Health Updates 28 April 2011

  • Study finds armadillos can pass leprosy to humans: “Researchers at the National Hansen’s disease Programs in Baton Rouge, La., led an international team of scientists who published their findings in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine.  They think it requires frequent handling of armadillos or eating their meat for leprosy to spread”. (AP)
  • Lawsuits don’t lead to better nursing home care: “When a research team sifted through the legal claims and data for nearly 1,500 nursing homes, they found only a weak correlation between quality and litigation” according to David Stevenson, a health policy analyst at Harvard Medical School.  “For the worst facilities, their litigation risk was about 47% in a particular year.  In the best, it was about 40%….It seems a fairly modest difference between the very best and the very worst facilities”.  Nursing homes are not sued all that frequently and the difference between the bottom 10% and the top 10% is  likely not enough to persuade the underperforming facility to clean up its act.  Providing the best care does not prevent litigation; “It points to the tort system not working very well in terms of deterrence” said Dr. Stevenson.  (NY Times)
  • Autism can be diagnosed via a simple quiz: “A brief screening in a pediatrician’s office can detect autism-like symptoms in children as young as 12 month old, giving them an important head start on treatment, according to a study published Thursday”. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Best therapy for sciatica is prevention: The pinched or inflamed sciatic nerve that causes sciatica often follows an injury, muscular strain or herniated vertebral disc pressing on the nerve.  “The best therapy…is prevention: maintain ideal body weight, engage in regular physical activity several times a week and avoid prolonged sitting as much as possible”.  Alternative treatment options include acupuncture, therapeutic Yoga and osteopathic manipulation; the Alexander Technique or Feldenkrais Method may also help. (

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