Health Desk

Shots - Health News
8:32 am
Wed November 26, 2014

Patient Safety Journal Finds Violations, Tightens Standards After Scandal

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 10:09 am

The aftershocks of what some have called the patient safety movement's first scandal continue to reverberate in the medical community, most recently in the current issue of the Journal of Patient Safety.

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The Salt
3:16 am
Wed November 26, 2014

Gluten-Free? Vegan? Thanksgiving Recipes For Alternative Diets

Baked Squash Kibbeh: Middle-Eastern kibbeh is a finely ground combination of beef or lamb, bulgur and onions either formed into balls and deep-fried or pressed into a pan and baked. For a vegetarian version of this flavorful dish, why not pair butternut squash with the warm spices?
Steve Klise Courtesy of America's Test Kitchen

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 10:53 am

It's like the start of a bad joke: a vegan, a gluten-free and a paleo walk into a bar — except it's your house, and they're gathered around your Thanksgiving table.

More and more Americans are passing on gluten — some for medical reasons, most by choice. Others are adopting diets that exclude meat, or insisting on the kinds of unprocessed foods that early man would have hunted and gathered.

All of this is a challenge to the traditional Thanksgiving feast.

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Goats and Soda
4:59 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

Ebola Is Changing Course In Liberia. Will The U.S. Military Adapt?

A helicopter's eye view of a new ETU, funded by USAID and built by Save the Children.
Kelly McEvers NPR

Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 5:31 pm

The Ebola outbreak started in rural areas, but by June it had reached Liberia's capital, Monrovia.

By August, the number of people contracting the Ebola virus in the country was doubling every week. The Liberian government and aid workers begged for help.

Enter the U.S. military, who along with other U.S. agencies had a clear plan in mid-September to build more Ebola treatment units, or ETUs. At least one would be built in the major town of each of Liberia's 15 counties. That way, sick patients in those counties wouldn't bring more Ebola to the capital.

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Shots - Health News
3:16 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

Administration Warns Employers: Don't Dump Sick Workers From Plans

Agent Illustrateur Getty Images/Ikon Images

Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 6:34 pm

As employers try to minimize expenses under the health law, the Obama administration has warned them against paying high-cost workers to leave the company medical plan and buy coverage elsewhere.

Such a move would unlawfully discriminate against employees based on their health status, three federal agencies said in a bulletin issued in early November.

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Shots - Health News
1:50 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

Drugged Marshmallows Can Keep Urban Raccoons From Spreading Disease

Does this little guy look familiar? Clean up his feces in your yard to avoid infection from his parasites.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 6:51 pm

The masked garbage crusaders of the night can be more than just a nuisance. Raccoons also can be bad news for human health, carrying diseases such as rabies and roundworms.

And because raccoons have happily colonized cities and suburbs, a particular roundworm called Baylisascaris procyonis that the critters often carry can make its way into humans. The parasite's eggs are carried in raccoon poop.

When ingested, the eggs release the worm, which can burrow into the eyes and brain causing blindness or even death, in rare cases.

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Shots - Health News
12:16 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

Treatment For HIV Runs Low In U.S., Despite Diagnosis

A pharmacist pours Truvada pills, an HIV treatment, back into the bottle at Jack's Pharmacy in San Anselmo, Calif.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 1:52 pm

About two-thirds of Americans who are infected with the virus that causes AIDS aren't getting treated for it.

The finding comes from an analysis just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that more needs to be done to make sure people infected with the human immunodeficiency virus get proper treatment.

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Shots - Health News
10:25 am
Tue November 25, 2014

How Can Vultures Eat Rotten Roadkill And Survive?

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 8:25 am

You might wonder why 48 million Americans get food poisoning every year, yet there are some animals that seem to be immune from even the nastiest germs.

We're talking here about vultures, which feast on rotting flesh that is chockablock with bacteria that would be deadly to human beings. In fact, vultures have a strong preference for that kind of food.

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Shots - Health News
8:52 am
Tue November 25, 2014

Turning 21? Here's How To Avoid A Big Hike In Health Premiums

Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 10:55 am

For young people, turning 21 is generally a reason to celebrate.

If they're insured through the federal health insurance marketplace that operates in about three-dozen states, however, their birthday could mean a whopping 58 percent jump in their health insurance premium in 2015, according to an analysis by researchers at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

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Goats and Soda
2:51 am
Tue November 25, 2014

As Ebola Pingpongs In Liberia, Cases Disappear Into The Jungle

A hand-drawn map on the wall of a rural clinic shows health workers where a woman with Ebola may be hiding.
Kelly McEvers NPR

Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 7:59 am

There's a new phase of Ebola in Liberia. Epidemiologists call it pingponging.

Back in March, the disease was found in the rural areas. Then as people came to the capital to seek care, it started growing exponentially there. Now, some sick people are going back to their villages, and the disease has pingponged to the rural areas again.

So that's where we're headed — into the hot, thick jungle of Liberia to investigate a new Ebola hotspot.

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The Salt
10:34 pm
Mon November 24, 2014

Want A Calorie Count With That? FDA Issues New Rules For Restaurants

How many calories in that doughnut? A Starbucks coffee shop in New York City displays calorie information next to menu items. New FDA rules will require all chain restaurants and similar eating establishments to post calorie labels.
Chris Hondros Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 4:33 pm

Soon, you may not be able to ignore how many calories are in the breakfast sandwich or doughnut you like to stop for in the morning.

The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday will release new rules that will require chain restaurants with 20 or more locations to begin posting calorie information on their menus.

"Americans eat and drink about one-third of their calories away from home, and people today expect clear information about the products they consume," FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg said in a statement.

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Shots - Health News
4:05 pm
Mon November 24, 2014

Vitamin D Tests Aren't Needed For Everyone, Federal Panel Says

People can make vitamin D when exposed to sunshine. But many people in North America never get enough sun to do that.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 1:55 pm

Should you get a blood test to see if you're deficient in vitamin D? It sounds like such a good idea, seeing as how most people don't get enough sunshine to make vitamin D themselves. And the tests are becoming increasingly popular.

But there are problems with making vitamin D tests a standard part of preventive medicine, a federal panel said. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said Monday there's not enough evidence of benefits or harms to recommend vitamin D testing for all.

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Tools Of The Trade
2:22 pm
Mon November 24, 2014

Tools Of The Trade: The Presidential Physical Fitness Test

Patches for the new Presidential Youth Fitness Program in Lauren Horton's office at Capital City Public Charter School in Washington, D.C.
Elissa Nadworny NPR

For this series, we've been thinking a lot about the iconic tools that some of us remember using — if only for a short time — in our early schooling. Things like the slide rule and protractor, recorder and Bunsen burner.

Mere mention of today's tool sends shivers up the spines of entire generations — the tool long used to measure physical fitness: the Presidential Physical Fitness Test.

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The Salt
1:18 pm
Mon November 24, 2014

For The Next Food Drive, Go For The Canned Tuna, Not The Saltines

Peanut butter, canned tuna and canned fruits in natural juices are among the "superfoods" on Feeding America San Diego's list of requested donations.
Courtesy Feeding America San Diego

Originally published on Mon November 24, 2014 2:14 pm

When you donate to a food drive, do you ponder the nutritional labels of the can in your hand? Or do you grab a packet of ramen or a bag of marshmallows from the dark corners of your pantry and hope it hasn't expired?

Healthfulness isn't typically a well-intended food donor's top concern, says hunger advocate Ruth Solari. The ramen and marshmallows, along with a container of Crisco and a few other items, were basically the entire contents of a food box delivered to one of her volunteer's grandmothers who received food aid, Solari says.

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Goats and Soda
12:55 pm
Mon November 24, 2014

Ebola In Remote Liberia, Through The Eyes Of A Local Health Worker

Lorenzo Dorr works at the grassroots level to help deliver health services in far-flung areas of Liberia.
Courtesy of Last Mile Health

Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 12:10 pm

Even as encouraging reports come out of Liberia that Ebola cases appear to be leveling off or declining, it's not the full story. In recent weeks, there was a major outbreak of Ebola in scattered villages of Rivercess County, in the remote, southeastern part of the country where Lorenzo Dorr, a Liberian health worker with decades of experience, is helping to improve local health systems.

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Goats and Soda
11:19 am
Mon November 24, 2014

Hello Flowers, Bye-Bye Stray Dogs: Nepal Preps For South Asian Summit

The sidewalk repairs are permanent. The big photos offer a temporary touch of beauty during the summit.
Donatella Lorch for NPR

Originally published on Mon November 24, 2014 3:54 pm

Katmandu is giving itself a face-lift.

Tomorrow is the opening of the 18th summit meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. Seven regional heads of state, whose countries are home to large numbers of the world's poorest and hungriest people, are arriving in the city for two days of talks to explore greater trade and political cooperation within the region. And the cash-strapped government of Nepal wants its capital to look its best.

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Shots - Health News
11:01 am
Mon November 24, 2014

Merck Partners With NewLink To Speed Up Work On Ebola Vaccine

A 26-year-old man receives an injection in September of an experimental Ebola vaccine being tested by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and GlaxoSmithKline.
NIAID

It's now Goliath versus Goliath in the quest for an Ebola vaccine.

Until now, the two leading candidates for a vaccine to protect against the Ebola virus were being led by global pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline on the one hand, and a tiny company in Ames, Iowa, that was virtually unknown, on the other.

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Shots - Health News
4:16 am
Mon November 24, 2014

Upfront Costs Of Going Digital Overwhelm Some Doctors

Dr. Oliver Korshin says he's just a few years from retirement and can't afford the flurry of technology upgrades the federal government expects him to make.
Annie Feidt Alaska Public Media

Originally published on Mon November 24, 2014 4:07 pm

Dr. Oliver Korshin practices ophthalmology three days a week in the same small office in east Anchorage, Alaska, he's had for three decades. Many of his patients have aged into their Medicare years right along with him.

For his tiny practice, which employs just one part-time nurse, putting all his patients' medical records in an online database just doesn't make sense, Korshin says. It would cost too much to install and maintain — especially considering that he expects to retire in just a few years.

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Shots - Health News
4:16 am
Mon November 24, 2014

Africa Inspires A Health Care Experiment In New York

Norma Melendez, a community health worker with City Health Works, walks along Second Avenue on her way to meet a client. City Health Works is an organization that is attempting to bring an African model of health care delivery to the United States.
Bryan Thomas for NPR

Originally published on Mon November 24, 2014 4:09 pm

There's a project in the neighborhood of Harlem in New York that has a through-the-looking-glass quality. An organization called City Health Works is trying to bring an African model of health care delivery to the United States. Usually it works the other way around.

If City Health Works' approach is successful, it could help change the way chronic diseases are managed in poverty-stricken communities, where people suffer disproportionately from HIV/AIDS, obesity and diabetes.

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Global Health
5:25 pm
Sun November 23, 2014

Ebola Gatekeeper: 'When The Tears Stop, You Continue The Work'

Wencke Petersen, a Doctors Without Borders health worker, talks to a man through a chain link gate in September, when she was doing patient assessment at the front gate of an Ebola treatment unit. "There were days we couldn't take any patients at all," she tells NPR.
Michel du Cille The Washington Post

Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 1:53 pm

Wencke Petersen came to Liberia in late August to do what she normally does for Doctors Without Borders in hotspots all over the world — manage supplies.

But the supplies she was meant to organize hadn't arrived yet. So she was asked to help with another job: standing at the main gate of the walled-in compound, turning people away when the unit was full.

For five weeks, she gave people the bad news.

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Global Health
4:11 pm
Sun November 23, 2014

Ebola: Then And Now

Originally published on Sun November 23, 2014 5:23 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Health
4:11 pm
Sun November 23, 2014

Countering The 8-Hour Sleep Schedule

Originally published on Sun November 23, 2014 5:23 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

TESS VIGELAND, HOST:

It's the weekend, so maybe you are lucky enough to get eight straight hours of sleep last night - or not. And if not, you may feel like a slumber failure, because we are all supposed to get that solid eight or nine. And we assume that's what our bodies need and crave.

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Goats and Soda
6:03 am
Sun November 23, 2014

Anesthesia Miracle: No Power, No Oxygen Tanks, No Problem

A nurse anesthetist practices using the Universal Anesthesia Machine on an uncomplaining patient.
John Sampson/JHMI

Waking up during a surgery would be a nightmare, yet that's a regular problem for patients in low-income countries. Sketchy power grids mean the lights often go out, and with them, the anesthesia machine. In other cases, there are too few oxygen tanks for a surgery, so it's canceled.

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Shots - Health News
4:52 am
Sun November 23, 2014

What Microbes Lurked In The Last Public Restroom You Used?

Even cleaning a bathroom daily didn't much affect the make-up of the community of microbes living there, scientists say.
Claire Eggers NPR

Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 1:56 pm

The invisible world of the bathroom isn't pretty — unless you're a microbe. After scanning the microbial zoo of four public restrooms recently, a team of researchers found a diverse swarm of characters that persisted for months despite regular cleaning of the facilities.

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Goats and Soda
4:33 am
Sat November 22, 2014

You Might Be Surprised When You Take Your Temperature

Temperatures are taken two ways at Casablanca's airport: with an infrared body scanner (left) and a handheld thermometer (right).
Abdeljalil Bounhar AP

What's your temperature?

That's the question of the hour. The Ebola virus has made taking your temperature part of everyday conversation. People in West Africa are doing it. People returning from the region are doing it. And so are the overly paranoid in the United States.

For anyone who's been exposed to the virus, a body temperatures of 100.4 or higher has been deemed the point of concern. The goal, of course, is that magic number: 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

Except 98.6 degrees isn't so magical after all. In fact, that might not be your normal temperature.

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Goats and Soda
8:26 pm
Fri November 21, 2014

Plague Outbreak In Madagascar Spreads To Its Capital

Rats are a common sight along the streets of Antananarivo, where trash can go weeks, even months, without being collected.
Mike Rajaonarison Xinhua /Landov

An outbreak of the plague has sickened at least 119 people and killed 40 in Madagascar, the World Health Organization reports Friday.

The outbreak started back in August in a rural village, WHO said. Then it spread to seven of Madagascar's 22 regions. Two cases have occurred in the country's capital of Antananarivo.

"There is now a risk of a rapid spread of the disease due to the city's high population density and the weakness of the health care system," the WHO writes.

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Goats and Soda
3:49 pm
Fri November 21, 2014

An Ebola Clinic Figures Out A Way To Start Beating The Odds

Dr. Komba Songu M'Briwah, left, talks on the phone while staff members disinfect offices at the Hastings Ebola Treatment Center in Freetown.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Fri November 21, 2014 7:22 pm

One reason the Ebola virus is so terrifying is that it's so lethal. Researchers estimate that the strain circulating in West Africa is killing upward of 70 percent of those it infects. Even among those getting care, as many as 64 percent are dying.

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Health Care
3:33 pm
Fri November 21, 2014

Georgia's 'Coverage Gap' Leaves Many Uninsured

Originally published on Fri November 21, 2014 5:36 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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Shots - Health News
2:14 pm
Fri November 21, 2014

To Stay Energy Efficient As You Age, Keep On Running

People use energy less efficiently as they age. Running seems to help prevent that slowdown.
iStockphoto

Walking is a simple thing that becomes really, really important as we age. Being able to get around on our feet for extended periods of time not only makes everyday life easier, it's linked to fewer hospitalizations and greater longevity. As we get older, though, the body takes about 15 to 20 percent more energy to cover the same terrain.

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Goats and Soda
11:31 am
Fri November 21, 2014

The Viagra Of The Himalayas Brings In Big Bucks And Big Problems

Originally published on Fri November 21, 2014 5:49 pm

People live for — and die because of — the "Viagra of the Himalayas."

That's the nickname for one of the weirdest fungi around.

It starts with the larva of the ghost moth — a caterpillar that lives underground. A fungus invades the larva, kills it and consumes the body. Just the outer skeleton remains.

Eventually, a small brown stalk erupts from the dead caterpillar's head. In the spring, the pinkie-size stalk pokes an inch or two from the earth. That's when people across the Tibetan Plateau head to the high-alpine meadows to harvest the crazy-looking creature.

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Shots - Health News
11:06 am
Fri November 21, 2014

In The Hospital, There's No Such Thing As A Lesbian Knee

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 7:12 am

When my partner Cheryl was dying from respiratory complications related to treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma, she was in so much physical distress she couldn't bear to be touched.

The only contact she could stand — one of the few ways I could share my love with her — was for me to rub her feet. As I stood at the foot of her hospital bed doing just that, a scrub-clad figure we had never seen before poked her head in the door, curled her lip and demanded: "What is your relationship?"

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