Health

Bone marrow settlement
6:02 pm
Thu February 2, 2012

State Wraps Up Bone Marrow Investigation: Slams UMASS Memorial

Taking a cell sample at a bone marrow donor drive.
Flickr Creative Commons

A little over a year ago, a Massachusetts bone marrow registry made headlines for hiring models in blue wigs and black skirts to attract prospective donors.  To make matters worse,  the registry was part of a scheme to charge insurance companies extremely high fees for lab tests.

Read more
Health
4:26 pm
Mon January 30, 2012

Lawmakers Consider State Monitoring of Prescription Drugs (Again)

Danielle Fiore, 24, with her son
Rachel Gotbaum NHPR

New Hampshire has one of the worst prescription drug abuse problems in the country. The state now ranks 5th in the nation for percentage of residents who abuse medications such as percocet, vicodin, and oxycodone, according to the Federal Centers for Disease Control. The problem is especially alarming among young people. New Hampshire has the second highest rate of 18-25 year olds who abuse prescription drugs in the nation.

Danielle Fiore , 24, says she was addicted to painkillers for most of her childhood.

"I had fractured my ankle and I was prescribed vicodin and it felt good. I was ten or eleven," she says. "As time went on I would get something else hurt or a toothache or something and I would get more painkillers. I have a bunch of teeth missing because I would complain and get them pulled so I would get pain killers."

Currently New Hampshire has no prescription drug monitoring program. The program, which is up and running in 48 other states, is initially funded through federal grants. The proposal to create a centralized prescription database that doctors and law enforcement could check to track so called "doctor shoppers" has been defeated several times in the state Legislature. A new bill is now being considered this session and its sponsor Senator Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, is hopeful that there is enough support for a statewide prescription monitoring program this time. He cites the growing number of overdose deaths in the state from prescription drugs. In the last decade overdose deaths from these medications have more than tripled.

Powered by Tableau

Data source: NH Office of the Chief Medical Examiner

"There are more people dying because of abuse of prescription drugs that are legal than automobile accidents, he says. "We ought to have a tool to try to sort out the legal use of these drugs and the appropriate use and those that aren’t."

For those who oppose a statewide prescription drug database privacy is a major issue. Rep. Neal Kurk, R-Weare, says such a program goes against the Granite State's core philosophy.

 "This is New Hampshire, this is the 'Live Free or Die' state, " says Kurk.  "One of the major reasons this bill has not been adopted is because most people feel it’s the independent philosophy,  personal responsibility philosophy that prevails and that government should be small and not interfere with people’s lives."

Many of the state's independent pharmacists are also against a monitoring program because they worry they will end up footing the bill. The database would be drawn from pharmacy records. Rick Newman, a lobbyist for the New Hampshire Independent Pharmacy Association, says the small business people he represents will be end up carrying the burden of the costs of such a database.

"I can’t sit here as anyone with any kind of intelligence and disagree that’s there's a problem with people abusing prescription drugs in this country, of course there is," says Newman. "The question becomes whose burden is that? We can’t pass laws to put the burden on the small business person because they happen to be one part of the pipeline."

Emergency room doctors and those that treat pain say they are often confronted by patients who may be faking symptoms to get narcotics for their addiction or to sell on the street.

"I want people who have legitimate pain to get the proper pain medications that they need," say Dr. David Heller, an emergency room physician at Portsmouth Hospital.  "But I don’t want to feed somebody’s addiction and I don’t want to write a prescription for drugs that are going to be sold to my kids or my kid's friends."

Series: Shifting the Balance
11:18 am
Mon January 23, 2012

Type 1 Diabetes Spike

Photo by Rakka, courtesy of Flickr creative commons

The alarming spike in type-1 diabetes. Though type-2, commonly known as adult-onset diabetes, has been in the spotlight recently with Food Network star and butter-abuser Paula Deen's announcement that she is living with the condition, type-1 is also on the rise. The worldwide annual growth rate has climbed past three-percent. With its serious health risks and lack of a cure, public health researchers are scrambling to find the cause of type-1's recent spike.

Read more
Shots - Health Blog
1:08 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

Obesity Epidemic May Have Peaked In U.S.

The nation's obesity epidemic appears to have hit a plateau, according to the latest federal data released Tuesday.

Obesity soared in the U.S. during the 1980s and 1990s, doubling among adults and tripling among children. That raised widespread alarm and debate about the causes and possible solutions. Obesity can increase the risk for diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other serious health problems.

Read more
Series: Shifting the Balance
12:08 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

Weight Watchers' new magic formula

In the world of weight loss programs, Weight Watchers rules, with more than a million members worldwide. New CEO David Kirchoff is credited with increasing meeting attendance in North America by fourteen percent, and upping online membership by 64%. Those numbers mean money, of course. Weigh Watchers is valued at an estimated at five billion dollars…double that of a year ago.

Read more
Shots - Health Blog
5:19 pm
Thu January 12, 2012

UConn Claims Resveratrol Researcher Falsified Work

The already shaky case for the anti-aging powers of resveratrol, a substance in red wine, is looking a little shakier.

After a three-year investigation, the University of Connecticut Health Center has told 11 scientific journals that studies they published by resveratrol researcher Dipak K. Das may not be trustworthy.

Read more
The Salt
5:08 pm
Thu January 12, 2012

Could A Soda Tax Prevent 2,600 Deaths Per Year?

Researchers say that if the price of soda gets higher, people will drink less of it, which will lead to fewer deaths.
Joel Saget AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 13, 2012 2:33 pm

A new study in the journal Health Affairs estimates that a penny-per-ounce tax on soft drinks and other sugary beverages could prevent about 240,000 cases of diabetes per year, and 8,000 strokes and 26,000 premature deaths over a decade (or 2,600 per year).

Yes, death by soda.

So the analysis got me thinking: Our behavior is hard to predict, right? I know mine is.

Read more
Health
5:40 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

Lawsuits Over State Cuts To Medicaid

Morrissey via / flickr

Attorneys for the state and for ten N.H. hospitals are in federal court this week. The hospitals are suing the state over major cuts in Medicaid they say are impacting medical services for low income patients.

Ten of the state’s largest hospitals say that $130 million in state Medicaid cuts is not only forcing hospitals to cut services to the poor, but they are also illegal. Gordon Macdonald is the hospital’s attorney.

Read more
Shots - Health Blog
3:52 pm
Mon January 9, 2012

Why Millions Of Prescriptions Will No Longer Be Filled At Walgreens

A customer walks out of a Walgreens store in New York City.
Adam Rountree Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 10, 2012 6:29 pm

To life's many small irritations, you might add filling prescriptions.

Starting this year, many Americans may be surprised to find that their local Walgreens pharmacy is no longer in their network. That's because of a contract dispute between the nation's largest drugstore chain and a company that manages prescriptions for health insurance companies.

Read more
Here's What's Awesome
1:07 pm
Tue December 13, 2011

Virtual Baby Heads off Birth Complications (and Does So Without Dancing)

Jim Nutt via Flickr/Creative Commons

The hospital delivery room is not a fun place for surprises - the more parents and medical staff know going in, the better the outcome usually is. The Predibirth system helps keep surprises to a minimum by MRI-scanning Junior in the womb* and running virtual simulations of labor - if it sees a potentially serious problem, like baby's head being bigger than expected, doctors can consider planning a c-section in advance.

Read more
Health
7:07 pm
Thu December 8, 2011

Hospitals and State Spar Over Money

There’s a lot of tension between New Hampshire and hospitals in the state right now.

The source of the problem....money, of course.

Thursday morning the two sides clashed in federal court over a cut in how much the state pays to treat low-income patients.

And then this afternoon, lawmakers drilled down on a tax dispute with some of the hospitals.

Even before the budget passed in June the state’s relationship with hospitals was strained.

But by the time the dust settled the relationship had been put in the ICU.

Read more
Health
5:33 pm
Tue December 6, 2011

Attorney General Denies State Violating Federal Law

New Hampshire is denying claims made by the U-S Department of Justice that the state is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Attorney General’s Office issued a formal response to the findings Tuesday.

The U-S Department of Justice concluded in April that the state was violating federal law in the way it treats the mentally ill.

It criticized the state for failing to provide adequate community-based services, leading to prolonged stays at the state hospital.

Read more
Health
4:04 pm
Tue December 6, 2011

New Hampshire One of Healthiest States In Nation

A new report shows New Hampshire is again among the healthiest states in the nation.

But health officials say there is still room for improvement.

The United Health Foundation’s report looked at a variety of health issues, including heart disease deaths, cancer rates, premature births and access to health insurance.

New Hampshire was ranked second healthiest, an improvement from third last year.

The state scored well because of its low percentage of children in poverty, low crime rate, and high use of prenatal care and immunizations.

Read more
Shots - Health Blog
12:01 am
Wed November 9, 2011

Wal-Mart Plans Ambitious Expansion Into Medical Care

A trip to the local Wal-Mart, like this one in Oakland, Calif., could soon mean one less stop at the doctor's office.
Eric Risberg AP

Originally published on Fri November 11, 2011 4:51 pm

Updated at 2:52 p.m. ET: Wal-Mart issued a statement Wednesday saying its request for partners to provide primary care services was "overwritten and incorrect." The firm is "not building a national, integrated low-cost primary health care platform," according to the statement by Dr. John Agwunobi, a senior vice president for health and wellness at the retailer.

Read more
Here's What's Awesome
12:28 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

My Doctor The Car: A Ride That Could Detect Heart Attacks

Melinda Taber via Flickr/Creative Commons

Ever used one of those machines at the gym where you can place your hands on the grips and it'll track your heart rate? German scientists - probably the ones who spend a lot of time working out  - wondered if they could put those sensors in the steering wheel of a car to detect driver stress.

Read more

Pages