Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Autism Now Series: A Viewer’s Guide

From the PBS Autism Now Series: A Viewer’s Guide (April 15)

The PBS NewsHour is launching a special series of reports, both on-air and online, about a puzzling disorder that touches many lives across the U.S.: Autism Now will take a unique — and uniquely personal — look at how the condition impacts families, schools and communities.

As former anchor Robert MacNeil explains in a preview conversation with Hari Sreenivasan, the subject that drew him back to the NewsHour is one that resonates deeply with his own family and the families of thousands of others. MacNeil’s 6-year-old grandson, Nick, has autism….

The series consists of six parts. For the launch, Jim Lehrer will debrief MacNeil about the series on the NewsHour broadcast on Friday, April 15. The first full report will then air on Monday, April 18.

But, we’re trying something new with these reports on the NewsHour’s website.

Starting Friday, April 15, we’ll debut each report online a day before it airs on the NewsHour’s broadcast. So you can watch part one (about MacNeil’s grandson) online on Friday, April 15, or on-air on Monday, April 18. The second report, about Autism’s prevalence, will be posted online on Monday, April 18, by 6 p.m. ET. You can also watch that report on our site, via ouriPhone app or on our YouTube channel and of course – or watch on Tuesday’s NewsHour broadcast. We’ll follow that schedule every day during the series: We’ll post the next report in the series by 6 p.m. ET on the NewsHour website.

Here’s the lineup:

Part One: Introduction to Nick and Autism as a whole-body experience | Robert MacNeil brings viewers along on a visit with his daughter and grandson Nick in Cambridge, Mass., to see how autism affects the whole family. | Online April 15, on-air April 18

Part Two: Autism Prevalence | Why are the numbers of children with autism increasing? Robert MacNeil visits with experts at the University of California, Davis MIND Institute to see the wide range of different behaviors that comprise the autism spectrum | Online April 18, on-air April 19

Part Three: Autism’s Causes | The rise in autism numbers has caused a surge in research to find the causes. Robert MacNeil speaks with four leading researchers. | Online April 19, on-air April 20

Part Four: Autism Treatment | School systems often bear most of the burden of treating children with autism through educational tools. Robert MacNeil looks at how two schools in the New York City area handle teaching children and teens with autism. | Online April 20, on-air April 21

Part Five: Adults With Autism | Although federal law mandates educational services for children with autism, there are virtually no services when they become adults. Robert MacNeil profiles a young man in New Jersey facing an uncertain future. | Online April 21, on-air April 22

Part Six: Autism Policy | We’ll conclude the Autism Now reports with a discussion of public policy issues raised by the series. | Online April 22, On-Air April 25

We have several resources and opportunities to engage with the series online. These include:

Autism 101 | A breakdown of the basics and a list of useful resources.

Autism Costs | A look how families often struggle with the costs of autism, and how care and costs can vary depending on where you live.

Autism’s First Child | A new look at Caren Zucker and John Donvan’s profile of the first child diagnosed with autism as reported in The Atlantic.

Additional resources

April 18, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Finding Aids/Directories | | Leave a comment

A Consumer Health Toolkit for Library Staff and the Rest of Us

From the Fremont Libraries WordPress announcement

Consumer Health Toolkit

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 by juilanliu

While it is intended for library staff, consumers can certainly find a wealth of valuable information in this toolkit.  For instance, in the Health Resources section, there are Directories of Health Organizations and Physicians, Health Information for Special Populations (e.g., American Indian Health, Arctic Health and Asian American Health).

Advice is available on fitness, nutrition and environment in the Healthy Living section.  The Stages of Life  section breaks down into Children & Adolescents, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Pregnancy, Childbirth, Breastfeeding, Newborn Care, and Seniors and Healthy Aging.

Moreover, an assortment of chronic conditions is featured in the Preventing and Living Well with Chronic Conditions section, e.g., Alzheimer ’s disease, asthma, HIV/AIDS, Cancer  and what not.

Treatment and Care section consists of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and Herbs and Supplements.

Evaluating Health Information section would be of particular interest.

The Consumer HealthToolkit  can be found in the Toolkit section on our Health and Medical Information Page at: — 2010-09-27

April 18, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Finding Aids/Directories, Librarian Resources | , | Leave a comment

Counterbalance Interactive Library provides views on complex issues

The Counterbalance Interactive Library*** offers  new views on complex issues from science, ethics, philosophy, and religion. Here you’ll find extensive resources on the evolution/creation controversy, biomedical ethical challenges, and much more.

A sampling of health and medical related topic sets

From the About page

About Counterbalance Foundation

Counterbalance is a non-profit educational organization working to promote counterbalanced perspectives on complex issues.  It is our hope that individuals, the academic community, and society as a whole will benefit from a struggle toward integrated and counterbalanced views.

Counterbalance provides design, consulting, and technical services. It is our intention to use our considerable experience in these areas to serve as a catalyst by.

  • Helping make existing multidisciplinary research work accessible to a wider audience, principally though the use of interactive technologies.
  • Helping collaboration within, and among research groups by providing on-line technology services, such as the shared Meta-Library andAutoReference tools.

Our services are used by PBS Online, The Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, the AAAS, Science and Religion Forum (UK), and others.

Counterbalance is funded by donations and the Adrian M. Wyard Charitable Trust.

April 18, 2011 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Librarian Resources | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Enviro-Health Links — Water Pollution

“Water Pollution<>”( directs users toresources on drinking water, water pollution, bottled water, waterregulations and standards, disinfection byproducts, and Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products as Pollutants (PPCPs).

It is a joint publication of the US Dept of Health and Human Services and the US National Library of Medicine.

Links of Note at Water Pollution


Drinking Water

Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products as Pollutants (PPCPs)

April 18, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Finding Aids/Directories, Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

HHS Secretary Released the National Strategy for Quality Improvement in Health Care Report

From the AHRQ  (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality) press release

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius released the National Strategy for Quality Improvement in Health Care.  The Strategy was called for under the Affordable Care Act and is the first effort to create national aims and priorities to guide local, State, and national efforts to improve the quality of health care in the United States.  The National Quality Strategy will promote quality health care that is focused on the needs of patients, families, and communities.  At the same time, the Strategy is designed to move the system to work better for doctors and other health care providers – reducing their administrative burdens and helping them collaborate to improve care.  The Strategy presents three aims:

  • Better Care: Improve the overall quality, by making health care more patient-centered, reliable, accessible, and safe.
  • Healthy People & Communities: Improve the health of the U.S. population by supporting proven interventions to address behavioral, social, and environmental determinants of health in addition to delivering higher-quality care.
  • Affordable Care: Reduce the cost of quality health care for individuals, families, employers, and government

To help achieve these aims, the Strategy also establishes six priorities, to help focus efforts by public and private partners.  Those priorities are:

  • Making care safer by reducing harm caused in the delivery of care.
  • Ensuring that each person and family is engaged as partners in their care.
  • Promoting effective communication and coordination of care.
  • Promoting the most effective prevention and treatment practices for the leading causes of mortality, starting with cardiovascular disease.
  • Working with communities to promote wide use of best practices to enable healthy living.
  • Making quality care more affordable for individuals, families, employers, and governments by developing and spreading new health care delivery models.

The National Quality Strategy is designed to be an evolving guide for the Nation as we continue to move forward with efforts to measure and improve health and health care quality, and I hope that you will use it to guide your efforts to improve the quality and safety of health care services.  Select to read the National Quality Strategy.  Supporting documents are available on the AHRQ Web site.

April 18, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

HCUP Facts and Figures: Statistics on Hospital-based Care in the United States

Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project logo
HCUP Facts and Figures 2008
Statistics on Hospital-Based Care in the United States, 2008
The number of patients who needed home health care after being discharged from hospitals surged by about 70 percent (2.3 million to 4 million) from 1997 to 2008.  [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, HCUP, HCUP Facts and Figures, Statistics on Hospital-Based Care in the United States, 2008.]

Some highlights from HCUP Facts and Figures: Statistics on Hospital-based Care in the United States, 2008 

The number of hospital discharges increased from 34.7 million in 1997 to 39.9 million in 2008, a 15-percent increase overall, or an average annual increase of 1.3 percent. 1.1
Between 1997 and 2008, the aggregate inflation-adjusted costs for hospitalizations—the actual costs of producing hospital services—increased 61 percent. Costs rose from $227.2 billion to $364.7 billion—an average annual increase of 4.4 percent. 1.1
The average length of stay (ALOS) in 2008 (4.6 days) was almost 20 percent shorter than in 1993 (5.7 days). The ALOS declined throughout most of the 1990s and has remained unchanged since 2000. 1.2
Circulatory conditions were the most frequent major cause of hospital stays in 2008, accounting for 5.9 million stays or 15 percent of all discharges. 1.3
Even when pregnancy and childbirth stays are excluded, females accounted for more stays than males—18.6 million stays for females compared to 16.5 million stays for males. 1.3
Pregnancy and childbirth was the reason for 1 out of every 5 female hospitalizations (4.7 million stays). 1.3
Medicare and Medicaid were the expected primary payers for more than half (55 percent) of all inpatient hospital discharges. 1.4
Between 1997 and 2008, Medicaid discharges (up 30 percent) grew at double the rate of all discharges, followed closely by uninsured discharges (up 27 percent). 1.4
The number of discharges billed to Medicare grew by 18 percent. 1.4
Growth in the number of discharges billed to private insurance remained relatively stable (5 percent). 1.4
The number of discharges to home health care grew by 69 percent (1.6 million discharges) between 1997 and 2008. 1.5
Uninsured and Medicaid stays accounted for nearly half (48 percent) of all stays discharged against medical advice, but only about one-quarter (23 percent) of all stays in 2008. 1.5
Persons residing in the poorest communities had a 21-percent higher rate of hospitalization in 2008 (148 discharges per 1,000 population) than those residing in all other communities (122 discharges per 1,000 population). 1.6

April 18, 2011 Posted by | Health Statistics, Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Online Calculator Allows Households Around The Country To Track – And Try To Reduce – Carbon Footprint

Abstract Image
From the 17 April 2011 Medicine News Today article

Tips to reduce your carbon footprint frequently include buying compact florescent light bulbs, taking your own bag to the grocery store or buying local produce. But how much difference do these actions make?

A new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that who you are and where you live make a big difference in which activities have the largest impact.

“Everyone has a unique carbon footprint,” says Christopher M. Jones, lead author of the study and a researcher in UC Berkeley’s Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL). “There is no one-size-fits-all set of actions that people should take.”

The study by Jones and RAEL director Daniel Kammen, a UC Berkeley professor of energy and resources who currently is on leave at the World Bank, appears in the current issue of the journal Environmental Science & Technology. [Abstract, for suggestions on how to get this article for free or at low cost, click here]

Carbon footprints are a measure of the greenhouse gases released during the production, use and disposal of products and services. The production phase includes all processes between the time raw materials are extracted from Earth until they reach consumers as finished products in stores. The study considers the carbon footprint of all household economic activity, including transportation, energy, food, goods, services, water and waste. …

…The results of this analysis have been summarized in an online “carbon calculator,” that can be used by any consumer to estimate his or her carbon footprint and identify the areas where lifestyle changes would create the largest reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

“Our primary message is simple:If you are concerned about reducing your carbon footprint, or the carbon footprint of others through policy, it is important to focus on the actions that lead to the greatest reductions,” said Kammen. “Our online tool can help people do just that.”

Users can get a quick estimate of their carbon footprint profile by typing in their location, household size and income, then spend a few minutes answering basic questions about lifestyle for more personalized estimates. They can then compare their results to similar households and get a customized action plan.

April 18, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Public Health | 1 Comment


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