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Facebook’s role in organ donation, the decline in hospital autopsies, and ER health care, this week on ‘Sound Medicine’

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“Sound Medicine,” also available via podcast and Stitcher Radio for mobile phones and iPads, covers controversial ethics topics, breakthrough research studies and the day-to-day application of recent advancements in medicine.

Can Facebook have an impact on the organ donor shortage? As 112,000 Americans await organ donations daily, social media juggernaut Facebook is playing a new role in increasing the number of organ donor registrations. Facebook’s new Timeline feature includes a health and wellness section where users can indicate their organ donor status, which increases awareness about organ donation among users’ friends. Facebook also directs donors to state online registries to legally change their organ donor status. Sam Davis, executive director of the Indiana Organ Procurement Organization, discusses how this has already had a positive impact in Indiana and increased the number of people in organ donor registries.

Is health care always available at the emergency room? The commonly held belief that uninsured people can always receive care in the emergency room is what Aaron Carroll, M.D., attempted to dispel in his recent opinion article on the CNN website. Dr. Carroll discusses how “emergency medical condition” can have a very narrow definition among different care providers, jeopardizing a patient’s chance of receiving treatment in an emergency room. He also discusses the threat to overall health for those who rely solely on emergency care, which lacks any preventive care or screenings.

What is the value of a hospital autopsy? While autopsies in forensic settings, as popularized by shows like “CSI,” are still common, they have become rarer in hospital settings. George Lundberg, M.D., editor-in-chief of Medscape General Medicine, shares his views regarding the merit of hospital autopsies as tools to detect patterns, discover new truths and inform new learners.

Does DNA sequencing have the potential to predict the incidence of illness? An unprecedented study involving 53,000 identical twins debunked the belief that sequencing DNA could predict an individual’s chance of getting a certain disease. In this week’s Doc Chat, David Crabb, M.D., discusses the impact of the results of this study on the future of medicine as well as the different factors that contribute to illness besides DNA, including environment and behavior.

Is the Y chromosome truly shrinking? The Y chromosome, present in males, is much smaller than its counterpart the X chromosome, which occurs twice in females. Some had theorized that the Y chromosome would eventually go extinct. But guest Jennifer F. Hughes, Ph.D., and her research team, who mapped the entire history of the Y chromosome, discovered that it stabilized at its small form millions of years ago and is not currently shrinking. Dr. Hughes visits “Sound Medicine” this week to share the history behind this phenomenon.

“Sound Medicine,” co-produced by the IU School of Medicine and WFYI Public Radio (90.1 FM) and underwritten in part by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, is aired on the following Indiana public radio stations: WBSB (Anderson, 89.5 FM), WFIU (Bloomington, 103.7 FM; Columbus, 100.7 FM; Kokomo, 106.1 FM; Terre Haute, 95.1 FM), WNDY (Crawfordsville, 91.3 FM), WVPE (Elkhart/South Bend, 88.1 FM), WNIN (Evansville, 88.3 FM), WBOI (Fort Wayne, 89.1 FM), WFCI (Franklin, 89.5 FM), WBSH (Hagerstown/New Castle, 91.1 FM), WFYI (Indianapolis), WBSW (Marion, 90.9 FM), WBST (Muncie, 92.1 FM), WBSJ (Portland, 91.7 FM), WLPR (Lake County, 89.1 FM) and WBAA (West Lafayette, 101.3 FM).

“Sound Medicine” is also broadcast on these public radio stations across the country: WLRH (Huntsville, Ala.), KSKA (Anchorage, Alaska), KTNA (Talkeetna, Alaska), KUHB (Pribilof Islands, Alaska), KUAF (Fayetteville and Fort Smith, Ark.), KIDE (Hoopa Valley, Calif.), KRCC (Colorado Springs, Colo.), KEDM (Monroe, La.), WCMU (Mount Pleasant, Mich.), WCNY and WRVO-1 (Syracuse, N.Y.), KMHA (Four Bears, N.D.), WYSU (Youngstown, Ohio), KPOV (Bend, Ore.) and KEOS (College Station, Texas).