ruling that Indiana University could require that its students be vaccinated.
Few issues in the policy response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic have inspired as impassioned debate as school reopening. There is broad agreement that school closures involve heavy burdens on students, parents, and the economy, with profound equity implications, but also that the risk of outbreaks cannot be eliminated even in a partial reopening scenario with in-school precautions. Consensus largely ends there, however: the approaches states and localities have taken to integrating these concerns into school reopening plans are highly variable.
In a recent perspective published by the New England Journal of Medicine(NEJM), Stanford Law student Alexandra Daniels analyzed a growing body of federal litigation brought by prisoners with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) who are seeking access to treatment for their condition.
Since the onset of the Covid-19 crisis in the United States, government action taken to “flatten” the curve of disease transmission has varied dramatically among states, counties, and cities. The early epicenters — New York City, Washington State, and the San Francisco Bay Area — implemented aggressive measures in mid-March, many of which remain in place. Other states and localities opted for milder restrictions, acted much later, or barely intervened at all. Many states began unwinding restrictions weeks ago, although surging case numbers are prompting some to change course.
In March 2020, when many U.S. states and localities issued their first emergency orders to address Covid-19, there was widespread acceptance of the government’s legal authority to respond quickly and aggressively to this unprecedented crisis. Today, that acceptance is fraying. As initial orders expire and states move to extend or modify them, legal challenges have sprouted. The next phase of the pandemic response will see restrictions dialed up and down as threat levels change. As public and political resistance grows, further legal challenges are inevitable.
Urgent responses to the Covid-19 pandemic have halted movement and work and dramatically changed daily routines for much of the world’s population. In the United States, many states and localities have ordered or urged residents to stay home when able and to practice physical distancing when not. Meanwhile, unemployment is surging, schools are closed, and businesses have been shuttered. Resistance to drastic disease-control measures is already evident. Rising infection rates and mortality, coupled with scientific uncertainty about Covid-19, should keep resentment at bay — for a while.
Millions of Americans have experienced the coronavirus pandemic directly, as they or their loved ones suffered through infection. But for most of us, the experience is defined by weeks and months on end stuck at home. The shut-ins are testing the safety of our home environments.
Research has consistently identified firearm availability as a risk factor for suicide. However, existing studies are relatively small in scale, estimates vary widely, and no study appears to have tracked risks from commencement of firearm ownership.
As the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis enters its next phase, attention turns to the widespread testing programs needed to resume and maintain normal life activities. Effective prevention and surveillance require testing for active infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and for antibodies that indicate prior infection and potential immunity. There is an established approach for infected individuals: mild cases self-isolate; and severe cases receive treatment. But what is the appropriate response for people with positive antibody tests?
Medical malpractice reform appears to be back on the federal policy agenda. The appointment of Tom Price, a long-time proponent of tort reform, as secretary of health and human services, in conjunction with Republican control of both houses of Congress, has created fertile conditions for several Republican proposals that have languished for years without the requisite support. Although it has been debated many times, a major federal foray into medical liability, a state-based area of law, would be unprecedented. The prospect raises several questions: Which reforms are on the table?
Medical boards and other practitioner boards aim to protect the public from unsafe practice. Previous research has examined disciplinary actions against doctors, but other professions (e.g., nurses and midwives, dentists, psychologists, pharmacists) remain understudied.
Twenty years ago, few systematic efforts to make health care safer existed. Today, patient safety is a priority for patients, providers, payers, and policy makers. The Institute of Medicine’s 1999 report on medical error prompted a flurry of activity, including widespread adoption of error detection and reporting programs, movement toward systems approaches for addressing error, development of new clinical interventions to reduce error, and efforts to foster stronger safety cultures within healthcare organizations.
For adolescent patients with end-stage hip disease, the choice between total hip arthroplasty (THA) and arthrodesis is complex; the clinical evidence is not definitive, and there are difficult trade-offs between clear short-term benefits from THA and uncertain long-term risks. We surveyed nearly 700 members of the Pediatric Orthopedic Society of North America and the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons. Respondents chose between a recommendation of THA or arthrodesis in four clinical vignettes.
Stanford Health Policy's David Studdert and Michelle Mello discuss SB 277, a new California law that ends exceptions to vaccination mandates based on religious and philosophical beliefs, leaving only medical exemptions as a path to avoid the vaccinations children are required to have before entering school. Their report highlights the factors that lead to the law's passage, potential legal and enforcement challenges the law may face, and the possibility that this law may set a precedent for similar laws in other states.
David Studdert and colleagues explore how to balance public health, individual freedom, and good government when it comes to sugar-sweetened drinks. Over the last decade, many national, state, and local governments have introduced laws aimed at curbing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), especially by children.