Health

Shifting The Balance
12:00 am
Fri February 24, 2012

What To Eat And Why: Online Guides Helping You Eat Healthy

Credit The Healthy Eating Plate created by experts at Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be difficult, and there are a number of guides available online that do the simplifying for you.

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cancer
5:15 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

Specialty Hospitals Get A Favorable Vote

The House Health and Human Services Committee has sent an amended bill allowing not just Cancer Specialty Hospitals but all specialty hospitals to bypass the Certificate of Need process. All other hospitals in the state must go in front of the CON board to gain approval for new or expanded services.

Rep. Lynn Blakenbeker, Republican of Concord, voted in favor of the bill.

"We as a state should be encouraging businesses all kinds to come into the state especially when it comes to specialty healthcare treatment we should be offering all options," she says.

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Shots - Health Blog
4:53 pm
Wed February 22, 2012

Diet Drug Qnexa Gets Thumbs-Up From FDA Panel

A new weight-loss pill could be coming to the menu.
Luis Pedrosa iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed February 22, 2012 7:29 pm

A key federal panel Wednesday recommended the Food and Drug Administration approve the first new weight-loss drug in more than a decade.

At the conclusion of a day-long hearing, the FDA's Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee voted 20-2 to endorse a request from Vivus to approve the drug Qnexa. The same panel gave a thumbs-down to Qnexa in 2010.

Qnexa is a combination of two generic drugs that are already on the market:

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Shots - Health Blog
5:19 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

The Big Squeeze: Calif. Weight Loss Clinics Under Investigation

Originally published on Tue February 21, 2012 6:24 pm

A group of weight-loss clinics in Southern California is under fire for an aggressive advertising campaign and the death of five patients.

The 1-800-GET-THIN marketing campaign and its affiliated surgical centers are being investigated by local, state and federal agencies, including Congress.

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Health
2:42 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

A Federal vs State Health Insurance Exchange-Does It Matter?

Health Care Costs
Photo:401Kcalculator.org Flickr

As part of the  Affordable Care Act, every state must have a health insurance exchange in place by January 2014. An exchange is a clearinghouse of sorts where people and small business can go to buy insurance and also find out which tax rebates they may use to help them buy coverage.

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Shots - Health Blog
12:01 am
Mon February 20, 2012

Does Tylenol Worsen Asthma For Kids?

Dr. John McBride examines 9-month-old Martez after his mother, Ceasha Moorer, brought him in to check on his asthma.
Courtesy of Karen Schaefer

Originally published on Tue February 21, 2012 5:50 pm

Parents and doctors around the world have been alarmed by the dramatic increase in childhood asthma.

One factor in the upswing is better detection by doctors, but at least one doctor thinks a common over-the-counter drug also has something to do with it.

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Shots - Health Blog
12:01 am
Mon February 20, 2012

Wanted: Specially Designed Tools For Pediatric Surgery

Surgeons often need specially designed tools to operate on small children.
istockphoto.com

One tool doesn't fit all when it comes to surgery.

Pediatric surgeons know this all too well when it's time to operate on a baby. Some infants are born prematurely. Others have congenital defects — some part of their internal anatomy that just didn't develop the way it was supposed to.

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Health
3:58 pm
Sun February 19, 2012

What's The Cure In The Race Against Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer survivors stand to form the shape of a pink ribbon at a Susan G. Komen Foundation charity race in Tyler, Texas, in 2004.
Tom Worner AP

Tracy Grant was just 39 when she got the diagnosis.

"They asked me to stay a little bit longer because they saw something a little weird," she remembers. "In my mind I was saying, ... 'Here we go, this doesn't look good.' "

It was breast cancer. As devastating as the news was, it wasn't a surprise. Her mother, Catherine Grant, was diagnosed at age 51.

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Health
4:10 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

Certificate Of Need--Is It Still Needed?

Auntie P flickr

New Hampshire lawmakers are proposing a law that would do away with the Certificate of Need process. This is a state requirement for hospitals and other healthcare facilities that want to expand or establish new medical facilities. The aim of CON is to keep redundant healthcare out of the system.

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Health
4:21 pm
Thu February 9, 2012

For Profit Cancer Center Comes To NH to Make Its Case to Lawmakers

Cancer Treatment Centers of America is eyeing a spot in New Hampshire. The for profit chain wants to build a hospital in the Northeast. CTCA successfully lobbied Georgia to change its regulations so a specialty hospital could be built in that state. The company is hoping lawmakers in New Hampshire will make similar changes. A proposed law would exempt specialty cancer hospitals from certain regulations and also from Medicaid taxes.

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Series: Shifting the Balance
11:09 am
Wed February 8, 2012

Eat Less, Give More

Photo by wanpark2, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

How many times have you ordered an entrée at a restaurant only to end up with a pile of food on your plate you then feel obligated to take home in a doggie bag? Overly large portions must have some appeal for restaurant goers…after all, some chains rely marketing campaigns that talk about little else…

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Health
6:12 pm
Tue February 7, 2012

Does New Hampshire Need Specialty Cancer Centers?

Miss A Liss Flickr

Lawmakers are now considering whether to give exemptions to for-profit cancer centers so they can do business in the state. Under current regulations these cancer centers are likely  to be deemed redundant. But a new bill would allow them to avoid what is known as a Certificate of Need--to which all other hospitals must comply. These centers would also be exempt from Medicaid taxes.

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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.

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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.

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