The Pulse – June 5, 2015

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    Our first story takes us to the New Jersey shore, where the effects of Hurricane Sandy are still lingering. Public health officials say lead particles from destroyed homes that were churned up in the storm may pose a health risk. If inhaled or ingested, lead can cause developmental delays in children, miscarriages in pregnant women, and neurological problems in adults. Carolyn Beeler reports on efforts in eight counties in New Jersey that are testing residents for elevated blood lead.

    Flibanserin, also known as “female Viagra” has landed smack in the middle of a women’s rights debate. Or, perhaps it’s more accurate to say that it was nudged into it. The pill is once again being reviewed by the FDA for approval right now, and we hear from Sheryl Kingsberg who treats women who have lost all sexual desire. Kingsberg is also a paid consultant for Sprout Pharmaceuticals which makes flibanserin, and maintains that this is a women’s right issue, not just a risk-benefits analysis.

    Reporter Tood Bookman takes a look at a tough exam that has tested physicians for 100 years: the United States Medical Licensing Exam. It entails answering 1,100 questions spread over five days. Fail, and you cannot practice medicine in this country. Todd visited the group that comes up with those questions, the National Board of Medical Examiners, to find out how the exams have evolved over the past century.

    We stick with the topic of standards and safety checks in medicine, but turn toward medical labs. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Ellen Gabler joins us to discuss her new investigative report on lab mistakes and oversight.

    The Supreme Court’s decision on subsidies under the Affordable Care Act could affect millions of Americans, but as Elana Gordon reports, many are unaware that a decision is looming, and few states have prepared backup plans.

    There may be an evolutionary reason that birth is a social affair for humans, and it could explain why women are surrounded with support during and after birth. Taunya English tells us about what fossils reveal about this issue, and visits with a new mom and her doula.

    We also meet puppeteer Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews. He has long known that he would eventually lose his sight, but he’s never lost his creative vision. He is a theater-maker, puppeteer, punk musician and yoga instructor. He also has a rare congenital eye disease called Cone-Rod Dystrophy 5. In a new solo performance piece entitled “Cones,” Andrews challenges our ideas of vision loss. He told us about it for this week’s edition of our series “Patient Files.”

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