Medical Notes 17-34


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17-34 Segment 2: Multitasking: Practically Impossible


Do you consider yourself a multitasker? Are you reading this while you watch the news? Although you might think you are good at multitasking, research shows around 97.5% of the population is actually bad at doing two things at once.

University of Utah Professor Dr. David Strayer says that while everyone thinks they are good at multitasking, it actually blinds us to what we’re doing. For example, if you drive while talking on the phone, you might not remember the full conversation because you needed to focus on the road. Multitasking places demands on certain areas of the brain, and most of the time the brain cannot accept two demands at once. Researchers also found those who frequently multitask tend to be more impulsive and sensation-seeking.

Researchers call people who can actually multitask “supertaskers.”  Supertaskers’ brains  allow them to efficiently carry out two activities at once, and they develop this talent at birth.


  • Dr. David Strayer, Professor of Cognition Neurosciences, University of Utah

  • Dr. Jason Watson, Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Utah

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17-34 Segment 1: Rural Hospitals in Trouble


Approximately 14% of Americans live in a rural area and require access to local hospitals, but many rural hospitals struggle to keep their doors open, citing such financial pressures as the upkeep of equipment and technology.

Dr. Carrie Henning-Smith, a Research Associate at the University of Minnesota, says rural hospitals rely on government funding from programs like Medicare and Medicaid, however neither program cannot fully support the upkeep of buildings and the care of the patients. Although Medicare and Medicaid provide funding, 40% of rural hospitals still operate with a large loss.

Michael Topchik, Director of the Chartis Center for Rural Health, projects that if the current administration cuts Medicaid funding, 15 million recipients will lose health benefits. In addition, Medicaid cuts will drastically affect rural hospitals. Eighty rural hospitals have closed since 2010, and many more could be at risk in the years to come. Closing these rural hospitals would lead to a loss of 35,000 jobs and a $4 billion drag on domestic product. In addition, the residents of rural areas would have to travel long distances to get access to basic health care when they might need it most.


  • Dr. Carrie Henning-Smith, Research Associate, University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center

  • Michael Topchik, Director, Chartis Center for Rural Health

  • Dr. Daniel Derksen, Director, University of Arizona Center for Rural Health

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Coming Up On Radio Health Journal Show 17-35



Diagnostic Mistakes

Medical errors are the third largest cause of death in the US, and mistakes in making diagnoses are the most frequent form of error. A noted expert discusses why mistakes happen, and what doctors and patients can do to make them less frequent.

Medical Lab Mistakes

Errors in medical labs can have life-threatening consequences. An expert explains that human error is impossible to completely eliminate, so labs are increasingly turning to DNA tracking to catch mistakes when they occur.

Coming Up On Radio Health Journal Show 17-34



Rural Hospitals in Trouble

Many of the nation’s hospitals serving small towns and rural areas are in deep financial trouble because of a heavy reliance on underpaying Medicare and Medicaid programs. The situation could be made much worse if Congress cuts Medicaid funding, a centerpiece of “repeal and replace” of Obamacare. Experts discuss the need for rural healthcare and the close link between hospitals and community economics.

Multitasking: Practically Impossible

Multitasking seems like a necessity for most people, and most of us think it inproves our efficiency. However, studies show that only a tiny proportion of people can juggle tasks well. Researchers discuss why our brains can’t do two things at once, and why “supertaskers” may be different.

17-33 Segment 1: Criminalization of Homelessness


In 2016, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimated that there were more than 500,000 homeless Americans on a given single night in January. The U.S. government currently claims that, while there are high rates of homeless Americans, the number is actually decreasing. Many experts challenge that claim, saying that homelessness is on the rise. This week we speak with Eric Tars, Senior Attorney with the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty; Scout Katovich, Lowenstein Human Rights Clinic at Yale University and Peggy Choudhry, Commissioner in Osceola County, FL about:

  • How the number of homeless individuals is increasing and why the published statistics don’t accurately represent the entire situation.
  • The criminalization of homelessness by passing local ordinances and the negative impact that these ordinances have on communities.
  • The Constitutional right violations of homeless individuals when bans and local ordinances are implemented.
  • The reasons that many homeless people are vulnerable to arrest and how this may impede rather than help them escape poverty.


  • Eric Tars, Senior Attorney, National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty

  • Scout Katovich, Lowenstein Human Rights Clinic, Yale University

  • Peggy Choudry, Commissioner, Osceola County, Florida

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17-33 Segment 2: Preparing For Your Own Death


Many Americans view death as taboo or an uncomfortable topic to discuss. So, when someone passes away, their loved ones find themselves in a difficult situation, unprepared or unable to find the necessary documents and papers. A recent study has found that only 50% of adults have written and certified their will. Melanie Cullen, author of Get It Together, says that it is essential to organize everything in your life, as well as what will be needed after your death, to ensure that your family knows how to handle the situation.

Karen Lee Cline, co-author of If I Croak: The Things You Should Know, comments that the process surrounding death fifty years ago was much easier than it is today because so much of our lives are online and navigating through all that information often becomes overwhelming. To make this process easier, Cullen and Cline outline in each of their books how to deal with a death in the family. Cullen says that she wishes she had a book like hers to help guide her when she lost her mother. Even though many family members intended to help her, she was ultimately confused on how she should proceed.  

How can we encourage our loved ones to consider preparing for death? Cline talks about using humor to help you address the issue, and also advises that you can lead by example;  prepare your last will and testament and offer to help others. Cullen adds that even though talking about death may be tough, getting organized and knowing that you’ve prepared your family actually liberates you.


  • Melanie Cullen, author, Get It Together

  • Karen Lee Cline, co-author, If I Croak: The Things You Should Know

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