Health

Health
4:36 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

This Vision Clinic on Wheels Helps Central Texas Kids See Better

The mobile vision clinic at work.
Lynn Romero for KUT News

The future is a little clearer for Central Texas students who need glasses.

Today, the Kids Vision for Life mobile vision clinic was unveiled at Perez Elementary School, an Austin ISD school that serves the Dove Springs neighborhood hit by devastating floods last October.

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Health
12:06 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Online Doctor Ratings About As Useful As Those For Restaurants

Would a doctor dressing neatly affect your rating?
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu February 20, 2014 9:58 am

If you're looking to go out for dinner, see a movie or plunk down big bucks on a new TV, chances are you'll look online for help with the decision.

Lots of people are now checking out potential doctors that way, too. Online ratings are becoming part of how many Americans shop for a physician, according to a study in the latest issue of JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association.

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Health
7:19 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Weather May Be Behind Travis County Infant Death Increase

AAP recomends that infants sleep in a crib without hazards such as pillows or blankets

In the first six weeks of 2014, the Travis County Medical Examiner's Office has had five cases of infants dying while on the same sleep surface as one or more adults. Forensic Nurse Leanne Courtney says that's more than in all of each of the previous two years.

"There were four, both for 2013 and 2012; however, the total amount of infant deaths last year were eight, but so far this year, we're creeping up towards that number, so we really want to emphasize to parents and caretakers about the risks of unsafe sleeping environments," Courtney said.

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Food
3:36 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Americans Want Antibiotic-Free Chicken, And The Industry Is Listening

Do these chickens look medicated?
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu February 20, 2014 6:34 am

In an age when consumers want transparency in how their food is produced, meat producers are under the microscope.

And the meat industry is responding: Antibiotic-free chicken is showing up everywhere you look.

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Abortion
8:50 am
Wed February 19, 2014

What It Takes For Texas Abortion Doctors To Get Admitting Privileges

Texas abortion doctors must receive admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic. The process is lengthy and complex.
Spencer Selvidge/KUT

Houston doctor Theodore Herring Jr. had his license temporarily suspended last week, after he was found to have violated a new state law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

That provision is among the ones under review by the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. While the law is tied up in that court, abortion doctors in Texas are still required to follow it – meaning they need admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic.

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Abortion
5:10 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Texas Medical Board Suspends Abortion Doctor's License

Janet Crepps, center, of the Center for Reproductive Rights, argued against the admitting privileges provision of House Bill 2 at a federal district court in Austin in 2013 and at the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in January 2014.
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

A Texas doctor is without his medical license for violating a part of the state’s new abortion law. 

The Texas Medical Board temporarily suspended the license on Feb. 13 of Dr. Theodore Herring, Jr. He performed almost 270 abortions between last November and earlier February without having the required hospital admitting privileges.

It’s the first time that a Texas doctor has faced license suspension since most of the state’s abortion law's provisions went into effect in October. The law requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic.

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Austin
5:23 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Steady Increase in Number of Travis County Residents Living with HIV

The Austin area has seen a 41% increase in the number of residents living with HIV/AIDS from 2006-2012
CDC

More people are living with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus in Travis County.

Between 2006 and 2012, the number of people with HIV has increased 41 percent -- to 5,084 people. During those years, the overall population of Travis County increased only by about 17 percent.

Dr. Phillip Huang, Medical Director of Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services, says much of the increase is because of life-sustaining HIV drugs.

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Affordable Care Act
7:27 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

No Medicaid Expansion Leaves Thousands of Texas Women in 'Coverage Gap'

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Governor Perry’s decision not to accept federal expansion of Medicaid in Texas means 687,000 women will be left in a "coverage gap," according to a report by the National Women’s Law Center. Those women are too poor to qualify for Medicaid, but don’t make enough money to be eligible for subsidies on the federal health insurance exchange. 

Medicaid eligibility standards in Texas are among the strictest in the nation. A parent in a family of three must make less than $3,737 annually to qualify (19 percent of the federal poverty level), according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Adults without dependent children are not eligible for Medicaid in Texas. 

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Health
4:44 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Call the Midwife: Natural Childbirth Available at Seton Medical Center

Women can now give birth with the guidance of a certified midwife at Seton Medical Center in Austin.
Morgue File

Austin women looking for a natural childbirth now have another option: they can give birth at Seton Medical Center with the guidance of a midwife.

Today, Seton announced a collaboration with the Austin Area Birthing Center welcoming certified nurse midwives into the delivery room.  

Some women want to give birth with little medical intervention – but sometimes complications arise, requiring a hospital delivery. Others want the guidance of a midwife – but prefer the peace of mind a being in a hospital. Now, this is possible at Seton Medical Center.

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Health
11:00 am
Thu January 16, 2014

FDA Asks Doctors To Stop Prescribing High-Dose Acetaminophen

The prescription painkiller sold under the brand-name Vicodin contains hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen. To reduce the risk of liver damage, the Food and Drug Administration is moving to limit the amount of acetaminophen allowed in prescription medicines.
Toby Talbot AP

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 10:17 am

The pain reliever acetaminophen is easy on the stomach. But at high doses, the drug can be hell on the liver.

Now the Food and Drug Administration is asking doctors to refrain from prescribing drugs that contain high doses of acetaminophen to minimize the risk of liver damage.

Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in nonprescription Tylenol. But it's also inside quite a few prescription pain pills, including Vicodin and Percocet.

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Health
8:11 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Child is Season's 9th Travis County Flu Death

H1N1 virus as seen through an electron microscope
CDC

Nine deaths from influenza in Travis County this flu season represent just one measure of how severe the season has been.

Dr. Phil Huang, Medical Director of the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department, notes that cases started showing up earlier in the season, toward the end of 2013, and that patients under the age of 60 were among the most severely affected. 

"Definitely what we're seeing is worse than what we've seen in some past seasons," Dr. Huang said, "and also the population that's being affected with some of the more severe illness is a younger population than what we were seeing." 

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Health
5:30 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Pregnant Woman Kept On Life Support Despite Family's Wishes

Erick and Marlise Munoz are pictured with their first child, Mateo, who is now 15 months old. (Courtesy of the family)

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 4:13 pm

A 33-year-old Texas woman named Marlise Munoz has been connected to life support machines for more than a month, after she collapsed on the kitchen floor of her home.

Her husband says she would not have wanted to be kept alive this way, but the hospital has refused to follow that wish, citing a Texas law that forbids medical officials from cutting off life support to a pregnant patient.

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Health
7:03 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Power for Parkinson's Inspires Patients to Step Into an Active Life

At a Power for Parkinson's class, patients stay active by dancing to the music of 'Singin' in the Rain.'
Phoebe Flanigan

With a vibrant live music scene, a bustling tech sector and a top-flight university, Austin seems like an oasis for young people.

However, the seemingly youthful Texas capital isn't wasted on the young. 

The Austin-Round Rock area has the fastest growing population of people between ages 55 and 64, and the third-fastest growing for those 65 and over, according to U.S. Census data. 

An organization called Power for Parkinson's is offering those affected by the disease a chance to step forward into an active, healthy life. 

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Health
1:46 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

Defibrillators Save Lives, But Experts Say They're Scarce in Austin

Photo via http://www.flickr.com/photos/mloberg/

All the holiday stress, dehydration and alcohol consumption at this time of the year can lead to something called “holiday heart syndrome.” It’s an irregular heartbeat that often presents in people who are otherwise healthy.

If someone collapses around you, you might be able to save their lives with an automated external defibrillator, or AED. But public health experts say there aren’t nearly enough of them out there. 

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Health
5:00 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

H1N1 Causes Early Spikes in Flu Cases

Five deaths have been attributed to the flu in Texas, one of the hardest hit states in the nation.
CDC

The flu season has hit unusually early this year, and according to the Centers for Disease Control, Texas is one of the states hardest hit. Physicians are urging everyone to get a flu shot. 

Typically, the flu season peaks in January, but so far this year at least five deaths have already occurred in Texas. At a press conference Monday, medical experts at Seton Medical Center Austin said the number of positive flu tests has doubled over the past two weeks.

Dr. Irfan Hydari, the medical director of emergency services at Seton, said the flu strand that is responsible for the vast majority of illnesses is H1N1, or swine flu. That strand became notorious in 2009 when it caused a flu pandemic

But Hydari said vaccine technology continues to improve, and this year it has been adapted to combat H1N1.

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Affordable Care Act
12:12 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

Faith-Based Alternatives To Obamacare Are Taking Off In Texas

Shutterstock

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 10:30 am

Under Obamacare, nearly every American has to have health insurance or pay a penalty. One of the few exceptions is for people who are members of what’s called “health care sharing ministries.” The two largest sharing ministries – Samaritan and Medi-Share – have both nearly doubled their membership in Texas since the Affordable Care Act.

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Affordable Care Act
3:57 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Microsoft Executive Will Now Run HealthCare.gov

Kurt DelBene, former president of the Microsoft Office Division, talks about Microsoft Office 365 at a news conference in San Francisco, in 2010.
Paul Sakuma AP

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 11:49 am

The Obama administration announced on Tuesday that former Microsoft executive Kurt DelBene will take over the operation of the troubled HealthCare.gov website.

DelBene will take over for Jeff Zients, who was appointed by President Obama to rescue the site after it launched with crippling problems. Zients, who Obama had turned to in the past to fix sticky issues, had made it clear that he was not going to stay on the job past December.

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Health
7:52 am
Mon December 9, 2013

Heroin In The 'Burbs: Women Moving From Pain Pills To The Hard Stuff

Sara Kendall, 26, lives in Oak Cliff with her son Jaxon. Kendall got hooked on prescription pain pills in high school, and then heroin. She got sober with the help of Nexus Recovery Center in Dallas, which she still visits to share her story.
Lauren Silverman KERA News

Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 9:57 am

When a heroin epidemic swept through North Texas in the 1990s, it left at least two dozen young people dead. Then the drug seemed to go into hibernation.

Now the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says it’s seeing an alarming number of women from affluent Dallas suburbs buying heroin. And, for many, the addiction begins with prescription pain pills.

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Texas Abortion Lawsuit
1:37 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

After SCOTUS, Abortion Providers Work to Secure Access

Activists on either side of the abortion debate clash inside the Capitol on June 12, 2013. The Texas Senate approved new abortion restrictions that night.
Gabriel Cristóver Pérez for KUT News

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Tuesday not to intervene in Texas’ ongoing abortion litigation, Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers are working to secure access to the procedure for women across the state.

“We’re working to help make sure that our patients and women across Texas can get the services that they need,” said Eric Ferrero, vice president of communications for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. He said Planned Parenthood staff is predominantly working to secure hospital admitting privileges for physicians who don’t have them. Staffers are also helping women who must now travel long distances to access abortion; in some cases, they are helping to offset the costs of transportation and lodging.

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Affordable Care Act
10:27 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Oregon Shines On Medicaid, As Texas Stalls On Sign-Ups

Kyle Thompson and his family are all going to have health coverage in Oregon, thanks to the state's successful effort to enroll people in Medicaid.
Kristian Foden-Vencil

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 6:29 pm

Oregon might be seen as a complete failure or a surprising success when it comes to its health insurance exchange.

One the one hand, the state's website has yet to allow a single person to enroll. That's a big problem for the folks who are hoping to qualify for subsidies and buy insurance that will start Jan. 1.

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