health care

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Portland Water Given a Clean Bill of Health

Posted By on Sun, May 25, 2014 at 8:45 AM

Nearly 700,000 residents of Portland, Ore., and its surrounding communities are free to turn on the tap again—their water has been given a clean bill of health.

Portland Water Bureau officials said Saturday that a follow-up test of the city’s drinking water showed it was clear of contamination with harmful bacteria—and residents would no longer have to boil it first.

The announcement came a day after officials said they found E. coli in previous water samples.

A number of Portland restaurants chose to shut down Friday and Saturday, saying they had to throw away food and produce that had been washed in potentially contaminated water.

Water bureau officials pointed to animal waste in an uncovered reservoir at Oregon's Mount Tabor as the source of the contamination.

"We may never know what kind of animal waste, but when we drain the reservoir we will look for obvious smoking guns like dead birds at the bottom," said Portland Water Bureau Administrator David Shaff.

The Portland Water Bureau's website crashed during the alert from all the web traffic.

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

E.Coli Scare Sends Bottled Water Flying Off Shelves in Portland

Posted By on Sat, May 24, 2014 at 8:00 AM

Residents and visitors to Portland, Ore., are struggling with a major health scare, as they're being cautioned to boil their drinking water this holiday weekend after the discovery of e.coli bacteria in the city's water supply.

The city-wide boil notice, which went out May 23, affects more than 700,000 residents of Portland and several suburbs. It will remain in effect until the water supply is deemed safe. No word yet on how that water became contaminated.

Portland retailers scrambled to to make arrangements for abundant supplies to be shipped into the region Friday night; meanwhile, bottled water is flying from supermarket shelves.

The samples that tested positive for bacteria were collected this past week from two reservoirs at Oregon's Mount Tabor. The Portland Water Bureau said it collects about 240 bacterial samples per month throughout the system, and the test to determine the presence of bacteria takes 18 hours. Portland officials said contamination can occur when there is a loss of water pressure, a pipe breaks or when conditions expose drinking water to outside elements, such as animal waste.

Portland's Water Bureau drew national attention last month when it discarded more than 35 million gallons of drinking water because a teenager allegedly urinated into a reservoir at Mount Tabor. That reservoir was one of the two that tested positive for e. coli.

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Feds Won't Release Names of Restaurants That Served Contaminated Beef

Posted By on Thu, May 22, 2014 at 9:08 AM

The illnesses of at least 11 people across four states have been linked to contaminated ground beef, leading to the recall of 1.8 million pounds of the product sold under a variety of labels, but coming from one source: the Wolverine Packing Company in Detroit.

And while the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service says at least five retailers may have received the tainted products—none of them in Idaho—government regulators are keeping mum on which restaurants had received or served the beef. It turns out that 10 of those people were sickened after eating at restaurants that received contaminated meat.

"People who were exposed were already exposed, so it doesn't help the public to tell them now that a certain restaurant was associated with these illnesses," David Goldman, assistant administrator for the USDA Office of Public Health Science, told CNN this morning. "Our job really is to identify product that may still be available."

The recall is considered a "Class 1" health hazard, meaning there is a reasonable probability that "the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death."

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Study: Doctors Ignore Warnings, Still Hand Out Too Much Codeine to Kids

Posted By on Mon, Apr 21, 2014 at 9:29 AM

Too many kids are taking too much codeine.

A 10-year-study, published in the journal Pediatrics, is warning that emergency room doctors continue to prescribe codeine to children more than 500,000 times per year, when better options are available.

"Codeine is a pro-drug, which means it's converted into morphine by your liver," Dr. Dyan Hes, a New York City pediatrician, told CBS News. "It doesn't have a good safety protocol profile so the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended for a long time—over 10 years—to not use codeine as a cough suppressant and it's also not effective."

In 2012, the World Health Organization removed codeine from its list of essential drugs. And the AAP has warned U.S. doctors twice—in guidelines issued in 1997 and 2007—to avoid prescribing codeine to children.

Researchers said today's study was the first of its kind to attempt an estimate on the number of children being prescribed codeine in U.S. emergency rooms and to see if those warnings made any difference.

The study authors estimated that each year up to 57,000 children who metabolize codeine quickly are at risk of overdose. Moreover, as many as 250,000 children who metabolize the drug poorly are at risk for low levels leading to inadequate pain relief.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

New North Idaho Medical Facility Mired In Red Tape, Delaying Opening

Posted By on Thu, Apr 17, 2014 at 9:44 AM

North Idaho officials are pointing to a lack of manpower in the Boise headquarters of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare for delaying a much-needed medical rehabilitation center in Coeur d'Alene—costing that community 125 health care jobs.

"That is a deal-killer," Advanced Health Care's Robert Dellenbach told the Coeur d'Alene Press.

This morning's Press reports that Advanced Health Care was told this week that it will have to wait another two years for a license, after spending the past two years preparing its new $7 million medical facility.

"The licensing division in Idaho won't entertain any requests for licensing for at least two years," said Dellenbach.

But Health and Welfare officials claim its the federal government's ocean of red tape that's to blame.

"We could issue a state license right away," Niki Forbing-Orr, spokesperson for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, told the Press. "But if they want to bill Medicare or Medicaid, they need to get the federal certification."

Forbing-Orr added that existing facilities get more immediate attention when they apply for re-certification, bumping up the existing facilities to the top of a four-tier system.

"So this one is low priority," she told the Press.

"We are talking about more than 100 jobs here," Coeur d'Alene Mayor Steve Widmyer said. "This makes me wonder how many more companies are going to be held up by this."

Meanwhile, Dellenbach said his company is opening two other facilities, one in Las Vegas and another in Kansas City.

"We are not getting the same hold-back in those states as we are in Idaho," he told the Press.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Montana Doctor With Idaho Ties Has License Yanked; Examiners Cite 'Irresponsible' Prescribing

Posted By on Tue, Apr 8, 2014 at 9:19 AM

A physician who ran into trouble with Idaho law enforcement before moving to Montana has had his license suspended by the Montana Board of Medical Examiners following a raid on his practice.

In 1998, Idaho prosecutors alleged that Dr. Chris Christensen had prescribed painkillers and narcotics to patients without diagnosing their underlying problems. In 2001, Christensen voluntarily surrendered his medical license for two years while he underwent a pain management course. Additionally, in 1995, Idaho prosecutors alleged that Christensen had prescribed controlled substances to patients outside the scope of his practice. Ultimately, Christensen was acquitted of the charges.

In 2009, Christensen opened a family medical practice in Montana, but last week his practice was sealed off by crime scene tape while local, state and federal law enforcement served a search warrant at the doctor's office.

And this morning's Missoulian reports that the Montana Board of Medical Examiners has cited the death of two patients from drug overdoses, along with "substandard medical decision-making and judgment" and "irresponsible and substandard prescribing of controlled substances" in indefinitely suspending Christensen's medical license.

As part of its probe, an investigator found that Christensen had prescribed one chronic pain patient 8.900 methadone tablets in a 133-day period, or roughly 67 tables per day. In another 14-month period, Christensen prescribed that same patient 19.508 methadone tablets, or more than 45 tablets per day for more than one year.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Boise VA Could Lift Quarantine Later Today

Posted By on Mon, Mar 17, 2014 at 9:55 AM

It has been two weeks since a viral outbreak was first detected in a wing of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Boise. Patients and staff at the VA's Community Living Center—a building next to the main, three-story hospital—started experiencing vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramping, and the VA later confirmed that the illnesses were linked to a norovirus.

Caregivers in the quarantined area have been required to wear a gown, gloves, mask and shoe covers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say about 20 million Americans are infected by norovirus-related illnesses each year, with a large concentration of outbreaks in assisted living and daycare facilities.

Following a new round of lab tests, Boise VA officials say they may be able to re-open the quarantined wing as early as Monday afternoon.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Two Local Health Concerns: Whooping Cough and Norovirus

Posted By on Wed, Mar 12, 2014 at 10:01 AM

Local health officials are particularly concerned about two separate outbreaks.

The Southwest District Health Department reports that, to date, there have been 21 confirmed cases of pertusisis—commonly known as whooping cough—in Canyon County, three times the number reported during the same period last year. SDHD officials said many of the victims reported that they were behind on their immunizations.

Whooping cough is considered to be highly contagious and easily spread among those who have not been immunized. Symptoms begin with sneezing or a cough, but after one to two weeks, the cough can become more severe to the degree that over-the-counter cough medicines are ineffective.

SDHD officials said most of the recent cases had been school-age children.

Meanwhile, officials at the Boise VA Hospital have determined that a quarantine is necessary after some residents at the VA nursiing home were confirmed to have symptoms of the norovirus—nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. To date, the highly contagious virus has been contained to nine residents and six nurses.

Caregivers in a quarantined wing of the VA are now required to wear a gown, gloves, a mask and covers for their shoes.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Study Links Tylenol Use During Pregnancy and ADHD

Posted By on Tue, Feb 25, 2014 at 9:15 AM

Expectant mothers who regularly use maximum doses of Extra Strength Tylenol run the risk of their child having a increased chance of ADHD.

A new study, published this morning by the Journal of American Medical Association Pediatrics is linking pregnant mothers who take acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, and a higher risk of having children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. According to the research, which studied 64,000 mothers and children, mothers who took acetaminophen while pregnant had up to a 40 percent higher risk of their children being diagnosed with ADHD. And by age 7, those children were also more likely to use ADHD medication and exhibit ADHD-like behavior problems.

Meanwhile, the makers of Tylenol, McNeil Consumer Healthcare, said in a statement that the medication's label directs women who are pregnant or breast-feeding to consult with a health care professional before using the product.

"We are aware of the recent JAMA Pediatrics study," said the statement. "However, there are no prospective, randomized controlled studies demonstrating a causal link between acetaminophen use during pregnancy and adverse effects on child development."

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

CVS Says It Will Forgo $2 Billion to Stop Selling Smokes

Posted By on Wed, Feb 5, 2014 at 9:53 AM

The big question following CVS's big announcement this morning that it would stop selling all cigarettes and tobacco products by this October was: Who will follow?

Rite-Aid, Walgreens, Wal-Mart and the nation's financial markets are watching reactions very closely today after CVS said it was willing to forgo nearly $2 billion in profits in order to fortify its brand as a caregiver in addition to its retail services.

CVS sees its future in making its in-store clinics a convenient health care alternative to long waits at the doctor's office, along with CVS pharmacists counseling patients. That strategy was increasingly at odds with racks of cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco residing behind the cashier's counter, said Larry Merlo, chief executive for CVS.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama, a former smoker himself, wasted no time in heaping praise on CVS:

"As one of the largest retailers and pharmacies in America, CVS sets a powerful example, and today's decision will help advance my administration's efforts to reduce tobacco-related deaths, cancer and heart disease, as well as bring down health care costs—ultimately saving lives and protecting untold numbers of families from pain and heartbreak for years to come," Obama said in a statement.

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