Helping make the health care system work for you

Friday Favorites: 4 health stories you might've missed

If you're lying awake at night, flooded with questions about antibiotic-resistant superbugs or hospital sales, you might want to try meditation.

This may have been a short workweek. But that doesn't mean there was less news!

KPCC's best health stories of the week help you understand the superbug outbreak at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and the proposed sale of the Daughters of Charity hospitals. We also offer you some research that could help you clear your mind of these complex stories.

Superbug FAQ: Where did it come from? What's the risk?

A type of antibiotic-resistant bacteria – known by its acronym, CRE – was reportedly transmitted at UCLA,  between October and January, during endoscopic procedures that use a particular kind of scope that's hard to clean.

This is what gets me: Los Angeles County health officials say UCLA was cleaning these scopes appropriately. And since late January, UCLA  says it's stepped up its game: It's been using gas sterilization to clean the devices – an extra measure that goes beyond recommendations from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and from the manufacturer, Olympus Medical Systems Group.

Read More...

Superbug FAQ: Where did it come from? What's the risk?

washing hands disease flu enterovirus infection

Photo by Kendra/chaparral via Flickr Creative Commons

To prevent the spread of deadly hospital infections, the CDC says patients should take antibiotics only as prescribed, and insist that everyone wash their hands before touching you.

Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center is assuring the public that the hospital is taking all precautionary measures to protect patients against the so-called "superbug" bacteria that's  infected seven patients.  Two patients have died and the hospital says it's notifying 179 others who may have been infected.

Known as Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae - or CRE for short - the bacteria was reportedly transmitted between October and January during endoscopic procedures that use a particular kind of device known as a "duodenoscope." 

These are devices that are threaded down the throat to diagnose and treat certain cancers, gallstones and other digestive disorders.

Where did this superbug come from?

CRE is a naturally occurring bacteria.  It's part of the same family of bacteria as Escherichia coli (E. coli) and is found in human intestines.

Read More...

Friday Favorites: 4 health stories you might've missed

April Moore-Harris via Flickr

No, you still can't eat this if you have to watch your cholesterol, even if the government does drop its longstanding cautions about eating cholesterol-heavy foods.

As Valentine's Day approaches, here's an AirTalk segment about heart health – plus three more health-related stories from KPCC – that you might have missed this week.

Top US nutrition panel to drop warnings about cholesterol bogeyman

The country's top dietary advisory panel - the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee - reportedly is set to drop long-standing cautions about eating cholesterol-heavy foods, according to The Washington Post, as discussed on KPCC’s AirTalk.

The Washington Post's Wonk Blog reports:

The finding follows an evolution of thinking among many nutritionists who now believe that, for healthy adults, eating foods high in cholesterol may not significantly affect the level of cholesterol in the blood or increase the risk of heart disease.

The greater danger in this regard, these experts believe, lies not in products such as eggs, shrimp or lobster, which are high in cholesterol, but in too many servings of foods heavy with saturated fats, such as fatty meats, whole milk, and butter.

Read More...

Google aims to cure misleading medical searches

laptop and stethoscope

jfcherry via Flickr for Creative Commons

Google says its new health-related search results should not be mistaken as medical advice.

Can you remember the last time you looked up a symptom or health condition on Google?

I remember referring to Dr. Google in college. I was lethargic and losing weight. The search engine led me to results that made me think I had AIDS. Turns out, I was just anemic.

I'm not alone in my online search for a diagnosis: According to Google, one in 20 searches are for health-related information. And a 2012 survey from the Pew Research Center found that 72 percent of Internet users said they looked online for health information in the past year.

It's so common, in fact, that there's now a term – cyberchondria – for when researching your symptoms online fuels anxiety about your health.

Better searches

Now Google says it wants to dramatically improve the quality of its health-related search results.

Read More...

Disney measles outbreak: Do you have more questions about measles?

child vaccine measles vaccination immunization shot band-aid

Tim Sewell via Flickr Creative Commons

Showing off the Band-Aid after getting immunized.

Read our Measles FAQ

It was just over a month ago that the California Department of Public Health first announced that people contracted measles while visiting the Disney theme parks in Anaheim.

Since then, KPCC’s Measles Team has been trying to provide you with information and context about this disease, which has now sickened more than 100 people in California and spread across the country.

Still, we know that many of you have more questions and concerns about how to keep yourselves, and your loved ones, safe and healthy during this outbreak.

I recently answered a few questions on Take Two. But more questions have flooded in, in the comment sections of stories and via social media. (Thank you for your responses!)

So we wanted to give you another chance to ask questions about measles, and get them answered.

Read More...