Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Health ads that frighten the viewer

Originally posted on Public Health--Research & Library News:

From the New York Times:

The city’s health department uses no sugar-coating in its latest ads, which feature images of overweight people whose mobility is impaired to warn of the dangers of ever-growing portions of unhealthy food and soft drinks.

The ads are the latest installment in a campaign by the Bloomberg administration to jolt New Yorkers out of bad health habits; other ads, which have run in the transit system and on local broadcast outlets and the Internet, have depicted smokers who lost fingertips or their ability to speak normally.

The city’s approach — in one recent ad it sharpened its message by editing off a model’s leg — has drawn some criticism for its negativity. But it is not the health department’s first brush with controversy: In 2009, it ran an ad that suggested drinking a can of soda a day could add 10 pounds of fat a year…

View original 125 more words

February 13, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Google knows more about certain diseases than physicians ever will

Hmm…  interesting “point” “counterpoint” items on finding health information on the Web

Overall, I think Google and other search engines are doing a better job of locating health information.
However, it is good to keep in mind that search engines rank items, they do not evaluate them!
So, search safely, knowing that search engines do not index 100% of what is available on the World Wide Web.

If you do decide to find health information on the Web, please evaluate content carefully!
Health Information is best used in consultation with a professional health care provider (or 2!)

A few good guides on evaluating health information may be found at

Unlike information found in medical textbooks, which has been evaluated and edited by professionals, the information on the Internet is unfiltered. It is up to the user to evaluate and judge how good the information really is. When looking for health information it is particularly important to think about the information critically and examine the Web site carefully. Listed below are some questions and tips to think about when searching for good health information on the Internet.

What type of site is it? Is it a government site, educational or commercial? Look at the web address for the extension. The most common are .gov for government, .edu for educational, .com for commercial and .org for organizational.

Who is sponsoring the site? A good Web site will make sponsorship information clear. There should also be an address (besides an e-mail address) or a phone number to contact for more information.

What are the credentials of the sponsor or author of the material on site? If it is an organization or association, is it nationally recognized or is it a local group? Also, are the author’s qualifications relevant to the topic being discussed? For example, someone with a Ph.D. in psychology should not necessarily be accepted as an expert on nutrition.

What is the purpose of the site? Is it a public service or is it trying to sell something? If there is advertising on a page, something that is more and more common even with non-commercial sites, it should be clearly separated from the informational content. Also, it is easy to disguise promotional material as “patient education” on web sites. If a product or treatment is given a good review on one site, try to find other sites that also approve of it.

How current is the information? A good site will list when a page was first established and when it was last up-dated. If there are links to other sites, are they up-to-date?

How accurate is the information? This can be hard to determine if you’re not familiar with a topic but there are some things to look for. For example, is the information free of spelling errors and typos? Mistakes of these kind can indicate a lack of quality control. Are the sources of factual information listed? For instance, if a document states, “recent studies indicate…”, are the sources for the study listed so they can be verified? If a topic is controversial, is the information presented in a balanced way? There are many controversies in regard to treatment options; however, a good site will present the pros and cons of a particular option. Be cautious with sites that claim “miracle cures” or make conspiracy claims.

Evaluate each site separately. Links can often lead from a good site to ones of lesser quality.

Look for awards or certificates that a site has received. For example, the HON Code logo is displayed by sites that have agreed to abide by eight principals set by the Health on the Net Foundation. These principles set standards for accuracy, bias, sponsorship and confidentiality. When using a directory or search engine that rates sites, read the page that discusses what criteria are used to determine a site’s rating.

The Internet is a wonderful source of information and, when used carefully, can be very helpful in answering health-related questions. But the information found on the Internet should never be used as a substitute for consulting with a health professional. And, whenever using the Internet, keep in mind the caveat, “It is so easy to post information on the Internet that almost any idiot can do it, and almost every idiot has.”

 

And finally, a few good places to start finding reputable, timely health information

Image DetailCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the US governments primary way to communicate information on diseases, conditions, and safety. Information may be found in areas as ….






eMedicine Consumer Health has over 900 health and medical articles. Most articles include causes, symptoms, treatment options, prevention, prognosis, and more. Information may also be browsed by topic (Topics A-Z).  Additional features include picture slideshowshealth calculators, and more.




familydoctor.org -- health information for the whole family



Familydoctor.org includes health information for the whole family
Short generalized information on Diseases and Conditions (with A-Z index), Health Information for Seniors, Men, and Women, Healthy Living Topics, pages geared to Parents & Kids, and videos.  Numerous health tools in the left column (as health trackers, health assessments, and a Search by Symptom page.


 

Healthfinder.gov is a US government Web site with information and tools that can help you stay healthy. Resources on a wide range of health topics carefully selected from over 1,600 government and non-profit organizations. Social media options to connect you with people and organizations that can help you on your journey to living a healthier life.

Content includes information on over 1,600 health-related topicsQuick Guide to Healthy Living, and free interactive tools to check your health, get personalized advice, and keep track of your progress.


KidsHealth provides information about health, behavior, and development from before birth through the teen years. Material is written by doctors in understandable language at three levels: parents, kids, and teens
KidsHealth also provides families with perspective, advice, and comfort about a wide range of physical, emotional, and behavioral issues that affect children and teens.


 

February 13, 2012 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Finding Aids/Directories, Health Education (General Public) | , , , | Leave a comment

Nimble Medicine | The Health Care Blog

Nimble Medicine | The Health Care Blog

This is an interesting blog posting on business models (old) and technologies (new) in health care delivery.
The author writes on why this is not working.

Specifically the author is advocating decentralization of health care delivery to reduce costs and reduce time in treating people at the onset of health problems (before and during treatment).

The author does provide a disclaimer, he is employed by a health care technology company.

Still, an interesting view of what health care industry trends.

 

February 13, 2012 Posted by | health care | , , | Leave a comment

American Medical Association (AMA) News: Quantifying adverse drug events: Med mishaps send millions back for care (with Feb 2012

amednews: Quantifying adverse drug events: Med mishaps send millions back for care :: June 13, 2011 … American Medical News

Yes, this is old too..but interesting.

 

Reviewing drug lists and making sure patients understand how to take their medicines are two keys to preventing problems.

By KEVIN B. O’REILLY, amednews staff. Posted June 13, 2011.

Every year, adverse drug events send more adult patients to American physician offices and emergency departments than do pneumonia or strep throat.

The trips add up to an estimated 4.5 million annual outpatient visits related to medication problems, with seniors and patients taking more than six medications the most likely to show up in doctors’ offices.

The findings — the first published attempt to estimate the nationwide impact of adverse drug events in the ambulatory setting — come after an April report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality that said 1.9 million hospitalizations annually are due to medication side effects or errors. Nearly three-quarters of the 4.5 million adverse drug event-related visits were to physician offices, said the study, published online May 10 in Health Services Research. About 400,000 of these 4.5 million patients are subsequently hospitalized.

…….

“This shows we have to do a better job of looking at medications as the culprits of a lot of the medical problems that are coming in,” she said.

4.5 million ambulatory visits each year are related to adverse drug events.

In total, one-half of 1% of all ambulatory visits are related to adverse drug events, the study said. That may not seem like a lot, but the 4.5 million annual adult outpatient visits for medication problems exceed the numbers for conditions such as strep throat (4.4 million) and pneumonia (4.2 million), said Urmimala Sarkar, MD, MPH, lead author of the study.

“Those are things that we think of as common problems,” said Dr. Sarkar, assistant professor of medicine in residence at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine’s Division of General Internal Medicine. “We should think of this as a common problem too.”

Patients 65 and older were more than twice as likely as middle-age patients and nearly three times likelier than patients between 25 and 44 to experience adverse drug events serious enough to send them to a doctor or an ED, the study said. After adjusting for age, gender, insurance status and other factors, patients taking six drugs or more had the highest odds of experiencing adverse drug events…..

WEBLINKS

“Adverse Drug Events in U.S. Adult Ambulatory Medical Care,” Health Services Research, published online May 10 (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21554271)

“Medication-Related Adverse Outcomes in U.S. Hospitals and Emergency Departments, 2008,” Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Statistical Brief #109, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, April (www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs/sb109.pdf)

Preventing Medication Errors, Institute of Medicine, 2007 (www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11623)

Institute for Safe Medication Practices Medication Errors Reporting Program (www.fda.gov/safety/medwatch/howtoreport/ucm085568.htm)

Food and Drug Administration on how to report serious adverse drug events to the agency (www.fda.gov/safety/medwatch/howtoreport/ucm085568.htm)

February 13, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , | Leave a comment

American Medical Association (AMA) news: Appealing denied claims seems to work, GAO report says :: April 11, 2011 … American Medical News

amednews: Appealing denied claims seems to work, GAO report says :: April 11, 2011 … American Medical News

Yes, this is old news, but thought it would be worth posting…

The government is looking for a way to track and report denial rates to consumers as part of health insurance exchanges.

By EMILY BERRY, amednews staff. Posted April 11, 2011.

  • A government review of the rates at which insurers decline to write policies and reject claims for payment found that when physicians and patients appealed denied claims, those appeals were “frequently” successful, with 39% to 59% resulting in a reversal.

The Government Accountability Office report, released March 16, also found that many health insurance claims denials stem from miscodings, incomplete information or other paperwork errors, pointing to the need for further automation of claims processing.

The report examined what the GAO called “application denials” — declining to write a policy for someone — as well as “coverage denials” — deciding not to pay a claim. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act called on the GAO to examine both. The Dept. of Health and Human Services, which has started tracking application denials, plans to track and publish rates of coverage denials as part of the health insurance exchanges that will be part of the health reform law, according to the report.

Until HHS tracks application and coverage denials in a comprehensive way, there is limited information available about both. The GAO noted that the American Medical Association helped the authors interpret and understand the limitations of denial data available.

Rejected applications, denied claims

The GAO examined application denial data in the individual insurance market, collected by the HHS during the first quarter of 2010 and from six states that already track denials.

Researchers found that the rate at which insurers declined to offer an applicant coverage averaged 19%, but rates varied widely……

February 13, 2012 Posted by | health care | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Population Action International – Videos and more on contraception and related topics

From the About Page of Population Action International

Population Action International advocates for women and families to have access to contraception in order to improve their health, reduce poverty and protect their environment. Our research and advocacy strengthen U.S. and international assistance for family planning. We work with local and national leaders in developing countries to improve their reproductive health care programs and policies. PAI shows how these programs are critical to global concerns, such as preventing HIV, combating the effects of environmental degradation and climate change, and strengthening national security.

Current topics include Climate Change, Contraceptives and Condoms, Environment, Family Planning, Population Trends and Demography, and Security and Governance.

Each topic has resources in at least several of  these publication types

  • Publications
  • Blog posts
  • News
  • Policy and Issue Briefs
  • Reports
  • Advocacy Guides
  • Videos
  • Articles
  • Data and Maps
English: Picture Of Ortho Tri-Cyclen oral cont...

Image via Wikipedia

February 13, 2012 Posted by | environmental health, Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Science of Chocolate and more “goodies” from Science Oxford Live

Just in time for Valentine’s day.

ScienceOxford not only engages in innovation but also in educating students as well as the public at large. It’s Web presence encourages life long learning through Webcasts (above) as well as exhibitions at its center in Oxford, England.

Science Oxford Live has a YouTube channel with videos ranging from Parkinson’s Disease to health care innovations to microbes to consciousness. Other science topics outside of health/medicine are also represented.
The Watch Us page also links to

 

February 13, 2012 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , , | Leave a comment

Report Finds Reducing Average Body Mass Index Rates by Five Percent Could Lead to Billions in Health Care Savings

English: Relative risk of mortality by BMI in ...

Relative risk of mortality by BMI in White US men who never smoked. Berrington de Gonzalez A,..

http://healthyamericans.org/newsroom/releases/?releaseid=255
The Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) has released a new report, Bending the Obesity Cost Curve, which finds that reducing the average body mass index by just five percent in the United States could lead to more than $29 billion in health care savings in just five years, due to reduced obesity-related costs.

“Your “healthy” weight cannot simply be calculated from a general source – people’s healthy weight, orideal weight, depends on several factors, including their age, sex, body type, bone density, muscle-fat-ratio, overall general health, and height.

Over the last few decades, using BMI (body mass index) was seen as an excellent means for calculating a person’s healthy weight. However, BMI, as you will see later on in this article, is at best, a ballpark calculation with several limitations…

Health care professionals and sports scientists say measuring a person’s body fat percentage is the ideal way of gauging their level of fitness and general health, because it is the only one that includes the person’s true body composition. [my emphasis]

(Unfortunately, at this time, the only ways to measure body fat percentage are rather hi-tech according to this article. Three ways noted are based on air displacement, infrared rays, and X-rays)

February 13, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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