Last Word

This Hurricane-Ravaged Town Has Waited Years for Long-Term Aid. It Could Happen Again.

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox. Series: Disaster After Disaster Growing Storms, Faltering Aid   LAKE CHARLES, La. — Hilda Brown ambled down a wooden walkway with the help of a cane and gingerly took a seat at a table between her badly damaged house and a FEMA trailer. It had...

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Handing the surgeon’s scalpel to a robot

After decades of merely assisting doctors, are sophisticated machines ready to take charge? In 2004, the United States’ Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) dangled a $1 million prize for any group that could design an autonomous car that could drive itself through 142 miles of rough terrain from Barstow, California, to Primm, Nevada. Thirteen years later, the Department of Defense...

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Unraveling the Interplay of Omicron, Reinfections, and Long Covid

The latest covid-19 surge, caused by a shifting mix of quickly evolving omicron subvariants, appears to be waning, with cases and hospitalizations beginning to fall. Like past covid waves, this one will leave a lingering imprint in the form of long covid, an ill-defined catchall term for a set of symptoms that can include debilitating fatigue, difficulty breathing, chest pain, and brain fog....

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Big Pharma Went All In to Kill Drug Pricing Negotiations

For decades, the drug industry has yelled bloody murder each time Congress considered a regulatory measure that threatened its profits. But the hyperbole reached a new pitch in recent weeks as the Senate moved to adopt modest drug pricing negotiation measures in the Inflation Reduction Act. The bill “could propel us light-years back into the dark ages of biomedical research,” Dr. Michelle...

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Night Train to Oblivion: Anatomy of an American OD

On the morning of the last day of his life, Adam Rashid called his parents to tell them he was about to be discharged from Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center. He had gone there the night before, just after being released from the county jail where he had been held for a month for failing to make a court appearance. According to the doctor who interviewed him, Adam, a...

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Hospital-Acquired Pneumonia Is Killing Patients. Yet There Is a Simple Way to Stop It.

Four years ago, when Karen Giuliano went to a Boston hospital for hip replacement surgery, she was given a pale-pink bucket of toiletries issued to patients in many hospitals. Inside were tissues, bar soap, deodorant, toothpaste, and, without a doubt, the worst toothbrush she’d ever seen. “I couldn’t believe it. I got a toothbrush with no bristles,” she said. “It must have not gone through the...

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