Health

Health
4:25 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

Computerized Health Records Breeding Some Digital Discontent

Electronic medical records can have drawbacks, too.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 5:50 pm

Two years and $8.4 billion into the government's effort to get doctors to take their practices digital, some unintended consequences are starting to emerge.

One is a lot of unhappy doctors. In a big survey by Medscape, an online site for doctors, 38 percent of the doctors polled said they were unhappy with their electronic medical records system.

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Health
9:55 am
Mon December 3, 2012

Texas Democrats See Path to Medicaid Expansion

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Despite Gov. Rick Perry’s firm opposition to a key tenet of federal health reform — expanding the state’s Medicaid program for those with low incomes — Texas Democrats remain optimistic that the 2013 legislative session can yield a deal that brings in billions in additional federal dollars.

It will be a tough sell: No Republican lawmakers have gone on record supporting the Medicaid expansion, which would add an estimated 1.8 million Texans onto the joint state-federal health plan by 2022.

But state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, said fiscal conservatives have an incentive to reach an agreement “because the alternative is going to cost us much more economically and dig a much deeper hole in our budget.”

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Health
8:16 am
Fri November 30, 2012

Texas Cancer Research Agency Gave Out $11M Without Review

A new controversy faces CPRIT.
Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

The state’s cancer research agency has revealed it handed out an $11 million grant without reviewing the proposal.

It’s the latest challenge facing the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, or CPRIT.

The grant was awarded to Peloton Therapeutics in June 2010, making it one of CPRIT's first grants.

The cancer research institute says the oversight was discovered during an internal review.

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Health
8:59 am
Wed November 21, 2012

Pflugerville Lifts Boil Water Notice (Update)

Some Pflugerville residents should boil tap water or drink bottled until further notice.
flickr.com/ag2r

Update: The City of Pflugerville says “The boil water notice is now lifted. Chlorine levels are now at required levels and water is safe to drink.” You can read more here.

Original post (Nov. 20, 7:02 a.m.): The City of Pflugerville is telling people in several subdivisions to boil their water until further notice. The city says a routine check of  the water revealed the chlorine level is too low.

People who live in Pflugerville Heights, Spring Trails, Springbrook and Enclave should boil tap water for at least two minutes before drinking, cooking and making ice.

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Health
3:19 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

Holiday Shoppers, Read This Report on Dangerous Toys

Joy Diaz, KUT News

The holiday shopping season is here. But a consumer advocacy group wants to make sure you don’t buy toys that could endanger the health of children.

One example is the Fisher‑Price Dora the Explorer Guitar pictured above, according to Ilya Slavinski with the Texas Public Interest Research Group. 

“The National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders recommends that no toy should be above 85 decibels. And this Dora Guitar clocked in at 93 decibels,” Slavinski said. “It’s dangerous and can lead to hearing loss.”

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Health Care
4:31 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Computer Issues May Complicate Launch Of Health Insurance Exchanges

Problems with a computer system could delay work on health insurance exchanges.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 2:34 pm

Online insurance markets set to begin selling health coverage to consumers next October may be hampered by software delays.

State regulators learned late last week that an electronic system most insurers will use to submit their policies for state and federal approvals won't be ready for testing next month, as originally planned. The lag is being blamed on the wait for several regulations from the Obama administration that are needed to update the software.

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Health
1:09 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

Two More West Nile Deaths in Travis County (Updated)

Mosquito activity may finally be slowing down across Central Texas.
flickr.com/aesum

Update: Nov. 11, 1:09 p.m.:

Dr. Philip Huang is the Medical Director for Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services. He says there are still some people in the county who are very sick from the virus but he’s hopeful the death total won’t continue to rise.

Dr. Huang says it’s not clear if West Nile will be as big of a problem next year.

“This particular season with the warmer winter and then some of the spring rains seemed to be sort of the conditions that really promoted West Nile activity," Huang says. "So we don’t know how things are going to be next year. But I think there’s certainly some concern that there is going to be for the future continued increase in some mosquito activity and things in the Austin-Travis County area.”

Huang says the county has found mosquitoes testing positive for West Nile as recently as late October.

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Texas
7:12 am
Wed November 14, 2012

New Agency Head Appointed Amid Criminal Investigation

Howard Baldwin (left) stepped down as Commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services. John Specia, Jr. (right) will take his place.
Photos: Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Background Image: flickr.com/thomasletholsen

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission has appointed a new head of the Department of Family and Protective Services.

The previous commissioner resigned last week as an Abilene office of the department is under criminal investigation.

Abilene Police say employees at the Child Protective Services office were not cooperative in the investigation into a toddler’s death in August. Police believe some employees may have tampered with evidence.

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Medical School
2:20 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Lawsuit Aims to Stop Certification of Medical School Vote

A scene from Prop 1's victory party. A legal battle is brewing over the ballot language for the medical school vote.
Kelly Connelly for KUT News

Travis County voters passed Central Health Proposition 1 this week, which increases property taxes to help bring a medical school to Austin.

But a group of citizens is trying to stop the vote from being certified or canvassed.

A lawsuit filed by the Travis County Taxpayers Union (TCTU) says the ballot language of Prop 1 was misleading and made promises that the health care district is not legally able to fulfill.

“We want a federal judge to agree with us that the misleading and illegal ballot language contributed to the victory of Prop 1 at the polls. So the point being, if they had told the truth, we thing the voting outcome would have been different,” Don Zimmerman, TCTU Treasurer, says.

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Women's Health
12:55 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Planned Parenthood Seeks Temporary Injunction to Stay in Women's Health Program (Update)

Credit flickr.com/dogra, Lizzie Chen for KUT News

Update: Planned Parenthood received a temporary injunction against the state today. You can read more here

Original Post: Planned Parenthood is awaiting a judge’s ruling on their request to extend an injunction against the State of Texas banning its clinics from the Women’s Health Program. The program provides basic screenings and other health services for 130,000 low-income Texas women.

Texas is trying to enforce a law that says state money can’t go to clinics affiliated with abortion clinics. That would exclude Planned Parenthood, which has been the program’s largest provider.

Two weeks ago, Planned Parenthood won a temporary restraining order allowing its clinics to stay in the program. Now, Planned Parenthood is trying to extend the time its clinics can stay in the program.

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Health
12:38 pm
Wed November 7, 2012

With Obama's Victory, Health Law Stays On Track

In June, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was making the case for the repeal of the administration's health law. With his defeat, the law is looking secure.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Wed November 7, 2012 11:58 am

After a shaky few years, President Obama's health care legacy looks secure.

His health overhaul law barely made it through Congress and to his desk. Then there were the legal challenges, launched when the ink of his signature was barely dry, that were resolved by a surprising Supreme Court ruling in June.

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Health
12:09 pm
Wed October 31, 2012

Behind a Halloween Mask, Even 'Good' Kids Can Turn Into Candy Thieves

Is there an angel or a devil behind the mask? Scientists say it may not matter in terms of anonymous behavior.
Joel Saget AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 31, 2012 2:07 pm

Vampires and monsters will be out in force tonight, but some of the darkest creatures out there might be your little angels inside those Halloween costumes.

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Health
1:12 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

Could Romney Repeal The Health Law? It Wouldn't Be Easy

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks about the Supreme Court ruling on health care in Washington on June 28.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Tue October 30, 2012 12:41 pm

You can barely listen to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney make a speech or give an interview without hearing some variation of this vow:

"On Day 1 of my administration, I'll direct the secretary of Health and Human Services to grant a waiver from Obamacare to all 50 states. And then I'll go about getting it repealed," he told Newsmax TV in September 2011.

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Health
12:53 pm
Mon October 29, 2012

Next Breakthrough in Alzheimer's Research Could Happen in Texas

MD Anderson Hospital in Houston.
flickr.com/8113246@N02

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is partnering with Baylor College of Medicine and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study Alzheimer’s and similar neurodegenerative diseases.

Together, the researchers are forming the Neurodegeneration Consortium (NDC). The researchers plan to take what they say is a new approach to studying Alzheimer’s. Most previous research has been based primarily on one theory, which posits that Alzheimer’s and the related degeneration are caused by the build-up of a specific chemical in the brain.

But NDC investigators believe recent medical research and advances indicate that many factors may contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s. They plan to study and identify these factors and hope the knowledge they gain can be used to create better diagnostics and treatments for Alzheimer’s and similar conditions.

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Health
1:25 pm
Fri October 26, 2012

Texas to 'Immediately' Cut Off Women's Health Program Funds to Planned Parenthood (Updated)

A court ruled that Texas no longer has to include Planned Parenthood in the Texas Women's Health Program.
flickr.com/wenews

Update: 1:25 p.m.:

Planned Parenthood isn't giving up the legal fight over whether the state can ban its clinics from the Women's Health Program.

In a lawsuit filed today in state court, Planned Parenthood claims the “Affiliate Ban Rule” that bars its clinics from the program is "invalid" under state law.

Original Story: 6:43 a.m.:

Governor Rick Perry says the state is moving to immediately to cut off funds to Planned Parenthood.

The announcement came after a federal appeals court said Thursday it will not reconsider a decision that says Texas can withhold funds under the Women’s Health Program.

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Health
12:53 pm
Fri October 19, 2012

Rabid Skunks Reported in Western Travis County

Officials want residents (and their pets) to be vigilant around any skunks.
flickr.com/kominyetska

Homeowners never relish the idea of a skunk in their yard, but some western Travis County residents have even more reason to be wary.

The Austin-Travis County Health and Human Services Department says there’s been two cases of rabid skunks in western Travis County, one of which was documented  just days ago.

Health and Human Services shares the following four tips to avoid contact with rabies, which it notes is “almost always fatal in humans once symptoms occur:”

  • Avoid feeding, touching or adopting wild animals, such as bats, skunks, raccoons and foxes.
  • Report suspicious animals to animal control by calling 3-1-1.
  • Vaccinate your family pets or livestock against rabies.
  • If you are bitten or if saliva from a suspected rabid animal comes in contact with your eyes, nose, mouth or a wound, wash the exposure site and seek medical attention immediately.
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Women's Health
4:28 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

Doctors in Women's Health Program Can Discuss Abortion

La'Tonya Ephraim speaks with Carrie Adney, a Women's Health Program client since last year, at Seton-Circle of Care Women's Services in Round Rock, TX.
Callie Richmond, Texas Tribune

In a peace offering of sorts to medical and women's groups on Thursday, Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek announced rules for the new state-run Women's Health Program that permit doctors to discuss abortion with their patients and practice alongside physicians who provide abortions.

“What we wanted was to allow for the one-on-one, private, non-directive counseling between a physician and her patient,” Janek said.

But the new rules have done little to stem the frustration of family planning providers: They come as the state's Republican leaders prepare to run the Women's Health Program on their own — without the federal support the state has received for years, and without Planned Parenthood clinics.

“Once and for all, we implore Texas to put politics aside and put women’s health first," said Ken Lambrecht, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas. "The Women’s Health Program and Planned Parenthood have worked together to provide women with essential health services, including cancer screenings, birth control, and well-woman exams, for the past five years." 

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Health
3:38 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

Girls Vaccinated For HPV Not More Likely To Be Sexually Active

An 18-year-old girl winces as she has her third and final shot of the HPV vaccine.
John Amis AP

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 1:49 pm

Giving the human papillomavirus vaccine to teenage girls doesn't increase the likelihood that they will be sexually active, according to a new study.

That may help put parents at ease; the notion of vaccinating 11- and 12-year-old girls for a sexually transmitted virus has made some uncomfortable, and is one reason why only a little more than half of teenage girls have had the vaccine.

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Bond Election
1:08 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

Prop 17: Health and Human Services

A homeless woman photographed on Austin's streets. Prop 17 would fund an overnight shelter for homeless women.
flickr.com/vubui

As part of our coverage leading up to the elections, KUT News is taking a closer look at each of the seven bond propositions Austin voters will see on their ballots in November. Prop 17 shores up the city’s Health and Human Services efforts.

The $11 million outlined in Prop 17 would pay for several facilities-related projects, including renovations at Austin’s women’s and children’s shelters.

The Austin Resource Center for the Homeless offers showers, laundry facilities, counseling and shelter to Austin’s homeless population – men, women, and children. But overnight accommodations are only available to men. That’s where Prop 17 comes in.

“The bond proposition put forth will allow for construction or the expansion of an existing shelter over on the East Side,” says Jennifer Denton. She’s with Front Steps, which runs the ARCH via a contract with the city. “That will provide a space not only for more women and children, but for the single women on the street that at the moment have nowhere to go.”

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health
6:48 pm
Fri October 12, 2012

Where You Live May Determine What Lives Inside Your Mouth

Scientists examined bacteria in the mouths of twins, and found that it's not as similar as they thought it would be.
Sharon Dominick iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri October 12, 2012 4:28 pm

Lately, we've been learning more and more about the teeming masses of bacteria inside our bodies - essentially trillions of tiny organisms that make us sick and keep us healthy.

Now two scientists at the University of Colorado have dared to ask what kinds of bacteria lives inside our mouths. And they're finding some pretty surprising things in there.

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