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Monday, February 26, 2024

The medical gaslighting of long COVID patients could be nearing its end 

My new essay in The Hill is about some encouraging developments for long Covid and ME/CFS patients, as both Congress and the medical profession have become less skeptical and more attentive to the conditions. Here is the gist:

The medical gaslighting of long COVID patients could be nearing its end 


Presiding last month at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), addressed the many issues faced by patients suffering from long COVID, an often debilitating condition that can persist for months or years following a SARS-CoV-2 infection. 

In addition to inadequate research funding and the difficulty of accessing quality care, Sanders observed that “far too many patients have struggled to get their symptoms taken seriously” because “far too many medical professionals have either dismissed or misdiagnosed their serious health problems.”

While some physicians did grasp the problems presented by long COVID, many others were dismissive and disbelieving. 

In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, a young psychiatrist ridiculed the condition as “largely an invention of vocal patient activist groups,” insisting instead that it was a “psychosomatic-symptom disorder.” 

The disease once known as chronic fatigue syndrome, and now generally called myalgic encephalomyelitis, or ME/CFS, with devastating symptoms strikingly similar to long COVID, was investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the mid-1980s, and almost immediately discounted as “yuppie flu” and even a “fashionable form of hypochondria.”

Just last week, the National Institute of Health published the encouraging results of a seven-year study of ME/CFS. The study determined that the condition is not a psychiatric disorder, but instead there are “clear biological markers” of the disease,

Although there is still no cure for long COVID or ME/CFS, it has already been a good year for patients of these chronic diseases, with deep dives into both conditions. The U.S. Senate appears ready to increase research funding and accountability for long COVID, and the NIH appears to be on a path to untangling the nature of ME/CFS. 

You can read the entire essay in The Hill.

Posted by Steve Lubet on February 26, 2024 at 12:08 PM | Permalink


This piece is a good example of how law professors - and not just doctors and medical researchers - can help society deal with serious medical problems, especially when medical researchers and doctors may not be doing enough.

I helped to show that with regard to our two major public health problems - smoking and obesity - and my dean, Dayna Bowen Matthew, has helped to point out racial disparities in health. Many other law professors have also made major contributions, even without an “MD” following their name.

But I thought it might be worthwhile to point out that law professors can sometimes help to save lives by providing medical solutions to health problems, and not just through legal writings and legal actions (such as law suit, agency petitions, etc.).

See, e.g.:

CPAP Machines Embraced For COVID-19 Patients
"George Washington University Law professor John Banzhaf, an MIT-trained engineer, and inventor pointed out in an email on March 22nd, that, in contrast to medical ventilators there are literally millions of CPAP and similar devices already in use, or in warehouses waiting to be used. Also, because they are much simpler to produce, and are currently made by many different companies, it is also much easier to increase CPAP production capacity to meet this extraordinary temporary demand; something not at all true for hospital ventilator machines, says Banzhaf. Moreover, at an average cost of only about $850, hospitals would likely be much more willing and able to purchase enough CPAPs to help meet the growing surge in demand than ventilators and having trained personnel to operate and maintain them, says Banzhaf."

WATCH VIDEO - FDA Approves Use of CPAP Machines as Ventilators

See generally: http://banzhaf.net/by/COVID.html

Posted by: LawProf John Banzhaf | Feb 26, 2024 3:23:27 PM

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