Health

Health
7:42 am
Mon July 6, 2015

As More Parents Opt Out of Vaccinations, More Texas Doctors Require Them

Dr. Alison Ziari with the Austin Regional Clinic announces the company's new policy requiring pediatric patients to get immunized on June 30, 2015.
KUT News

Vaccines have been in the news yet again lately. On June 30, 2015, California’s Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that requires almost all school children to be fully vaccinated in order to go to school, allowing only some medical exemptions.

Meantime, a health care company in Central Texas says it will no longer treat children who don’t get fully immunized. The company cites a measles outbreak that started in Disneyland last year as a chief reason for the policy change. Texas does allow parents to opt out of vaccinations if they use religious or personal beliefs. 

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Health
11:37 am
Tue June 30, 2015

Austin Regional Clinic to Stop Taking Unvaccinated Children as Patients

Austin Regional Clinic officials say unvaccinated pediatric patients pose health risks to other hospital patients.
US Army Corps of Engineers/flickr

The Austin Regional Clinic will stop accepting new unvaccinated pediatric patients — that is, children whose parents have opted them out of routine vaccinations. The ARC announced its new policy this morning.

The regional health system, which has locations in Austin plus six surrounding cities, cites patient safety as the reason for the new regulation, set to take effect Wednesday.

“Parents who are unwilling to commit to a vaccination schedule will need to find another physician outside of ARC,” clinic officials said in the release.

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Health
10:04 am
Fri April 24, 2015

State Health Tests Prodded Blue Bell Recall

A sign on an ice cream case in an Austin convenience store warns shoppers of the Blue Bell recall.
John Jordan/Texas Tribune

Via the Texas Tribune:

It’s the phone call no company in Texas wants to receive.

Shortly after lab tests on two Blue Bell ice cream flavors — Mint Chocolate Chip and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough — came back “presumptive positive” for the deadly bacteria Listeria monocytogenes , Kathy Perkins reached for the phone and contacted the Brenham-based company with the unfavorable news.

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Health
8:30 am
Tue March 31, 2015

How an Austin Company's Using 3D Printing to Shape the Future of Breast Reconstruction

The lab at TeVido, a company in Austin that's working on producing nipples and breasts for reconstructions.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

In 1998, the federal government mandated that breast reconstructions after a mastectomy be covered by health insurance. That was the last time anything really big happened in the field of breast reconstruction, and while it was a huge development, it wasn't an improvement to the procedure itself.

But an Austin company is aiming to transform outcomes for breast reconstruction patients through the use of 3D printing technology.

Warning: This story contains some frank discussions and revealing images of human anatomy.

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SXSW 2015
11:30 am
Thu March 19, 2015

If Embraced by the Industry, Med Tech Showcased at SXSW Could Transform Health Care

People are developing social networks and medical technology that could help transform the fee-for-service health care system in the U.S.
KUT News

Mary Lou Brown has felt so lonely living in Austin. Since her diagnosis with lupus in 2003, she hasn’t found any support groups for people with the disease. She gets a lot of help from her husband and son, but she says no one gets what it’s like to be in pain all day long.

"[The pain] goes from your heel all the way to the scalp, where no one can touch you," Brown says.

Most of us have an immune system that protects us from germs. But if you have lupus, your immune system can’t tell the difference between the bad guys and healthy tissue, so it attacks the healthy tissue, causing inflammation and pain.

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Health
10:44 am
Thu March 19, 2015

Texas Pays for Rape Evidence Kits, But Sexual Assault Victims Cover Other Expenses

Evidence collection kit.
Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Five years ago, Moira Foley was a nurse in New Orleans. She remembers the night a teenager, a rape victim, came into her hospital. 

“We had our evidence collection kit, and this poor 16 year old who had been assaulted at Mardi Gras, and we literally had to open the kit and read the instructions," Foley remembers.

"And as I’m standing there doing it, I’m thinking, 'This is her evidence. If this goes to trial, it’s us who this is on, and we don’t know what we’re doing.'" 

That’s when she decided to get certified to perform sexual assault forensic exams, or SAFE exams. Now, she’s one of nine nurses at St. David’s who perform SAFE exams in a small room in the back of the ER.

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Health
2:53 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Over-the-Counter Birth Control Could Reduce Unintended Pregnancies, Research Says

A new study published in 'Contraception' suggests the number of low-income women using birth control pills would jump if they were covered by insurance and made available without a prescription.
Monik Marcus/flickr http://bit.ly/ODQleE

About half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended, and low-income women are more likely to have an unintended pregnancy.

A new study suggests that if birth control pills were covered by insurance and made available over the counter, the rate of unintended pregnancies would drop anywhere from seven up to 25 percent. 

The study, published in the journal Contraception, found that the number of low-income women using birth control pills would jump between 11 and 21 percent if they were both covered by insurance and made available without a prescription.

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Health
12:12 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

Amid Rise in Measles Cases, Austin Sees Rise in Vaccine Exemptions Among Schoolchildren

Electron microscope image of the virus responsible for measles (paramyxoviridae).
Sanofi Pasteur/flickr

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently dealing with more than 100 cases of measles. In 2014, the U.S. saw 644 cases, more than it had seen in two decades. Texas had its own measles scare as recently as January, though it ultimately was just a scare.

At the same time, politicians as public-facing as New Jersey Gov. and likely presidential candidate Chris Christie are weighing in on the ongoing vaccination debate. Christie said that parents should be given a choice of whether or not to vaccinate their kids from diseases such as the measles. Another likely presidential candidate, Sen. Rand Paul, echoed that sentiment, saying he believes kids should not be getting "ten vaccines at once" and that parents should have "some input." 

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Health
11:04 am
Thu February 5, 2015

As HIV Doctor Pool Shrinks Across U.S., Recruitment Efforts Grow

Dr. David Wright, an HIV physician in Austin, speaks with University of Texas Medical Branch student Lola Longe in his office at University Medical Center Brackenridge in Austin.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

The number of young physicians applying to infectious disease fellowships has been steadily declining over the last five years. Experts in Texas and across the country are worried about this looming shortage of HIV providers and brainstorming ways to turn this trend around.

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Abortion
1:50 pm
Thu January 8, 2015

Portions of Texas Abortion Law Under Scrutiny Again by Federal Judges

On Jan. 7, judges at the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans heard oral arguments from opponents and backers of Texas' abortion law, HB2.
Karina Kling/Time Warner Cable News

Back in October, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked two parts of a Texas abortion law called HB2, but only temporarily, until a federal appeals court rules on their constitutionality.

One key provision of the Texas law would require that all abortion clinics adopt the building standards of ambulatory surgical centers, a standard that most existing providers don't meet. These buildings cost millions of dollars to construct.

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Health
5:30 am
Tue December 30, 2014

Big Question For 2015: Will The Supreme Court Rule On Abortion?

Protesters rally outside the Supreme Court during the March for Life on Jan. 25, 2013, in Washington, D.C.
Brendan Hoffman Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 12:56 pm

The new year is expected to bring yet another round of state laws to restrict abortion — and 2015 could also be the year a challenge to at least one of these laws could reach the Supreme Court.

The ongoing spike in abortion laws started after 2010, when Republicans won big in the midterms. Since then, state lawmakers have passed more than 200 abortion regulations — more than in the entire decade before. And with more statehouse gains in the fall elections, abortion opponents expect another good year.

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Ebola
11:26 am
Tue November 4, 2014

In Texas, No Mandatory Quarantine For All Health Workers Returning From Areas Affected by Ebola

The Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response has issued guidelines for dealing with health workers returning from "Ebola-Endemic" areas.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

The task force put together by Texas Governor Rick Perry to evaluate the state’s response to Ebola has come out with a list of recommendations for how to handle health care workers exposed to the virus.

The Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response has outlined four categories of exposure – from no identifiable risk to high risk. Those at a lower risk would just take their temperatures twice a day while high risk people would be restricted in their movement for the 21-day incubation period.

The task force says it "does not support mandatory government-imposed strict quarantine" for those who are cooperative and not showing symptoms – unless they meet the high risk description.

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Texas Standard
3:43 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

Op-Ed: The Hidden Danger of an Ebola Quarantine

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden, exiting an Ebola treatment unit.
flickr.com/cdcglobal

Officials in Dallas are taking steps to keep health workers at home who were in contact with Ebola patients or their bodily fluids. 

75 employees of the hospital which treated Liberian Thomas Duncan have been asked to sign legally binding papers in which they agree not to go to public places or use mass transit. This move marks the first steps toward the use of official state power to control the outbreak of disease.

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Health
9:12 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

Georgetown Man Being Monitored After Potential Ebola Exposure

A Georgetown man is being closely monitored, Williamson County health officials say, after sitting near Dallas nurse Amber Vinson on a flight from Cleveland to Dallas earlier this week.

Vinson was among those treating Thomas Eric Duncan, the man from Liberia who began exhibiting symptoms of Ebola shortly after he arrived in Dallas earlier this month. Duncan died eight days after being admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

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Ebola
12:00 pm
Mon October 6, 2014

Gov. Perry Calls for Enhanced Ebola Screenings, Announces Texas Task Force

Gov. Rick Perry announced a team of experts who will make sure the state responds efficiently to cases of infectious diseases like Ebola on Oct. 6, 2014 at the State Capitol.
Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Gov. Rick Perry announced an executive order that will create a task force to handle the recent case of Ebola diagnosed in Dallas.

The 17-member Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response will enhance the state's readiness to handle pandemic disease, the governor’s office said in a press release. The head of the Texas A&M Health Science Center Dr. Brett P. Giroir will lead the task force.

“Over the past several days we have learned a lot about the unique challenges of situations like this,” Perry said. “And it’s important that we continue to adapt our responses to these realities.”

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Health
10:36 am
Mon October 6, 2014

HEB Recalls Ground Beef After Customers Complain of Metal & Illness

Credit flickr.com/danielle_scott

Over 90,000 pounds of HEB ground beef products have been recalled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture after four consumers complained of metal in their ground beef, which was shipped from Sam Kane Beef Processing in Corpus Christi.

The USDA cautions consumers against four batches of ground beef:

  • Three-pound packages of “HEB Ground Chuck" with the location identification number 337.
  • Five-pound packages of “HEB Ground Beef” with 73 to 29 percent lean-to-fat ratio and the identification number 337 and a production date of Sept. 15, 2014 and a use by date of  Oct. 5, 2014.
  • 10-pound packages of “HEB Ground Beef” with 73 to 29 percent lean-to-fat ratio and the identification number 337 and a production date of Sept. 18, 2014 and a use by date of  Oct. 8, 2014.
  • 10-pound packages of pre-formed patties with the identification number 337 and a production date of Sept. 9, 2014 and a use by date of  Sept. 29, 2014.
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Ebola
5:12 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

First U.S. Case Of Ebola Confirmed In Dallas

A patient at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas has a confirmed case of Ebola, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. He is being treated and kept in strict isolation.
LM Otero AP

Originally published on Wed October 1, 2014 2:10 pm

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Tuesday that the first case of Ebola has appeared in the U.S.

A man in Dallas has tested positive for the virus, the agency said. The man flew to the U.S. from Liberia, arriving on Sept. 20, NPR has learned. He wasn't sick on the flight, and had no symptoms when he arrived.

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Mental Health
3:08 pm
Sat August 30, 2014

How This County Program Keeps Mental Health Patients Out of Jail & In Treatment

The MCOT program kept 80 percent of patients in mental health crises out of county jails and emergency rooms.
Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Ben Johnson is combing through a list of names, addresses and mental health histories in the driver seat of a Jeep Compass. He works for Austin’s Mobile Crisis Outreach Team, MCOT, a branch of Austin Travis County Integral Care comprised of 18 licensed mental health counselors who respond to mental health crises across the county.

Johnson is deciding who to visit today. Another patient has paranoia. In addition, she's having problems at home, and is in danger of losing her housing. 

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Health
7:45 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Build A Toothbrush, Change The World. Or Not

The MD Brush has an unusual grip that automatically angles the brush head at 45 degrees.
Meredith Rizzo NPR

Originally published on Wed August 27, 2014 9:08 am

Some people dream of climbing Mount Everest or riding a bicycle across the country. Mike Davidson's dream has been to create the perfect toothbrush, and now he thinks he's done it.

The saga of this brush tells a lot about the passion and persistence to take an idea and turn it into a product.

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Ebola
7:52 am
Tue August 12, 2014

Ebola Update: Spanish Priest Dies; WHO Gives OK To Experimental Drugs

A health worker cleans his hands with chlorinated water before entering an Ebola screening tent Monday at a government hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone. The World Health Organization cites 1,848 cases of the deadly disease across West Africa.
Michael Duff AP

Originally published on Tue August 12, 2014 1:24 pm

Ebola continues to spread in West Africa. The latest figures from the World Health Organization cite 1,848 cases of the disease across the region, and 1,013 deaths. Ebola's victims also include a missionary priest who died in Spain after being evacuated from Liberia last week.

The missionary, Miguel Pajares, 75, died at Madrid's Carlos III Hospital, where he was reportedly being treated with an experimental U.S.-made serum called ZMapp.

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