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health

Muraco Kyashna-tocha with cockatoo
Amy Radil

Marijuana legalization in Washington is taking effect against a patchwork of conflicting city laws. Some cities don’t allow marijuana dispensaries. But Seattle began requiring business licenses for them last year. Some medical marijuana providers see benefits to playing by cities’ rules. Others are fighting their restrictions.    

People's Harm Reduction Alliance

A public memorial service is planned Thursday for Bob Quinn. Quinn was a public health maverick. He died last month.

It's official: Washington has reached a milestone in creating its own health exchange. On Monday the US Department of Health and Human Services announced Washington is among six states to make significant progress in developing an online market for health plans.

American Indian and Alaska Native veterans can now see local Indian Health Service providers for care that is covered by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

What Hospitals Don't Tell You

Dec 7, 2012
Stethoscope
Flickr Photo/Alex Proimos

Medical mistakes are now the third highest cause of death in the United States, writes Dr. Marty Makary. As a surgeon, Makary has witnessed the power of medicine firsthand. But he's also been shocked by the errors that can have tragic circumstances: wrong limbs amputated, children getting the wrong doses of medicine because of bad handwriting, surgical sponges left inside patients.

Makary advocates for a culture that holds hospitals and doctors accountable for these mistakes in order to bring about positive change in this system. He spoke at Seattle's Town Hall on November 15, 2012.

Medicating Children

Dec 3, 2012
Pink Sherbet Photography / Flickr

Kids and drugs don't mix, unless you're talking about antipsychotic medication. Then they go together like peanut butter and jelly.

From 2001 to 2007, the number of preschool-age kids on such drugs increased by almost half. Between 1996 and 2005, school-age kids using anti-depressants increased even more. Experts disagree on whether we're overmedicating our youth.

In the popular television series Jon and Kate Plus 8, a couple suffering from infertility used artificial insemination to have children. What they didn’t plan on was the set of twins that arrived after the first treatment, and after the second treatment, a set of sextuplets.

Fertility research is now showing that the risk of accidental multiple births is dramatically decreasing. It’s estimated that one in five couples in the US struggle with infertility, and more and more treatment options are becoming available.

Ruby de Luna

Most science exhibits focus on animals, robots or body parts. But a new exhibit at Seattle’s Pacific Science Center focuses on wellness. The goal is to help kids understand how the choices they make affect their overall health.


Lincoln Potter

The mystery of why the Pacific Northwest has one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis in the world is as enduring as the mystery of the D.B. Cooper hijacking — and has proven about as difficult to crack.

Recently, however, scientists have been closing in on some likely triggers that may be causing the body to hijack its own immune system and turn on itself. Those new findings could lead to new treatment strategies in the future.

The psychopath Hannibal Lecter in the movie "Silence of the Lambs" is ruthless.  But he’s also charming, persuasive and highly intelligent.  Cambridge psychology professor Kevin Dutton says when psychopaths don’t turn violent they can become very successful as CEOs, surgeons, or in other professions. His latest book is "The Wisdom Of Psychopaths."

Carol Smith

The Pacific Northwest has one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis in the world, yet the reasons why remain elusive. It’s an old mystery, but one that now has a new face. Today, doctors are seeing a growing number of cases in kids. They hope these young patients will yield more clues to what causes the disease.

Yuya Tamai / Flickr

Here’s another reason why it’s tough being a janitor: In a recent survey, people who clean work places are more prone to the flu. 

Does the business of medicine need more accountability? Dr. Marty Makary thinks so and discusses what needs to happen with Ross Reynolds.

For Young Adults, Autism Diagnosis Opens Doors, Minds

Nov 10, 2012
Dorian Hinkle and Jordan Howard
KUOW photo/Bryan Buckalew

Growing up, Jordan Howard always felt like an outsider. He had trouble making friends, and he felt awkward in groups. He says he felt like one of those misunderstood high school clichés. And he could never put his finger on why.

Alex Brenner, Jordan Howard and Dorian Hinkle
KUOW photo/Bryan Buckalew

The first time Rolando Elias came to work at the Federal Way farmers market, Dr. April Walter was nervous.

“That was a big-time risk,” April says. “It could have blown up in my face.” She opened a tent at the market to give young adults with autism a chance to work.

Cautiously Optimistic: Off To College, With Autism

Nov 10, 2012
KUOW photo/Bryan Buckalew

Alex Brenner walked into his psychologist's office one day this summer and right away, he thought he had done something wrong. Both his parents were standing at the front desk. As he closed the door, his mom handed him a letter. “She said, 'read it.' I sat down. It said, ‘you’re getting into the University of Washington.’”

Alex was stunned. His dad helped him uncork a bottle of champagne and they celebrated on the spot. The University of Washington in Seattle was Alex’s first choice among schools. He had been studying for four years at a community college to get his grades up. All his hard work had finally paid off. But sitting there holding his acceptance letter, another wave of realization washed over him. Soon he’d be living on his own in a new city, a long drive from his parents’ home in Tacoma. He suddenly felt nervous.

The Hayden family / Wikipedia

Charles Sabine was a war correspondent with NBC for 25 years, covering conflicts all over the world — including Bosnia, Baghdad, and the Rwanda genocide. His reporting garnered him an Emmy and many other journalism awards. But four years ago his focus completely changed after getting a genetic test that revealed a lethal fate.

Ross Reynolds talks with Charles Sabine about what it is like to know you have deadly and degenerative disease in your future and the risks and rewards of genetic testing.

Shilo Murphy/People's Harm Reduction Alliance

Bob Quinn, one of the founders of Seattle's needle exchange, died over the weekend. The King County Medical examiner says it was suicide.

No-smoking sign.
Mikl Roventine / Flickr

Tacoma’s public housing is becoming completely smoke-free.  Right now residents can’t smoke in common areas.  But beginning March 1, 2013 residents won’t be allowed to smoke in their apartments.  The ban also includes outdoor areas like patios and balconies. 

A new online Seattle startup called Leafly is targeting medical marijuana patients.  The website (and mobile apps) feature information about medical cannabis strains and dispensaries based on tens of thousands of patient-generated reviews.  Ross Reynolds talks with Leafly’s CEO Brendan Kennedy about how the site works.

Flickr/ Neal Gillis

Public health experts are now recommending that pregnant women get the vaccine for whooping cough during pregnancy. The recommendation is in response to the growing outbreak of the disease in the U.S. So far, there are more than 32,000 reported cases of whooping cough across the country.  If the trend holds, it’s on track to be the highest number of cases since 1959.   

Washington’s Health Exchange now has a formal name. It’s called “Washingtonhealthplanfinder.” The online program was designed to help people shop for individual or small group coverage. It will allow them to compare plans, and to see if they qualify for financial assistance. But it’s not live yet. The site is still under construction.  State officials hope to have the program up and running by next fall. They’re still deciding what kinds of plans will be sold.

You can follow the Exchange's progress, and learn more about it. 

Washington Senator Patty Murray has asked Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to provide a timeline for a review of how the military diagnoses PTSD and other behavioral health issues.

Line at McDonald's
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

It’s been more than two years since King County required chain restaurants to post nutrition information on their menus.  The goal was to help customers make healthy choices. 

Seattle researchers wanted to see if the regulation has changed the way restaurants market their meals.  One change the study found is it seems restaurants are no longer promoting supersized portions or overeating. 

Flickr/erlin 1

The United Kingdom already has a universal health care system. So you might expect that the health gap between rich and poor is smaller in England than it is the United States — but you’d be wrong! 

Melissa Martinson is a professor in the  School of Social Work at the University of Washington and she talks with Ross Reynolds about the differences in health between citizens of the United States and the United Kingdom. 

David K. Randall never gave much thought to his sleep – until he began sleep walking. That first midnight crash into a hallway wall went him on an investigation into the strange science of sleep. Ross Reynolds speaks with the author about his new book, “Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep.” 

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Editors' Note: This story contains graphic descriptions of suicide. If you or someone you know might be suicidal, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 800.273.8255 (800.273.TALK).

Western State Hospital in Lakewood is the largest psychiatric institution in the Pacific Northwest. Its mission statement says the hospital:

Megan Templeton sitting outside
Suzanne Kuhns

Editors' Note: This story contains graphic descriptions of suicide. If you or someone you know might be suicidal, visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 800.273.8255 (800.273.TALK).

In the past decade, a dozen Western State Hospital patients have killed themselves. More than a hundred others have tried.  Megan Templeton was the most recent. In April, she hanged herself in her hospital room. She had turned 20 the day before.

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