Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[News article] Herbal medicines could contain dangerous levels of toxic mold — ScienceDaily

Herbal medicines could contain dangerous levels of toxic mold — ScienceDaily.

From the 22 October 2014 article

Herbal medicines such as licorice, Indian rennet and opium poppy, are at risk of contamination with toxic mold, according to a new study. The authors of the study say it’s time for regulators to control mold contamination. An estimated 64% of people use medicinal plants to treat illnesses and relieve pain. The herbal medicine market is worth $60 billion globally, and growing fast. Despite the increasing popularity of herbal medicine, the sale of medicinal plants is mostly unregulated.

October 24, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , , , , | Leave a comment

openFDA – More than 3 million adverse drug event reports at your fingertips.

openFDA

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From the Web site

OpenFDA offers easy access to FDA public data and highlight projects using these data in both the public and private sector to further regulatory or scientific missions, educate the public, and save lives.

What does it do?

OpenFDA provides API and raw download access to a number of high-value structured datasets. The platform is currently in public beta with one featured dataset, FDA’s publically available drug adverse event reports.

In the future, openFDA will provide a platform for public challenges issued by the FDA and a place for the community to interact with each other and FDA domain experts with the goal of spurring innovation around FDA data.

We’re currently focused on working on datasets in the following areas:

  • Adverse Events: FDA’s publically available drug adverse event reports, a database that contains millions of adverse event and medication error reports submitted to FDA covering all regulated drugs.
  • Recalls (coming soon): Enforcement Report and Product Recalls Data, containing information gathered from public notices about certain recalls of FDA-regulated products
  • Documentation (coming soon): Structured Product Labeling Data, containing detailed product label information on many FDA-regulated product

We’ll be releasing a number of updates and additional datasets throughout the upcoming months.

 

 

 

June 28, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , | Leave a comment

States’ Apps Target Health and Safety

States’ Apps Target Health and Safety.

Excerpts from the 26 June 2014 article at Pew Chartitable Trust

Among the state apps focused exclusively on health or public safety:

  • The Minnesota Air app provides real-time information about air quality conditions in 10 reporting areas across the state, as well as pollution forecasts for the Twin Cities and Rochester.
  • The Every Woman Counts app in California lets women know when it’s time to make an appointment for mammograms and Pap tests.  Users enter information about their screening history and select a schedule for their exams, and the app sends them reminders.
  • The MyVaxIndiana app enables parents to keep track of their children’s vaccination records. The information comes from a state immunization system and is updated by health care workers, schools and doctors.
  • The NMWatch app in New Mexico uses GPS mapping to allow residents, emergency managers and responders to monitor up-to-date wildfire activity. It not only helps people who need to know whether to evacuate, but it alerts those with respiratory problems who might be affected by thick smoke in their neighborhood.

Connected Citizens

More state agencies that oversee health or emergency management have recognized that they need to embrace mobile technology to stay connected with citizens.

“It’s a natural progression,” said Theresa Pardo, director of the Center for Technology in Government at the University at Albany, a research center that focuses on innovation in government technology. “I think these new apps are really powerful. What underlies them is a massive effort to identify and integrate in sophisticated ways data that is relevant to an individual, particularly in the event of a crisis.”

Communicating critical, life-saving information during emergencies and directing the public to services after disasters is an enormous challenge for states, said Karen Cobuluis, spokeswoman for the National Emergency Management Association, the professional association for state emergency management directors.

 

…..

A Long Way to Go

While states are moving rapidly to make advances in digital technology, they still have a long way to go when it comes to overseeing their apps and mobile device projects.

In an October 2013 survey of state chief information officers, 58 percent called their state’s efforts to manage apps and mobile device projects “mostly” or “totally” fragmented and uncoordinated.

The association’s Robinson said that most states today don’t have an “enterprise-wide, well-coordinated roadmap” for investing in and deploying mobile technology. “It’s serious for the states because of the implications. There’s no shared strategic direction,” he said. “We need to address how we’re managing mobile devices.”

Robinson of NASCIO said that in many states, apps are being launched agency by agency, which creates more complexity. Plus, states often lack the in-house technical expertise to develop their own apps, so they’re forced to use outside contractors.

 

 

 

June 28, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Safety, Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

[News article] Marijuana use involved in more fatal accidents since commercialization of medical marijuana

 

 

English: Discount Medical Marijuana cannabis s...

English: Discount Medical Marijuana cannabis shop at 970 Lincoln Street, Denver, Colorado. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 15 May 2014 Science Daily article

 

The proportion of marijuana-positive drivers involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes in Colorado has increased dramatically since the commercialization of medical marijuana in the middle of 2009, according to a study. The study raises important concerns about the increase in the proportion of drivers in a fatal motor vehicle crash who were marijuana-positive since the commercialization of medical marijuana in Colorado, particularly in comparison to the 34 non-medical marijuana states.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here

 

 

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May 20, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Safety | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press release] Alcohol’s role in traffic deaths vastly underreported: Study

Alcohol’s role in traffic deaths vastly underreported: Study.

PISCATAWAY, NJ – It’s no secret that drinking and driving can be a deadly mix. But the role of alcohol in U.S. traffic deaths may be substantially underreported on death certificates, according to a study in the March issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Between 1999 and 2009, more than 450,000 Americans were killed in a traffic crashes. But in cases where alcohol was involved, death certificates frequently failed to list alcohol as a cause of death.

Why does that matter? One big reason is that injuries are the leading cause of death for Americans younger than 45, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And it’s important to have a clear idea of alcohol’s role in those deaths, explained Ralph Hingson, Sc.D., of the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

“We need to have a handle on what’s contributing to the leading cause of death among young people,” Hingson said. What’s more, he noted, researchers need reliable data to study the effects of policies aimed at reducing alcohol-related deaths.

“You want to know how big the problem is, and if we can track it,” Hingson said. “Is it going up, or going down? And what policy measures are working?”

For the new study, I-Jen Castle, Ph.D., and a team led by Hingson focused on traffic deaths because, of all types of accidental fatalities, that’s where researchers have the best data. This is partly because many U.S. states—about half right now—require that fatally injured drivers be tested for blood alcohol levels, and nationwide about 70% of those drivers are tested.

Hingson’s team used a database maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, called the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)—which contains the blood alcohol levels of Americans killed in traffic crashes. They compared that information with deaths certificate data from all U.S. states.

Overall, they found, death certificates greatly underreported the role of alcohol in traffic deaths between 1999 and 2009: Just over 3 percent listed alcohol as a contributing cause. But based on the FARS figures, 21 percent of those deaths were legally drunk.

The picture varied widely from state to state. In some states—such as Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, and New Jersey—alcohol was rarely listed on death certificates. Certain other states did much better, including Delaware, Iowa, Kansas, and Minnesota. It’s not fully clear why alcohol is so often left off of death certificates. One reason could be the time it takes to get blood-alcohol test results back. Coroners or medical examiners usually have to file a death certificate within three to five days, Hingson’s team notes, but toxicology results might take longer than that.

The reasons for the wide variation among states aren’t known either. But Hingson said that’s an important question. “Some states have been pretty successful,” he noted. “What are they doing right?”

It doesn’t seem to be only a matter of passing laws: States that mandate alcohol testing for deceased drivers did not always do better when it came to reporting alcohol as a contributor on death certificates.

Whatever the reasons, Hingson said, the role of alcohol in injury deaths may be seriously underestimated on death certificates. And the situation is likely worse with other types of accidental deaths, such as falls, drug poisoning/overdoses, and drowning, for which there is no mandatory blood alcohol testing or other reporting systems.

Hingson said he thinks testing should be done in those cases as well.

 

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May 10, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Safety | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] ‘Inherently dangerous’ drugs routinely prescribed to seniors: Report

Originally posted on Metro News:

Thousands of seniors in Ontario nursing homes are on a powerful mix of antipsychotics and sedatives, according to a new provincial Health Ministry report that surfaced after a recent Torstar News Service investigation.

The report, commissioned by the ministry and co-authored by a leading doctor and scientist, sheds new light on the widespread use of powerful prescription drugs among the vulnerable elderly.

“These drugs are prescribed so commonly because they are perceived to be benign. That’s not true,” said Dr. David Juurlink, a drug safety expert who co-authored the report. “These drugs are inherently dangerous.”

Last week, Torstar revealed that some long-term-care homes, often struggling with staffing shortages, are routinely doling out antipsychotics to calm and “restrain” wandering, agitated and sometimes aggressive patients.

At close to 300 homes, Torstar found, more than a third of the residents are on the drugs, despite warnings that the medications can kill elderly patients…

View original 867 more words

April 29, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, health care | , , , , | Leave a comment

NYTimes: Rethinking Our ‘Rights’ to Dangerous Behaviors

Originally posted on NobodyisFlyingthePlane:

“What we need,” Freudenberg said to me, “is to return to the public sector the right to set health policy and to limit corporations’ freedom to profit at the expense of public health.”

Bittman contributes to the ongoing discussion here at NobodyisFlyingthePlane about how certain industries deflect public discourse from what is best for our citizens to what makes the most profit, no matter the consequences.

The author he quotes poses a series of questions which get at the heart of the matter.

“Shouldn’t science and technology be used to improve human well-being, not to advance business goals that harm health?”

Similarly, we need to be asking not “Do junk food companies have the right to market to children?” but “Do children have the right to a healthy diet?”

Essentially its a PR game. Do we let whole industries spin how the conversation is framed or do we let the…

View original 339 more words

March 13, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Weapons & alcohol tied to domestic abuse

Weapons tied to repeat domestic abuse. (below, separate study on alcohol)

From the 29 January 2014 ScienceDaily article

Date:
January 29, 2014
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Women are up to 83 percent more likely to experience repeat abuse by their male partners if a weapon is used in the initial abuse incident, according to a new study that has implications for victims, counselors and police.

Women are up to 83 percent more likely to experience repeat abuse by their male partners if a weapon is used in the initial abuse incident, according to a new study that has implications for victims, counselors and police.

Michigan State University researcher Amy Bonomi and colleagues studied the domestic abuse police reports of nearly 6,000 couples in Seattle during a two-year period. An estimated one in four women in the United States experience domestic violence at least once in their lifetime.

Because previous research showed that domestic abuse is more common in poor urban neighborhoods, the researchers expected to find that repeat violence could be predicted by where the couple lived.

But that wasn’t the case. Instead, the main predictor of ongoing domestic violence was the use of a knife, gun or even a vehicle in the first incident. In those cases, women were 72 percent more likely to make follow-up calls to police for physical abuse and 83 percent more likely to call for nonphysical abuse — such as a partner threatening to kill them.

“What this is telling police is that they are likely to be called back to this particular residence if a weapon is involved the first time they are called out,” said Bonomi, chairperson and professor in MSU’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies. “It’s an indication of the danger and severity of abuse over time.”

“The presence of weapons in the home,” she added, “is also a red flag for the women themselves and the counselors who deal with domestic violence.”

The study appears online in the research journal Violence Against Women.

Research finds link between alcohol use, not pot, and domestic violence

From the 27 January 2014 Science Daily article

Date:
January 27, 2014
Source:
University of Tennessee at Knoxville
Summary:
Research among college students found that men under the influence of alcohol are more likely to perpetrate physical, psychological or sexual aggression against their partners than men under the influence of marijuana.

Alcohol use is more likely than marijuana use to lead to violence between partners, according to studies done at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Research among college students found that men under the influence of alcohol are more likely to perpetrate physical, psychological or sexual aggression against their partners than men under the influence of marijuana. Women, on the other hand, were more likely to be physically and psychologically aggressive under the influence of alcohol but, unlike men, they were also more likely to be psychologically aggressive under the influence of marijuana.

The research has implications for domestic violence intervention and prevention programs.

The studies were conducted by Ryan Shorey, a psychology doctoral student; Gregory Stuart, a psychology professor; Todd Moore, an associate psychology professor; and James McNulty, an associate professor of social psychology at Florida State University. The study of male participants is published in the journal Addictive Behaviors and the study of female participants is published in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.

The researchers’ goal was to find correlations between alcohol and marijuana use and the potential for physical, psychological and sexual violence against partners. The studies are among the first to investigate the timing of alcohol and marijuana use and intimate partner violence in college students.

Two studies included male and female college students who were at least 18 years old, had been a relationship for at least a month that involved two days a week of face-to-face contact, and had consumed alcohol in the previous month. The subjects completed an online diary once a day for 90 days.

The study of men found that odds of psychological, physical and sexual violence increased with subsequent use of alcohol. Specifically, odds of physical and sexual abuse increased on days where any alcohol was consumed and with each drink consumed. Odds of psychological abuse increased only on days when five or more drinks were consumed.

Marijuana use was unrelated to violence between intimate partners.

The study of college women found that alcohol use increased the odds of physical and psychological aggression while marijuana use increased the odds of psychological aggression.

“I think it is too early to make definitive conclusions regarding the role of marijuana and intimate partner violence perpetration, as the research in this area is quite young and, to date, studies have provided conflicting evidence regarding its role in increasing the odds for violence,” said Stuart. “However, we now have numerous studies suggesting alcohol use does increase the odds for violence between partners.”

Another study by the authors and psychology doctoral student Sara Elkins looked at women arrested for domestic violence. This study, published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, found that when women used marijuana they were less likely to perpetrate physical violence.

The authors say their findings provide further support for the numerous negative consequences associated with heavy alcohol consumption, particularly among college students.

“Our findings suggest that dating violence prevention and intervention programs should target reduction in alcohol use, but surprisingly, most of these programs largely ignore alcohol use,” said Shorey.

Stuart noted that their other research has shown that men arrested for domestic violence in batterer intervention programs received short-term benefits when they were given a 90-minute treatment addressing their alcohol problems…..

 

January 30, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Safety | , , , , | Leave a comment

State unveils public website to expose harmful cosmetics

State unveils public website to expose harmful cosmetics.

 

From the 10 January 2014 Contra Costa Times article

 

Assorted cosmetics and tools

Assorted cosmetics and tools (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

State public health officials announced on Friday a new online database that shows which cosmetics sold in California contain certain harmful chemicals, offering the first state-run public resource to inform consumers about potentially hazardous products they use everyday on their skin and hair.

The long-awaited California State Cosmetics Program Product Database is part of a state law passed in 2005 that aims to expose products with potentially hazardous ingredients, and pressure manufacturers to reformulate makeup, soap, lotion and similar products with safer alternatives. The public can search the website by type of product, brand or ingredient, and will be shown a list of products made with chemicals that are known to cause cancer, reproductive harm or birth defects.

“It does not mean that the cosmetic product itself has been shown to cause cancer, but since most products are not extensively tested for safety, providing information on chemical components will allow consumers to make more informed choices,” said Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the state Department of Public Health.

As of November, the state had collected information from about 475 companies, which have disclosed the ingredients in roughly 30,000 products. The state is requiring only companies that sell in California and have more than $1 million per year in cosmetic sales to report the potentially harmful ingredients they use. The state is looking for about 900 chemicals that have been identified as harmful by Proposition 65 legislation and organizations such as the National Toxicology Program.

The database is part of the California Safe Cosmetics Act of 2005, legislation signed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The law required the site to be up by Dec. 31, 2013, but a health department spokesman said it did not go live until Friday.

The law also gives the state some enforcement authority, such as requiring products are labeled with warnings.

“We are the one agency in the U.S. collecting this information on cosmetics,” Nerissa Wu, a state public health official who helped establish the program, told this newspaper in an interview last fall. “Our hope is that the market pressure that comes out of that … encourages manufacturers to reformulate.”

Advocates welcomed the database, but some worried that the state lacked the resources to enforce safer standards for cosmetics.

“This doesn’t ban anything. This doesn’t restrict anything,” said Gretchen Salter, senior program and policy manager at the San Francisco-based Breast Cancer Fund, an advocacy group that championed the 2005 legislation. “Ultimately our feeling is these products don’t belong in cosmetics in the first place.”

The database is at http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/cosmetics/Pages/default.aspx

Contact Heather Somerville at 510-208-6413. Follow her at Twitter.com/heathersomervil.

 

 

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January 23, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , , | Leave a comment

Addressing the Intersection: Preventing Violence and Promoting Healthy Eating and Active Living

From the PDF file of the Prevention Institute **

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“Lasting changes will come from deep work by individuals to create systemic change.”

Reducing violence in neighborhoods enhances the community environ- ment and allows people to thrive. The prevention of violence facilitates community cohesion and participation, fosters neighborhood improve- ments, expands employment and educational opportunities, and improves overall health and well-being.

Violence influences where people live, work, and shop; whether parents let kids play outside and walk to school; and whether there is a grocery store or places for employment in the community. Violence jeopardizes health and safety directly— causing injuries, death, and emotional trauma. Witnessing or directly experiencing violence, as well as the fear of violence, are damaging, with consequences that also contribute to unhealthy behavior and a diminished community environment. Vio- lence and fear undermine attempts to improve healthy eating and active living, there- by exacerbating existing illnesses and increasing the risk for onset of disease, includ- ing chronic disease. They affect young people, low-income communities, and com- munities of color disproportionately. Violence and food- and activity-related chron- ic diseases are most pervasive in disenfranchised communities, where they occur more frequently and with greater severity, making them fundamental equity issues.

Chronic disease is a major health challenge—it contributes to premature death, lowers quality of life, and accounts for the dramatic rise in recent healthcare spend- ing. One striking example is the increasing prevalence of diabetes in the United States. Researchers predict that by 2034, the number of people suffering from dia- betes will likely double to 44.1 million, and related health care costs will triple to $336 billion.1 Improving healthy eating and active living environments and behaviors is the crucial link to preventing many forms of chronic disease. Health leaders have been making great strides in mounting a strong, effective response to chronic disease and in improving community environments to support healthy eating and activity. However, chronic disease prevention strategies—designing neighborhoods that encourage walking and bicycling to public transit, parks, and healthy food retail, or attracting grocery stores in communities that lack access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables—are less effective when fear and violence pervade the environment. As more communities grapple with chronic disease, health practitioners and advocates are becoming increasingly aware of the need to address violence as a critical part of their efforts, and they are seeking further guidance on effective strategies.

The purpose of this paper is to provide guidance and deepen the understanding of the inter-relationship between violence and healthy eating and activity. It presents first-hand evidence based on a set of interviews Prevention Institute facilitated with community representatives—advocates and practitioners working in healthy eating and active living. Direct quotes from these interviewees appear in italics throughout this paper. In addition to the interviews, the Institute conducted a scan of peer- reviewed literature and professional reports that confirm the intersection between vio- lence and healthy eating and active living.3-12 …

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**Prevention Institute was founded in 1997 to serve as a focal point for primary prevention practice—promoting policies, organizational practices, and collaborative efforts that improve health and quality of life. As a national non-profit organization, the Institute is committed to preventing illness and injury, to fostering health and social equity, and to building momentum for community prevention as an integral component of a quality health system.
Publications are online and free.

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January 18, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Nutrition | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Ohio State University Press Release] Gun use in PG-13 movies has more than tripled since 1985

From the press release via the 10 November 2013 EurekAlert

Contact: Brad Bushman
Bushman.20@osu.edu
614-688-8779
Ohio State University

Gun use in PG-13 movies has more than tripled since 1985

Researchers worry about effects on teen viewers

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The amount of gun violence shown in PG-13 films has more than tripled since 1985, the year the rating was introduced.

In fact, the most popular PG-13 movies of 2011 and 2012 showed significantly more gun violence than R-rated movies of the same time period, a new study reveals.

“It’s shocking how gun use has skyrocketed in movies that are often marketed directly at the teen audience,” said Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University.

“You have to wonder why we are seeing this surge in gun violence in PG-13 movies, when it isn’t appearing in G, PG and R-rated films.”

Bushman conducted the research with Patrick Jamieson, Ilana Weitz and Daniel Romer of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. The study was published online Nov. 11, 2013, in the journal Pediatrics.

Bushman said the results are concerning because other research has revealed the presence of a “weapons effect”: People who simply see a gun, or even a picture of a gun, are more aggressive toward others.

“Based on what researchers have found, it is not good for teens to be viewing this much gun violence in films,” he said.

PG movies suggest that “some material may not be suitable for children,” according to the Motion Picture Association of America, which creates the ratings. PG-13 movies carry a sterner warning: “Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.” The MPAA says a PG-13 movie “may go beyond the PG rating” in violence “but does not reach the restricted R cateogry.”

PG-13 movies are also the most popular among viewers – 13 of the top 25 films in release during 2012 carried that rating, including seven of the top 10, according to the MPAA.

“By the standards of the MPAA, PG-13 movies shouldn’t have as much violence as R-rated movies, but they clearly do. It appears sex scenes are more likely to result in an R rating than scenes of violence,” Bushman said.

The researchers studied a database of 915 films that were drawn from the 30 top-grossing films for each year from 1950 to 2012. Researchers identified violent sequences performed by each character for each five-minute segment of the films.

They also noted whether each violent sequence since 1985 (the first full year after the PG-13 rating was introduced) included the use of a gun.

Overall, findings showed that the rate of violent sequences nearly quadrupled from 1950 to 2010. Since 1985, 94 percent of the movies studied (367 in total) had one or more five-minute segments that included violence. Overall, the films contained 700 segments with gun violence.

Findings showed that R-rated films averaged about 1.54 segments per hour featuring gun violence, and that number didn’t fluctuate much from 1985 to 2010. Movies rated G and PG averaged 0.41 segments of gun violence per hour, which also hasn’t changed since 1985.

The story is much different for films rated PG-13, Bushman said. In 1985, PG-13 movies essentially didn’t have any scenes of gun violence, but the number rose steadily until about 2005, when it began escalating even faster.

By 2010, PG-13 films averaged as many sequences featuring gun violence per hour as R-rated films. In 2011 and 2012, PG-13 movies actually had more gun violence than R-rated movies.

“The trend of increasing gun violence in PG-13 movies is disturbing because of what we know about the weapons effect and because those are the films kids are most attracted to,” Bushman said.

The weapons effect was first shown in 1967, in a study by psychologists that showed participants who were provoked until angry acted more aggressively toward others when there was a gun on a table in front of them.

Since then, more than 50 other studies have replicated the weapons effect, even among people who weren’t angry.

“Seeing these violent gun scenes in movies may be strengthening the weapons effect among young people,” Bushman said.

“In addition, these movies essentially provide young people scripts for how to use guns in real life, as we have seen in copycat killings. It is a bad situation.”

 

###

Data from the study were collected as part of The Coding of Media and Health Project at the Annenberg Public Policy Center. Funding for this study came from the APPC and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Contact: Brad Bushman, (614) 688-8779; Bushman.20@osu.edu

Written by Jeff Grabmeier, (614) 292-8457; Grabmeier.1@osu.edu

 

 

November 11, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Psychology, Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[NCHS Data Brief] Emergency Department Visits by Persons Aged 65 and Over: United States, 2009–2010

The emergency department entrance at Mayo Clin...

The emergency department entrance at Mayo Clinic’s Saint Marys Hospital. The red-and-white emergency sign is clearly visible. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the November 2013 [US] National Center for Health Statistics

 

Key findings

Data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, 2009–2010

  • In 2009–2010, a total of 19.6 million emergency department (ED) visits in the United States were made by persons aged 65 and over. The visit rate for this age group was 511 per 1,000 persons and increased with age.
  • The percentage of ED visits made by nursing home residents, patients arriving by ambulance, and patients admitted to the hospital increased with age.
  • Twenty-nine percent of ED visits by persons aged 65 and over were related to injury, and the percentage was higher among those aged 85 and over than among those aged 65–74 or 75–84.
  • The percentage of ED visits caused by falls increased with age.

From 2000–2010, the number of persons in the United States aged 65 and over rose 15%, from 35.0 million to 40.3 million, and in 2010 this age group represented 13% of the population (1). It is estimated that by 2030, nearly one in five persons will be aged 65 and over (2). Given their growing proportion of the population, older individuals will comprise an increasing share of emergency department (ED) patients in the coming years. This is important because of the ED’s role in treating acute illness and injury in older adults and providing a pathway to these patients for hospital admission (3,4). This report describes ED visits made by individuals aged 65 and over and compares age groups 65–74, 75–84, and 85 and over.

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Read the entire summary here & link to the full text of the article

 

 

 

November 8, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, health care, Health Statistics | , | Leave a comment

Handbook on strategies to reduce overcrowding in prisons

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Here in Toledo, Ohio my (Catholic) parish boundary includes a nearby state prison.
The bishop’s office redrew parish boundaries a few years back and decided our parish, three miles from the prison, includes the Catholics at Toledo Correctional Institution. Quite a challenge for us, we have about 100 “churchgoers” on the average Sunday, about 2/3 are over age 60. About 20 baptized Catholics (of an inmate population of 1,220)  are registered within our parish.

We were encouraged to write the inmates. So I did. After about 3 letter exchanges, one asked me to visit him. So, after 3 weeks of pondering, I did.  It really isn’t any big deal.  Robb is very articulate and we do have some lively discussions in areas of politics, Catholic Church “hot topics”, and philosophy.

In the past year, four inmates have been murdered. at Toledo Correctional.  Allegedly by other inmates.  In Michigan, only one inmate was murdered in the whole state in the last year.  The rise in violence is in tandem with increasing overcrowding, especially double bunking in cells designed for single occupancy.

I am including this item because overcrowding is a safety and (mental) health issue.  The murders here at Toledo Correctional were in the higher security levels, Robb is in the lowest security level. Still, I cannot imagine how this is impacting Robb’s mental health.

Excerpts from the handbook
(I realize American prisons are probably better than the worst of the worst internationally, still, there is room for improvement)

In very diverse environments and over many years, the ICRC has witnessed first- hand the consequences of overcrowding on detainees and on the authorities. Indeed, overcrowding is an increasingly widespread problem in a number of countries and places of detention. In itself, it is a very serious humanitarian concern, as it auto- matically generates substandard and often inhumane conditions of detention. Tens of thousands of people are forced to live for extended periods in congested accom- modation, with insufficient space to move, sit or sleep. This seriously compromises the ability of the administration to fulfil detainees’ basic needs in terms of living conditions, medical care, legal aid and family visits. Being squeezed into cramped living quarters, often in appalling hygiene conditions and with no privacy, makes the experience of being deprived of freedom—already stressful in normal circumstances— exponentially worse. It erodes human dignity and undermines detainees’ physical and mental health, as well as their reintegration prospects. In addition to putting excessive strain on infrastructures, it heightens the potential for tensions and conflicts among detainees and with staff. It quickly leads to difficulties in maintaining good order within the prison, resulting in potentially severe consequences in terms of safety for the detainees, as well as in terms of supervision and security.

While the consequences are particularly grave for the men, women and children deprived of their liberty, they also affect the frontline staff whose job it is to protect and meet the needs of the detainees. Overwhelmed by excessive numbers and directly exposed to the frustration of the detainees without the resources needed to guarantee security or access to the most basic services, detention staff work in difficult condi- tions and are exposed to constant pressure and risk.

ICRC knows from experience that situations of overcrowding, once established, trig- ger a downward spiral which has a negative impact on the entire criminal justice system as a result of increasing congestion, staff demotivation and the development of parallel coping mechanisms or corruption.

3. Broader consequences of excessive imprisonment

The impact of overcrowding does not remain within the prison walls. It can have a detrimental impact on public health. The cost of the excessive use of imprisonment, which is a fundamental reason for prison overcrowding in countries worldwide (see chapter B), can be significant, increasing the poverty levels and socio-economic mar- ginalization of certain groups of people and reducing funds available for other spheres of government expenditure.

….

3.1 The cost of imprisonment

Numerous studies have shown that imprisonment disproportionately affects people living in poverty. When an income generating member of the family is imprisoned, the sudden loss of income can have a severe impact on the economic status of the rest of the family—especially so in low resource countries where the state does not usually provide financial assistance to the poor and where it is not unusual for one person to financially support an extended family network. When released, often with no prospects for employment due to their criminal record, former prisoners are generally subjected to socio-economic exclusion and are vulnerable to an endless cycle of poverty, marginalization, criminality and imprisonment. Thus, imprisonment contributes directly to the impoverishment of the prisoner and his or her family. Studies have also shown that children of parents who have been imprisoned are more likely to come into conflict with the law and that once detained, they are likely to be further criminalized. Thus the cycle is expanded, creating future victims and reducing future potential economic performance

…….

  • State report rips Toledo prison (toledoblade.com, 09/13/2013)
    “A state committee on Thursday issued a harsh, lengthy inspection report of the Toledo Correctional Institution, citing significant increases in assaults, high employee-turnover rates, rampant drug trading, and three homicides reported there in the past year.The 164-page report from the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee shows that inmate-on-inmate assaults increased by nearly 113 percent and inmate-on-staff assaults increased nearly 74 percent from 2010 to 2012. The legislatively established committee monitors prison facilities, conducts unannounced inspections of prisons, and writes reports of their activities.”
    “The prison has the highest staff turnover rate — 16.5 percent — of all prisons in the state, according to the report. Most staff resignations come while employees are being investigated, according to the report.

    Toledo Correctional “has historically had challenges recruiting quality staff, particularly in health care,” the report states.
    Read more at http://www.toledoblade.com/State/2013/09/13/State-report-rips-Toledo-prison.html#RzJGpLqojeJcCKFA.99

  • Prison’s acts failed to halt homicides (toledoblade.com)

November 6, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Workplace Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Hospital Newsletter Article] The New Nursing Home

Screen Shot 2013-11-06 at 5.46.49 AM

 

Believe I’ve reblogged on this concept within the past two years…
Yes, this model is a bit pricy, but can we afford not to move in this direction?

Excerpts from the Fall 2003 article at Proto – Dispatches from the Frontiers of Medicine (Massachusetts General Hospital)

At the vanguard of innovation in the nursing home industry, the three-year-old Leonard Florence Center for Living exemplifies a new model of long-term care known as the Green House, and nothing about it seems institutional. Each of the five upper floors constitutes two separate “households” with private rooms for 10 residents. The normally dominant nurse’s station has been eliminated and instead there are common areas in each household—a living room furnished with comfortable sofas and chairs around a fireplace, an open kitchen and a communal dining table where residents often eat together. Cooking, housekeeping and even laundry are handled by two certified nursing aides known as shahbazim—derived from Persian, it means “nurturing of elders”—who also care for residents. Traditional nursing homes, in contrast, have clear demarcations separating housekeepers, kitchen workers, nurses and aides, who follow rigid schedules for serving meals or dispensing medications.

At Leonard Florence, Mehlhop can sleep, bathe, eat and roam around whenever she wants. The environment is calm and cheery, with none of the physical restraints found in most nursing homes or the alarms that sound if residents get up from a wheelchair, for example. (Instead, patients wear ankle bracelets that help the staff keep tabs on them and will disable the elevator if a patient tries to leave.)

Leonard Florence is far from the only nursing facility striving to create a homelike atmosphere and improve residents’ quality of life. Building a new Green House or undertaking a major physical renovation can be part of the strategy, but other nursing homes are primarily working to transform how they’re run, embracing a movement known simply as “culture change” that entails shifting away from the emphasis on efficiency and economies of scale that characterizes most nursing homes. Culture change typically requires an operational reorganization to give staff members more autonomy and to let residents have a say in even the smallest details of their lives. “It’s about not looking at residents as a task, but rather as who they are as individuals,”

Yet building a new, small nursing home that can handle only a relative handful of residents is an expensive proposition. “If it weren’t for the price tag, everyone would be doing it,” says Barry Berman, chief executive officer of the Chelsea Jewish Foundation, which owns the Leonard Florence Center. The home cost $36 million to build, with some two-thirds of the money coming from private donations and government programs. Most traditional nursing homes cost less than half that much, but the Leonard Florence Center is over twice the size of a traditional nursing home and was the first Green House to be built in an urban area. Its multistory construction is also a departure from the usual single-level, ranch-style homes that are typical of Green House centers. The payoff, however, has been the residents’ lower hospitalization and readmission rates. The center has also received high scores for resident and family satisfaction, which Berman describes as “off the charts.” The foundation is now undertaking a $13 million renovation of a 30-year-old, 120-bed skilled nursing facility across town from Leonard Florence. “We’re bringing in as many elements of the Green House as we can and doing our best to retrofit a traditional nursing home,” says Adam Berman, chief operating officer of the nonprofit.

The Green House model is receiving increased academic scrutiny, and early studies have shown positive trends in quality of life for residents, greater family satisfaction, and a lower incidence of rehospitalization, bedsores, depression and other health problems. According to the Green House Project, 83% of Green Houses received a rating of four out of five stars or better on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ five-star quality rating system, compared to 42% of nursing homes nationally. But the data are early. “The jury’s still out on whether Green Houses or other small homes achieve equal or better clinical outcomes than traditional models, and whether they’re financially sustainable—factors that may ultimately matter a lot more than the humanistic components in terms of their future growth…

Studies of the model’s effectiveness have found a higher quality of care, reduced staff turnover and lower rates of infections for residents….

As  encouraging as such stories may be, however, there are questions about how far relatively small-scale efforts can go to reform a giant industry. In a 2010 study by Susan Miller, a professor of health services, practice and policy at Brown University School of Public Health, leadership issues, higher costs and regulatory problems were cited by long-term-care leaders as the most common barriers to implementing culture change. Yet many experts believe those obstacles can be overcome. For example, a campaign called Advancing Excellence in America’s Nursing Homes provides an array of do-it-yourself resources and networks of advisors to help improve clinical outcomes. More than 9,000 nursing homes have participated since the campaign’s launch in 2006. Meanwhile, federal regulators have adjusted some rules to encourage and reward culture change—for example, rather than checking that a nursing home has regular meal schedules, making sure that residents are well fed. And proponents point to studies showing that nursing homes committed to culture change may benefit financially. A study by Pioneer Network, for example, found that from 2004 to 2008, facilities undergoing culture change achieved higher occupancy rates and increased revenue.

Related Resource

November 6, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, health care | , , , , | Leave a comment

Pain in Infancy Alters Response to Stress, Anxiety Later in Life

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

From the 30 October 2013 ScienceDaily article

 

Early life pain alters neural circuits in the brain that regulate stress, suggesting pain experienced by infants who often do not receive analgesics while undergoing tests and treatment in neonatal intensive care may permanently alter future responses to anxiety, stress and pain in adulthood, a research team led by Dr. Anne Murphy, associate director of the Neuroscience Institute at Georgia State University, has discovered.

n estimated 12 percent of live births in the U.S. are considered premature, researchers said. These infants often spend an average of 25 days in neonatal intensive care, where they endure 10-to-18 painful and inflammatory procedures each day, including insertion of feeding tubes and intravenous lines, intubation and repeated heel lance. Despite evidence that pain and stress circuitry in the brain are established and functional in preterm infants, about 65 percent of these procedures are performed without benefit of analgesia. Some clinical studies suggest early life pain has an immediate and long-term impact on responses to stress- and anxiety-provoking events.

The Georgia State study examined whether a single painful inflammatory procedure performed on male and female rat pups on the day of birth alters specific brain receptors that affect behavioral sensitivity to stress, anxiety and pain in adulthood. The findings demonstrated that such an experience is associated with site-specific changes in the brain that regulate how the pups responded to stressful situations. Alterations in how these receptors function have also been associated with mood disorders.

The study findings mirror what is now being reported clinically. Children who experienced unresolved pain following birth show reduced responsiveness to pain and stress.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here

 

 

October 31, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , , | Leave a comment

Public Wants Labels for Food Nanotech – and They’re Willing to Pay for It

From the 10 October 2013 North Carolina State press release

For Immediate Release

Matt Shipman | News Services | 919.515.6386

Dr. Jennifer Kuzma | 919.515.2592

Release Date: 10.28.13
Filed under Releases

New research from North Carolina State University and the University of Minnesota finds that people in the United States want labels on food products that use nanotechnology – whether the nanotechnology is in the food or is used in food packaging. The research also shows that many people are willing to pay more for the labeling.

Study participants were particularly supportive of labeling for products in which nanotechnology had been added to the food itself, though they were also in favor of labeling products in which nanotechnology had only been incorporated into the food packaging.

Study participants supported labeling products in which nanotechnology had been added to food, as well as products in which nanotechnology had been incorporated into the packaging.

“We wanted to know whether people want nanotechnology in food to be labeled, and the vast majority of the participants in our study do,” says Dr. Jennifer Kuzma, senior author of a paper on the research and Goodnight-Glaxo Wellcome Distinguished Professor of Public Administration at NC State. “Our study is the first research in the U.S. to take an in-depth, focus group approach to understanding the public perception of nanotechnology in foods.”

The researchers convened six focus groups – three in Minnesota and three in North Carolina – and gave study participants some basic information about nanotechnology and its use in food products. Participants were then asked a series of questions addressing whether food nanotechnology should be labeled. Participants were also sent a follow-up survey within a week of their focus group meeting.

Study participants were particularly supportive of labeling for products in which nanotechnology had been added to the food itself, though they were also in favor of labeling products in which nanotechnology had only been incorporated into the food packaging.

However, the call for labeling does not indicate that people are necessarily opposed to the use of nanotechnology in food products. For example, many study participants indicated support for the use of nanotechnology to make food more nutritious or to give it a longer shelf life – but they still wanted those products to be labeled.

“People do have nuanced perspectives on this,” Kuzma says. “They want labeling, but they also want access to reliable, research-based information about the risks associated with labeled products – such as a Food and Drug Administration website offering additional information about labeled products.”

The researchers also found that about 60 percent of the study participants who responded to the follow-up survey were willing to pay an additional 5 to 25 percent of the product price for either nanotechnology-free products or for nanotechnology labeling.

The paper, “Hungry for Information: Public Attitudes Toward Food Nanotechnology and Labeling,” was published online Oct. 7 inReview of Policy Research. Lead author of the study is Jonathan Brown, a former graduate student at the University of Minnesota. The work was supported by National Science Foundation grant SES-0709056.

 

 

October 30, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , , | Leave a comment

Preventing School Shootings: A Public Health Approach to Gun Violence

English: Naval Postgraduate School emblem

English: Naval Postgraduate School emblem (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the [US]  Homeland Security Digital Library

 

rom the thesis abstract: “Gun violence in America must be addressed at the highest levels of society. Newtown, Aurora, and Virginia Tech were attacks on the very fabric of America. School shootings represent attacks on our nations’ future. A public health approach to gun violence focuses on prevention. Public safety professionals, educators and community leaders are squandering opportunities to prevent horrific acts of extreme violence. Preparedness is derived by planning, which is critical to mobilizing resources when needed. Rational public policy can work. Sensible gun legislation, which is accessible through a public health approach to gun violence, neither marginalizes nor stigmatizes any one group. University administrators must fully engage the entire arsenal of resources available to confront this pernicious threat. The academic community can create powerful networks for research, collaboration and information sharing. These collective learning environments are investments in the knowledge economy. In order for the police to remain relevant, they must actively engage the community they serve by developing the operational art necessary to cultivate knowledge, relationships and expertise. Police departments must emphasize strategies that improve performance. Police officers must understand the mission and meaning of ‘To Protect and Serve’ and the consequences of public safety, which often comes at their personal peril. Gun violence in America is a public health epidemic and preventing it requires a collective responsibility.”

Author: Welch, Edward J.
Publisher: Naval Postgraduate School (U.S.)
Naval Postgraduate School (U.S.). Center for Homeland Defense and Security
Date: 2013-03
Copyright: Public Domain
Retrieved From: Naval Postgraduate School, Dudley Knox Library: http://www.nps.edu.Library/index.aspx
Format: pdf
Media Type: application/pdf
Source: Cohort CA1105/1106
URL: https://www.hsdl.org/?view&did=736339 [FULL TEXT]

 

 

 

October 23, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Safety, Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press Release] Prescription Drug Abuse: Strategies to Stop the Epidemic

From the 7 October 2013 press release at Trust for America’s Health – Preventing Epidemics. Protecting People.

Prescription Drug Abuse: More than Half of States Score 6 or Less out of 10 on New Policy Report Card, While Drug Overdose Deaths Doubled in 29 States in the Last Decade

Washington, D.C. October 7, 2013 – A new report, Prescription Drug Abuse: Strategies to Stop the Epidemic, finds that 28 states and Washington, D.C. scored six or less out of 10 possible indicators of promising strategies to help curb prescription drug abuse. Two states, New Mexico and Vermont, received the highest score receiving all 10 possible indicators, while South Dakota scored the lowest with two out of 10.

According to the report by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), prescription drug abuse has quickly become a top public health concern, as the number of drug overdose deaths – a majority of which are from prescription drugs – doubled in 29 states since 1999. The rates quadrupled in four of these states and tripled in 10 more of these states.

Prescription drug related deaths now outnumber those from heroin and cocaine combined, and drug overdose deaths exceed motor vehicle-related deaths in 29 states and Washington, D.C. Misuse and abuse of prescription painkillers alone costs the country an estimated $53.4 billion each year in lost productivity, medical costs and criminal justice costs. Currently only one in 10 Americans with a substance abuse disorder receives treatment.

“Prescription drugs can be a miracle for many, but misuse can have dire consequences. The rapid rise of abuse requires nothing short of a full-scale response – starting with prevention and education all the way through to expanding and modernizing treatment,” said Jeffrey Levi, PhD, executive director of TFAH. “There are many promising signs that we can turn this around – but it requires urgent action.”

In the Prescription Drug Abuse report, TFAH – in consultation with a number of public health, clinical, injury prevention, law enforcement and community organization experts – reviewed a range of national recommendations and examined a set of 10 indicators of strategies being used in states to help curb the epidemic. There are indications that some of these efforts and strategies may be having a positive impact — the number of Americans abusing prescription drugs decreased from 7 million in 2010 to 6.1 in 2011, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Some key findings from the report include:

  • Appalachia and Southwest Have the Highest Overdose Death Rates: West Virginia had the highest number of drug overdose deaths, at 28.9 per every 100,000 people – a 605 percent increase from 1999, when the rate was only 4.1 per every 100,000. North Dakota had the lowest rate at 3.4 per every 100,000 people. Rates are lowest in the Midwestern states.
  • Rescue Drug Laws: Just over one-third of states (17 and Washington, D.C.) have a law in place to expand access to, and use of naloxone – a prescription drug that can be effective in counteracting an overdose – by lay administrators.
  • Good Samaritan Laws: Just over one-third of states (17 and Washington, D.C.) have laws in place to provide a degree of immunity from criminal charges or mitigation of sentencing for individuals seeking to help themselves or others experiencing an overdose.
  • Medical Provider Education Laws: Fewer than half of states (22) have laws that require or recommend education for doctors and other healthcare providers who prescribe prescription pain medication.
  • Support for Substance Abuse Treatment: Nearly half of states (24 and Washington, D.C.) are participating in Medicaid Expansion – which helps expand coverage of substance abuse services and treatment.
  • ID Requirement: 32 states have a law requiring or permitting a pharmacist to require an ID prior to dispensing a controlled substance.
  • Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs: While nearly every state (49) has a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) to help identify “doctor shoppers,” problem prescribers and individuals in need of treatment, these programs vary dramatically in funding, use and capabilities. For instance, only 16 states require medical providers to use PMDPs.

“Fifty Americans die a day from prescription drug overdoses, and more than 6 million suffer from prescription drug abuse disorders. This is a very real epidemic – and warrants a strong public health response,” said Andrea Gielen, ScD, Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy. “We must use the best lessons we know from other public health and injury prevention success stories to work in partnership with clinical care, law enforcement, the business community, community-based organizations, and other partners to work together to curb this crisis.”

Key recommendations from the report include:

  • Educate the public to understand the risks of prescription drug use to avoid misuse in the first place;
  • Ensure responsible prescribing practices, including increasing education of healthcare providers and prescribers to better understand how medications can be misused and to identify patients in need of treatment;
  • Increase understanding about safe storage of medication and proper disposal of unused medications, such as through “take back” programs;
  • Make sure patients do receive the pain and other medications they need, and that patients have access to safe and effective drugs;
  • Improve, modernize and fully-fund Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, so they are real-time, interstate and incorporated into Electronic Health Records, to quickly identify patients in need of treatment and connect them with appropriate care and identify doctor shoppers and problem prescribers;
  • Make rescue medications more widely available by increasing access for at-risk individuals to naloxone and provide immunity for individuals and others seeking help; and
  • Expand access to and availability of effective treatment options as a key component of any strategy to combat prescription drug abuse.

According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC), nationally, sales of prescription painkillers per capita have quadrupled since 1999 – and the number of fatal poisonings due to prescription painkillers has also quadrupled. Enough prescription painkillers were prescribed in 2010 to medicate every American adult continually for a month.

“The release of the prescription drug abuse report by the Trust for America’s Health represents a significant step forward in elevating public awareness of the state of prescription drug abuse in the US”, according to Ginny Ehrlich, CEO of Clinton Health Matters Initiative (CHMI). “We are proud that the Trust has completed this important research as part of its CHMI Commitment to Action and congratulate the Trust on continuing to advocate for innovation and action towards addressing this public epidemic.”

The report was supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Score Summary: A full list of all of the indicators and scores, listed below, is available along with the full report on TFAH’s web site at www.healthyamericans.org and RWJF’s web site athttp://www.rwjf.org/RxReport. For the state-by-state scoring, states received one point for achieving an indicator or zero points if they did not achieve the indicator. Zero is the lowest possible overall score, 10 is the highest. Data for the indicators were drawn from a number of sources, including the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws, NCIPC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Alliance of States with Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, the National Conference of State Legislators, the Network for Public Health Law, the Kaiser Family Foundation and a review of current state legislation and regulations by TFAH. In August 2013, state health departments were provided with opportunity to review and revise their information.

10 out of 10: New Mexico and Vermont

9 out of 10: Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York and Washington

8 out of 10: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island and West Virginia

7 out of 10: Florida, Nevada, New Jersey, Tennessee and Virginia

6 out of 10: Arkansas, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, Texas and Utah

5 out of 10: Alaska, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire and South Carolina

4 out of 10: Alabama, Arizona, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Wyoming

3 out of 10: Missouri and Nebraska

2 out of 10: South Dakota

STATE-BY-STATE DRUG OVERDOSE MORTALITY RANKINGS

Note: Rates include total drug overdose mortality rates, the majority of which are from prescription drugs. 1 = Highest rate of drug overdose fatalities, 51 = lowest rate of drug overdose fatalities. Rankings are based on data from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, WONDER Online Database, 2010. The numbers are based on the number of people per 100,000.

1. West Virginia**** (28.9); 2. New Mexico (23.8); 3. Kentucky**** (23.6); 4. Nevada (20.7); 5. Oklahoma*** (19.4); 6. Arizona (17.5); 7. Missouri*** (17); 8. (tie) Tennessee** and Utah (16.9); 10. Delaware** (16.6); 11. Florida** (16.4); 12. Ohio*** (16.1); 13. Rhode Island** (15.5); 14. Pennsylvania (15.3); 15. Wyoming*** (15); 16. South Carolina*** (14.6); 17. Indiana**** (14.4); 18. Michigan*** (13.9); 19. Louisiana*** (13.2); 20. Washington (13.1); 21. (tie) District of Columbia and Montana** and Oregon** (12.9); 24. Colorado (12.7); 25. Arkansas** (12.5); 26. (tie) Alabama*** and Idaho** and New Hampshire** (11.8); 29. Alaska (11.6); 30. (tie) Mississippi***and North Carolina** (11.4); 32. (tie) Maryland and Massachusetts (11); 34. (tie) Hawaii and Wisconsin** (10.9); 36. Georgia*** (10.7); 37. California (10.6); 38. Maine (10.4); 39. Connecticut (10.1); 40. Illinois (10); 41. New Jersey (9.8); 42. Vermont** (9.7); 43. (tie) Kansas** and Texas (9.6); 45. Iowa**** (8.6); 46. New York (7.8); 47. Minnesota** (7.3); 48. Virginia (6.8); 49. Nebraska** (6.7); 50. South Dakota (6.3); 51. North Dakota (3.4).

** Drug Overdose Mortality Rates doubled from 1999 to 2010

*** Drug Overdose Mortality Rates tripled from 1999 to 2010

**** Drug Overdose Mortality Rates quadrupled from 1999 to 2010

Trust for America’s Health is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make diseaseprevention a national priority. For more information, visit www.healthyamericans.org.

 

 

October 21, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] If Gun Violence is a Health Epidemic, Can We Quarantine It Like a Virus?

By MIKE R. WEISSER at the 20 October 2013 post at The HealthCare Blog

At least two-thirds of the perpetrators and victims of gun violence are males under the age of 30. What else do they have in common? They live in neighborhoods with high crime rates and low family incomes, they knew each other before the violence broke out, they usually aren’t employed.

But there’s another commonality these young people share which isn’t often mentioned in discussions about gun violence and crime.

It turns out that the part of the brain that controls processing of information about impulse, desire, goals, self-interest, rules and risk develops latest and probably isn’t fully formed until the mid-20s or later. And while adolescents and young men understand the concepts of ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ as well as older adults, they tend to let peer pressures rather than expected outcomes guide their behavior when choosing between risks and rewards.

Take this neurological-behavioral profile of males between ages 15 to 30 and stick a gun in their hands. The brain research clearly demonstrates that kids and young adults walking around with guns understand the risks involved. Whether it’s the NSSF’s new Project ChildSafe, the NRA’s Eddie Eagle or the grassroots gun safety programs that have expanded since Sandy Hook, nobody’s telling the kids something they don’t already know.

So what can we do to mitigate what President Obama calls this ‘epidemic’ of gun violence when the population most at risk consciously chooses to ignore the risk? I suggest that we look at what communities have done to protect themselves from other kinds of epidemics that threatened public health in the past.

And the most effective method has been to quarantine, or isolate, the area or population where the threat is most extreme. It worked in 14th-century Italy, according to Boccaccio in The Decameron. Why wouldn’t it work now?

Last month the city of Springfield, Mass., recorded its 12th gun homicide. If the killing rate continues, the city might hit 15 shooting fatalities this year, a number it actually surpassed in 2010. This gives the city a homicide rate of 10.2 per 100,000 residents, nearly three times the national rate. Virtually all the violence takes place in two specific neighborhoods bounded by Interstate 291 and State Route 83, and all the victims are between 15 and 30 years old.

This area of less than four square miles contains roughly 30,000 residents which means the homicide rate here is 45 per 100,000, more than 10 times the national rate. And the numbers haven’t really changed in the last four or five years. This isn’t an epidemic?

Don’t get me wrong. The word ‘quarantine’ evokes images of the Warsaw Ghetto and I’m not proposing anything like that. But think of police in this neighborhood behaving like public health workers; going door to door, asking people what they know about the existence of guns. There are no constitutional issues here; someone doesn’t want to answer, you go on to the next door.

Wouldn’t the city send people out to make contact with residents if, for example, the water supply suddenly couldn’t be used?

There are grassroots efforts all over the country to make neighborhoods safer from guns. But they usually consist of meetings in churches and other public places where people come together to voice and share their concerns. It’s not the folks who come out to the meeting that you need to reach; it’s the ones who remain at home.

I’m suggesting that we go block by block, again and again, to make sure that people know about the epidemic called gun violence. It’s spread by a virus called guns, and as long as young men between 15 and 30 believe they are immune to the risk of this virus, the epidemic will continue to spread.

This post originally appeared in The Huffington Post.

October 21, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Safety | | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Study Reveals Shocking Amount of Mercury in Many Foods we Eat

High-fructose corn syrup for sale

High-fructose corn syrup for sale (Photo credit: Steven Vance)

 

From the 20 October 2013 post at someone somewhere – from beyond the rainbow somewhere

 

According to The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency: Mercury poses a health risk to everybody but especially to young children and fetuses because they’re still developing.  Prolonged low level exposure may cause learning disabilities by hurting the ability of children to think and read.  Adults who have been exposed to high levels of mercury may experience trembling hands and numbness or tingling in their lips, tongues, fingers, and toes.  Acute mercury poisoning especially through ingestion, can damage the brain, liver, kidneys, and even cause death.

Research published in Environmental Health and conducted in part by a scientist at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy has revealed that high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is contaminated with the toxic heavy metal mercuryHigh-fructose corn syrup is used in almost everything, it seems. A second study conducted by David Wallinga, M.D., entitled “Not So Sweet: Missing Mercury andHigh Fructose Corn Syrup” reveals that nearly one-third of all grocery items sweetened with HFCS  were contaminated with mercury

WHERE DOES ALL THE MERCURY COME FROM?

Most people don’t know how high-fructose corn syrup is really made. One of those processes is a bizarre chemical brew involving the creation of caustic soda by exposing raw materials to pools of electrified mercury in a large vat. Through this process, the caustic soda gets contaminated with mercury, and when corn kernels are exposed to this caustic soda to break them down, that contamination is passed through to the HFCS.

Another toxic chemical, glutaraldehyde, is also used in the production of HFCS. It’s so toxic that consuming even a small amount of it can burn a hole in your stomach.

…………

 

Read the entire article here

 

 

October 21, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Nutrition | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

EPA Web Tool Expands Access to Scientific, Regulatory Information on Chemicals

Environmental Protection Agency Seal

Environmental Protection Agency Seal (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

 

From the 9 September 2013 EPA press release

 

Release Date: 09/09/2013
Contact Information: Cathy Milbourn, Milbourn.cathy@epa.gov, 202-564-7849, 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched a web-based tool, called ChemView, to significantly improve access to chemical specific regulatory information developed by EPA and data submitted under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). 

“This online tool will improve access to chemical health and safety information, increase public dialogue and awareness, and help viewers choose safer ingredients used in everyday products,” said James Jones, assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “The tool will make chemical information more readily available for chemical decision-makers and consumers.”

The ChemView web tool displays key health and safety data in an online format that allows comparison of chemicals by use and by health or environmental effects. The search tool combines available TSCA information and provides streamlined access to EPA assessments, hazard characterizations, and information on safer chemical ingredients. Additionally, the new web tool allows searches by chemical name or Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) number, use, hazard effect, or regulatory action. It has the flexibility to create tailored views of the information on individual chemicals or compare multiple chemicals sorted by use, hazard effect or other criteria. The new portal will also link to information on manufacturing, processing, use, and release data reported under the Chemical Data Reporting Rule, and the Toxics Release Inventory. 

In the months ahead, EPA will be continuously adding additional chemicals, functionality and links. When fully updated, the web tool will contain data for thousands of chemicals. EPA has incorporated stakeholder input into the design, and welcomes feedback on the current site.

By increasing health and safety information, as well as identifying safer chemical ingredients, manufacturers and retailers will have the information to better differentiate their products by using safer ingredients. 

In 2010, EPA began a concerted effort to increase the availability of information on chemicals as part of a commitment to strengthen the existing chemicals program and improve access and usefulness of chemical data and information. This included improving access to the TSCA inventory, issuing new policies for the review of confidential business information claims for health and safety studies, and launching the Chemical Data Access Tool. Today’s launch of the ChemView provides the public with a single access point for information that has been generated on certain chemicals regulated under TSCA.

View and search ChemView: http://www.epa.gov/chemview

 

 

 

October 15, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Tutorials/Finding aids, Workplace Health | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Mobility shoes’ take a load off for knee osteoarthritis sufferers

In memory of my mother-in-law who had severe osteoarthritis…

From the 8 October 2013 EurekAlert

(CHICAGO) – The results of a new study by bone and joint experts at Rush University Medical Center suggest that patients with knee osteoarthritis (OA) who wear flat, flexible footwear, which allows natural foot mobility and provide sufficient support for the foot, had significant reduction in knee loading—the force placed upon the joint during daily activities.

Findings from the study were published in an issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR).

The research led by Dr. Najia Shakoor, a rheumatologist at Rush, shows that long term use of the such footwear, called “mobility shoes,” helped OA patients adapt their gait or how they walk, which improved knee loading, even when the mobility shoes were no longer worn.

In previous studies, Shakoor and colleagues from Rush found that walking barefoot as well as with ‘mobility shoes,’ which are designed to mimic barefoot mechanics, was linked to reduced knee loading compared to when walking with regular footwear worn by participants. However, the authors thought the long-term effects of the specialized footwear need further studying.

“There is much interest in biomechanical interventions, such as orthotic inserts, knee braces, and footwear that aim to improve pain and delay OA progression by decreasing impact on joints,” said Shakoor, the principal investigator of the study who is also an associate professor in the department of internal medicine at Rush. “In the present study, we expand understanding of our earlier research by evaluating the impact of the mobility footwear on gait after six months of use.”

More than 27 million Americans over the age of 25 have some form of OA, which causes painful swelling and stiffness in the hand, foot, knee or hip joints. According to existing research, doctor-diagnosed arthritis will swell to 67 million U.S. adults by 2030. Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 16% of adults 45 years of age and older are burdened with symptomatic knee OA.

The Rush team recruited 16 participants with knee OA, obtaining a baseline gait with participants walking in their own shoes, mobility shoes and barefoot. Participants wore the mobility shoes for six hours each day for six days per week and patient gait was evaluated at 6, 12 and 24 weeks in all conditions.

Findings suggest that by 24 weeks, participants wearing mobility footwear saw an 18 percent reduction in knee adduction moment (KAM), which is the load on the inner or medial aspect of the knee when walking compared to baseline knee loading in their own footwear. This is where most people develop knee OA.

No significant difference in KAM was found between walking with mobility shoes and barefoot. Compared to baseline, analyses indicate an 11 percent and 10 percent reduction in KAM for OA patients walking in their own shoes and barefoot, respectively, suggesting the mobility shoes may have “re-trained” participant’s gait.

“Patients with OA who use flat, flexible footwear may experience a significant reduction in knee loading with continued use,” said Shakoor. “Our investigation provides evidence that footwear choice may be an important consideration in managing knee OA.

 

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The Rush research team involved in the study includes Roy H. Lidtke, Markus A. Wimmer, Rachel A. Mikolaitis, Kharma C. Foucher, Laura E. Thorp, Louis F. Fogg and Joel A. Block.

Please note: Based on the study results, a patented shoe design called X-Sole Relief Technology in Flex-OA has been developed by Dr. Comfort. The shoe has been available on the market since January 2013.

 

 

October 14, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Food Allergics Beware: Herbal Products May Contain Surprise Ingredients Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2013/10/12/food-allergics-beware-herbal-products-may-contain-surprise-ingredients/#ixzz2hge0IfdB

From the 12 October 2013 article at Time- Health and Family

New research for the University of Guelph shows that the majority of herbal products on the market contain ingredients that are not listed on their labels.

The study, published in the journal BMC Medicine, used DNA barcoding technology to assess the components of 44 herbal products from 12 companies. They found that 60% of the products contained plant species that were not listed on the label, and 20% used fillers like rice, soybeans, and wheat which were also not divulged on the bottles.

For instance, products sold as St. John’s wort supplement, which is sometimes used to treat depression, contained Senna alexandrina, which is a plant that spurs laxative symptoms. Other products contained Parthenium hysterophorus (feverfew), which is known to cause swelling and mouth numbness. One ginkgo product contained Juglans nigra (black walnut), which should not be consumed by people with nut allergies — but this warning was not noted on the label.

“It’s common practice in natural products to use fillers such as these, which are mixed with active ingredients. But a consumer has a right to see all of the plant species used in producing a natural product on the list of ingredients,” lead author Steven Newmaster, an integrative biology professor at the Guelph-based Biodiversity Institute of Ontario said in a statement.

Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2013/10/12/food-allergics-beware-herbal-products-may-contain-surprise-ingredients/#ixzz2hgeN2Srs

 

 

October 14, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Partial Reblog] What Should NOT Be in Your Medicine Cabinet

 

Screen Shot 2013-10-12 at 5.57.07 AM

From the 4 October 2013 post at Straight, No Chaser by Dr. Sterling

Ever notice that people run straight to the medicine cabinet to do harm to themselves or others? I want you to know the harder the effort is to obtain items to hurt oneself, the less likely one is to follow through on the notion. On another related note, here’s a quick not-so-fun-but-interesting fact. One of the differences between America and say, certain European countries is the oversized influence of corporations in the States. Why am I talking about that on a medical blog? Read on. If you can’t tell where I’m going with this, you’ll get it pretty quickly.

Here’s my top five items I want you to take out your medicine cabinets and lock up.

1. Any jumbo sized container of any medication. Think about two of the most common over the counter (OTC) medications used for suicide attempts: acetaminophen (Tylenol) and salicylate (aspirin). One thing they have in common is you can buy what amounts to a tub-full of it at your local superstore in the United States. They should call these things ‘suicide quantities’, because often those in the midst of a suicide attempt will grab and swallow whatever is convenient. Many different medications will hurt you if you take enough; Tylenol and aspirin certainly fit that bill. Observing that (and additional considerations after the deaths due to the lacing of Tylenol with cyanide back in 1983), the Brits decided to not only pass a law limiting quantities, but certain medications that are high-frequency and high-risk for suicide use are now mandatorily dispensed in those annoying containers that you have to pop through the plastic container. Needless to say, observed suicide rates by medication rates plummeted as a result. Wonder why that hasn’t been implemented in the good ol’ USA?

2. Have teens in your house? Lock up the Robitussin and NyQuil.

Read the entire article here

October 12, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Arithmetic of Gun Control

From the 26 July 2013 Science Daily article

Aiming to quell heated national debate about gun control with factual answers, two UC Irvine mathematicians have designed parameters to measure how to best prevent both one-on-one killings and mass shootings in the United States. Their paper appears Friday in the journal PLOS ONE.

“It’s time to bring a scientific framework to this problem,” said lead author Dominik Wodarz, a mathematical biologist who works on disease and evolutionary dynamics. His co-author and wife, Natalia Komarova, a mathematician who studies biomedical and social trends, added: “Can we design a rational way to argue about guns?”

Both were appalled not just by the December shooting deaths of 20 youngsters and eight adults in Newtown, Conn., but also by the bitterly emotional dispute over weapons that erupted anew. They decided to put their professional expertise to work.

“This debate cannot be settled satisfactorily by verbal arguments alone, since these are often driven by opinion and lack a solid scientific backing,” the authors write. “What is under debate is essentially an epidemiological problem: How do different gun control strategies affect the rate at which people become killed by attackers, and how can this rate be minimized?”

The duo reviewed available data stretching as far back as World War I, then drew up equations to compute whether policies ranging from a total firearm ban to “arm everyone” increase or decrease homicides. After running the numbers, they found that in more common domestic and one-on-one crimes, reduced legal gun availability — if properly enforced — is likelier to lower deaths. But in rare mass shootings, armed citizens might save lives if sufficiently trained to avoid accidentally shooting fleeing bystanders.

Read entire article here

 

July 27, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Safety, statistics | | Leave a comment

[Repost] Profile of likely e-mail phishing victims emerges in human factors/ergonomics research

An example of a phishing e-mail, disguised as ...

An example of a phishing e-mail, disguised as an official e-mail from a (fictional) bank. The sender is attempting to trick the recipient into revealing confidential information by “confirming” it at the phisher’s website. Note the misspelling of the words received and discrepancy. Also note that although the URL of the bank’s webpage appears to be legitimate, the hyperlink would actually be pointed at the phisher’s webpage. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 24 July 2013 EurekAlert

 

The author of a paper to be presented at the upcoming 2013 International Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting has described behavioral, cognitive, and perceptual attributes of e-mail users who are vulnerable to phishing attacks. Phishing is the use of fraudulent e-mail correspondence to obtain passwords and credit card information, or to send viruses.

In “Keeping Up With the Joneses: Assessing Phishing Susceptibility in an E-mail Task,” Kyung Wha Hong discovered that people who were overconfident, introverted, or women were less able to accurately distinguish between legitimate and phishing e-mails. She had participants complete a personality survey and then asked them to scan through both legitimate and phishing e-mails and either delete suspicious or spam e-mails, leave legitimate e-mails as is, or mark e-mails that required actions or responses as “important.”

“The results showed a disconnect between confidence and actual skill, as the majority of participants were not only susceptible to attacks but also overconfident in their ability to protect themselves,” says Hong. Although 89% of the participants indicted they were confident in their ability to identify malicious e-mails, 92% of them misclassified phishing e-mails. Almost 52% in the study misclassified more than half the phishing e-mails, and 54% deleted at least one authentic e-mail.

Gender, trust, and personality were correlated with phishing vulnerability. Women were less likely than men to correctly label phishing e-mails, and subjects who self-reported as “less trusting, introverts, or less open to new experiences” were more likely to delete legitimate e-mails.

Hong will continue to develop a user profile that can predict when and with whom phishing attacks are likely to be successful. Information gained in these studies will be used to design effective tools to prevent and combat phishing attacks.

 

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To receive an advance copy of the paper for media reporting purposes, or for questions about the 2013 International Annual Meeting, contact HFES Communications Director Lois Smith (310/394-1811; lois@hfes.org).

The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society is the world’s largest nonprofit individual-member, multidisciplinary scientific association for human factors/ergonomics professionals, with more than 4,600 members globally. HFES members include psychologists and other scientists, designers, and engineers, all of who have a common interest in designing systems and equipment to be safe and effective for the people who operate and maintain them.

“Human Factors and Ergonomics: People-Friendly Design Through Science and Engineering”

 

 

 

 

 

July 26, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Safety | , , , | Leave a comment

2013 World Drug Report: stability in use of traditional drugs, alarming rise in new psychoactive substances

From the summary at Full Text Reports

 

2013 World Drug Report: stability in use of traditional drugs, alarming rise in new psychoactive substances
Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

The 2013 World Drug Report released today in Vienna shows that, while the use of traditional drugs such as heroin and cocaine seems to be declining in some parts of the world, prescription drug abuse and new psychoactive substance [NPS]

An arrangement of psychoactive drugs

An arrangement of psychoactive drugs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

abuse is growing. In a special high-level event of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov urged concerted action to prevent the manufacture, trafficking and abuse of these substances.

Marketed as ‘legal highs’ and ‘designer drugs’, NPS are proliferating at an unprecedented rate and posing unforeseen public health challenges. The report shows that the number of NPS reported to UNODC rose from 166 at the end of 2009 to 251 by mid-2012, an increase of more than 50 per cent. For the first time, the number of NPS exceeded the total number of substances under international control (234). Since new harmful substances have been emerging with unfailing regularity on the drug scene, the international drug control system is now challenged by the speed and creativity of the NPS phenomenon.

This is an alarming drug problem – but the drugs are legal. Sold openly, including via the internet, NPS, which have not been tested for safety, can be far more dangerous than traditional drugs. Street names, such as “spice”, “meow-meow” and “bath salts” mislead young people into believing that they are indulging in low-risk fun. Given the almost infinite scope to alter the chemical structure of NPS, new formulations are outpacing efforts to impose international control. While law enforcement lags behind, criminals have been quick to tap into this lucrative market. The adverse effects and addictive potential of most of these uncontrolled substances are at best poorly understood.

The global picture for the use of traditional drugs such as heroin and cocaine shows some stability. In Europe, heroin use seems to be declining. Meanwhile, the cocaine market seems to be expanding in South America and in the emerging economies in Asia. Use of opiates (heroin and opium), on the other hand, remains stable (around 16 million people, or 0.4 per cent of the population aged 15-64), although a high prevalence of opiate use has been reported from South-West and Central Asia, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe and North America.

 

 

 

 

July 19, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, statistics | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How to Survive a Heat Wave

Originally posted on Health & Family:

It’s July, and it’s hot. But with parts of the country expected to swelter under triple digit temperatures, public health officials say it’s important to heed the heat.

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July 17, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | | Leave a comment

The U.S. Health Disadvantage – Part 2: Possible Causes and Solutions

Originally posted on :

by Kirsten Hartil 

“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care.”

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Reference: Mokdad AH, Marks JS, Stroup DF, Gerberding JL (March 2004). “Actual causes of death in the United States, 2000″. JAMA 291 (10): 1238–45. DOI:10.1001/jama.291.10.1238. PMID 15010446.

At least according to Article 25 of The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, so why does the United States, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, have some of the poorest health outcomes compared to other high income countries?

My previous blog, adapted from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report U.S. Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health, described how the U.S. compares in causes of mortality and years of life lost with other high income and OECD countries. Here, as outlined in the report, I…

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July 14, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Health Statistics, Public Health, statistics | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Contagion of violence

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

ContagionThe National Academies Press has published a book, Contagion of Violence:  A Workshop Summary, based on a 2012 workshop.

The past 25 years have seen a major paradigm shift in the field of violence prevention, from the assumption that violence is inevitable to the recognition that violence is preventable. Part of this shift has occurred in thinking about why violence occurs, and where intervention points might lie. In exploring the occurrence of violence, researchers have recognized the tendency for violent acts to cluster, to spread from place to place, and to mutate from one type to another. Furthermore, violent acts are often preceded or followed by other violent acts.

In the field of public health, such a process has also been seen in the infectious disease model, in which an agent or vector initiates a specific biological pathway leading to symptoms of disease and infectivity. The agent transmits from individual to…

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March 22, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Safety | , , , | Leave a comment

Why is Hospice Still A Tough Call–Even for People Who Know?

Originally posted on As Our Parents Age:

Check out this fact sheet

Check out this hospice fact sheet.

When a person is approaching the end of life, we can find no easy answers, no solution that fits every person’s or family’s situation, even when they know a lot about the options available to them.

To illustrate this you will want to read For Hospice Pioneer, Still a Tough Call, by Paula Span at the New York Times New Old Age Blog. She describes the end-of-life period for Paul Brenner, age 73, who spend years organizing and leading hospice organizations around the country. Despite all of this experience, it was still challenging for Mr. Brenner and for his family to engage with hospice.

Over and over I hear from friends and acquaintances how a loved one uses hospice for the last several days or perhaps a week at the end of life, and I am sometimes puzzled about how difficult it…

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March 22, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

New Database Reveals Thousands of Hospital Violation Reports New Database Reveals Thousands of Hospital Violation Reports

Hospital

Hospital (Photo credit: Ralf Heß)

 

From the March 20, 2013 State Line article

 

Hospitals make mistakes, sometimes deadly mistakes.  A patient may get the wrong medication or even undergo surgery intended for another person.  When errors like these are reported, state and federal officials inspect the hospital in question and file a detailed report.

Now, for the first time, this vital information on the quality and safety of the nation’s hospitals has been made available to the public online.

A new website, www.hospitalinspections.org, includes detailed reports of hospital violations dating back to January 2011, searchable by city, state, name of the hospital and key word.  Previously, these reports were filed with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), and released only through a Freedom of Information Act request, an arduous, time-consuming process.  Even then, the reports were provided in paper format only, making them cumbersome to analyze.

Release of this critical electronic information by CMS is the result of years of advocacy by the Association of Health Care Journalists, with funding from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.  The new database makes full inspection reports for acute care hospitals and rural critical access hospitals instantly available to journalists and consumers interested in the quality of their local hospitals.

The database also reveals national trends in hospital errors. For example, key word searches yield the incidence of certain violations across all hospitals.  A search on the word “abuse,” for example, yields 862 violations at 204 hospitals since 2011. …

 

 

March 20, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Finding Aids/Directories, health AND statistics, Health Statistics, Librarian Resources | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why is road safety in the U.S. not on par with Sweden, the U.K., and the Netherlands? Lessons to be learned

From the 6 February 2013 summary at Full Text Reports

Source: University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute

This study compared road safety and related factors in the U.S. with those in Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, in order to identify actions most likely to produce casualty reductions in the U.S. The reviewed topics were basic country statistics, road fatalities and various fatality rates, national road-safety strategies, and selected road-safety issues. The main differences concerned structural and cultural factors (such as vehicle distance driven), and procedural factors (such as road-safety strategies and targets, alcohol-impaired driving, exceeding speed limits, and use of seat belts). The main recommendations for improving road safety in the U.S. are as follows: (1) lower states’ BAC limits to 0.5 g/l and introduce effective random breath testing, (2) reexamine the current speed-limit policies and improve speed enforcement, (3) implement primary seat-belt-wearing laws in each state that would cover both front and rear occupants, and reward vehicle manufacturers for installation of advanced seat-belt reminders, (4) reconsider road-safety target setting so that the focus is on reducing fatalities and not on reducing fatality rate per distance driven, and (5) consider new strategies to reduce vehicle distance driven.

 

February 8, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Safety | , , , | 1 Comment

2011 EPA Toxic Release Inventory is releaed

From the EPA Web page

The TRI National Analysis is an annual report that provides EPA’s analysis and interpretation of the most recent TRI data. It includes information about toxic chemical releases to the environment from facilities that report to the TRI Program. It also includes information about how toxic chemicals are managed through recycling, treatment and energy recovery, and how facilities are working to reduce the amount of toxic chemicals generated and released.

WASHINGTON – Total toxic air releases in 2011 declined 8 percent from 2010, mostly because of decreases in hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions, even while total releases of toxic chemicals increased for the second year in a row, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) annual Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) report published today.

The annual TRI provides citizens with vital information about their communities. The TRI program collects information on certain toxic chemical releases to the air, water and land, as well as information on waste management and pollution prevention activities by facilities across the country. TRI data are submitted annually to EPA, states and tribes by facilities in industry sectors such as manufacturing, metal mining, electric utilities, and commercial hazardous waste facilities.

What’s new in the National Analysis this year?

  • An investigation into declining air releases;
  • More information about pollution prevention activities conducted at TRI facilities;
  • Updated risk information;
  • Enhanced Indian Country and Alaska Native Villages (ANVs) analysis.

What tools are available to help me conduct my own analysis?

A variety of online tools are available to help you access and analyze TRI data. When using TRI data, you may also want to explore the other data sources and information listed on the TRI Data and Tools webpage.

Where can I get downloadable files containing the data used in the 2011 National Analysis?

  • Basic Data Files : Each file contains the most commonly requested data fields submitted by facilities on the TRI Reporting Form R or the Form A Certification Statement.
  • Basic Plus Data Files : These files collectively contain all the data fields submitted by facilities on the TRI Reporting Form R or the Form A Certification Statement.
  • Dioxin, Dioxin-Like Compounds and TEQ Data Files : These files include the individually reported mass quantity data for dioxin and dioxin-like compounds reported on the TRI Reporting Form R Schedule 1, along with the associated TEQ data.

January 18, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Librarian Resources, Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Phone Scam About Personal Safety Devices

[Reblog from the 16 January 2013 post at As Our Parents Age]

It appears that seniors are receiving phone calls that attempt to scare them into making personal safety device purchases with a credit card, and it feels like a scam. I received one yesterday on my mobile phone.

scamAn urgent voice asks for a senior citizen noting that break-ins, robbers, medical emergencies or falls are scary and a free solution will make them safer. Moreover, the voice offers a solution that’s supported or endorsed by the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, and the National Institute on Aging — three well-known and reputable organizations. To learn how to protect myself from all of these terrible problems the voice asks me to hit a number on my phone.

Well I am not a senior — yet — but I know a fair amount about media literacy, and I’ve spent countless hours telling my parents, my husband’s parents, and various other family members and friends, to hang up when they receive these urgent telephone calls asking them to make a purchase. However … I didn’t hang up because I was too intrigued. I pressed number one.

Next a reassuring woman’s voice explains that the Senior Emergency Care company – with a AAA rating from the Better Business Bureau and endorsements from all of the above organizations — is offering me free equipment and free registration and shipping — equipment that will help me avoid or prevent scary life situations such as crime and health emergencies. The personal safety device that she is selling would, she told me, can be worn around my neck and will make me feel and be safer.

The woman continues the call by explaining how the devices helps by calling emergency responders in any of those worrisome situations, and if I am wearing it I  will also receive a wellness check phone call once a day. While the equipment is free, she said, a monthly fee of 34.95 will pay the people who respond to the emergencies and make the wellness calls. She wanted me to buy my device right then and there and even put a little pressure on me to give her my credit card. I declined. I told the woman I would think about it and also talk with my parents, and I hung up.

Then I Googled Senior Emergency Care, the name she gave me when I asked about the company’s identity, I could not find it. But I did find this story about this phone pitch, Warning Over Personal Safety Systems Pitch, in the December 21, 2012  Milwaukee (Wisconsin) Journal Sentinel. So I also did a quick check of the Better Business Bureau, but could not find the company.

Sounds like a scam to me.

Personal safety devices are available through hospitals, through a variety of senior organization — in fact you can even purchase them at Costco.  Make sure that your family and friends purchase personal safety devices are from a trusted source and not from a cold phone call.

Feel free to share my description with other people who might be interested.

 

If you receive this call you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or your state fraud protection agencies.

 

January 18, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Safety | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] Finding the Truth About Guns

[Reblog] Finding the Truth About Guns.  Posted by January 15, 2013

Not sure what to believe in the debate on public safety and guns?

On one side, you have the NRA, many Republicans, and conservative pundits / newscasters.  Their central claim is that more guns in the hands of responsible, hard-working citizens is a deterrent to criminals and as a result there is less violent crime and less overall crime.  They argue that an individual has the right to defend themself and their family from violent criminals.  This view is anchored by the perception of natural rights as well their interpretation of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution.

Wayne LaPierre, a prominent NRA official, said that a reason there has been mass shootings in schools, for instance, is that the government created and designated them as gun-free zones which make them easy targets for those that wish to create the most destruction with the least risk.  He went as far as say that we are “advertising them as killing zones” recently in response the tragedy in Newton.

It is often stated that though gun violence and gun homicides are less in the UK, where guns are not legal,but that their violent crime rate is considerably higher than ours in the US.  In fact, it has been recently reported that the UK is the violent crime capital of Europe.

“The worst violent crime and murder rates in America occur in places with the strictest gun control already in places(like) Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, and Washington D.C. Strict gun control clearly does not work…The FBI reports 386 violent crimes per 100,000 in the USA. The UK Home Office reports 1,361 violent crimes per 100,000 in England. Gun control may be a failure, but the UK experience proves that outright gun bans are an unmitigated disaster.” Wayne Allyn Root (W.A.R) is a former Presidential candidate, the 2008 Libertarian Vice Presidential nominee, and a Tea Party favorite. Link

President Obama, most Democrats, university professors / researchers, and their pundits / newscasters as well as many mayors and police chiefs share the view that more guns equals more violent crime.  They say the statistics of gun homicides and violent crimes is extremely higher in the US compared with the UK and other similar countries and states with strict gun enforcement.

The difference on violent crime data comes from what is considered a violent crime.  Burglary, domestic violence, even bicycle theft are classified as a violent crimes in  the UK.  The US classifies violent crime using four categories  Murder, rape, robbery(by force, threat of force, or violence), and aggravated assault.

Here is the comparison:

U.S. 2009 robbery rate: 133 per 100,000.

U.K. 2009 robbery rate: 164 per 100,000.

U.S. 2009 burglary rate: 716.3 per 100,000

U.K. 2009 burglary rate: 523 per 100,000.

And in the U.S., you were nearly four times as likely to be murdered:

U.S. 2009 murder rate: 5 per 100,000.

U.K. 2009 murder rate: 1.49 per 100,000

The truth is that violent crime is much higher in the US than in the UK.  There are more murders and rapes in the US compared with the UK. Bottom line is that you, your family, your neighbors, and your friends are considerably more likely to be murdered or raped in the US than in any other comparable country, including the UK.

Does having a gun for protection make you safer?

According to the American Journal of Public Health, Investigating the Link Between Gun Possession and Gun Assault, “individuals in possession of a gun were 4.46 (P < .05) times more likely to be shot in an assault than those not in possession. Among gun assaults where the victim had at least some chance to resist, this adjusted odds ratio increased to 5.45 (P < .05) more likely to be shot. Read More.  You are nearly five times more likely to be shot if you have a gun during an assault than if you do not.

What about the claim that the worst violent crime and murders occur in cities and States with the strictest gun control laws?

Harvard Injury Control Research Center

  • Across states, more guns = more homicide

From Harvard School of Public Health: “Using a validated proxy for firearm ownership, we analyzed the relationship between firearm availability and homicide across 50 states over a ten-year period (1988-1997).  After controlling for poverty and urbanization, for every age group, people in states with many guns have elevated rates of homicide, particularly firearm homicide…Children in states with many guns have elevated rates of unintentional gun deaths, suicide and homicide.  The state rates of non-firearm suicide and non-firearm homicide among children are not related to firearm availability”

  • Where there are more guns there is more homicide  
  • Guns are not used millions of times each year in self-defense  ”false positive”  

“We find that the claim of many millions of annual self-defense gun uses by American citizens is invalid.”

  •  Gun ownership creates external psychic costs.  

By a margin of more than 3 to 1, Americans would feel less safe, not safer, as others in their community acquire guns

What about arming teachers and custodians with guns?

Columbine High School and Virginia Tech were protected by armed guards prior to two of the deadliest attacks at education institutions in U.S. history.

Family members of the victims in recent shootings are taking a stand against the NRA and are urging law makers to take meaningful action to reduce and limit the amount and type of guns that are currently legally available.

‘“It’s different now because children are being butchered in schools,’ said Dave Hoover, a police officer in Lakewood, Colo., whose nephew A.J. Boik was one of the 12 people killed in Aurora. ‘Because kids were killed at a movie. Because families went to church and were gunned down.”’

He added: “I don’t understand why we are even arguing about this.”

I could not find any studies that show there is a positive correlation to the amount of guns and the safety of the residents.  Not saying they don’t excises but where are they? This letter from 100 public health researchers may offer a clue:  The Letter https://crimelab.uchicago.edu/sites/crimelab.uchicago.edu/files/uploads/Biden%20Commission%20letter_20130110_final.pdf

What are your views?  Please share.

 

January 16, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Safety | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Free Webcast] Evidence for Violence Prevention Across the Lifespan and Around the World-A Workshop

Found this while “surfing” the Institute of Medicine Web page (the primary source for an article in one of my RSS feeds).
I think I share a concern with gun violence with many of you dear readers.There has to be a better way to prevent gun violence than simply arming more folks. For example, a school system to the west of my hometown of Toledo, OH believes arming its janitors will curb violence. (Montpelier schools OKs armed janitors***). My gut reaction? If I had children in the school I would  pull them out. Homeschool them if there were no other ways to educate them. And if the teachers were armed? Same reaction.

Meanwhile I’m going to be participating in a [local] Community Committee Against Gun Violence (MoveOn.org). For the past several years I’ve been very concerned about gun violence. Time to start to do something…hopefully not too late.

Yes, this webcast might be viewed as just another talking heads exercise. I am hoping some good will come out of it. If nothing else, keep a conversation alive on how to address prevention of violence through nonviolence.

Here’s some information about the Webcast directly from the Institute of Medicine web site

Evidence for Violence Prevention Across the Lifespan and Around the World-A Workshop

When: January 23, 2013 – January 24, 2013 (8:00 AM Eastern)
Where: Keck Center (Keck 100) • 500 Fifth St. NW, Washington, DC 20001 Map
Topics: Global HealthChildren, Youth and FamiliesSubstance Abuse and Mental HealthPublic Health
Activity: Forum on Global Violence Prevention
Boards: Board on Global HealthBoard on Children, Youth, and Families

This workshop will be webcast. Register to attend in-person or register to watch the webcast.

  [My note...registration is now closed for in-person attendance, they've reached seating capacity]

Evidence shows that violence is not inevitable, and that it can be prevented. Successful violence prevention programs exist around the world, but a comprehensive approach is needed to systematically apply such programs to this problem.  As the global community recognizes the connection between violence and failure to achieve health and development goals, such an approach could more effectively inform policies and funding priorities locally, nationally, and globally.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) will convene a 2-day workshop to explore the evidentiary basis for violence prevention across the lifespan and around the world. The public workshop will be organized and conducted by an ad hoc committee to examine: 1) What is the need for an evidence-based approach to violence prevention across the world? 2) What are the conceptual and evidentiary bases for establishing what works in violence prevention? 3) What violence prevention interventions have been proven to reduce different types of violence (e.g., child and elder abuse, intimate partner and sexual violence, youth and collective violence, and self-directed violence)?  4) What are common approaches most lacking in evidentiary support? and 5) How can demonstrably effective interventions be adapted, adopted, linked, and scaled up in different cultural contexts around the world?

The committee will develop the workshop agenda, select and invite speakers and discussants, and moderate the discussions. Experts will be drawn from the public and private sectors as well as from academic organizations to allow for multi-lateral discussions. Following the conclusion of the workshop, an individually-authored summary of the event will be prepared by a designated rapporteur.

 

*** I did respond to the newspaper article. The response is online. I am expecting some rather strong responses, perhaps about how naive I am (sigh).

“Now I know, more than ever, that I have to get more involved in addressing violence through nonviolent means. For starters, am going to get better prepared for a nonviolent workshop our Pax Christi USA section is sponsoring next month. Also am going to do my best to follow through with a local Community Committee Against Gun Violence (http://civic.moveon.org/event/events/index.html?rc=homepage&action_id=302). Guess it’s time to be part of the solution…these two events are steps that are challenging, don’t solve things overnight, but in my heart of hearts…I feel called to participate in actions like these….(am thanking teachers here, esp those at St. Catherine’s(1960-1969) and Central Catholic (1969-1973).”

 

January 11, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Safety, Educational Resources (Elementary School/High School), Educational Resources (Health Professionals), Educational Resources (High School/Early College( | , , , , | Leave a comment

The role of alcohol in health costs

This blog post brought to mind a dear friend of mine, deceased now about 8 years. She was staying at our house, basically to get out of an abusive relationship. She had a myriad of health problems…Once I came home and she was passed out. I thought it was one of her many medical conditions that was the main factor…and somehow with the help of neighbors got her in my car and we sped to the emergency room. To make a long story short, it turned out her blood alcohol was extremely high….I know now the alcoholism not only “translated” into high medical costs for her, but also a short life.
May she rest in peace, rest in peace….

From the 6 January 2012 post by EDMUND KWOK, MD at KevinMD.com

Defined as someone “having the faculties impaired by alcohol, those of us who work in an acute healthcare facility are witness to many illustrious examples of drunk patients coming through our doors.

 

Underaged kids passed out at a house party? Yup. Raging alcoholics who are brought into the ER at least once a week? Sure. Elderly women who secretly binges on wine at home and falls down the stairs repeatedly? You betcha. What they all have in common is an apparent complete oblivion/ignorance to the source of the problem, and the associated ill effects on themselves.

Sometimes I wonder if the healthcare/political/legal system itself is “drunk”, in its own oblivion and inaction towards the impact alcohol abuse is having on our society.

The average sober Canadian would be shocked to hear of the types of alcohol-related ER visits that come through a hospital’s doors every weekend.

Empirical data supports this theory of absurd and inefficient healthcare dollar usage on alcohol abuse related hospital visits. As reported in the Recommendations for a National Alcohol Strategy published in 2007, “the economic impact of alcohol-related harm in Canada totaled $14.6B, taking into account the costs associated with lost productivity, health care, and enforcement. This amount is slightly less than the estimated cost of tobacco at $17B, but nearly double the cost attributed to illegal drugs at $8.2B”.

Anecdotal evidence reports many unnecessary ER visits where drunk patients simply take up an acute care bed for the night to sober up, eat a free breakfast in the morning and then get discharged. It is estimated that 0.6% of all U.S. ER visits are made by people who have no other problems beside being drunk, translating to over 900 million dollars just for ER visits alone….

 

 

 

January 7, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, health care | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblogged Infographic] Concussed – Masters in Health Care

Concussed | Masters in Health Care.

From Concussed at Masters in Health Care

Any sort of injury, from a little scrape to a serious bone-break, is a nuisance. But some types of injuries are far more traumatizing to deal with than others. If you or a loved one has ever had the misfortune to suffer from a concussion, you know that this particular injury can be highly painful, lingering, and difficult to deal with. Concussions can be the result of many varying accidents, and they happen more frequently than many people realize. There are 3.8 million concussions in the US every year, and many of them happen as a result of youth sports-related injuries. In the past, concussions were often dismissed to the tune of “walk it off,” and concussed individuals typically didn’t receive the proper treatment. In recent years, however, the true danger of any sort of concussion, from serious to mild, has become more widely recognized among healthcare professionals. Concussions can have a longer, more lingering effect than many people previously realized, and the legacy left by a severe concussion is something medical professionals are seeing more and more in the world of sports. A great deal of NFL players, for instance, are more aware of concussion symptoms, as well as how these symptoms may play out later in life. You may not be a head-injury prone athlete, but if you have any loved ones who are involved in contact sports, the following infographic provides helpful insight into the medical field’s growing awareness of the danger of a concussion.

 

Concussion Infographic

 

 

December 18, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , | Leave a comment

Generic Drugs Often Have Incorrect Safety Labeling, Study Suggests

English: Methylphenidate packages from several...

English: Methylphenidate packages from several german generic drug manufacturers. Deutsch: Methylphenidat-Arzneimittel diverser deutscher Generikahersteller. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 13 December 2012 article at ScienceNewsDaily

 

…The majority of generics showed relatively small differences across their labels, but nine percent showed differences of more than 10 side effects. Errors included out-of-date information, incomplete data and, in one case, information for the wrong drug altogether.

“Physicians frequently use labeling information, either directly or indirectly, to make prescribing decisions. They need to know about side effects, drug interactions and other safety issues,” said Regenstrief Institute investigator Jon Duke, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine, who led the study. “We found that generic drug labels may contain incomplete or incorrect safety information. Until this problem is resolved, physicians and patients should rely on brand drug labeling only, even when the patient is getting a generic version of a drug.”…

 

 

 

 

 

December 16, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , | Leave a comment

Got Food Allergies? You Can Now Test Your Meal On the Spot Using a Cell Phone

Looking for a good place that reviews medical apps? Try iMedicalApps. The reviews are largely for health care professionals, but patient centered apps are also included.  The forums section includes a section for medical librarians (which often includes discussions on apps for all of us).

 

From the 12 December 2012 article at Science News Daily

Left: The iTube platform, which utilizes colorimetric assays and a smart phone-based digital reader. Right: A screen capture of the iTube App. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of California – Los Angeles)

Are you allergic to peanuts and worried there might be some in that cookie? Now you can find out using a rather unlikely source: your cell phone.

A team of researchers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science has developed a lightweight device called the iTube, which attaches to a common cell phone to detect allergens in food samples. The iTube attachment uses the cell phone’s built-in camera, along with an accompanying smart-phone application that runs a test with the same high level of sensitivity a laboratory would….

To test for allergens, food samples are initially ground up and mixed in a test tube with hot water and an extraction solvent; this mixture is allowed to set for several minutes. Then, following a step-by-step procedure, the prepared sample is mixed with a series of other reactive testing liquids. The entire preparation takes roughly 20 minutes. When the sample is ready, it is measured optically for allergen concentration through the iTube platform, using the cell phone’s camera and a smart application running on the phone.

The kit digitally converts raw images from the cell-phone camera into concentration measurements detected in the food samples. And beyond just a “yes” or “no” answer as to whether allergens are present, the test can also quantify how much of an allergen is in a sample, in parts per million.

The iTube platform can test for a variety of allergens, including peanuts, almonds, eggs, gluten and hazelnuts, Ozcan said.

The UCLA team successfully tested the iTube using commercially available cookies, analyzing the samples to determine if they had any harmful amount of peanuts, a potential allergen. Their research was recently published online in the peer-reviewed journal Lab on a Chip and will be featured in a forthcoming print issue of the journal….

 

 

December 15, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Safety | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Connecticut Shootings: Now is the Time for a Debate over Gun Control

In my humble opinion, this tragedy is also a call to each of us to do what we can to improve access to good mental health care, and also for us as individuals to build community and reach out (as personally as possible) to those in need.

From the 14 December 2012 post by Darrell West  at the Brookings Blog Up Front

I understand and share President Obama’s concerns for the victims of today’s tragic school shootings in Connecticut and their families. But I am troubled byWhite House spokesman Jay Carney’s contentionthat today should not be a day to discuss the issue of gun control.

If not now, when?

It is no disservice to the victims to explore public policies that could mitigate the terrible, senseless carnage we have seen again and again across America. Movie-goers in Aurora. A congresswoman in Tucson. High school students in Columbine. And today, elementary school children in Sandy Hook. Innocents all.

Something is terribly wrong when our children are not safe in schools, when none of us is safe in a shopping mall, a cinema, a restaurant, the workplace. I don’t pretend to know the answers, but if ever it was time for a president, especially one fresh from a resounding election victory, to raise the issue for a somber, inclusive and nonpartisan public debate, this should be it. These tragedies cry out for political leadership. They should bring us closer together in resolve, not drive us further apart.

So, Mr. Carney and President Obama, we will take this day to mourn with the victims. Perhaps tomorrow, we can take action.

Editor’s Note: After the July 2012 shootings in Aurora, Colorado, Daniel Kauffman examined the connection between stronger gun control laws and decreases in gun violence. Read his analysis here »

 

December 15, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Safety | , , , | Leave a comment

Book offers 10 checklists for hospital patients / Links to related resources

As Elizabeth points out, it is important for patients and patient families to advocate for themselves.
Competent professional health care providers will welcome folks who are prepared and take an active role.
Dedicated hospital staff will not feel antagonized. They will work address concerns and questions for the patient’s benefit.

From the 2 February 2012 article at USA Today

Elizabeth Bailey learned what could go wrong in a hospital the hard way: by watching her elderly father endure a long in-patient nightmare.

It's important to keep your medications organized because drug mix-ups are among the biggest risks you face in a hospital, experts say.

It’s important to keep your medications organized because drug mix-ups are among the biggest risks you face in a hospital, experts say.

It’s important to keep your medications organized because drug mix-ups are among the biggest risks you face in a hospital, experts say.

Her dad got too much of one medicine, not enough of others and the wrong food (heavy sweets for a diabetic). One day, he went missing for six hours and, on another, he ended up in restraints on a psychiatric ward (he was suffering mental confusion from his mismanaged medications and poorly controlled blood sugar).

“There were mistakes all the time,” says Bailey, who at the time was a music video producer. “I felt like I was on a very poorly run film set.” She realized her family needed a system to handle the chaos.

Six years later, she has turned that system into a book:The Patient’s Checklist: 10 Simple Hospital Checklists to Keep You Safe, Sane & Organized. And she is no longer a video producer: Instead, at age 50, she is a graduate student in health advocacy and a patient representative at a New York City hospital.

Her mantra: “You want to go in hoping for the best, but you have to prepare — I don’t want to say for the worst — but you have to prepare for everything.”

Among her checklists:

•Before-you-go list. One tip: Organize a schedule for friends and family to be with you in the hospital. Especially crucial: having someone with you the night after a surgery (even if you must hire someone).

•What-to-bring list. Included: “economy-sized hand sanitizer.” You should plant that next to your bed so that you can frequently clean your hands — and not-so-subtly remind everyone else to do likewise. That may lower the risk that you will pick up a nasty infection.

•Daily medication log. She provides a chart to keep track of the name, timing and dosage of every drug you get. That’s because drug mix-ups are among the biggest risks you face in a hospital.

•Discharge plan. On that list: Make sure you know how to handle surgical sites, medical equipment and medications at home….

Related Resources

In her recent book, “The Patient’s Checklist: 10 Simple Hospital Checklists to Keep You Safe, Sane and Organized,” Elizabeth Bailey describes the simple steps patients can take to avoid some of the most common (and potentially deadly) medical mistakes in the hospital. The theme throughout: Pay attention, ask questions, and never assume that any hospital is error-free where your care is concerned.

Including these links

November 8, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Health Education (General Public) | , , | Leave a comment

Many Grandparent Caregivers Unaware of Newer Safety Guidelines

Child held in a car seat by a five point harness

Child held in a car seat by a five point harness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 21 October 2012 article at Science News Daily

 

The number of grandparent caregivers continues to grow, and while these older adults may be experienced in caring for young children, many are unaware of more recent safety and other recommendations — including those related to appropriate child sleep position, crib safety, car seat and walker use, according to research presented Oct. 21 at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans.

According to the 2011 American Community Survey, an estimated 2.87 million grandparents are the primary caregivers to their grandchildren — a nearly 20 percent increase since the year 2000. In the study, “Grandparent Caregiver Knowledge of Anticipatory Guidance Topics,” researchers attended regularly scheduled Grandparent/Kinship Care support groups. Forty-nine participants completed a 15-question survey that addressed common pediatric safety and anticipatory guidance topics for children of all ages.

When asked, “What is the best position for a baby to sleep in?” 33 percent of respondents chose “on the stomach;” 23 percent, “on the side;” and 43.8 percent, “the back.” The AAP recommends that infants be placed to sleep on their backs to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). When asked about correct car seat positioning, 24.5 percent responded that a 22 pound, 9 month-old child should be facing forward, and yet the AAP recommends that children remain in a rear-facing car seat until age 2….

 

 

October 23, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Safety | , , , | Leave a comment

Poison Centers Save More Than $1.8 Billion Every Year

American Association of Poison Control Centers

American Association of Poison Control Centers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On a personal note, I used one of these control centers twice in my lifetime.
The staff were knowledgable, compassionate, and succinct. Thankfully I just needed to act
on advice in both instances and there was no need for a visit to the emergency room.
This did save money!

From the 16 October 2012 press release of the American Association of Poison Control Centers

New Report Quantifies the Value of the American Poison Center System

page1image5960

ALEXANDRIA, VA – A report released today confirms the value of the American poison center system, indicating that poison centers save Americans more than $1.8 billion every year in medical costs and lost productivity, according to Rick Dart, M.D., Ph.D, past-president of the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC).

The AAPCC recently commissioned The Lewin Group to determine the value of the poison center system as a whole. The findings are detailed in the Final Report on the Value of the Poison Center System (The Lewin Group Inc., September 2012). In preparing the report, The Lewin Group reviewed existing literature regarding the impact of the poison center system on medical utilization and analyzed the value of the poison center network. The Lewin Group’s analysis included the four most commonly referenced savings metrics (savings due to avoided medical utilization, reduced hospital length of stay, in-person outreach, and reduced work-loss days).

“Even though poison centers save countless lives and more than a billion dollars each year, America’s 57 poison centers suffered a federal funding cut of 36 percent in 2011, as well as cuts in state and local funding,” Dart said. “Further reductions in funding will make it difficult for poison centers to continue to provide life-saving services. This important report shows the value poison centers bring to the nation’s health care system.”

According to the Final Report on the Value of the Poison Center System, every dollar invested in the poison center system saves $13.39 in medical costs and lost productivity, for a total savings of more than $1.8 billion every year. The report also determined that the cost to fund poison centers is 43 cents per U.S. resident per year. As the following table indicates, the savings are shared by federal, state and local governments, as well as the private sector.

page1image22192

Funding Source

Total Poison Center Funding in 2011

Estimated Medical Care Savings and Reduced Productivity Loss Per Year

Medical Care Savings and Reduced Productivity Loss Per Dollar of Funding Per Year

Federal Government

$17.1 million

$662.8 million

$38.74

State and Local Government

$83.8 million

$284.2 million

$3.39

Private

$35.1 million

$873.4 million

$24.86

Total

$136 million

$1.82 billion

page2image25480

$13.39

“Our system of 57 poison control centers is one of the most successful and cost-effective public health programs in the nation,” Dart said. “Calls to poison centers keep the vast majority of callers out of the hospital and decrease the length of stays for patients who are admitted. Poison centers save lives, protect the public’s health, and save millions of taxpayer dollars. It’s vital that policymakers and the public understand the importance of funding this essential public health service.”

The Final Report on the Value of the Poison Center System is available at http://www.aapcc.org.
For more information, the media may contact Loreeta Canton, AAPCC director of public relations and

member services, at 703.894.1863, 701.391.0626 (cell phone) or canton@aapcc.org.

October 17, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Safety, Public Health | , | Leave a comment

NIH launches free database of drugs associated with liver injury

 

From the 12 October 2012 news release

A free source of evidence-based information for health care professionals and for researchers studying liver injury associated with prescription and over-the-counter drugs, herbals, and dietary supplements is now available from the National Institutes of Health. Researchers and health care professionals can use the LiverTox database to identify basic and clinical research questions to be answered and to chart optimal ways to diagnose and control drug-induced liver injury.

Drug-induced liver injury is the leading cause of acute liver failure in the United States, accounting for at least half of cases. It occurs at all ages, in men and women, and in all races and ethnic groups. Drug-induced liver disease is more likely to occur among older adults because they tend to take more medications than younger people. Some drugs directly damage the liver, while others cause damage indirectly or by an allergic reaction. The most important element to managing drug-induced liver injury is to identify the drug that’s causing the problem and appropriate steps to eliminate or reduce damage to the liver.

“Because drug-induced liver disease is not a single, common disease, it is very difficult to diagnose, with each drug causing a somewhat different pattern of liver damage,” said Jay H. Hoofnagle, M.D., the major creator of LiverTox and director of the Liver Disease Research Branch at NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). “Doctors have to rule out all other causes of liver disease before saying that a patient has drug-induced injury liver.”

LiverTox has a searchable database of about 700 medications available in the United States by prescription or over the counter. Over the next few years, another 300 drugs will be added. The database offers these features:

  • An overview of drug-induced liver injury, including diagnostic criteria, the role of liver biopsy, descriptions of different clinical patterns and standard definitions.
  • A detailed report of each drug, including background, case study, product package insert, chemical makeup and structure, dose recommendations and references with links.
  • An interactive section, allowing users to report cases of drug-induced liver injury to the LiverTox website. Reports will be automatically forwarded to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch program. MedWatch allows the public and health care professionals to report adverse events, product defects, or product use errors. The FDA uses the information to monitor product safety.

“LiverTox is the result of a significant scientific collaboration between the national and international clinical and research communities, the NIDDK and the National Library of Medicine (NLM),” said Steven Phillips, M.D., co-sponsor of LiverTox and director of NLM’s Division of Specialized Information Services. “LiverTox demonstrates the importance of using informatics to provide easy access to evidenced-based information to clinicians and researchers that will improve the health and well-being of all and help prevent unnecessary morbidity and mortality, worldwide. I hope the dynamic LiverTox model can be used to create a new suite of databases that can identify drug-induced injury to other organs such as the heart, kidney, and lung. The National Library of Medicine is honored to be part of this significant scientific endeavor.”

 

October 15, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Finding Aids/Directories, Librarian Resources, Tutorials/Finding aids | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

One in Three Victims of Teen Dating Violence Has Had More Than One Abuser

After reading this article a few questions come to mind.
Has this kind of violence always occurred, and is only now being studied more closely in the past?
Are more people becoming increasingly desensitized to violence through depiction in the media? and being violent (including verbally) without realizing the consequences?
Should dating be discouraged in people under 16 ? Should they be encouraged to socialize with others in the younger teen years rather than date in order to learn how to communicate, respect one another, and develop as individuals?
Do people (especially girls, young women) have too high expectations of dating? Do they expect a boy or young man to fill needs best met by families/parents?

On a related note, about a year ago I was on our courthouse grounds for a few hours. I was participating in a local peace group’s display of the cost of the Iraq war. A couple walked by, and the young man (late teens/early 20’s) was pushing the young woman he was walking with and calling her names.  Although both were smiling, it seemed like it was escalating. I stepped in, not boldly, and tried to get him to stop through words. Forgot what I said. He didn’t really stop, but at least it did not get any worse.
On reflection, the relationship seemed to be based more on ownership than mutual love. So sad.

 

Excerpts From the 18 September 2012 article at Science Daily

Overall, nearly two-thirds of both men and women reported some type of abuse during their teenage years, which falls in line with other studies.

But it was surprising how many teen victims had two or more abusive partners, said Amy Bonomi, lead author of the study and associate professor of human development and family science at Ohio State University.

“For about one in three teens who were abused, it wasn’t just one bad boyfriend or girlfriend. It may have been at least the start of a trend,” Bonomi said.

The same patterns were not seen in similar population-based studies of adults, who tend to report abuse by a single partner, she said….

One argument that violence researchers often hear is that behaviors like name-calling and insults aren’t serious enough to be called abuse. But that’s not true, Bonomi said.

“Studies in adults have shown that psychological abuse alone can be damaging to health,” she said. She is currently studying whether the same is true for adolescents….

Some types of dating violence tended to occur at earlier ages than others, the study found. For females reporting dating violence, controlling behavior tended to occur early, with 44 percent reporting it between the ages of 13 and 15. For males, 13 to 15 was the most common age range for the first occurrence of put-downs and name-calling (60 percent).

Pressure to have sex was more likely to start at later ages, from 16 to 17 for women.

Bonomi said it was significant that college students were reporting this level of abuse as teens.

“There’s a common belief in our society that dating violence only affects low-income and disadvantaged teens. But these results show that even relatively privileged kids, who are on their way to college, can be victims.”

The results also call for better education in our elementary schools.

“Many of these kids are getting in relationships early, by the age of 13,” Bonomi said. “We need to help them learn about healthy relationships and how to set sexual boundaries. It shouldn’t just be one class session — it needs to be a routine discussion in school.”

  • Teen Dating Violence (politicalsocialworker.wordpress.com)
  • What’s Behind All The Violence In America Today? (fromthetrenchesworldreport.com)
    “The reality untaught in American schools and textbooks is that war — whether on a large or small scale — and domestic violence have been pervasive in American life and culture from this country’s earliest days almost 400 years ago. Violence, in varying forms,according to the leading historian of the subject, Richard Maxwell Brown, “has accompanied virtually every stage and aspect of our national experience,” and is “part of our unacknowledged (underground) value structure.” Indeed, “repeated episodes of violence going far back into our colonial past, have imprinted upon our citizens a propensity to violence.”Thus, America demonstrated a national predilection for war and domestic violence long before the 9/11 attacks, but its leaders and intellectuals through most of the last century cultivated the national self-image, a myth, of America as a moral, “peace-loving” nation which the American population seems unquestioningly to have embraced. But the Reality tells different story.”

Take dating violence, for example. Emily Rothman, associate professor at Boston University School of Public Health recently, published a study on dating violence among teenagers in December of 2010 in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. She surveyed around 1,500 students from the Boston area. Rothman found that:

… Nearly 19% of students reported physically abusing a romantic partner in the past month, including pushing, shoving, hitting, punching, kicking or choking. Nearly 43% reported verbally abusing their partner, cursing at them or calling them fat, ugly, stupid or some other insult.”

September 19, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Safety, Psychology | , , , , | Leave a comment

There Is No Such Thing As A Safe Tan: GW Researchers Break Tanning Misconceptions

Blue Ultraviolet Light Lamp

Blue Ultraviolet Light Lamp (Photo credit: epSos.de)

From the 24 July 2012 article at Medical News Today

A new study conducted by GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) researchers Edward C. De Fabo, Ph.D., Frances P. Noonan, Ph.D., and Anastas Popratiloff, M.D., Ph.D., has been published in the journal Nature Communications. Their paper, entitled “Melanoma induction by ultraviolet A but not ultraviolet B radiation requires melanin pigment,” was published in June 2012.

“This is the first time that UV-induced melanin formation (tanning), traditionally thought to protect against skin cancer, is shown to be directly involved in melanomaformation in mammals,” said De Fabo, who is professor emeritus at SMHS. “Skin melanoma is the most lethal of the skin cancers. Our study shows that we were able to discover this new role for melanin by cleanly separating UVA from UVB and exposing our experimental melanoma animal model with these separated wavebands using our unique UV light system designed and set up at GW. Dermatologists have been warning for years there is no such thing as a safe tan and this new data appears to confirm this.” ..

..

“Also new is our discovery that UV induction of melanin, as a melanoma-causing agent, works when skin is exposed only to UVA and not UVB radiation. This is especially important since melanoma formation has been correlated with sunbed use as many epidemiological studies have shown. One possible reason for this is that tanning lamps are capable of emitting UVA radiation up to 12 times, or higher, the UVA intensity of sunlight at high noon. Melanin plus UVA is known to cause photo-oxidation, a suspected, but still to be proved, mechanism for the formation of melanoma as we describe in our study,” De Fabo said. 

July 25, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Some Types of Multitasking Are More Dangerous

 

In a new study that has implications for distracted drivers, researchers found that people are better at juggling some types of multitasking than they are at others.

Trying to do two visual tasks at once hurt performance in both tasks significantly more than combining a visual and an audio task, the research found.

Alarmingly, though, people who tried to do two visual tasks at the same time rated their performance as better than did those who combined a visual and an audio task — even though their actual performance was worse…

Participants who gave audio directions showed a 30 percent drop in visual pattern-matching performance. But those who used instant messaging did even worse — they had a 50 percent drop in pattern-matching performance.

In addition, those who gave audio directions completed more steps in the directions task than did those who used IM.

But when participants were asked to rate how well they did on their tasks, those who used IM gave themselves higher ratings than did those who used audio chat…

 

July 24, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Safety | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Harmful Effects of CFL Bulbs to Skin; Energy-Efficient Bulbs Safest When Placed Behind Additional Glass Cover


The team of Stony Brook researchers reviews the findings of their research. Pictured from left to right (standing) are Marcia Simon, Michael Hadjiargyrou, (sitting) Tatsiana Mironava and Miriam Rafailovich. The images displayed on the screen are of keratinocytes via confocal microscopy which show the results of human skin cells with and without exposure to CFL. (Credit: Image courtesy of Stony Brook University)

From the 18 July 2012 article at ScienceNewsDaily

Inspired by a European study, a team of Stony Brook University researchers looked into the potential impact of healthy human skin tissue (in vitro) being exposed to ultraviolet rays emitted from compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs…

“Our study revealed that the response of healthy skin cells to UV emitted from CFL bulbs is consistent with damage from ultraviolet radiation,” said Professor Rafailovich. “Skin cell damage was further enhanced when low dosages of TiO2 nanoparticles were introduced to the skin cells prior to exposure.” Rafailovich added that incandescent light of the same intensity had no effect on healthy skin cells, with or without the presence of TiO2.

“Despite their large energy savings, consumers should be careful when using compact fluorescent light bulbs,” said Professor Rafailovich. “Our research shows that it is best to avoid using them at close distances and that they are safest when placed behind an additional glass cover.”

July 20, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , , , | 1 Comment

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