Wikimedia Commons

MRI contrast agents leave toxic traces

A ProPublica investigation reveals the dangerous effects of contrast agents patients are injected with before receiving an MRI screening. One, Omniscan, can leaves behind traces of gadolinium that cannot be excreted by persons with kidney diseases. While the FDA did determine the agent should not be used in people with severe kidney diseases, Omniscan has still been found to leave a damaging mark on even healthy bodies. From the story:
“The new studies… have set off alarms because they show that even patients with healthy kidneys are retaining gadolinium from Omniscan and Magnevist. Estimates are that about one-third of the 20 million MRIs in the United States each year use one of the nine contrast agents.”
Read the full story here. 

A mental health facility in Vermont. Wikimedia Commons.

Poor leadership at Rutland Mental Health Services left clients at risk

Former RMH CEO Dan Quinn was pressured to resign last week in the wake of allegations of bad management. A VTDigger investigation looks into Quinn’s alleged neglect and failure to communicate information to lawmakers or the RMH board, finding that inaction could have endangered patients. From the story:
“Last year a 13-year-old waited nearly six months to receive mental health services after being hospitalized for depression. She took her own life before she was able to get into treatment with RMH, although she had seen another therapist while waiting, records obtained by VTDigger show.”
Read the full story here. 

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Prisoners in solitary confinement released straight to the street

Last year, over 10,000 prisoners were released from solitary confinement and sent directly back out into the world, reports The Marshall Project. Many inmates struggle with mental disorders that may be exacerbated after a spell in solitary which makes it even more difficult to reacclimate to a life of freedom. Their abrupt transition poses a danger not only to the public, but to the inmates themselves. From the story:
“Talking about his time in solitary still triggers flashbacks: of pacing like “an animal in the zoo” until large blood blisters erupted on the soles of his feet; of jumping off his bed in an attempt to break his neck on the cement shelf in his cell. (The shelf broke.)”
Read the full story here.

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Inside one of the largest mental health institutions in the country – a jail

In a sprawling first-person report from inside Chicago’s Cook County Jail, The Atlantic’s associate editor Matt Ford, shows how the mentally ill have come to make up  a third of the mammoth jail’s 9,000 to 11,000 inmate population. The jail is struggling with the nationwide problem of how to treat the incarcerated “less like prisoners and more like patients.”
“[O]fficers can’t simply be guards anymore, [Cook County Sheriff] Tom Dart emphasizes. ‘You have to be a doctor. You have to be a nurse. You have to be a social worker.

Wikimedia Commons.

The costs of shooting at moving vehicles

A Philadelphia Inquirer  analysis of vehicle shootings – based on police department Internal Affairs documents and interviews with attorneys, police, and community member – finds that  despite increased restrictions on firing weapons at cars,  it’s still happening and has cost the city $5.8 million in settelments since 2002 because it is dangerous and “rarely works.”
"[S]ince 2002, Philadelphia police officers have shot 43 people in vehicles, killing ….  Eight out of 10 times that police shot into vehicles, officers were found to have violated department policy. The most common punishment for those found guilty of violating the rules, records show, was a reprimand.”
Read the full story here.