Health

Health
12:15 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Prolific Prescribers Of Controlled Substances Face Medicare Scrutiny

Number of providers by state who wrote at least 3,000 prescriptions for Schedule 2 controlled substances in 2012 in Medicare Part D.
ProPublica/NPR

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 7:31 am

Despite a national crackdown on prescription drug abuse, doctors churned out an ever-larger number of prescriptions for the most-potent controlled substances to Medicare patients, new data show.

In addition, ProPublica found, the most prolific prescribers of such drugs as oxycodone, fentanyl, morphine and Ritalin often have worrisome records.

Read more
Health
11:01 am
Mon December 15, 2014

Small Businesses Drop Coverage As Health Law Offers Alternatives

Where are the health insurance deals? On the exchanges, many small businesses have concluded.
Bjorn Rune Lie Ikon Images/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 12:57 pm

For two decades Atlanta restaurant owner Jim Dunn offered a group health plan to his managers and helped pay for it. That ended Dec. 1, after the Affordable Care Act made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

Subsidies under the health law for workers to buy their own coverage combined with years of rising costs in the company plan made dropping the plan an obvious — though not easy — choice.

Read more
Health
3:24 am
Mon December 15, 2014

To Stop Teen Drinking Parties, Fine The Parents

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 4:53 pm

When it comes to teenage drinking, the typical venue is a party — where some teens play drinking games and binge. It may surprise you to learn that the majority of parents are aware that alcohol is flowing at these events.

On any given weekend, some teenagers receive three to four text messages about parties, says Bettina Friese, a public health researcher at the Prevention Research Center in Oakland, Calif.

Read more
Health
5:08 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 4:57 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.

Read more
Health
4:57 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 6:32 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.

Read more
Health
3:33 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

On World AIDS Day, Fighting HIV And Stigma

HIV activist Maria Mejia found out she was HIV-positive just before she turned 18.
Courtesy of Maria Mejia

Originally published on Mon December 1, 2014 5:19 pm

Read more
Health
11:10 am
Mon December 1, 2014

Doctors Warn That Soft Bedding Puts Babies At Risk

The use of infant bedding by mother's age, between 1993 and 2010. Data provided by the National Infant Sleep Position Study.
Alison Bruzek NPR

Originally published on Tue December 2, 2014 3:15 pm

While blankets, pillows and quilts sound like the makings of a cozy bed for an adult, they can be downright dangerous in an infant's crib.

Read more
Health
3:40 am
Mon December 1, 2014

Broken Hips: Preventing A Fall Can Save Your Life

Joyce Powell, 80, attends an exercise class at UT-Arlington with her husband, Thomas (right). Powell says she feels more confident in getting around and traveling since taking the classes.
Dane Walters KERA

Originally published on Tue December 2, 2014 6:02 pm

Last October, Jeanette Mariani was an independent 87-year-old, living alone in Dallas and getting around with a walker. Then one night she switched off the light and tried to make her way into bed. A chair was in the way. And she fell.

"There I was, lying on the floor," she recalled. "I pulled down one of my pillows. I didn't reach very high, just pulled it down, put my head down on it and thought: 'Well, I'll wait until morning.' "

The next day, she called for help.

Read more
Health
3:32 am
Tue November 18, 2014

Doctor Shortage Looming? Maybe Not

Victoria Elizabeth Fischer was presented with a white coat by her grandfather, Dr. Christian Van Den Heuvel, at Georgetown University School of Medicine in August. The ceremony marks the start for each new class of medical students.
Lisa Helfert Courtesy of Georgetown University

Originally published on Thu November 20, 2014 2:34 pm

The United States is facing a critical shortage of doctors that could seriously jeopardize the ability of a patient to get medical care in the coming years.

Read more
Health
5:56 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

Ebola In 3-D: A Video Game To Guide Health Care Workers Through A Ward

A screenshot from a demo of the Ebola-training video game.
Courtesy of Shift Labs

Originally published on Wed November 12, 2014 8:47 pm

Could you walk through an Ebola treatment center in Liberia without catching the virus?

Soon you may be able to find out from the comfort of your living room. Shift Labs, a Seattle-based tech outfit, has developed a prototype for a video game that could be used to train health workers on duty in West Africa.

Read more
Health
5:08 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

The Risk Of Brain Injuries Shifts As Children Grow Up

As children grow, they learn to crawl, to walk and then to drive. It turns out, the way they get hurt, and in particular their heads, evolves as as their forms of motion change.

Small children suffer head injuries from falling, while teenagers are at risk from car accidents, assaults and sports injuries, according to a paper published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Read more
Health
3:35 am
Tue November 11, 2014

Medical Experts Look For New Ways To Test Ebola Drugs

Nurses assist a new patient at an Ebola center in Liberia's Lofa County. As drug trials get underway, patients may receive experimental medicines.
Tommy Trenchard NPR

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 8:06 am

Medical experts are meeting today and tomorrow at the World Health Organization in Geneva to figure out how to test potential Ebola drugs in Africa. In addition to determining which experimental drugs should be the highest priority, the experts are sorting through some difficult ethical issues.

In short, they're trying to figure out how to design tests that will provide the fastest and most trustworthy answers — and yet minimize the need for comparison groups who won't be offered the experimental treatments.

Read more
Health
6:52 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

A Smartphone Gadget Pumps Up Breast-Milk Banks

Newborn in an incubator at Greytown Hospital in South Africa in 2009.
Wendy Stone Courtesy of PATH

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 10:37 am

Breast-milk banks are a great way to help babies whose mothers aren't able to breast-feed. Breast milk, in case you didn't know, does a better job than formula at bolstering a baby's immune system, especially if the tot is premature or underweight.

Read more
Health
4:30 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

HealthCare.gov's Tech Improvements Mean You Can Now Window Shop

Consumers can window shop on HealthCare.gov leading up to open enrollment, which starts Saturday.
AP

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 8:59 am

HealthCare.gov barely worked when it launched last fall, with only six people able to enroll in a plan on opening day.

Read more
Health
3:35 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

Kidney Dialysis Company Expands Into The Hospital Business

Dialysis giant DaVita HealthCare Partners is moving into the hospital business.
Courtesy of DaVita HealthCare Partners

Originally published on Mon November 10, 2014 7:08 pm

Critics of America's health care system say it's really a "sick care" system. Doctors and hospitals only get paid for treating people when they're sick.

But that's starting to change. Health insurance companies and big government payers like Medicare are starting to reward doctors and hospitals for keeping people healthy.

So, many health care companies are trying to position themselves as organizations that help people stay well.

Read more
Health
4:21 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

How Much Is That MRI, Really? Massachusetts Shines A Light

In 49 U.S. states, spotting the squished disc in this spinal MRI is still much easier than learning the price of the MRI in advance.
AWelshLad iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 5:45 pm

The kids are asleep, and I've settled into a comfy armchair in the corner of my New England living room, one of my favorite spots for shopping online. I've got my laptop open and I'm ready to search for a bone density test.

Hmmm ... looks like the price that my insurer pays for that test varies from $190 at Harvard Vanguard to $445 at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Read more
Health
5:17 pm
Tue November 4, 2014

Researchers Tap Web Chatter To Figure Out Who's Sick

Hotspots show where the common cold is popping up across the U.S.
via Sickweather

Originally published on Wed November 5, 2014 9:03 am

What if you could track people getting sick just by analyzing how they surf the Web?

Read more
Health
3:46 pm
Fri October 31, 2014

A Field Of Medicine That Wants To Know Where You Live

A map of toxic waste sites can be combined with maps of waterways and cities to reveal potential health risks.
Bill Davenhall Esri

Originally published on Mon November 3, 2014 8:39 am

In 1854, an English doctor named John Snow pinpointed an outbreak of cholera in London to a single contaminated water pump.

A pioneer of modern epidemiology, Snow used information about where the sick people lived to deduce that they were drinking tainted water from that source.

And while using clues about peoples' locations is an important tool in public health, it's now set to make individual health care even more personal.

Read more
Health
3:42 pm
Wed October 29, 2014

Scientists Implicate More Than 100 Genes In Causing Autism

iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu October 30, 2014 6:51 pm

The hunt to find genes that cause autism has been a long slog, one hampered by a lack of technology and families willing to be tested.

But the effort is starting to pay off. On Tuesday, researchers at more than 50 laboratories said they had identified more than 100 genes that are mutated in children with autism, dozens more than were known before.

Read more
Health
4:36 am
Mon October 27, 2014

Corneal Implants Might Make Reading Glasses Obsolete

A corneal inlay next to a contact lens.
Courtesy of John Vukich

Originally published on Tue October 28, 2014 9:03 am

For Lori Bandt, who works as a medical technician and an EMT in a suburb of Madison, Wis., the print on vials of medication has become so difficult to read that if she forgets her reading glasses she has to resort to having a younger EMT worker read the directions. The 45-year-old says: "I'm just stuck."

Read more

Pages