Health Desk

Politics
3:26 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Advocate's Comments On ACA Now A Liability For Law's Supporters

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 5:47 pm

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

Goats and Soda
1:20 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

A Case Of Mistaken Identity Sends Healthy Boy To An Ebola Ward

A health worker, wearing a personal protective equipment, returns to her ambulance on November 11, 2014 after tranporting a patient to the Hastings treatment center in Hastings, outside Freetown, the only run exclusively by locals.
Francisco Leong AFP/Getty Images

As part of Sierra Leone's broader effort to contain the deadly Ebola virus, the country opened a new ambulance dispatch center in September in the capital, Freetown. Along with a new Ebola hotline, the center is considered an important step forward in the war on Ebola.

But on the center's second day of operation, a series of errors put the life of an apparently healthy 14-year-old boy at risk.

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Shots - Health News
12:43 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Wellness At Work Often Comes With Strings Attached

Originally published on Sun December 14, 2014 9:05 pm

If you get health insurance at work, chances are you have some sort of wellness plan, too. But so far there's no real evidence as to whether these plans actually improve the health of employees.

One thing we do know is that wellness is particularly popular with employers right now, as they seek ways to slow the rise of health spending. These initiatives can range from urging workers to use the stairs to requiring comprehensive health screenings.

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Goats and Soda
12:28 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

'Ebola Must Go' — And So Must Prejudice Against Survivors

Members of the community in New Georgia Signboard greet President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Monday for the launch of the Ebola Must Go! campaign.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 1:55 pm

A visitor brought Ebola to the community of New Georgia Signboard this summer, and by the middle of August, people were sick with the virus.

Six people died. But it's what the community did for the six survivors in the family that brought Liberia's president to New Georgia Signboard, where she launched her Ebola Must Go! campaign on Monday

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Shots - Health News
4:11 am
Tue December 9, 2014

Mistaken Identities Plague Lab Work With Human Cells

Georgetown's Robert Clark says it's very difficult to say precisely how many experiments have been spoiled by contaminated cell lines.
Phil Humnicky Courtesy of Georgetown University

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 6:55 pm

There's a major flaw in many medical research studies that seems so basic that you'd think scientists would be smart enough to avoid it.

It turns out that cells studied in the laboratory often get mixed up. A researcher who thinks she is studying breast cancer cells might in fact be using melanoma cells.

It's a surprisingly common problem — even in some of the top scientific labs.

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Politics
4:00 am
Tue December 9, 2014

Obamacare Adviser Gets Set To Go In Front Of Congressional Firing Squad

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 11:27 am

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

Shots - Health News
2:35 am
Tue December 9, 2014

Nursing Homes Rarely Penalized For Oversedating Patients

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 5:26 pm

Antipsychotic drugs have helped many people with serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. But for older people with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia, they can be deadly. The Food and Drug Administration has given these drugs a black box warning, saying they can increase the risk of heart failure, infections and death. Yet almost 300,000 nursing home residents still get them.

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Global Health
3:58 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Ebola Is Down, But Not Out, In Liberia

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 9:49 am

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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Goats and Soda
2:11 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Ebola Cases Are Down, So Should Liberians Stop Worrying?

To ward off Ebola, a worker washes his hands at a construction site in Monrovia.
Pascal Guyot AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 9:42 am

For months, Liberia was the country worst-hit by the Ebola outbreak. But the wards in Liberia's Ebola treatment units now stand virtually empty. The number of newly reported cases fell from almost 300 cases a week in mid-September to fewer than 100 by mid-October.

But that doesn't mean it's time to take it easy. In fact, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has just announced a new campaign, Ebola Must Go, which focuses on the role of the community.

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Shots - Health News
12:47 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Despite Decline, Elective Early Births Remain A Medicaid Problem

The proportion of elective early deliveries under Medicaid has declined but remains a problem.
Health Affairs

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 12:00 pm

Nearly 9 percent of the births covered by Medicaid — or about 160,000 each year — were elective deliveries before 39 weeks of gestation. Early deliveries like those can lead to worse health outcomes for mothers and children and higher costs, according to a study published Monday.

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Goats and Soda
12:13 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Ebola, Schmebola — You Still Have To Look Good!

Zoe Kiadi, 25, says neither unemployment nor the presence of Ebola has dimmed her desire to look nice. What really sets her apart is her hairstyle.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Mon December 8, 2014 1:32 pm

Forget Ebola. In Liberia, style is everything.

"Even if poor, even if without a job, Liberians still spend money on clothes. They value appearance over everything," says Muhammed Trawally. The 33-year-old driver is wearing tightly fitted black jeans, sharp Italian-style leather shoes, a crisp orange-and-white striped polo shirt, brown-tinted aviator glasses in a gold-and-white frame and a black Casio watch.

"Looking good is business," he says — a phrase that keeps popping up.

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Goats and Soda
10:43 am
Mon December 8, 2014

When A Stray Dog's In Trouble, Katmandu's Canine Rescuers Jump To It

Ram Nagarkoti responds to emergency calls and brings injured dogs to the triage room at the Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre.
Donatella Lorch for NPR

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 9:38 am

The phone calls start in early morning. They are strikingly similar.

"There is an injured dog on the street. Can you take care of it?"

Ram Nagarkoti, the 31-year-old ambulance driver at the Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre (KAT Centre), often spends his days zigzagging through traffic, waving at police officers as he edges across chaotic intersections and squeezing into labyrinthian alleyways to find his patient — one of 20,000 stray dogs in Nepal's capital.

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Shots - Health News
10:20 am
Mon December 8, 2014

Doctors Are Slow To Adopt Changes In Breast Cancer Treatment

New evidence on the effectiveness of medical treatments can take a long time to influence medical practice.
Damian Dovarganes AP

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 3:58 pm

Cancer doctors want the best, most effective treatment for their patients. But it turns out many aren't paying attention to evidence that older women with early stage breast cancer may be enduring the pain, fatigue and cost of radiation treatment although it doesn't increase life expectancy.

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NPR Ed
8:25 am
Mon December 8, 2014

Kids' Drawings Speak Volumes About Home

Examples of a family drawing assessment: A drawing from a child scored with minimal indicators of family dysfunction (top), and one from a child scored with elevated levels of family dysfunction (bottom).
W. Roger Mills-Koonce

Originally published on Mon December 8, 2014 11:10 am

When children reach 6 years old, their drawings matter.

Not because of those purple unicorns or pinstripe dragons but because of how kids sketch themselves and the very real people in their lives.

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Shots - Health News
4:08 am
Mon December 8, 2014

Medicine's Subtle Art Gives A Man The Chance To Breathe Again

Bob Smithson, 79, can now hold his head upright and breathe on his own, thanks to a medication for myasthenia gravis.
M. Scott Brauer for NPR

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 3:57 pm

Bob Smithson had been in the critical care unit at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston for more than a week. He had a rare neuromuscular disease, and his 78-year-old body was being kept alive by tubes that delivered air to his lungs and food to his stomach.

Then Bob's wife, Pat, got some really disturbing news. The hospital's medical staff wanted Bob to have a tracheostomy, a surgical procedure that would carve a hole in his neck and allow doctors to keep him on a breathing machine indefinitely.

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Shots - Health News
3:57 am
Mon December 8, 2014

Old And Overmedicated: The Real Drug Problem In Nursing Homes

Antipsychotic drugs aren't necessary in the vast majority of dementia cases, gerontologists say. The pills can be stupefying and greatly raise the risk of falls — and hip fracture.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 5:32 pm

It's one of the worst fears we have for our parents or for ourselves: that we, or they, will end up in a nursing home, drugged into a stupor. And that fear is not entirely unreasonable. Almost 300,000 nursing home residents are currently receiving antipsychotic drugs, usually to suppress the anxiety or aggression that can go with Alzheimer's disease and other dementia.

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Global Health
3:57 am
Mon December 8, 2014

With Ebola Cases Down, Officials Worry Liberians Aren't Worried Enough

Originally published on Mon December 8, 2014 1:06 pm

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

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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Shots - Health News
3:22 am
Mon December 8, 2014

When It Comes To Day Care, Parents Want All Children Vaccinated

According to a national poll on children's health, over 80 percent of parents believe all children in day care should be required to be up to date on their vaccines.
Alison Bruzek NPR

Originally published on Mon December 8, 2014 3:55 pm

There's been a lot of attention drawn to people who don't believe in vaccinating their children, but there are many more people who believe that vaccines are the best way to protect children from contagious disease. A recent poll shows just how concerned parents are about vaccines when it comes to putting their children in day care.

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Goats and Soda
3:09 pm
Sun December 7, 2014

Liberian Businesses Reopen Their Doors, But Customers Are Wary

Mrs. Mama Quaye has run Mrs. Quayes African Food Center on Ashmun St. in downtown Monrovia for over 20 years.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Mon December 8, 2014 11:28 am

Ebola has had a brutal impact on the economies of three West African nations at the epicenter of the outbreak. In Liberia, the World Bank has more than halved projected growth for the nation, compared to what they predicted before the epidemic.

Ebola has killed more than 3,000 people in Liberia and, at the height of the outbreak, closed shops, businesses and offices. As the situation eases, many have now reopened — but it's still tough going.

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Goats and Soda
4:21 am
Sun December 7, 2014

The Decreasing Loneliness Of The Indian Long-Distance Runner

India's new wave of runners is ready to race. This crowd took off at the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon on Nov. 23.
Zheng Huansong Xinhua /Landov

Originally published on Mon December 8, 2014 7:42 am

I began running about a year ago. I'd just moved to New Delhi, after living in the United States for 11 years. The stress of the move was getting to me, and I desperately needed exercise.

But finding a regular route wasn't easy. Running on the sidewalk is next to impossible here in Delhi. Every few seconds I had to get off the sidewalk to avoid bumping into a street vendor's cart or a patch of sidewalk claimed by Indian men to pee on.

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Shots - Health News
4:20 am
Sun December 7, 2014

If Slow Is Good For Food, Why Not Medicine?

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Originally published on Mon December 8, 2014 8:05 am

Maybe you've heard about the slow food movement. Maybe you're a devotee.

The idea is that cooking, nutrition and eating should be intentional, mindful and substantive. Avoid fast food and highly processed grub. For the slow food set, the process is as important as the product.

Now I'm seeing a medical version of slow food. The concept is bubbling up in response to industrialized, hypertechnological and often unnecessary medical care that drives up costs and leaves both doctors and patients frazzled.

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All Tech Considered
4:02 pm
Sat December 6, 2014

Is That $1 or $5? Ask This Money Reader For The Blind

After scanning a $1 bill with iBill, a speaker announces, "one dollar."
Claire Eggers NPR

The uniformity of dollar bills is great for shoving them all in your wallet after you buy a sandwich. It's not great, however, if you're one of the over 14 million Americans with vision loss and can't tell the denomination.

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Goats and Soda
5:47 am
Sat December 6, 2014

Idris Elba Plays A Soccer Coach Out To Crush Ebola In New Ad Campaign

In a new public health campaign, British actor Idris Elba plays a soccer coach whose team is squaring off against Ebola.
Courtesy of Africa United

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 11:27 am

The soccer coach is giving his team a pep talk: "This is not an ordinary game," he declares as he paces in the locker room. "This is life or death. Ebola has defeated thousands in West Africa. Its key strength is passing."

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Goats and Soda
3:47 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Liberian President's Ambitious Goal: No New Ebola Cases By Christmas

Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf sits for a portrait before an NPR interview at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Sat December 6, 2014 7:58 am

Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf hopes to ring in the holidays with an ambitious goal: no new cases of Ebola in her country by Dec. 25.

"We believe we had to set a target that gave our people hope, a target that would make them more committed to taking all the precautionary measures," she says. "Yes, it's called ambitious, but sometimes you have to take a risk in being ambitious."

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Shots - Health News
3:33 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Delivering Health Care To The Uninsured For $15 A Pop

In the documentary Remote Area Medical, a boy chooses a new pair of glasses after receiving an eye exam.
Remote Area Medical Courtesy of Cinedigm

Originally published on Fri December 5, 2014 6:31 pm

What happens when you break a leg and you live hundreds of miles from the nearest hospital? Or when you can't afford to get a new pair of glasses because you don't have health insurance?

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The Salt
2:50 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Why Did Vitamins Disappear From Non-GMO Breakfast Cereal?

The Original Grape-Nuts, which now bear a non-GMO label, no longer contain vitamins A, D, B-12 and B-2.
Claire Eggers NPR

Originally published on Sat December 6, 2014 5:18 am

Remember when Cheerios and Grape-Nuts went GMO-free? That was about a year ago, when their corporate creators announced that these products would no longer contain ingredients made from genetically modified organisms like common types of corn, soybeans or sugar beets.

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Goats and Soda
11:19 am
Fri December 5, 2014

Baby's Necklace Could End Up Being A Life Saver

Vikram is the first child to wear a Khushi Baby necklace, which will keep track of his immunizations. He's at a vaccine clinic in Rajasthan, India.
Ruchit Nagar Courtesy of Khushi Baby

Originally published on Fri December 5, 2014 3:27 pm

Meet Vikram. He's that cute baby in the picture above. Now, take a closer look at his neckwear.

It's traditional for newborns in northern India to wear a black thread necklace as a symbol of good health and good fortune, but Vikram's got a high-tech version. The round pendant on the string is a wearable device called Khushi Baby that carries his vaccination history inside a computerized chip about the size of a dime.

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Shots - Health News
11:15 am
Fri December 5, 2014

What If Sharing Your MRI Was As Simple As Pinterest?

Originally published on Mon December 8, 2014 8:06 am

Surely I'm not the only person who has gone to the orthopedist figuring that the radiologist sent over the MRI, only to find out that I was supposed to have asked for a CD and a paper copy of the report. Really? That is so last century.

Since I can Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest images with ease, shouldn't I also be able to get my MRI online and share it with my doctors?

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StoryCorps
2:29 am
Fri December 5, 2014

Caring For AIDS Patients, 'When No One Else Would'

Ruth Coker Burks with her friend Paul Wineland. Wineland's partner was one of many AIDS patients Coker Burks has cared for over the past three decades.
StoryCorps

Originally published on Fri December 5, 2014 12:07 pm

Ruth Coker Burks was a young mother in her 20s when the AIDS epidemic hit her home state of Arkansas in the early 1980s. She took it upon herself to care for AIDS patients who were abandoned by their families, and even by medical professionals, who feared the disease.

Coker Burks, now 55, has no medical training, but she estimates that she has cared for nearly 1,000 people over the past three decades, including her friend Paul Wineland's partner.

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Goats and Soda
2:26 am
Fri December 5, 2014

World's Slow Response To Ebola Leaves Sierra Leone Villages Scrambling

A worker puts the finishing touches on the dividers that will separate patients at the community care center in the Port Loko district of Sierra Leone.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Fri December 12, 2014 11:05 am

If you think the fight against Ebola is going well, here's a grim new number: 537.

That's how many new infections were reported in Sierra Leone in the past week. It's the highest weekly tally in any country since the West African outbreak began.

International governments and aid groups have scrambled to open Ebola treatment centers in the country. But, because of safety concerns, many of these centers are accepting only a fraction of the number of patients they were built to serve.

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