Richard Knox

Since he joined NPR in 2000, Knox has covered a broad range of issues and events in public health, medicine, and science. His reports can be heard on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Talk of the Nation, and newscasts.

Among other things, Knox's NPR reports have examined the impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa, North America, and the Caribbean; anthrax terrorism; smallpox and other bioterrorism preparedness issues; the rising cost of medical care; early detection of lung cancer; community caregiving; music and the brain; and the SARS epidemic.

Before joining NPR, Knox covered medicine and health for The Boston Globe. His award-winning 1995 articles on medical errors are considered landmarks in the national movement to prevent medical mistakes. Knox is a graduate of the University of Illinois and Columbia University. He has held yearlong fellowships at Stanford and Harvard Universities, and is the author of a 1993 book on Germany's health care system.

He and his wife Jean, an editor, live in Boston. They have two daughters.

Pages

12:33am

Mon May 21, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Poll: What It's Like To Be Sick In America

Originally published on Mon May 21, 2012 8:21 pm

In the lull between the Supreme Court arguments over the federal health overhaul law and the decision expected in June, we thought we'd ask Americans who actually use the health system quite a bit how they view the quality of care and its cost.

Most surveys don't break it down this way.

When the results came back, we found that people who have a serious medical condition or who've been in the hospital in the past year tended to have more concerns about costs and quality than people who aren't sick. No big surprise there.

Read more

6:10pm

Tue May 15, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

U.S. Funding Of HIV/AIDS Fight Overseas Carries Other Benefits

A mother and child wait to receive treatment at the HIV clinic in Nyagasambu, Rwanda, in Feb. 2008. The clinic was built by the Washington-based Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation with a grant from the PEPFAR program.
Shashank Bengali MCT/Landov

U.S. government spending to fight HIV/AIDS in developing countries is also preventing death from other diseases, a new study finds.

Some experts worry the billions of dollars the United States spends to treat people with HIV in poor countries may crowd out prevention and treatment of other illnesses.

Read more

3:14pm

Wed May 2, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

A Step Forward For Gene Therapy To Treat HIV

HIV particles assemble at the surface of a white blood cell called a macrophage.
PLoS Biology

Millions of people around the world are living with HIV, thanks to drug regimens that suppress the virus. Now there's a new push to eliminate HIV from patients' bodies altogether. That would be a true cure.

We're not there yet. But a report in Science Translational Medicine is an encouraging signpost that scientists may be headed in the right direction.

Read more

8:38am

Tue May 1, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Lighter Weights Can Still Make A Big Fitness Difference

Originally published on Tue May 1, 2012 1:30 pm

Try taking some weight off in your workout.
iStockphoto.com

Here's good news for geezers — or for merely middle-aged folks — who'd like to stay fit and independent far into their later years.

You don't have to lift heavy weights to build muscle strength. Lifting lighter weights can be just as effective if you do it right, and you're much less likely to hurt yourself, researchers say.

Read more

4:35pm

Fri April 20, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Couples Should Get Tested For HIV Together, WHO Says

Originally published on Mon April 23, 2012 10:05 am

What do you say we go get HIV tested together?
iStockphoto.com

The World Health Organization is telling couples around the world to get tested together to see if either is infected with HIV.

If one of them is, that partner should start treatment with anti-HIV drugs – even if it's not yet medically necessary.

Read more

5:05pm

Thu April 19, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Doctors Group Tells Patients To Go For Cheaper, High-Value Treatments

Originally published on Fri April 20, 2012 10:30 am

Got a backache? You can probably skip that pricey scan.
iStockphoto.com

The American College of Physicians is urging patients with newly diagnosed diabetes and back pain not to opt for the latest-and-supposedly-greatest.

It's part of a new campaign to steer patients (and their doctors) to what the College of Physicians calls "high value care," and away from expensive tests and treatments that aren't any better — and often are worse.

Read more

7:51pm

Tue April 17, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

CDC Chief: New Vaccines In Haiti Will Save Tens Of Thousands

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 8:16 pm

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius (center) talks to a health worker during a visit to Eliazar Germain hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Monday. It's Sebelius' first visit to the country.
Ramon Espinosa AP

A campaign to introduce new childhood vaccines to Haiti will save tens of thousands of lives over the next decade, Dr. Thomas Frieden told Shots at the end of a two-day tour of the beleaguered country.

"This is an enormous step forward for Haiti," says Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "This is a big deal."

Read more

11:28am

Tue April 17, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Sebelius To Lend Support To Vaccination Projects In Haiti

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 12:34 pm

Rice farmer Alexi Rochnel shows his blank cholera vaccination card. April is the beginning of Haiti's rainy season, which will likely intensify Haiti's cholera outbreak.
John W. Poole NPR

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is in Haiti today to support two big vaccination initiatives.

Read more

11:19am

Fri April 13, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Port-Au-Prince: A City Of Millions, With No Sewer System

Originally published on Tue January 29, 2013 5:55 pm

A makeshift latrine hangs over the water at the edge of Cite de Dieu, a slum in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
John W. Poole / NPR

Port-au-Prince is about the size of Chicago. But it doesn't have a sewer system. It's one of the largest cities in the world without one.

That's a big problem, but never more so than during a time of cholera.

Read more

3:15am

Thu April 12, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Water In The Time Of Cholera: Haiti's Most Urgent Health Problem

Originally published on Mon April 16, 2012 12:40 pm

Marlene Lucien controls the hose that fills people's plastic buckets on one busy street corner in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
John Poole NPR

In the teeming city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, millions of people have no reliable water supply.

Many of the underground pipes that did exist were ruptured by the 2010 earthquake. Many public water kiosks are dry.

Read more

10:22am

Tue April 10, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Analysis Finds Lung Cancer Screening Worthwhile For Longtime Smokers

Dr. Steven Birnbaum positions a patient inside a CT scanner at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center in Nashua, N.H., in June 2010.
Jim Cole AP

Now there's fresh evidence that CT scans to detect early lung cancer belong on the short list of effective cancer screening technologies — at least for people at high risk.

Researchers conclude that spiral CT, which makes 3-D pictures of lungs, could reduce lung cancer deaths by 35 percent at a cost of $19,000 to $26,000 per year of life saved.

Read more

6:10pm

Thu April 5, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

New Type Of Resistant Malaria Appears On Thai-Burmese Border

A micrograph shows red blood cells infected by the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum.
John C. Tan AP

Malaria experts have been holding their breath and hoping it wouldn't happen. But it has.

Malaria parasites resistant to the last, best drug treatment, called artemisinin combination therapy, or ACT, are infecting people along the border of Thailand and Myanmar.

Read more

8:45am

Wed April 4, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Doctors Urge Their Colleagues To Quit Doing Worthless Tests

Doctors, don't order that CT scan when a less-expensive ultrasound would work just as well, the Choosing Wisely campaign advises.
Catherine Yeulet iStockphoto.com

Nine national medical groups are launching a campaign called Choosing Wisely to get U.S. doctors to back off on 45 diagnostic tests, procedures and treatments that often may do patients no good.

Many involve imaging tests such as CT scans, MRIs and X-rays. Stop doing them, the groups say, for most cases of back pain, or on patients who come into the emergency room with a headache or after a fainting spell, or just because somebody's about to undergo surgery.

Read more

12:48pm

Tue April 3, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Mammograms May Lead To Breast Cancer 'Over-Diagnosis,' Study Finds

The problem of breast cancer overdiagnosis with mammograms is similar to the dilemma faced by men diagnosed with prostate cancer because of a PSA test.
Damian Dovarganes AP

Norwegian scientists say as many as 1 in every 4 cases of breast cancer doesn't need to be found because it would never have caused the woman any problem.

It's a startling idea for laypeople (and many doctors) thoroughly indoctrinated with the notion that any breast cancer is medically urgent — and should be found at the earliest possible moment.

Read more

6:50pm

Sat March 31, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Babies Take Longer To Come Out Than They Did In Grandma's Day

Originally published on Sat March 31, 2012 6:51 pm

Fifty years ago, the typical first-time mother in the U.S. took about four hours to give birth. These days, women labor about 6 1/2 hours.
Carsten/Three Lions Getty Images

The typical first-time mother takes 6 1/2 hours to give birth these days. Her counterpart 50 years ago labored for barely four hours.

That's the striking conclusion of a new federal study that compared nearly 140,000 births from two time periods.

One big implication: Today's obstetricians may be rushing to do cesarean sections too soon because they're using an out-of-date yardstick for how long a "normal" labor should take.

Read more

Pages