Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Clinical Tutorials, Teaching & Learning in Medicine: That Old Krebs Cycle, with Singing

From the blog EBM and Clinical Support Librarians @UCHC, Sept 21, 2010

Today’s post is about metabolic pathways, which the first-year students are deep into studying this month. Here is a link to a pretty illustration which was found on Wikipedia:


October 7, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Doctor shortage looming? Use nurses, report says

Excerpts from an Oct 5 Reuter Health Information News Release

Nurses can handle much of the strain that healthcare reform will place on doctors and should be given both the education and the authority to take on more medical duties, the U.S. Institute of Medicine said on Tuesday.

A report from the institute calls for an overhaul in the responsibility and training of nurses and says doing so is key to improving the fragmented and expensive U.S. healthcare system — President Barack Obama’s signature political initiative.

But the American Medical Association, which represents about 120,000 practicing physicians as well as students and resident doctors, quickly criticized the report.

“Nurses are critical to the health care team, but there is no substitute for education and training,” the group said in a statement. “With a shortage of both nurses and physicians, increasing the responsibility of nurses is not the answer to the physician shortage.”

Nurses already often deliver babies, counsel patients with heart disease or diabetes and care for dying cancer patients — and these roles should be expanded nationally and paid for by both public and private insurers, the report says.

“Nurses have to be full partners with doctors,” said Donna Shalala, a former Health and Human Services secretary who helped write the report. She said it should “usher in golden age of nursing” by allowing nurses to practice “to the full extent of their education and training




October 7, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | , | Leave a comment

Sensors in Surgical Sponges May Mean Fewer Left Behind

Radio-frequency tags plus counting could improve patient safety, surgeons report

From a Oct 5 HealthDay news item

Placing radio-frequency tags inside surgical sponges could help reduce the number left behind in patients after operations, according to U.S. researchers.

The tags — which use the same technology as clothing store tags and pet microchips — could be used along with manual counting and X-ray detection to improve patient safety, said the surgeons at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.

“Any foreign body present long enough has a risk of causing infection,” lead investigator Dr. Christopher Rupp, a gastrointestinal surgeon, said in a UNC news release. “We have seen patients in whom sponges have eroded into other organs, mainly the intestines. People can come back with chronic pain issues after an operation that also leads to detection of a retained surgical sponge.”


October 7, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , | Leave a comment

FDA Issues Regulatory Science Report

Excerpts from a US Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA) Oct 6 press announcement

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today unveiled a report outlining the agency’s plans to advance regulatory science through its Regulatory Science Initiative.

Regulatory science is the science of developing new tools, standards and approaches for assessing the safety, efficacy, quality and performance of FDA-regulated products.

The report provides examples of current FDA activities in regulatory science and also considers how advancements in the field can help deliver better, safer, more innovative products to Americans in seven different public health areas.

Copies of the report will be released at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., when FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg M.D. speaks to a club luncheon.

Her address will begin at 1 p.m. and will be broadcast live by C-SPAN.

For more information:



October 7, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | , , | Leave a comment

1 in 4 High School Students and Young Adults Report Binge Drinking


Excerpts from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Oct 5 press release

More than 1 in 4 high school students and adults ages 18 to 34 engaged in a dangerous behavior known as binge drinking during the past month, according to the findings from a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report shows that each year more than 33 million adults have reported binge drinking, defined as having four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men over a short period of time, usually a couple of hours. And the report said levels of binge drinking have not declined during the past 15 years.

The CDC report found men are more than twice as likely to binge drink than women (21 percent compared to 10 percent). It said binge drinking is more common among non-Hispanic whites (16 percent of whom binge drink) than among non-Hispanic blacks, (10 percent of whom binge drink).

“Binge drinking, increases many health risks, including fatal car crashes, contracting a sexually transmitted disease, dating violence, and drug overdoses,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Excessive alcohol use remains the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States and leads to a wide range of health and social problems.”


“Alarmingly, almost 1 in 3 adults and 2 in 3 high school students who drink alcohol also binge drink, which usually leads to intoxication,” said Dr. Robert Brewer, M.D., M.P.H., alcohol program leader at CDC and one of the authors of the report. “Although most binge drinkers are not alcohol-dependent or alcoholics, they often engage in this high risk behavior without realizing the health and social problems of their drinking. States and communities need to consider further strategies to create an environment that discourages binge drinking.”

Drinking too much, including binge drinking, causes more than 79,000 deaths in the United States each year. Binge drinkers also put themselves and others at risk of car crashes, violence, the risk of HIV transmission and sexually transmitted diseases, and unplanned pregnancy. Over time, drinking too much can lead to liver disease, certain cancers, heart disease, stroke, and other chronic diseases. Binge drinking can also cause harm to a developing fetus, such as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, if a woman drinks while pregnant.

Binge drinking varies widely from state to state, with estimates of binge drinking for adults ranging from 6.8 percent in Tennessee to 23.9 percent in Wisconsin. It is most common in the Midwest, North Central Plains, lower New England, Delaware, Alaska, Nevada, and the District of Columbia.

For more information on binge drinking, visit or Members of the public who are concerned about their own or someone else’s binge drinking can call 1-800-662-HELP to receive assistance from the national Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service. For state-specific estimates of alcohol-related deaths and Years of Potential Life Lost (YPLL) by condition, visit the Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI) system at

October 7, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health | , | 1 Comment

Consumer Health Toolkit for Library Staff

From a Sept 30 announcement by NN/NLM -Southwestern Region (National Network of Libraries of Medicine)

We are pleased to announce the publication of the Consumer Health Toolkit [PDF format] the result of a multi-year collaboration between the California State Library and NN/LM PSR. The Toolkit is a comprehensive professional development resource for librarians and library staff to build their competencies in providing excellent consumer health services to users.


The Toolkit

The Toolkit is divided into six sections. Depending on the library staff person’s position or role, some sections may hold more appeal than others. The final document is 93 pages in length; we are certain that there is something for everyone in this resource.

Core Competencies

The first section, Core Competencies, identifies a set of competencies required to provide quality health information services to the public. The list of eight competencies was written specifically for this Toolkit. This section can be thought of as the foundation, and next four sections provide the necessary skills and knowledge for building solid competencies in consumer health. Library staff will be able to use the list to reflect on their own skills in a particular area. Each of the competencies is supported by materials in the Toolkit.

Health Resources

The Health Resources section is a collection of health information on a variety of topics, all with a focus on healthy living. We know that many health problems can be prevented or minimized if people adopt healthy behaviors, such as eating well, doing physical activities, and taking advantage of preventive health care. People need good information in order to make healthy changes in their daily routines. This section includes carefully selected resources with a focus on prevention of disease and healthy living. While prevention is at the top of the list, resources are also included for coping and living well with chronic conditions.

Early in the planning stage, a decision was made not to include general health information on diagnosis and treatment of diseases and conditions. Other excellent resources such as already serve this purpose better than we ever could, so this section is intended to be an adjunct to other authoritative resources. Many more quality resources were identified than there was room for in the document. The chosen resources are representative of the best resources available and can be used as examples of quality health information.

Consumer Health Information Services

The Consumer Health Information Services section provides a wealth of resources. This section includes community needs assessments, health reference services, collection development, marketing services, and creating targeted health-related programming for users. Perhaps one of the most useful parts of the entire Toolkit will be the recommended core reference and print series section. Again, the list is not comprehensive, but these titles were carefully chosen by subject specialist librarians as recommended titles for a consumer health collection.

Technology and Health 2.0

The Technology and Health 2.0 section covers the convergence of technology and health information. People are using the Internet not only to find health and medical information, but they are also sharing information with others. Librarians may be uncomfortable recommending sites where the information is user-generated, but we need to accept the trend. People are using sites in this way, and there is evidence that it is useful for many. While some of the content on these online resources is contributed by patients and health consumers, the chosen sites adhere to strict privacy guidelines and other important criteria. This section provides information and links to resources that you can trust, along with tips on talking to your patrons about the pros and cons of utilizing information from social sites for health information.

This section also covers new technologies and formats for delivery of health information, such as audio, video, and content optimized for mobile devices. Numerous podcasts from authoritative sources are recommended. Resources and information in the section will help librarians understand and evaluate new mechanisms for health information sharing and delivery, so they can feel comfortable in recommending certain sites and content when appropriate.

Workplace Wellness

The Workplace Wellness section includes guidelines and helpful resources for setting up wellness strategies and programs in libraries, businesses and organizations. One goal of this work is to bring awareness of healthy behaviors, and to promote the concept of libraries as healthy places, thereby leading to healthy communities. It is our hope that library managers and staff will embrace the notion of wellness, not only in the workplace, but in our personal lives as well.

Resources for Health Care Professionals

The final section includes carefully selected resources for health professionals, including health literacy curricula, improving communication with patients, and resources to improve cultural competency. Additionally, the entire Toolkit is intended to bring awareness to health professionals that public libraries are reliable sources of health information for patients and consumers, due to training and knowledge of authoritative health resources. The original survey findings indicated that clinicians may not be aware of training librarians receive or be doubtful of the quality of the health information that is provided to users. Creating partnerships with health care professionals and health-related organizations can improve the health literacy and quality of life in the entire community. Health professionals will also benefit from exposure to quality health resources that are appropriate for their patients.


October 7, 2010 Posted by | Health Education (General Public) | , , | Leave a comment

Morning sickness may signal healthier pregnancy

Excerpt from a October 6, 2010Reuters Health Information item

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – New research confirms that women plagued by morning sickness in early pregnancy are less likely to miscarry.

But women who don’t experience nausea and vomiting during their first trimester shouldn’t be alarmed, Dr. Ronna L. Chan of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, one of the study’s authors, told Reuters Health.


because of the nature of the study, the authors could not prove that there was any cause-effect relationship between morning sickness and a healthier pregnancy, just that the two were linked.

A number of theories have been put forth to explain why morning sickness might signal a healthier pregnancy, Chan said. “Some postulate nausea and vomiting during pregnancy is a mechanism to help improve the quality of a pregnant woman’s diet or a way to reduce or eliminate potentially harmful substances from the mother in order to protect the fetus,” she explained.

While these ideas are “plausible,” the researcher said, she thinks the symptoms reflect a pregnant woman’s sensitivity to the sharp rise in certain hormones key for sustaining pregnancy that occurs during the first trimester.

Note from the editor…

About 15 years ago I took several ecology classes. One instructor agreed with one of the hypotheses above,  that morning sickness is a product of natural selection in keeping potentially harmful substances away from the fetus. He gave us several more examples (they elude me now!) of treating conditions that are in reality beneficial. I think some fevers were another example.


October 7, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health News Items | , | Leave a comment


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