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.

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Shots - Health Blog
6:10 pm
Thu April 5, 2012

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.

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Shots - Health Blog
8:45 am
Wed April 4, 2012

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.

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Shots - Health Blog
12:48 pm
Tue April 3, 2012

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.

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Shots - Health Blog
6:50 pm
Sat March 31, 2012

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

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

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

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.

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Shots - Health Blog
10:41 am
Tue March 27, 2012

Bypass Surgery Edges Stents For Heart Treatment

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue March 27, 2012 11:09 am

The debate over coronary bypass surgery versus stenting goes back decades.

Studies have been inconclusive, but doctors and patients have voted with their feet in favor of the less-invasive procedure — clearing clogged arteries and propping them open with tiny scaffolds called stents.

U.S. doctors do at least two stenting procedures these days for every coronary bypass operation.

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Shots - Health Blog
12:01 am
Tue March 27, 2012

In Haiti, Bureaucratic Delays Stall Mass Cholera Vaccinations

Joseph Francis, 54, says he came to this cholera clinic in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince,after becoming so dehydrated he could barely walk. Cholera has killed more than 7,000 Haitians since the first outbreak of the disease in October 2010. At the start of the rainy season, cases are once again beginning to climb.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 10:56 am

A hundred thousand people in Haiti are ready and waiting to get vaccinated against cholera.

The vaccine is sitting in coolers. Vaccination teams are all trained. Willing recipients are registered and entered into databases.

The impending mass vaccination project aims to show that vaccinating against cholera is feasible in Haiti. It has never been done in the midst of an ongoing cholera epidemic. So far, more than 530,000 Haitians have fallen ill with cholera, and more than 7,000 have died.

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Shots - Health Blog
11:15 am
Mon March 26, 2012

Study Finds Female Condoms Are Cost-Effective For HIV Prevention

A bus in Washington, D.C., displays an advertisement for a female condom in July 2010. To encourage their use, community groups distributed more than 500,000 of the female condoms, flexible pouches that are wider than a male condom but similar in length, during instruction sessions at beauty salons, barber shops, churches and restaurants.
Drew Angerer AP

Condoms aren't just for men.

A second generation of female condoms, which was approved in 2009, is cheaper than the first version. Still, the condoms for women are a lot more expensive than those for males. And female condoms remain pretty unfamiliar to most people.

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Shots - Health Blog
4:14 am
Mon March 19, 2012

Prone To Failure, Some All-Metal Hip Implants Need To Be Removed Early

Young-min Kwon of Massachusetts General Hospital holds the metal-alloy ball of Susy Mansfield's faulty artificial hip joint. The yellowish tissue on top is dead muscle caused by a reaction to the metal debris produced by the defective hip implant.
Richard Knox NPR

Originally published on Wed March 21, 2012 5:01 pm

When Susy Mansfield needed a hip replacement in 2009, her orthopedic surgeon chose a relatively new and untested kind of artificial hip made entirely of metal.

"He said, 'You're young. Metal is good for younger people. It's going to last a lot longer,' " says Mansfield, who was 57 at the time.

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Shots - Health Blog
12:01 am
Tue March 13, 2012

As Cholera Season Bears Down On Haiti, Vaccination Program Stalls

Thousands of doses of cholera vaccine sit in a refrigerated trailer in a United Nations compound in Saint-Marc, Haiti. Vaccination was supposed to begin last week, but bureaucratic problems have delayed the start. April is the beginning of Haiti's rainy season, which will likely intensify Haiti's cholera outbreak.
John Poole NPR

Originally published on Wed March 14, 2012 2:07 pm

The vaccine — $417,000 worth of it — is stacked high in refrigerated containers to protect it from the Haitian heat.

Hundreds of health workers are trained and ready to give the vaccine. They're armed with programmed smartphones and tablet computers to keep track of who has been vaccinated and who needs a second dose.

And 100,000 eager Haitians, from the teeming slums of Port-au-Prince to tiny hamlets in Haiti's rice bowl, have signed up to get the vaccine.

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The Salt
11:10 am
Tue February 21, 2012

How Using Antibiotics In Animal Feed Creates Superbugs

Many livestock groups say there's no evidence that antibiotics in livestock feed have caused a human health problem, but researchers beg to differ.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 21, 2012 5:19 pm

Researchers have nailed down something scientists, government officials and agribusiness proponents have argued about for years: whether antibiotics in livestock feed give rise to antibiotic-resistant germs that can threaten humans.

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