Discouraging News on Foodborne Illness
Progress has slowed in the fight against foodborne illness since 2004, and none of the government's targets were reached in 2007, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A new 10-state report indicates that after a period of decline, there was little change in the incidence of some foodborne illnesses in 2007. "The results show that prevention efforts have been partly successful, but there has been little further progress in the most recent years," said Robert Tauxe, deputy director of CDC's Division of Foodborne, Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, in a statement. "More needs to be done to make our food safer."
The best way to lower your risk of foodborne illness is to avoid consuming unpasteurized milk or raw or undercooked oysters, eggs, ground beef, or poultry. Also buy in-shell pasteurized eggs, high-pressure-treated oysters, and irradiated ground meat.
Tracking Painkiller Use?
Putting a user registry into place may help stem the abuse of painkillers such as OxyContin or Vicodin, a new study suggests. Such a registry, with a requirement that patients undergo urine tests, would flag anyone using illegal drugs or abusing painkillers, according to the University of Michigan/Ohio State University study. Researchers found that about 35 percent of 167 patients studied had violated an office painkiller policy by using illegal drugs or getting painkillers from more than one doctor.
At Risk for Postpartum Depression
Younger, less educated women, those who are physically abused, and those who received Medicaid benefits are more likely to develop postpartum depression, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The authors suggest that the study's findings be used to "estimate the number of women in each state requiring a more complete evaluation," which may include targeted screening and intervention.
Learn more about symptoms and treatments for postpartum depression.
How Hospitals Use Credit Scores
You arrive at the hospital for a medical procedure. But instead of checking you in, the person at the front desk says, "Sorry, your healthcare credit score is too low. No healthcare for you!" That's the alarming specter raised by recent reports of the scoring systems hospitals and other providers use to figure out whether patients have the resources to pay and are likely to do so.
Could it happen? Consumer advocates say they've never heard of people being turned away because of their score, and hospitals are adamant that it would never occur. But consumers may still worry. Regular credit scores are used to approve a car loan or a mortgage. If a bad score can get you turned down in those instances, why not for healthcare? Michelle Andrews discusses this in the On Health & Money blog.
—January W. Payne