Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

How Social Media Has Changed a Doctor’s Practice

Last summer, I joined millions of others in the deluge of social media. I committed one year of effort to see if social would enhance or distract from my pediatric practice.

That was my goal, just one year.

At that time, I wanted to dip my foot in the pool, and see if it made any ripples. The unexpected consequence was how much social media has changed my medical practice, and me. Ripples have returned as tidal waves.

My practice has seen tangible, real valuable benefits. I have been intellectually challenged, and have professionally grown.
Read the rest of How social media has changed my medical practice on

August 19, 2011 Posted by | Health News Items | , | Leave a comment

Schools Restore Fresh Cooking to the Cafeteria

Kevin Moloney for The New York Times

Elida Martinez, a 32-year veteran of school kitchens in Greeley, Colo., mixing beans with cheese and seasonings for burritos.

From the 16 August 2011 New York Times article

GREELEY, Colo. — The idea of making school lunches better and healthier has gathered steam in many parts of the nation in recent years, but not equally for every child. Schools with money and involved parents concerned about obesity and nutrition charged ahead, while poor and struggling districts, overwhelmed by hard times, mostly did not.

This midsize city in northern Colorado, where 60 percent of the 19,500 students qualify for free or reduced-price meals, is trying to break the mold. When classes start on Thursday, the district will make a great leap forward — and at the same time back to the way it was done a generation ago — in cooking meals from scratch…

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August 19, 2011 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , | Leave a comment

Dietary Supplement Reform (Comments from the Director of NLM)

NLM Director’s Comments Transcript
Dietary Supplements Reform: 08/15/2011


Picture of Dr. Lindberg Greetings from the National Library of Medicine and

Regards to all our listeners!

I’m Rob Logan, Ph.D. senior staff National Library of Medicine for Donald Lindberg, M.D, the Director of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Here is what’s new this week in MedlinePlus.listen

Dietary supplement reform should focus on reducing product contaminants, removing false marketing claims, as well as providing more evidence about the clinical efficacy of the vitamins, minerals and herbs intended to enhance one’s diet, suggests an editorial recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The editorial notes a 2010 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found trace amounts of at least one contaminant, such as lead, arsenic, mercury, and assorted pesticides, in 37 of the 40 dietary supplement products the GAO tested.

The editorial adds there can be legally defensible differences between the technical description of a diet supplement’s clinical efficacy and its marketing language.

The editorial’s author, Bryan Denham Ph.D., a social scientist at Clemson University, writes (and we quote): ‘as long as (diet supplement) products do not claim to treat, prevent, or cure specific diseases, they can enter and remain in the marketplace’ (end of quote).

Moreover, Denham notes the marketing latitude that is currently provided to manufacturers can be used to advance the impression that a dietary supplement is more effective than medicines that have been tested in rigorous clinical trials to treat a disease or condition.

Denham writes and we quote: ‘among the most egregious marketing efforts were claims that garlic could be taken in place of high blood pressure medication and that Ginkgo biloba could be used to treat Alzheimer disease, depression, and impotence’ (end of quote).

Denham emphasizes the burden of proof and evidentiary standards of clinical efficacy and safety required of dietary supplement manufacturers are sometimes the reverse of drug and medical product firms. While drug and medical product firms must demonstrate a product’s safety and clinical efficacy to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Denham explains the FDA or the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency must demonstrate a dietary supplement is unsafe, includes a controlled substance, or does not contain ingredients listed on the product’s label to take it off the market.

Denham finds these relaxed standards can foster an inconsistent use of clinical evidence by food supplement manufacturers.

For example, Denham writes (and we quote): ‘it is safe to assume that supplement manufacturers will not make an announcement each time a study finds no relationship between a dietary supplement and a health condition’ (end of quote). Yet, when a null hypothesis is rejected (or clinical efficacy is statistically significant), he notes the existing law permits manufacturers to promote these findings, which he writes (and we quote): ‘is a practice with which they appear comfortable’ (end of quote)…..

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August 19, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | | Leave a comment

The Power of Patient e-Visits

From the  Hospitals and Health Networks summary (at

House calls have arrived

Sue Paone, Executive IT Director at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, talks to H&HN senior editor Suzanna Hoppszallern about UPMC’s use of e-visits, which patients use to connect with physicians online on more than 20 conditions and earned UPMC a 2011 Most Wired Innovator Award. Video running time: 4:47.

Video at

August 19, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , | Leave a comment

Turning toys into cheap, effective medical gear

Jose Gomez-Marquez tests patient samplesAt a TB hospital in Leon, Nicaragua, Jose Gomez-Marquez tests patient samples. Instead of using a pipette, he uses a drinking straw.

(Credit: Jose Gomez-Marquez)

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From the 17 August 2011 cnet news article

Jose Gomez-Marquez is like the MacGyver of medical devices, hacking toys and turning them into gadgets that can be used to diagnose conditions such as diabetes and dengue fever. By taking everyday items like Legos and bike pumps and turning them into replacements for expensive medical devices, he’s attempting to save lives on the cheap.

“Most of the devices that get donated to developing countries fail because they were not designed to be used in these environments,” Gomez-Marquez said during a visit to CNET this week to show some of his creations. “We need to make the Land Rover version of medical devices for these countries. Right now we are sending the Ferrari versions and they fail.”….


Gomez-Marquez is program director for MIT’s Innovations in International Health initiative, which aims to teach medical professionals in the developing world how to hack ordinary objects to make their own medical devices. With a degree in mechanical engineering and a love of design, Gomez-Marquez wants to level the playing field in health care.

“One of the ways to empower better designs is by empowering users who are everyday users of the devices,” he said. “So we made these kits to do that.”…

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August 19, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

Most patients don’t need extra tests for diagnosis

A technician performs an electrocardiogram on a patient in the hallway of the emergency room at a hospital in Houston, Texas, July 27, 2009. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

A technician performs an electrocardiogram on a patient in the hallway of the emergency room at a hospital in Houston, Texas, July 27, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi


(Reuters Health) – Examining patients and taking a medical history are more useful to hospital doctors in diagnosing patients than high-tech scans, suggests a new study from Israel.

Doctors said that when tests such as CT scans and ultrasounds were given to patients right after they showed up at the ER, the imaging only helped in making a diagnosis in about one in three cases…..

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August 19, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , | Leave a comment


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