health

Investigations
3:00 am
Thu December 5, 2013

How A Recalled Medical Device Killed A Vet At Seattle's VA Hospital

A screenshot from an Infusomat training video warns of the danger of a "free flow" of drugs pouring from the machine if loaded improperly.
Credit B. Braun training video on YouTube.com

Editor’s note 2/7/2014: This story has been edited to remove references to VA officials’ incorrect claim that a Seattle VA nurse saw the Infusomat recall at the FDA website in March 2012. While manufacturer B. Braun sent the VA and other customers its recall notice in March, FDA did not post information about the manufacturer’s March 23, 2012, recall letter until August 1. The story has also been edited to attribute to medical records the statement that, the night Eddie Creed died, a doctor asked his sister if she wanted an autopsy to be done. Creed's sister claims the VA never asked her about an autopsy. The content in the edited story differs from the audio in the original broadcast.

When Eddie Creed, a Seattle jazz musician, died at the Veterans Affairs hospital on Beacon Hill last year, his death certificate said throat cancer had killed him.

But a KUOW investigation reveals what his doctors knew: A medical device called an Infusomat, which had been recalled the month before, ended his life. Still, nobody knows why.

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Website Upgrades
12:16 am
Thu December 5, 2013

HealthCare.gov Now Allows Window Shopping, And A Do-Over

iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 3:31 am

One thing that's clear about the relaunch of the troubled HealthCare.gov website is that it can accommodate more people.

Federal officials said more than 1 million users logged in on Monday, and nearly that many on Tuesday.

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Health Care
7:53 am
Mon December 2, 2013

'I Just Want To Manage My Life': Painkiller Law Leaves Some Patients Behind

Theresa Young and the squirrel-proof bird feeder. Young was left scrambling after her doctor dropped her from his practice following the passage of a pain management law.
Credit KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

Theresa Young, a cancer survivor, could watch the birds outside her Renton apartment for hours. It brings her peace, she says.

The birds line up, one at a time, for their turn to duck into a hole to feed from an amazingly squirrel-proof trough. 

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Health Insurance Deadline
7:00 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Uninsured Fret About Getting Health Coverage By New Year's Day

For Tambra Momi, who has Dercum's disease, health coverage can't come soon enough.
Courtesy of Tambra Momi

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 9:07 am

Tambra Momi has been eagerly awaiting the promise of guaranteed health insurance.

Since 2011, she has battled Dercum's disease, a rare and painful condition in which noncancerous tumors sprout throughout her body, pressing against nerves.

Jobless and in a wheelchair, Momi needs nine different drugs, including one costing $380 a month, to control the pain and side effects. No insurer has been willing to cover her, she says, except a few that have taken her money and then refused to pay for her medications.

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Hormone Therapy
7:46 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Estrogen May Not Help Prevent Fuzzy Thinking After Menopause

Hormones clearly influence a women's health, but figuring out how is a tricky business.
Andrew Ostrovsky iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed November 27, 2013 8:16 am

There's a widely held belief that women experience moodiness and fuzzy thinking because of the drop in estrogen during menopause. And women have looked to hormone replacement therapy for relief.

But researchers increasingly think there's not much of a link between declining levels of estrogen during menopause and cognition.

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Genetic Testing
4:40 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

What One Medical Geneticist Learned From 23andMe

Flickr Photo/Matt Molina

David Hyde talks with medical geneticist Marshall Horwitz about his experience as a customer of 23andMe, a private company that sells DNA analysis kits.

Your Health
11:54 pm
Sun November 24, 2013

In Pregnancy, What's Worse? Cigarettes Or The Nicotine Patch?

Illustration by Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 10:41 am

Lots of studies have shown that cigarette smoke isn't good for a fetus. So many pregnant women use nicotine gum or skin patches or inhalers to help them stay away from cigarettes.

A few years ago, Megan Stern became one of those women. "I smoked heavily for the first seven weeks of my pregnancy because I didn't know I was pregnant," she says. "It was an accidental pregnancy, and I found out while I was in the emergency room for another issue."

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Seasonal Affective Disorder
4:43 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

The Difference Between Being Sad And Having SAD

Flickr Photo/Josh Semans

Steve Scher talks with psychiatrist Dr. Tobias Dang from Group Health about Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Gut Feeling
5:45 am
Mon November 18, 2013

Gut Bacteria Might Guide The Workings Of Our Minds

Illustration by Benjamin Arthur for NPR

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 9:58 am

Could the microbes that inhabit our guts help explain that old idea of "gut feelings?" There's growing evidence that gut bacteria really might influence our minds.

"I'm always by profession a skeptic," says Dr. Emeran Mayer, a professor of medicine and psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles. "But I do believe that our gut microbes affect what goes on in our brains."

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Affordable Care Act
2:53 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

Mike Kreidler: Why You Can't Keep Your Bad Health Insurance Plan

Flickr Photo/kindagetmego

Marcie Sillman talks with Mike Kreidler, Washington State Insurance Commissioner, about his decision to reject President Obama's proposal to allow consumers to retain, for an extra year, health insurance policies that aren't up to the standards of the Affordable Care Act.

Health Exchange
7:53 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Slow Start, Mixed Results For Health Care Law In Northwest

A screengrab of Washington's health plan finder website.
Washington Health Benefit Exchange

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 10:38 am

The first numbers on enrollment under the new health care law confirm a slow start and mixed results in Northwest states.

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24 Hour Radio Race
1:00 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

'Mommy Has Something Called Cancer': Stories Of Bad News

If you've ever had to share bad news with the people you love, this short piece about breast cancer should resonate. It manages to wring precious humor from a bad situation. The piece, produced by Albert Dayan & Eric Drachman, won second place in KCRW's 24-Hour Radio Race, in which contestants had 24 hours to write, record, and edit a non-fiction radio story.

PacMed Building
6:52 am
Tue November 12, 2013

Nineties Real Estate Deal Proved To Be Money-Loser For Washington State

Nick Cockrell with Washington’s Department of Enterprise Services gives a tour of the state-owned Rhodes Center in Tacoma which, he says, loses about $500,000 a year.
Austin Jenkins Northwest News Network

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 3:32 pm

The state of Washington is expected to sign a 30-year lease Tuesday for Seattle’s iconic Pacific Tower on Beacon Hill.

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Public Health
12:01 am
Tue November 12, 2013

WHO Rates Typhoon's Medical Challenges "Monumental"

A woman comforts a pregnant relative suffering labor pains at a makeshift birthing clinic in typhoon-battered city of Tacloban, Philippines on Nov. 11.
Erik de Castro Reuters /Landov

Images of the swath of devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan in the central Philippines are reminiscent of the tsunami's aftermath in Banda Aceh, Indonesia nearly a decade ago.

And indeed, the World Health Organization grades the great typhoon of 2013 as a Category 3 disaster – its most severe category.

"The scale [of the typhoon's damage] is huge," Dr. Richard Brennan of the World Health Organization tells Shots. "It's monumental. This is one of the biggest emergencies we've dealt with in some time."

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Public Health
1:52 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

Uptick In Measles Cases Highlights Need For Vaccination

File photo. Recent measles cases in the Northwest highlight the need to be vaccinated against the infection.
Wikimedia

Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 5:19 pm

Public health officials say recent measles cases in the Northwest highlight the need to be vaccinated against the infection.

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