Health

Health
3:13 pm
Fri February 20, 2015

15-Minute Ebola Test Approved For Fighting The Epidemic

The rapid Ebola test from Corgenix Medical Corporation is small and easy to use. But because it involves blood, health workers would still need to run the test at a lab to stay safe.
Courtesy of Corgenix Medical Corp.

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 4:57 pm

Speed. That's key to ending the Ebola epidemic, health officials have been saying for months. Now there's a new tool to help do the trick.

The World Health Organization approved the first quick test for Ebola Friday. The test gives results in about 15 minutes, instead of hours. So people infected can get treatment and be quarantined more quickly.

"It's definitely a breakthrough," WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said Friday in Geneva.

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Health
9:44 am
Tue February 17, 2015

Figuring Out If A Doctor Is In Your Network Can Be Perplexing

Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 8:36 am

"Is this doctor in my insurance network?" is one of the key questions people ask when considering whether to see a particular doctor. Unfortunately, in some cases the answer may not be a simple yes or no.

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Health
5:03 am
Fri February 13, 2015

Fraud Case Casts Spotlight On Medicare Advantage Plans

A federal grand jury in West Palm Beach, Fla., indicted Dr. Isaac Kojo Anakwah Thompson on eight counts of health care fraud last week.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon February 16, 2015 12:45 pm

As privately run Medicare health plans for seniors scramble to stave off proposed funding cuts, federal prosecutors in Florida are pursuing an unusual criminal fraud case that's likely to raise new concerns that some plans may be overcharging the government.

The criminal case is believed to be among the first to take aim at billing practices of Medicare Advantage plans, which are popular with seniors because out-of-pocket costs are lower and they provide more benefits than traditional Medicare.

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Health
3:31 am
Fri February 13, 2015

Can A Computer Change The Essence Of Who You Are?

Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Originally published on Mon February 16, 2015 12:46 pm

For the past month and a half, we've been exploring the invisible forces that shape our lives in NPR's newest program, Invisibilia. Now we're ending the pilot season with a visible twist — exploring the ways computers shape our behavior, and the way we see the world.

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Health
11:08 am
Thu February 12, 2015

Are Pediatricians Prepared To Help Patients Who Want IUDs?

The ParaGuard IUD, which releases copper into the uterine cavity, can last up to 10 years. In clinical studies, the pregnancy rate among women using the device was less than 1 pregnancy per 100 women annually.
Mark Harmel Science Source

Originally published on Fri February 13, 2015 8:13 am

When Wendy Sue Swanson started out as a pediatrician eight years ago, it never crossed her mind to bring up the option of intrauterine devices — an insertable form of long-acting contraception — when she had her regular birth-control discussions with teenage patients who were sexually active.

"The patch had been the thing," she said, referring to a small, Band-Aid-like plastic patch that transmits hormones through the skin to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

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Health
3:42 am
Thu February 12, 2015

Smoking's Death Toll May Be Higher Than Anyone Knew

Tobacco smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to die from infection, kidney disease and, maybe, breast cancer.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu February 12, 2015 9:09 am

The U.S. surgeon general lists 21 deadly diseases that are caused by smoking. Now, a study in this week's New England Journal of Medicine points to more than a dozen other diseases that apparently add to the tobacco death toll.

To arrive at this conclusion, scientists from the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute and several universities tracked nearly a million people for a decade and recorded their causes of death.

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Health
4:55 pm
Wed February 11, 2015

Even 'Proper' Technique Exposes Nurses' Spines To Dangerous Forces

The screenshot from a simulation video shows the magnitude and distribution of forces NPR correspondent Daniel Zwerdling endured on his spine while re-creating the way nurses lift patients from their beds.
Courtesy of the Spine Research Institute at The Ohio State University

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 5:09 pm

Scientists say nurses like Sunny Vespico are prime examples of what nursing schools and hospitals are doing wrong: They keep teaching nursing employees how to lift and move patients in ways that could inadvertently result in career-ending back injuries.

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Health
12:12 pm
Wed February 11, 2015

If You Have Dementia, Can You Hasten Death As You Wished?

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Originally published on Wed February 18, 2015 8:09 pm

If you make a choice to hasten your own death, it can actually be pretty simple: Don't eat or drink for a week. But if you have Alzheimer's disease, acting on even that straightforward choice can become ethically and legally fraught.

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Health
11:48 am
Wed February 11, 2015

Panel Says Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Is A Disease, And Renames It

Originally published on Fri February 13, 2015 8:14 am

The mysterious and complicated illness that has been called chronic fatigue syndrome has a new definition and a new name: systemic exertion intolerance disease, or SEID for short.

The name change is big news because many patients and experts in the field hate the name chronic fatigue syndrome; they feel that it trivializes the condition. Another name, myalgic encephalomyelitis, has been used in Canada, the United Kingdom and elsewhere, but it doesn't accurately describe the illness, either.

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Health
4:54 pm
Tue February 10, 2015

Pregnant With Cancer: One Woman's Journey

Mary Harris was relieved when Stella was born with a mop of thick black hair, as if she had been protected from the chemo somehow.
Courtesy of Howard Harris

Originally published on Mon March 30, 2015 2:25 pm

After years of debating whether to have a second child, my husband, Mark, and I decided to give it a try. Two weeks later, we found a lump. I was 35.

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Health
8:59 am
Tue February 10, 2015

Senegal's Pharmacies Are Much, Much Better Than Your Local Drugstore

A sampling of the 1,000-plus pharmacies in Senegal.
Courtesy of Donna Patterson

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 9:25 am

Senegal is full of tourist attractions: sandy beaches, historic buildings, religious sites. But when historian Donna Patterson visits, she heads to the drugstore.

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Health
8:22 am
Tue February 10, 2015

Is Now The Time To Fix Rather Than Scrap Obamacare?

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, leaves the chamber Feb. 3 after another House vote to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 10:32 am

Since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010, "repeal and replace" has been the rallying cry for Republicans who opposed it. But now that most of the law's provisions have taken effect, some health experts are pitching ways to tweak it, rather than eliminate it.

An ideologically diverse panel at the National Health Policy Conference on Monday presented different ideas to make the law work better. But the panelists agreed on one thing: The Affordable Care Act is too complicated.

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Health
3:35 am
Tue February 10, 2015

Insurers And Austin Mayor Promote Obamacare To Texas Latinos

Blue Cross Blue Shield takes aim at Target — or, rather, at Target shoppers in San Antonio who might be interested in buying health insurance.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 11:39 am

More than 900,000 Texans have signed up for health insurance so far this year – about 200,000 more than last year. The deadline for signing up for a health plan on HealthCare.gov is Sunday, and some groups in south Texas are making a big push to get Latinos to enroll.

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Health
5:26 pm
Mon February 9, 2015

Better Bath Rituals Is One Way Bangladesh Is Saving Its Newborns

Rong Mala, 30, holds her 6-day-old child, Rakhal, as she waits to see the paramedic at a government clinic in Bangladesh.
CJ Clarke Save the Children

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 7:36 pm

Across the world, a child's survival is a lot like drawing a lottery ticket. Factors based purely on chance — where a child is born, how much money his or her family has and what their ethnic background is — can determine if a child lives past age 5.

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Health
4:05 pm
Mon February 9, 2015

Son's Rare Cancer Leads Family On Quest For Cure

Kathy Liu and her son Joey Xu talk to friends back home in Gainesville, Fla., from his hospital room in Cincinnati.
Amanda Aronczyk/WNYC

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 6:50 pm

Treating cancer is a race against time.

Every once in a while, there's an experimental drug that's so promising it makes the race even more urgent. Patients and their families plead with pharmaceutical companies to get it before the Food and Drug Administration's approval.

The demand has been particularly high for a new class of drugs that harnesses the immune system to fight cancer.

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Health
10:56 am
Fri February 6, 2015

Measles Vaccination Rates: Tanzania Does Better Than U.S.

This World Health Organization map shows the percent of the population vaccinated for measles in each country in 2013. Dark green is at least 90 percent. Light green is 80 to 89 percent. Orange is 50 to 79 percent. Red is less than 50 percent.
Courtesy of WHO

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 2:51 pm

As debate mounts in the U.S. over whether or not to require measles vaccinations, global immunization rates show something interesting: Many poor countries have far higher vaccination rates than rich ones.

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Health
8:54 am
Fri February 6, 2015

Officials Predict More Measles Cases After 5 Babies Are Diagnosed In Illinois

The KinderCare Learning Center in Palatine, Ill., where five infants have been diagnosed with measles. Officials are trying to track down the source of the infection.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 10:42 am

Health officials in Illinois are trying to find the source of a measles infection, after five babies were diagnosed with the contagious respiratory disease in a Chicago suburb. Saying that more cases are likely, a health official warns, "The cat is out of the bag."

Because the Illinois patients are all under a year old, they can't be vaccinated. The new cluster of cases joins more than 100 other reports of measles in 14 states this year; most of them have been traced to an outbreak at Disneyland in California in December.

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Health
3:55 am
Fri February 6, 2015

An Unlikely Alliance Fights HIV In The Bronx's Afro-Honduran Diaspora

A December celebration launching a partnership between members of the Garifuna community and a doctor in New York. The collaboration is aimed at reducing the HIV infection rate among the Garifuna.
Alexandra Starr NPR

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 11:25 am

On a recent winter evening in the Bronx, a group of men and women in red-checkered shirts and dresses encircled Dr. Julie Hoffman during a ceremony. They pounded wooden drums crisscrossed with thick rope and shook maracas as they danced and sang.

The event took on a somber tone when Hoffman talked about the crisis that had brought them all together.

"Too many members of this community continue dying," she said in Spanish. "That's why I'm here. I want to work with you."

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Health
6:13 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

Marathon Mania In American History

Marathon Dance contestants, 1923.
Library of Congress

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 12:10 pm

Odd that Americans, long known for their short attention spans and — oh, look, a sparkly thing ... are at the same time manic for marathonic undertakings.

Running, for example. A century ago, scores of marathoners competed before huge wintertime crowds in the 1909 Brooklyn Marathon. Flash forward, and this past November, more than 50,000 participants finished the 2014 New York City Marathon. (Applications for nonguaranteed entry in the 2015 race must be in by Feb. 15.)

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Health
4:59 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

Why Is Nearsightedness Skyrocketing Among Chinese Youth?

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 3:24 pm

If you walk the streets of China today, you'll quickly notice that most young people wear glasses. In Shanghai, for instance, 86 percent of high school students suffer from myopia, or nearsightedness, according to the government's Xinhua News Agency.

Myopia has risen quickly in much of East Asia and Southeast Asia. And researchers are still trying to pin down exactly what's driving the epidemic.

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