Health Updates 11 April 2011

  • Study shows young kids may cause parents’ unhealthy habits: “A study found that mothers of young children were heavier and ate more calories, sugary drinks and fatty foods than childless women.  Dads and moms in the study were less active than their peers without kids”.  (Associated Press)
  • Medicare Data Access for Transparency and Accountability Act (Medicate DATA): A bipartisan bill sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, would require the Dept. of Health and Human Services to build and maintain a searchable database, accessible by the public at no cost, that would provide information on Medicare payments to doctors and suppliers.  “Medicare is a $500 billion program with billions of dollars going out in error each year” said Grassley, and “the bad actors are getting bigger and bolder all the time”.  Senator Wyden believes that shedding light on Medicare claims “will be helpful to those making medical decisions, offer insight into how Medicare dollars are being spent and prevent wasteful spending and fraud”.  (National Underwriter)
  • CT Scans Used on Children Increased Fivefold in Recent Years: The number of computed tomography scans on children visiting hospital emergency departments increased to 1.65 million in 2008; there were 330,000 in 1995.  Roni Caryn Rabin wrote recently that CT scans were performed in nearly 6% of all children’s ED  visits in 2008; there were about 1% in 1995.  Part of this could be attributed to medical advances that aid the diagnosis of childhood ailments; scans are most often done on children presenting head injuries, abdominal pain or headaches.   There is, however, some concern about the high levels of ionizing radiation such scans involve.   Radiation is more harmful for children than adults.  As Dr. David B. Larson, the director for quality improvement in the radiology department at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center observed, “We don’t want to scare people into not giving the examination when it should be done – the risk is really low…but we should be judicious.  If we don’t need to give the exam, then we shouldn’t”. (New York Times)

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