10 recent not-to-be-missed healthcare podcasts

As we head into the weekend, look no further than this list for a thought-provoking, entertaining and meaningful soundtrack to a run, walk, drive or deserved kick-back.

Here are 10 recent podcasts that have touched on fascinating and important stories relating to healthcare, many of which offer a refreshing and varied perspective on issues we navigate every day.

1. Only Human: "A doctor's love affair with vicodin." "Medicine is a land of opportunity for a drug addict," Peter Grinspoon, MD, said on a recent episode of WNYC's Only Human, a podcast about health. And Dr. Grinspoon should know: His new book Free Refills: A Doctor Confronts His Addiction, details his struggle with a painkiller addiction that began in medical school and continued until he entered rehab at 39. Now sober for more than a decade and practicing again, Dr. Grinspoon's story and interview offer insightful and timely perspective on a national crisis that affects both patients and those who care for them. Listen here.

2. Signal: "For boys with Duchenne, and two drug companies, a moment of shared hope." Signal, a podcast by STAT, explores pharmaculture, research and how medicines are made. In this episode, listeners are taken into the lives of two brothers, both battling cases of Duchenne muscular dystrophy that confine them to wheelchairs by the time they are teenagers. The brothers' prognosis is bad enough that their family is willing to try almost anything when it comes to experimental drugs and clinical trials. Hosted by two seasoned biotech reporters, this episode of Signal delves into the legally fraught world of risky clinical trials, the companies who stand to profit from their success, and the individuals who might be saved if they are successful. Listen here.

3. This American Life: "My damn mind." More than 20 years into its radio reign, This American Life is still delivering hard-hitting, difficult-to-tell stories that highlight the strength of spirit and the weaknesses of systems that fail. In a Feb. 12 episode, the TAL team collaborated with The New York Times to tell the story of Alan Pean, a patient suffering from debilitating delusions who was shot by an off-duty police officer in his Texas hospital room in August. The segment, narrated by Mr. Pean himself, tries to answer the question "How did this happen?" and features interviews with his family detailing the events leading up to the shooting and the months that followed. Listen here.

4. On the Media: "Ignore that thing about Zika and pesticides." NPR's On the Media — a show about media literacy and how coverage of important issues can inadvertently influence the issues themselves — recently did a post-mortem on a chapter of the Zika virus story that will not be looked back on so fondly. In mid-February, a group of Argentine physicians released a report that blamed microcephaly, the birth defects thought to be linked with Zika virus, on a toxic larvicide that had been added to certain water supplies in affected areas. The story quickly went viral across social media, greatly overshadowing the coverage that followed, which pointed out that the report was issued by an interest group and based on faulty science. This episode features an interview with the author of the article that debunked the report and delves into why and how we should and can be more skeptical about what we read. Listen here.

5. BMJ Talk Medicine: "What is vaginal seeding — and is it safe?" Another big news item of late dealt with cesarean section babies, how their populations of bacteria differ from babies born vaginally, and whether it's safe to take steps to spur the development of infants' bacterial populations. An editorial published in The British Medical Journal earlier this week took a look at the issue from the side of the aisle we hear from less — those who caution that practices like vaginal seeding might be unsafe for babies, despite popular belief about their efficacy. A recent episode of Talk Medicine, a BMJ podcast, the author of the editorial expounded on the process and why having some doubts is healthy. Listen here.

6. Reply All: "Blind Spot." CrowdMed, a healthcare startup that pairs patients with expert medical detectives to solve puzzling health mysteries and was recently profiled in Becker's Hospital Review, was documented in action on a recent episode of Reply All. When a photographer began to lose her vision and additional ailments followed, she sought medical care from anyone who could offer a solution. After a series of costly and disheartening dead ends, she turned to CrowdMed's platform and received a game-changing insight. The story is told by the photographer herself and we also hear from the physician who helped her make the diagnosis. Listen here.

7. Radiolab: "The Fix." The hosts of Radiolab, a leading experimental science and storytelling podcast, are adept at drilling down to give heart-wrenching perspective on the micro level of issues, as well as swelling back to place the stories of individuals in the context of a larger problem. This episode, which investigates the way approaches to addiction treatment are changing in ways the medical community might not expect, is no different. Listen here.

8. Death, Sex & Money: "In New Orleans: A Doctor's Adopted Home." After hurricane Katrina hit, a team of clinicians kept working on the fifth floor of Charity Hospital in New Orleans. Even after the power went out and with no sign of a rescue, they continued to care for patients for five days. Kiersta Kurtz-Burke, MD, was on that team. In this episode of Death, Sex & Money, which aims to broach topics often thought of but rarely spoken about, Dr. Kurtz-Burke tells the story of trying to help patients in need once the storm hit, and how the city rebuilt its healthcare facilities after. Listen here.

9. Fresh Air: "Paramedic shares his wild ride treating 'A Thousand Naked Strangers.'" Kevin Hazzard spent 10 years as an ambulance driver in Atlanta. He would often arrive to the scene of an assault, or other dangerous and compromising settings, and have to keep cool while delivering emergency care. In this 30-minute interview, Mr. Hazzard discusses some of the stories included in his new book, A Thousand Naked Strangers. Mr. Hazzard discusses which calls were the most rewarding to take, why rushing to the scene of a distress call can result in additional damage and navigating tricky circumstances, such as drug overdoses and do-not-resuscitate orders. Listen here.

10. Esquire Classic Podcast: "The Death of Patient Zero." The magazine journalism answer to radio, the Esquire Classic Podcast breaks down some of the most interesting and important feature-length stories printed in the publication that have stood the test of time. This episode features selected reading from Tom Junod's "The Death of Patient Zero," a story about physicians who gave all they could use the most advanced medical care available to them to save Stephanie Lee, a woman who died of cancer. In a discussion with the author and editor of the piece, the host unpacks how this story of a battle with a terminal disease fits into the contemporary discussion of genomic medicine, palliative care and curing cancer. Listen here.

If you've come across other inspiring podcasts or radio stories about healthcare and medicine lately that you'd like to share, please email them to mgreen@beckershealthcare.com.

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