Health

Health
1:22 pm
Sat January 3, 2015

Rural Doctor Launches Startup To Ease Pain Of Dying Patients

Palliative medicine physician Michael Fratkin gets off a plane after visiting a patient on the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation. He's recently launched a startup to support this kind of work.
April Dembosky KQED

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 4:16 pm

Dr. Michael Fratkin is getting a ride to work today from a friend.

"It's an old plane. Her name's 'Thumper,' " says pilot Mark Harris, as he revs the engine of the tiny 1957 Cessna 182.

Fratkin is an internist and specialist in palliative medicine. He's the guy who comes in when the cancer doctors first deliver a serious diagnosis.

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Health
9:48 am
Sat January 3, 2015

Needle Exchange Program Creates Black Market In Clean Syringes

Originally published on Wed January 7, 2015 3:54 pm

On Friday afternoons, several dozen people line up in the narrow hallway of Prevention Point Philadelphia. The men and women, all ages, hold paper and plastic bags full of used syringes.

"We obviously have a space challenge, but people come in, they drop off their used syringes and they ask for what they need," says Silvana Mazzella, the director of programs at the service center for injection drug users.

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Health
8:00 am
Sat January 3, 2015

U.N.'s Anthony Banbury: Zero Cases Of Ebola Is The Only Option

Anthony Banbury (second from left) just completed his final tour of West Africa before stepping down as the head of U.N.'s Ebola mission.
Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Sat January 3, 2015 11:59 am

As the new year begins, the Ebola virus continues its deadly spread in West Africa. More than 20,000 are infected and nearly 8,000 have died throughout the region. The number of victims keeps climbing in Guinea and Sierra Leone, and dozens of new Ebola cases in Liberia this week mark a setback after recent improvements.

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Health
4:19 pm
Fri January 2, 2015

Researchers Create Artificial Organs That Fit In Your Hand

Postdoctoral researcher Jennifer Foulke-Abel holds the gut-on-a-chip inside the lab at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Richard Harris NPR

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 4:16 pm

Great balls of cells! Scientists are developing mock human organs that can fit in the palm of your hand.

These organs-on-a-chip are designed to test drugs and help understand the basics of how organs function when they are healthy and when they are diseased.

For instance, you have your gut-on-a-chip being developed at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. It's a high-tech approach to dealing with a scourge of the low-tech world.

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Health
11:28 am
Tue December 30, 2014

Doctors Not Cutting Back On Radiation For Breast Cancer Patients

Originally published on Mon December 29, 2014 6:35 pm

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

Transcript

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

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Health
3:57 am
Tue December 30, 2014

Big Question For 2015: Will The Supreme Court Rule On Abortion?

Protesters rally outside the Supreme Court during the March for Life on Jan. 25, 2013, in Washington, D.C.
Brendan Hoffman Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 1:56 pm

The new year is expected to bring yet another round of state laws to restrict abortion — and 2015 could also be the year a challenge to at least one of these laws could reach the Supreme Court.

The ongoing spike in abortion laws started after 2010, when Republicans won big in the midterms. Since then, state lawmakers have passed more than 200 abortion regulations — more than in the entire decade before. And with more statehouse gains in the fall elections, abortion opponents expect another good year.

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Health
3:36 am
Mon December 29, 2014

Teaching Friends And Family How To Reverse A Drug Overdose

Tina Wolf demonstrates the use of naloxone to community members in Lindenhurst, N.Y., during an overdose prevention training. Georgia Dolan-Reilly (left) of the Suffolk County Prevention Resource Center helped with the training.
Kevin Hagen for NPR

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 10:05 am

When Priscilla Graham-Farmer went to get her hair done in Newark, N.J., recently, she noticed the elevator in the building was broken, so she took the stairs. And that's when Graham-Farmer saw him: a young guy sprawled out, not breathing.

"He was literally turning blue," she says. "And everybody was walking over him."

But Graham-Farmer stopped. And looked closer. She saw that he had a needle and some cotton balls. The guy had clearly overdosed.

"I'm screaming in the hallway," Graham-Farmer remembers. "Nobody's answering."

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Health
7:39 am
Sun December 28, 2014

Thalidomide Victims In Spain Still Waiting For Compensation

A Thalidomide victim leaves a Spanish court in a wheelchair while a protestor holds a sign reading "Thalidomide, Justice!" during a trial in Madrid in October 2013. Thousands of babies across Europe were born with abnormalities including missing limbs when expectant mothers were prescribed thalidomide in the 1950s and later.
Andres Kudacki AP

Originally published on Sun December 28, 2014 11:07 am

More than five decades on, the battle for justice over birth defects caused by the drug thalidomide continues in only one European country: Spain.

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Health
5:36 am
Sun December 28, 2014

Wonder Abides, Even For A Skeptical Doctor

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 10:05 am

The holidays are here, bringing joy and, for some, wistful feelings.

Doctors are no different. Even for a profession that prides itself on scientific proof, the long nights of December afford ample opportunity for reflection and even doubt.

As we take stock of what we've accomplished and where we've failed to measure up, I find my scowling mask of medical skepticism falling away. I have to admit that there is so much wonder and mystery that science and medicine still can't explain.

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Health
4:26 pm
Fri December 26, 2014

One More Reason To Reach For A Paper Book Before Bed

Sleepy in the day and wide awake at night? Give the screen a rest.
Guido Mieth Getty Images/Flickr RM

Originally published on Mon December 29, 2014 8:18 am

E-readers may make it particularly hard to get a good night's sleep, according to research out this week.

A study that followed every nightly twitch, turn and snore of 12 volunteers for a couple weeks found that those who read from an iPad before hitting the sack had a harder time falling asleep, spent less time in a crucial phase of sleep, and were less alert the next day.

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Health
3:34 am
Fri December 26, 2014

A Split View On Obamacare's Past And Future

Kevin Counihan (left) runs HealthCare.gov, and Michael Cannon, of the Cato Institute, is a prominent critic of Obamacare.
Courtesy of Chion Wolf/WNPR ; Courtesy of the Cato Institute

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 10:05 am

Kevin Counihan and Michael Cannon look at the Affordable Care Act and see very different things.

Cannon is part of the brain trust behind a Supreme Court case that could result in the repeal of a part of the exchanges he says is illegal.

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Health
3:03 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

When Humans Quit Hunting And Gathering, Their Bones Got Wimpy

Farming helped fuel the rise of civilizations, but it may also have given us less robust bones.
Leemage/UIG via Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 1:17 am

Compared with other primates and our early human ancestors, we modern humans have skeletons that are relatively lightweight — and scientists say that basically may be because we got lazy.

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Health
4:40 am
Sun December 21, 2014

Why Does It Take A Movie Robot To Show What Nurses Really Do?

Originally published on Mon December 22, 2014 3:13 pm

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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 Sun January 4, 2015 4:11 pm

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.

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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.

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Health
3:24 am
Mon December 15, 2014

To Stop Teen Drinking Parties, Fine The Parents

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Originally published on Sun January 4, 2015 3:18 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.

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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.

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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 Sun January 4, 2015 4:22 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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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

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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.

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