The aftershocks of what some have called the patient safety movement's first scandal continue to reverberate in the medical community, most recently in the current issue of the Journal of Patient Safety.
The Ebola outbreak started in rural areas, but by June it had reached Liberia's capital, Monrovia.
By August, the number of people contracting the Ebola virus in the country was doubling every week. The Liberian government and aid workers begged for help.
Enter the U.S. military, who along with other U.S. agencies had a clear plan in mid-September to build more Ebola treatment units, or ETUs. At least one would be built in the major town of each of Liberia's 15 counties. That way, sick patients in those counties wouldn't bring more Ebola to the capital.
Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 7:51 pm
The masked garbage crusaders of the night can be more than just a nuisance. Raccoons also can be bad news for human health, carrying diseases such as rabies and roundworms.
And because raccoons have happily colonized cities and suburbs, a particular roundworm called Baylisascaris procyonis that the critters often carry can make its way into humans. The parasite's eggs are carried in raccoon poop.
When ingested, the eggs release the worm, which can burrow into the eyes and brain causing blindness or even death, in rare cases.
Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 2:52 pm
About two-thirds of Americans who are infected with the virus that causes AIDS aren't getting treated for it.
The finding comes from an analysis just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that more needs to be done to make sure people infected with the human immunodeficiency virus get proper treatment.
Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 9:25 am
You might wonder why 48 million Americans get food poisoning every year, yet there are some animals that seem to be immune from even the nastiest germs.
We're talking here about vultures, which feast on rotting flesh that is chockablock with bacteria that would be deadly to human beings. In fact, vultures have a strong preference for that kind of food.
Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 11:55 am
For young people, turning 21 is generally a reason to celebrate.
If they're insured through the federal health insurance marketplace that operates in about three-dozen states, however, their birthday could mean a whopping 58 percent jump in their health insurance premium in 2015, according to an analysis by researchers at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 8:59 am
There's a new phase of Ebola in Liberia. Epidemiologists call it pingponging.
Back in March, the disease was found in the rural areas. Then as people came to the capital to seek care, it started growing exponentially there. Now, some sick people are going back to their villages, and the disease has pingponged to the rural areas again.
So that's where we're headed — into the hot, thick jungle of Liberia to investigate a new Ebola hotspot.
Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 5:33 pm
Soon, you may not be able to ignore how many calories are in the breakfast sandwich or doughnut you like to stop for in the morning.
The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday will release new rules that will require chain restaurants with 20 or more locations to begin posting calorie information on their menus.
"Americans eat and drink about one-third of their calories away from home, and people today expect clear information about the products they consume," FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg said in a statement.
Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 2:55 pm
Should you get a blood test to see if you're deficient in vitamin D? It sounds like such a good idea, seeing as how most people don't get enough sunshine to make vitamin D themselves. And the tests are becoming increasingly popular.
But there are problems with making vitamin D tests a standard part of preventive medicine, a federal panel said. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said Monday there's not enough evidence of benefits or harms to recommend vitamin D testing for all.
Originally published on Mon November 24, 2014 3:22 pm
For this series, we've been thinking a lot about the iconic tools that some of us remember using — if only for a short time — in our early schooling. Things like the slide rule and protractor, recorder and Bunsen burner.
Mere mention of today's tool sends shivers up the spines of entire generations — the tool long used to measure physical fitness: the Presidential Physical Fitness Test.
Originally published on Mon November 24, 2014 3:14 pm
When you donate to a food drive, do you ponder the nutritional labels of the can in your hand? Or do you grab a packet of ramen or a bag of marshmallows from the dark corners of your pantry and hope it hasn't expired?
Healthfulness isn't typically a well-intended food donor's top concern, says hunger advocate Ruth Solari. The ramen and marshmallows, along with a container of Crisco and a few other items, were basically the entire contents of a food box delivered to one of her volunteer's grandmothers who received food aid, Solari says.
It's now Goliath versus Goliath in the quest for an Ebola vaccine.
Until now, the two leading candidates for a vaccine to protect against the Ebola virus were being led by global pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline on the one hand, and a tiny company in Ames, Iowa, that was virtually unknown, on the other.
Originally published on Mon November 24, 2014 5:07 pm
Dr. Oliver Korshin practices ophthalmology three days a week in the same small office in east Anchorage, Alaska, he's had for three decades. Many of his patients have aged into their Medicare years right along with him.
For his tiny practice, which employs just one part-time nurse, putting all his patients' medical records in an online database just doesn't make sense, Korshin says. It would cost too much to install and maintain — especially considering that he expects to retire in just a few years.
Originally published on Mon November 24, 2014 5:09 pm
There's a project in the neighborhood of Harlem in New York that has a through-the-looking-glass quality. An organization called City Health Works is trying to bring an African model of health care delivery to the United States. Usually it works the other way around.
If City Health Works' approach is successful, it could help change the way chronic diseases are managed in poverty-stricken communities, where people suffer disproportionately from HIV/AIDS, obesity and diabetes.
Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 2:53 pm
Wencke Petersen came to Liberia in late August to do what she normally does for Doctors Without Borders in hotspots all over the world — manage supplies.
But the supplies she was meant to organize hadn't arrived yet. So she was asked to help with another job: standing at the main gate of the walled-in compound, turning people away when the unit was full.
Originally published on Sun November 23, 2014 6:23 pm
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TESS VIGELAND, HOST:
It's the weekend, so maybe you are lucky enough to get eight straight hours of sleep last night - or not. And if not, you may feel like a slumber failure, because we are all supposed to get that solid eight or nine. And we assume that's what our bodies need and crave.
Hand-Pumped Anesthesia Could Help With Surgeries In The Dark
Waking up during a surgery would be a nightmare, yet that's a regular problem for patients in low-income countries. Sketchy power grids mean the lights often go out, and with them, the anesthesia machine. In other cases, there are too few oxygen tanks for a surgery, so it's canceled.
Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 2:56 pm
The invisible world of the bathroom isn't pretty — unless you're a microbe. After scanning the microbial zoo of four public restrooms recently, a team of researchers found a diverse swarm of characters that persisted for months despite regular cleaning of the facilities.
That's the question of the hour. The Ebola virus has made taking your temperature part of everyday conversation. People in West Africa are doing it. People returning from the region are doing it. And so are the overly paranoid in the United States.
For anyone who's been exposed to the virus, a body temperatures of 100.4 or higher has been deemed the point of concern. The goal, of course, is that magic number: 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
Except 98.6 degrees isn't so magical after all. In fact, that might not be your normal temperature.
Walking is a simple thing that becomes really, really important as we age. Being able to get around on our feet for extended periods of time not only makes everyday life easier, it's linked to fewer hospitalizations and greater longevity. As we get older, though, the body takes about 15 to 20 percent more energy to cover the same terrain.
Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 8:12 am
When my partner Cheryl was dying from respiratory complications related to treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma, she was in so much physical distress she couldn't bear to be touched.
The only contact she could stand — one of the few ways I could share my love with her — was for me to rub her feet. As I stood at the foot of her hospital bed doing just that, a scrub-clad figure we had never seen before poked her head in the door, curled her lip and demanded: "What is your relationship?"
Originally published on Fri November 21, 2014 3:29 pm
A brain area that recognizes faces remains functional even in people who have been blind since birth, researchers say. The finding, presented at the Society for Neuroscience meeting this week, suggests that facial recognition is so important that evolution has hardwired it into the human brain.