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KHN First Edition: August 2, 2016


First Edition

Tuesday, August 02, 2016
Check Kaiser Health News online for the latest headlines

Coming soon: We will be launching a Weekly Roundup that highlights original KHN articles from the past week. Adjust your settings here if you would like to receive it.

Kaiser Health News: Web Tool Reduced Medical Missteps During Hospital-Shift Changes: Study
Kaiser Health News staff writer Shefali Luthra reports: "It’s 4 p.m., and if you’re a hospital patient, that could be one of the most critical times of the day. Your doctor’s shift just ended, and someone new will take over your care. How these professionals communicate could have major repercussions for your recovery. Those shift changes, also known as handoffs, are prime opportunities for key information about a patient’s condition to get lost in the shuffle. It’s essential that these relevant points are not only captured, but also effectively conveyed between hospital staff." (Luthra, 8/1)

Kaiser Health News: Gun Violence And Mental Health Laws, 50 Years After Texas Tower Sniper
KERA's Lauren Silverman, in partnership with KHN and NPR, reports: "For some people, the attack on police officers by a gunman in Dallas this summer brought to mind another attack by a sniper in Austin 50 years ago – on Aug. 1, 1966. That's when student Charles Whitman stuck his rifle over the edge of the clock tower at the University of Texas at Austin and started shooting. Ultimately, he killed 16 people — and wounded more than 30 others. For decades, people have struggled to figure out why. There have been theories about abuse, a brain tumor and, of course, mental illness." (Silverman, 7/29)

Kaiser Health News: Teaching Future Doctors About Addiction
Natalie Jacewicz, in partnership with KHN and NPR, reports: "Jonathan Goodman can recall most of the lectures he's attended at the Stanford University School of Medicine. He can recite detailed instructions given more than a year ago about how to conduct a physical. But at the end of his second year, the 27-year-old M.D.-Ph.D. student could not remember any class dedicated to addiction medicine. Then he recalled skipping class months earlier. Reviewing his syllabus, he realized he had missed the sole lecture dedicated to that topic. "I wasn't tested on it," Goodman said, with a note of surprise." (Jacewicz, 8/2)

Kaiser Health News: Study Bodes Well For Biosimilars But Highlights Need For More Research
Kaiser Health News staff writer Sydney Lupkin reports: "Research released Monday finds comparable safety and efficacy for one type of biosimilar drugs, complex medicines intended to be near-copies of some of the most costly prescription drugs on the market, but highlights the need for more information on the products. In the absence of generic alternatives to these pricey treatments, called biologics, biosimilar drugs hold great promise for U.S. patients and their wallets." (Lupkin, 8/1)

The New York Times: Zika Surge In Miami Neighborhood Prompts Travel Warning
Federal health officials on Monday urged pregnant women to stay away from a Miami neighborhood where they have discovered additional cases of Zika infection — apparently the first time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised people not to travel to a place in the continental United States. Florida officials said the number of Zika cases caused by local mosquitoes had risen to 14 from the four announced on Friday: 12 men and two women. They declined to say whether either woman was pregnant. All of the cases have been in one neighborhood. (Belluck, 8/1)

The Associated Press: CDC Warns Pregnant Women Against Zika-Stricken Part Of Miami
Government health officials warned pregnant women Monday to avoid a Zika-stricken part of Miami and told couples who have been there recently to put off having children for at least two months, after the number of people feared infected through mosquito bites in the U.S. climbed to 14. In its highly unusual and perhaps unprecedented travel warning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said expectant mothers should get tested for the virus if they have visited the neighborhood since mid-June. (8/1)

The Washington Post: Zika Fear Prompts Travel Warning For Miami, CDC’s First In U.S.
“It is truly a scary situation,” said Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “This is a really tough mosquito to control.” The travel warnings and growing outbreak mark a troubling but not unexpected turn for efforts to stem the virus’s spread through the United States, and they could have profound impacts on Florida’s tourism-heavy economy. It also demonstrates how even the best prepared communities may struggle to deal with a virus that spreads so readily. (Sun, Harwell and Dennis, 8/1)

Politico: CDC Issues Zika Travel Warning For Miami
[Gov. Rick] Scott has asked the CDC to send an emergency response team to Florida to help with mosquito control, sample collection, and investigating the virus. Previously, the CDC had sent a medical epidemiologist to the state but not the agency's full response team. (Cook, 8/1)

The Associated Press: Homegrown Zika Raises More Questions About The Evolving Risk
Homegrown mosquitoes have infected more than a dozen people with Zika in a small area of Miami, and officials are recommending that pregnant women stay away from the neighborhood. The Zika infections are the first from mosquito bites on the U.S. mainland. Scientists don't expect big outbreaks in U.S. states like those in hard-hit parts of Latin America and the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico. (8/1)

The Associated Press: Obama: Strides On Helping Veterans But More Work To Do
President Barack Obama said Monday that the U.S. has made serious strides in improving services for military veterans, but work remains to overcome shortcomings in the delivery of health care, housing and mental health services. He called the nation's commitment to its veterans a "sacred covenant." "I don't use those words lightly. It's sacred because there is no more solemn request than to ask someone to risk their life, to be ready to give their life on our behalf," Obama said at the annual convention of the Disabled American Veterans. (8/1)

The New York Times: Obama Says V.A. Has Made Progress On Veterans Health Care
The president acknowledged that many veterans remained frustrated by the health care bureaucracy, calling continued delays in seeing doctors “inexcusable.” And he said the country needed to do more to help economically struggling veterans. But veteran homelessness, he said, has been cut almost in half since 2010, when the administration outlined a national strategy on the issue. He vowed to continue working with states and cities toward “ending the tragedy, the travesty of veterans’ homelessness.” (Shear, 8/1)

The Wall Street Journal: Two More Health Co-Ops Sue Over Health Law’s Risk-Adjustment Formula
Two more health cooperatives have filed lawsuits against the Obama administration over a program in which insurers compensate each other for taking on sicker customers under the Affordable Care Act, following a similar lawsuit in June from another startup company. New Mexico Health Connections and Minuteman Health of Massachusetts filed their cases on Friday afternoon, arguing the Obama administration mismanaged the program known as “risk adjustment” by creating an inaccurate formula that overly rewarded big insurers. (Radnofsky and Wilde Mathews, 8/1)

The Wall Street Journal: Theranos Makes Case To Laboratory Experts
Theranos Inc. founder Elizabeth Holmes announced a new blood-testing device at an academic conference here Monday but didn’t address problems found with the company’s earlier machines. At the annual meeting of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry, a group of laboratory scientists, Ms. Holmes described a device, called miniLab, resembling a computer printer. Theranos says it can run tests accurately on as little as 160 microliters of blood, or a few drops, pricked from a finger. (Carreyrou, 8/1)

Reuters: Theranos CEO Faces Critics, Presents New Product Plans
The chief executive of embattled Theranos Inc on Monday presented plans for a new product and said the blood testing company was working diligently to rectify all of its outstanding issues involving its product and laboratory operations. CEO Elizabeth Holmes described new technologies that she said were "distinct from the operations of our clinical laboratories" that have come under scrutiny - part of a presentation before some 2,650 scientists at the American Association for Clinical Chemistry meeting in Philadelphia. (Barlyn and Berkrot, 8/1)

The New York Times: Theranos, Embattled Laboratory, Shifts To Medical Machines
Ms. Holmes said that Theranos, the company she started, was developing a new version of its technology that she called the mini-laboratory, or miniLab. She said the technology would be able to perform multiple types of medical tests in a box that could be placed on a table in a doctor’s office. She said the company was seeking approval of a test to detect infection by the Zika virus. The presentation suggested that Theranos was shifting its business model toward selling medical testing machines, rather than strictly being a laboratory that performs tests by itself. (Pollack, 8/1)

The New York Times: With Room Service And More, Hospitals Borrow From Hotels
At the Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital outside Detroit, patients arrive to uniformed valets and professional greeters. Wi-Fi is free and patient meals are served on demand 24 hours a day. Members of the spa staff give in-room massages and other treatments. While clinical care is the focus of any medical center, hospitals have many incentives to move toward hotel-inspired features, services and staff training. Medical researchers say such amenities can improve health outcomes by reducing stress and anxiety among patients, while private rooms can cut down on the transfer of disease. (Weed, 8/1)

NPR: FDA-Approved Knock-Offs Of Biotech Drugs Could Safely Save Big Bucks
Copycat versions of biotech drugs work just as well as the originals and cost a lot less, according to an analysis of studies of the medicines. The analysis by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health finds that so-called biosimilars — medications that are meant to mimic, and compete with, complex and expensive biotech drugs — perform as well as the brand-name versions. (Kodjak, 8/1)

The New York Times: Setting The Body’s ‘Serial Killers’ Loose On Cancer
The young surgeon was mystified. A fist-size tumor had been removed from the stomach of his patient 12 years earlier, but his doctors had not been able to cut out many smaller growths in his liver. The cancer should have killed him, yet here he lay on the table for a routine gallbladder operation. The surgeon, Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg, examined the man’s abdominal cavity, sifting his liver in his fingers, feeling for hard, dense tumors — but he could find no trace of cancer. It was 1968. Dr. Rosenberg had a hunch he had just witnessed an extraordinary case in which a patient’s immune system had vanquished cancer. (Pollack, 8/1)

The Washington Post: After Their Children Died Of Overdoses, These Families Chose To Tell The Truth
As opioid abuse rages and its legacy of overdose deaths continues to climb, more bereaved families are responding by publicly exposing addiction as the demon. Swapping openness for ambiguity in death notices — “died after a long struggle with addiction” replaces “died suddenly at home” — they are challenging the stigma and shame often bound up in substance abuse. Maybe more important, they’re sounding alarms about the far-reaching grasp of addiction. (Fleming, 8/1)

The Washington Post: Large DNA Study Using 23andMe Data Finds 15 Sites Linked To Depression
Scientists announced on Monday that they had pinpointed 15 locations in our DNA that are associated with depression, one of the most common mental health conditions and one that is estimated to cost the world billions in health-care costs and lost productivity. Although gene association studies — which link DNA inherited from our parents to particular diseases, conditions or even habits such as vegetarianism — are published practically every week, this is a particularly important one. (Cha, 8/1)

The Associated Press: Medical Benefits Of Dental Floss Unproven
It’s one of the most universal recommendations in all of public health: Floss daily to prevent gum disease and cavities. Except there’s little proof that flossing works. Still, the federal government, dental organizations and manufacturers of floss have pushed the practice for decades. Dentists provide samples to their patients; the American Dental Association insists on its website that, “Flossing is an essential part of taking care of your teeth and gums.” (Donn, 8/2)

The Washington Post: Older Patients Sometimes Need To Get Off Their Meds, But It Can Be A Struggle
According to a 2008 study, more than half of older Americans take five or more medications. It’s easy to imagine how such lengthy medication lists arise. When a patient comes in with a problem, doctors often respond with a medication intended to fix that problem. That’s usually the right thing to do. The patient with heartburn may deserve an acid-suppressing medicine. The patient with high cholesterol should be treated with a cholesterol-lowering agent. And for my patient, at one point in his life, he had needed three medicines to bring his blood pressure to its target range. There’s also a truth that physicians fail to acknowledge: When patients expect treatment, we are more likely to prescribe a drug — whether a medication is needed or not. (Parikh, 8/1)

The Washington Post: She Found Relief For PTSD With A Different Kind Of Therapy. But Does It Work?
Brynne Henn, 26, leaned back onto a pristine white couch and settled white-and-red headphones over her ears. She picked up a handset, grasping one buzzer in each hand, closed her eyes, and the session began. The room was quiet. Through the headphones, Henn heard an alternating tone — first in the right ear, then the left, back and forth. The handset buzzed in synchrony, right-left-right-left, part of a trauma treatment that also involves recalling painful memories. She turned her thoughts to the day her brother, Nate, died. (Schreiber, 8/1)

The Associated Press: Judge To Weigh Ohio Law Aimed At Planned Parenthood Funds
A federal judge is weighing whether to continue blocking an Ohio law that diverts public money from Planned Parenthood. U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett is scheduled to hear arguments Tuesday in Cincinnati on the merits of the law and whether it should remain on hold. The law was set to take effect in May, though a temporary order suspends it from doing so until Friday. (8/2)

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent operating program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. (c) 2016 Kaiser Health News. All rights reserved.

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