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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Monday, March 5, 2007

Today's Globe: high deductibles, trustees and safety, barrier breakers, babies of alcholic moms, doctors and patients, doctors' washable computers

In its attempt to make health insurance premiums affordable, a state board is giving the go-ahead to plans with high deductibles, but that is causing concern that many newly insured people may avoid getting treated when they're sick or may run up onerous debts to pay their medical bills.

Hospitals increasingly are expecting volunteer trustees to go beyond the role of community boosters and tackle an imposing medical issue: preventing errors that lead to patient injuries and deaths.

In today's Health/Science section, two stories of breaking barriers. Massachusetts General Hospital grants to women scientists help plug 'leaky pipeline' between grad school and tenure.

And Mildred Dresselhaus, who in 1968 became the first female tenured professor in the engineering department at MIT, was honored late last month in Paris, where she was one of five women to receive L'Oreal-UNESCO's 2007 Women in Science Award.

Also in Health/Science, even if a pregnant woman drinks heavily -- despite 25 years of warnings not to -- it may be possible to offset some of the alcohol's toxic effects on her baby's brain after she gives birth.

And in 1996, scientists solved a mystery surrounding certain gay men who were immune to AIDS. This year, Pfizer Inc. will sell the first drug based on that discovery.

On the Op-Ed page, Dr. Marcia Angell writes that over the last decade, doctors have become vendors and patients consumers operating in a medical marketplace.

In Business & Innovation, Newton start-up Emano Tec Inc. has designed a wafer-thin, wireless hand-held computer called MedTab that is designed to be washed thousands of times and give doctors full access to medical records on the go, as they move from patient to patient during rounds.

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 06:23 AM
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