Health Desk

The Two-Way
11:07 pm
Fri March 13, 2015

Dutch Owl's Rampage Ends Safely For All

A falconer has captured an aggressive eagle owl that terrorized a Dutch town by swooping out of the sky and sinking its talons into residents' heads.
Jacob Jorritsma AP

We sent out the alert to travelers headed for the Netherlands last month that an eagle owl was targeting runners and other unsuspecting pedestrians in the town of Purmerend.

The bird would take aim at human heads, inflicting wounds that required stitches, and prompting people to wear helmets and other protective gear.

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Goats and Soda
8:21 pm
Fri March 13, 2015

Several Americans Possibly Exposed To Ebola, As Epidemic Smolders

Health workers are disinfected with a chlorine solution after treating patients at the Hastings Ebola Treatment Center in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Nine American aid workers have contracted Ebola while working in West Africa.
David Gilkey NPR

This week we got a rude reminder that Ebola is clearly not over in West Africa.

Another American aid worker contracted the disease in Sierra Leone, health officials reported Thursday. The infected worker was flown back to the U.S. in a private jet and is being treated at the National Institutes of Health Clinic Center in Maryland.

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Business
5:39 pm
Fri March 13, 2015

Lumber Liquidators Defends Its Products After '60 Minutes' Report

A man walks past a Lumber Liquidators store in Philadelphia. The retailer says it stands by its products and will pay for the safety testing of laminate floors.
Matt Slocum AP

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 7:00 pm

Earlier this month, the flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators got the kind of attention companies dread. CBS' 60 Minutes did a story saying the company's products have unsafe levels of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

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Shots - Health News
4:51 pm
Fri March 13, 2015

Nurses Have To Translate When Medical Devices Fail To Communicate

Will the pump talk to the computer that holds the patient's records?
iStockphoto

Walk past a patient's hospital room, and the flashing control panels on devices by the bed might make you think you're peering at the cockpit of a 737.

Medical technology can make patient care better and more precise. But the gadgets and computers can cause trouble, too. One big problem is that most of the devices can't communicate with one another.

The ultimate technological goal is what the engineers call interoperability. Let the ventilators, IV pumps, heart monitors and computers holding patient records communicate and update one another automatically.

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Health
4:36 pm
Fri March 13, 2015

Federal Government, States Battle Over Safety Of Powdered Alcohol

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 7:00 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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Goats and Soda
1:46 pm
Fri March 13, 2015

Mr. Mambia Goes To Washington: To Honor His Sister, Who Died Of Ebola

Tarkpor Mambia in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. He says he "literally froze" during his first American winter in 2013, but is getting used to the cold weather.
Ryan Kellman NPR

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 5:17 pm

When he first got word of an Ebola outbreak in his home country of Liberia last March, Tarkpor Mambia didn't take the news too seriously.

He was talking to his sister Grace, 28, on the phone. She was about to finish nursing school in the inland Liberian town of Gbarnga. Mambia lives with his brother in Massachusetts, where he studies business at Salem State University.

Grace told him she hadn't tended to any Ebola patients but expected to soon. She was worried about an epidemic.

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Shots - Health News
11:22 am
Fri March 13, 2015

Credit Agencies Agree To Wait Before Adding Medical Debt To Ratings

iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon March 16, 2015 7:41 am

Too many consumers have learned the hard way that their credit rating can be tarnished by medical bills they may not owe or when disputes delay insurer payment. That should change under a new policy agreed to this week by the three major credit reporting agencies.

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The Two-Way
8:58 am
Fri March 13, 2015

Patient With Ebola Is Admitted To NIH Hospital In Maryland

An American who contracted Ebola while volunteering in Sierra Leone was admitted to the hospital at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda early Friday.
NIH

An American health care worker who contracted Ebola while volunteering in Sierra Leone is now receiving care at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Maryland. The patient's condition is still being evaluated, the NIH says.

The patient is the second to be treated for Ebola at the Bethesda facility, which previously cared for — and eventually released — Nina Pham, a nurse who contracted Ebola in Dallas. The hospital has also monitored two patients who were seen as being at high risk of having the deadly disease. They were later released.

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Shots - Health News
8:14 am
Fri March 13, 2015

Feds Knew About Medicare Advantage Overcharges Years Ago

Carol Berman, of West Palm Beach, Fla., makes the case for policymakers to protect Medicare Advantage benefits during the Coalition for Medicare Choices' Medicare Advantage Food Truck stop in Washington, D.C., on Monday.
Bill Clark CQ-Roll Call/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 16, 2015 7:41 am

Federal health officials were advised in 2009 that a formula used to pay private Medicare plans triggered widespread billing errors and overcharges that have since wasted billions of tax dollars, newly released government records show.

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Goats and Soda
7:29 am
Fri March 13, 2015

Singing About Chikungunya Might Not Cure You But Will Make You Laugh

tk
YouTube

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 4:35 pm

Chikungunya is a mosquito-transmitted disease that's been rearing its head throughout Central and South America. People infected with the virus develop a fever and extreme joint pain. There's no cure, and sometimes the joint pain lasts for months or even years.

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Shots - Health News
11:05 am
Thu March 12, 2015

Before The Gas Is Passed, Researchers Aim To Measure It In The Gut

Feces contain digested food residue and a wide variety of microorganisms, mostly bacteria, that are adapted to life in the intestines. The gases the microbes produce could help doctors and scientists track and understand changes related to health.
Scimat Scimat Photo Researchers/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon March 16, 2015 7:40 am

Electrical engineer Kourosh Kalantar-Zadeh calls the stinking mixture puddled in jars inside his laboratory "fecal inocula."

The jars of fresh poop are instrumental to his research at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia to develop ways to scientifically analyze people's farts, something that the researchers believe could help them more easily track the activity of the human gut microbiome.

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Mental Health
5:04 am
Thu March 12, 2015

ISIS Gains Ground In Libya; Takes Over Port City Of Surt

Originally published on Thu March 12, 2015 6:37 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Shots - Health News
3:27 am
Thu March 12, 2015

When Life Overwhelms, This Group Lends A Healthy Hand

Ella Barnes-Williams visits the thrift shop associated with Martha's Table, a nonprofit social services organization in Washington, D.C.
Anders Kelto/NPR

Originally published on Thu March 12, 2015 1:03 pm

Ella Barnes-Williams is dealing with a lot right now.

For starters, her government-subsidized house in Northeast Washington, D.C., leaks when it rains. She points at a big brown splotch on the ceiling.

"It's like mold, mold, mold all over," she says. "I've got to clean that now 'cause that just came back."

Barnes-Williams is 54 and lives with her 30-year-old daughter and three young grandchildren. All three grandkids have severe asthma, which makes the mold a serious problem. And she and her daughter are diabetic.

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Shots - Health News
5:03 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

Results Of Many Clinical Trials Not Being Reported

Glenn Lightner in 2012 at age 13. His father searched clinicaltrials.gov for years, to no avail, hoping to find a promising experimental cancer treatment that might save his son's life.
Courtesy of Lawrence Lightner

Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 3:07 pm

Many scientists are failing to live up to a 2007 law that requires them to report the results of their clinical trials to a public website, according to a study in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.

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The Salt
4:35 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

Why Some Schools Serve Local Food And Others Can't (Or Won't)

A lunch served by the Yarmouth, Maine, School Department on Sept. 26, 2014, featured Sloppy Joe's made with Maine beef and local beets, carrots, apples and potato salad. More than 80 percent of Maine schools said they served local foods in a survey conducted by the USDA.
U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr

Originally published on Thu March 12, 2015 3:23 pm

For many years, if a public school district wanted to serve students apples or milk from local farmers, it could face all kinds of hurdles. Schools were locked into strict contracts with distributors, few of whom saw any reason to start bringing in local products. Those contracts also often precluded schools from working directly with local farmers.

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Shots - Health News
4:34 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

Would A Pill To Protect Teens From HIV Make Them Feel Invincible?

Truvada can dramatically reduce the risk of HIV infection when taken as a preventative medicine — if taken every day. Studies are underway to determine if young people are likely to take the pill consistently.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 10:08 am

Leon Richardson is 18 years old and tall, charismatic and thoughtful about his sexual health.

He understands that as a young, gay black man, he is in the demographic with the highest rate of HIV infections in the country. But when Richardson learned that he could be part of an HIV prevention pill research study for young people, he was skeptical.

"I was scared. I had to really think about it, 'What is this drug going to do to me?' " he says.

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Goats and Soda
1:28 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

He's 14. He Was A Child Soldier. He's Suicidal. How Can He Be Saved?

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Originally published on Wed March 11, 2015 4:35 pm

The boy was abducted by the Lord's Liberation Army to serve as a child soldier when he was 7. He had been forced to kill his uncle with a machete.

At 14, he escaped and made his way back to his parents. But he wasn't himself.

He couldn't sleep at night, and during the day, he'd run around the village screaming. He was fighting back thoughts of suicide.

"No one knew what to do with him," says Peter Oketayot, a mental health counselor with the nonprofit Vivo in Northern Uganda, who eventually treated the teenager.

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Shots - Health News
11:32 am
Wed March 11, 2015

The Boss Can Force You To Buy Company's Health Insurance

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 10:09 am

Under the health law, large employers that don't offer their full-time workers comprehensive, affordable health insurance face a fine. But some employers are taking it a step further and requiring workers to buy the company insurance, whether they want it or not.

Many workers may have no choice but to comply.

Some workers are upset. One disgruntled reader wrote to Kaiser Health News: "My employer is requiring me to purchase health insurance and is automatically taking the premium out of my paycheck even though I don't want to sign up for health insurance. Is this legal?"

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The Salt
10:12 am
Wed March 11, 2015

How Big Sugar Steered Research On A 'Tooth Decay Vaccine'

Garry Gay Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 11, 2015 2:18 pm

Sugar can promote tooth decay. Duh.

So if you want good oral health, it makes sense to brush and floss regularly and perhaps limit the amount of sugar you consume. Right?

In 2015, this may seem fairly obvious.

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Shots - Health News
9:45 am
Wed March 11, 2015

Documents Detail Sugar Industry Efforts To Direct Medical Research

Pink Sherbert Photography/Flickr

Back in 2007, Christin Kearns attended a conference for dentists like herself to learn about links between diabetes and gum disease.

She was handed a government pamphlet titled, "How to Talk to Patients about Diabetes," and was surprised to find that the diet advice didn't mention reducing sugar intake. She said it made her wonder if the sugar industry "somehow impacted what the government can or cannot say about diet advice for diabetics?"

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Goats and Soda
6:03 am
Wed March 11, 2015

Happy World Plumbing Day! We Celebrate By Interviewing ... A Plumber

Fred Schilling has made many trips to Haiti to fix pipes and train Haitians.
Courtesy of Plumbers Without Borders

Originally published on Wed March 11, 2015 4:21 pm

After a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, help poured in from the U.S. Doctors came to battle the cholera epidemic, agencies handed out food, and nonprofits provided shelter.

And then there were plumbers.

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Back At Base
2:43 am
Wed March 11, 2015

Veterans Choice Act Fails To Ease Travel Burdens For Vets In Need Of Care

While the Veterans Choice Act seems simple, making it work hasn't been as easy.

Originally published on Wed March 11, 2015 10:27 am

Veterans who need to see a doctor often have to travel long distances – 40 miles or more – to get to a Department of Veterans Affairs facility. So last year, after scandals involving long wait times for vets, Congress tried to make getting care easier.

The Veterans Choice Act gives veterans the option of using a doctor outside the VA system if VA facilities are more than 40 miles away, or there's more than a 30-day wait for an appointment.

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Shots - Health News
2:36 am
Wed March 11, 2015

States Aim To Restrict Medically Induced Abortions

A view of the eastern entrance to the Ohio Statehouse.
Bob Hall/Flickr

Originally published on Thu March 12, 2015 4:08 pm

Of the million or so women who have abortions every year in the U.S., nearly a quarter end their pregnancy using medications. But just as states have been passing a record number of restrictions on surgical abortion, more are trying to limit this option as well.

One of the country's strictest laws is in Ohio. To understand it, a little history helps.

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The Two-Way
4:19 pm
Tue March 10, 2015

Ireland Rushes To Ban Possession Of Several Hard Drugs

Originally published on Tue March 10, 2015 5:48 pm

The Irish government hopes to vote on emergency legislation quickly to counter today's Irish Court of Appeal ruling, which on a technicality legalized a number of hard drugs in the country, including ecstasy and "magic mushrooms." The three-person court found that government officials had not gotten parliamentary approval when they added drugs to the list outlawed by the 1977 Misuse of Drugs Act.

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Shots - Health News
4:07 pm
Tue March 10, 2015

FDA Decision Signals New Competition For Some Of The Costliest Drugs

A look inside the factory in Kundl, Austria, where Sandoz, a unit of Novartis, makes biosimilar drugs.
Novartis

Originally published on Tue March 10, 2015 4:46 pm

Mark McCamish spent more than five years preparing for a presentation he gave this winter.

McCamish is in charge of biopharmaceutical drug development at the Sandoz division of Switzerland's Novartis. He and his colleagues made the case to a panel of 14 cancer specialists and a group of Food and Drug Administration regulators that a company drug codenamed EP2006 should be approved for sale in the U.S.

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Shots - Health News
2:33 pm
Tue March 10, 2015

A Sheriff And A Doctor Team Up To Map Childhood Trauma

Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell (left) and Dr. Nancy Hardt, University of Florida.
Bryan Thomas for NPR

Originally published on Thu March 12, 2015 11:30 am

The University of Florida's Dr. Nancy Hardt has an unusual double specialty: She's both a pathologist and an OB-GYN. For the first half of her career, she brought babies into the world. Then she switched — to doing autopsies on people after they die.

It makes perfect sense to her.

"Birth, and death. It's the life course," Hardt explains.

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Shots - Health News
1:04 pm
Tue March 10, 2015

Playing The Odds With Statins: Heart Disease Or Diabetes?

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Wed March 11, 2015 2:41 pm

Last year my cholesterol shot up despite living nowhere near a decent barbeque joint. I was totally stressed. I wasn't overweight. But I was pretty sedentary. My doctor prescribed a high dose of Lipitor, a powerful statin.

For women of a certain age, statins are supposedly the best thing since Lycra for keeping wayward bodies in check. Statins interfere with the synthesis of low-density lipoprotein, the "bad" cholesterol. LDL is a prime suspect in heart disease, the top killer of women.

The statin cut my cholesterol like buttah.

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Shots - Health News
12:54 pm
Tue March 10, 2015

Genetic Disorder May Reveal How Statins Boost Diabetes Risk

Lipitor and other statin drugs are commonly prescribed to lower cholesterol.
Paul J. Richards AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 10, 2015 1:22 pm

Millions of people take statins to lower their cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. But taking statins does slightly up the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Figuring out whether that means "No statins for you" isn't always easy, despite a proliferation of guidelines intended to help.

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Shots - Health News
3:21 am
Tue March 10, 2015

With Medicare Pay On The Line, Hospitals Push Harder To Please Patients

Patient perceptions have been tough to change at Rowan Regional Medical Center in Salisbury, N.C.
Joanna Serah/Wikimedia

Originally published on Wed March 11, 2015 6:33 am

Lillie Robinson came to Rowan Medical Center for surgery on her left foot. She expected to be in and out in a day, returning weeks later to the Salisbury, N.C., hospital for her surgeon to operate on the other foot.

But that's not how things turned out. "When I got here I found out he was doing both," she said. "We didn't realize that until they started medicating me for the procedure." Robinson signed a consent form and the operation went fine, but she was in the hospital far longer than she'd expected to be.

"I wasn't prepared for that," she said.

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The Salt
3:18 am
Tue March 10, 2015

Circadian Surprise: How Our Body Clocks Help Shape Our Waistlines

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Tue March 10, 2015 4:18 pm

We've long known about the master clock in our brains that helps us maintain a 24-hour sleep-wake cycle.

But in recent years, scientists have made a cool discovery: We have different clocks in virtually every organ of our bodies — from our pancreas to our stomach to our fat cells.

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