A new study researching seniors found that there is a higher risk for medical error if they can’t understand everything a doctor or nurse says to them. About a third of seniors aged 65 to 74 have some form of hearing loss, and that increases to 50 percent for those individuals over the age of 75.
In the study, nearly half of the seniors reported they misheard the medical professional, which of course means there’s more likely to be an error reported.
Earlier research has shown that when there is better communication between doctor and patient, it could prevent 36 percent of medical errors.
And oftentimes, medical visits take place where there is a lot of background noise, which can make it more difficult for a person who has hearing loss to discern what someone is actually saying to them and what they can ignore. In addition, some health care providers have hearing loss, so they may not always hear patients’ concerns.
To read more about the study, please visit “Patients’ Hearing Loss May Mean Poorer Medical Care.”
This month is National Preparedness Month, a month aimed at sharing the importance of preparing for any sort of disaster. This year, the overarching theme is “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.” And after Hurricane Harvey, this observance is timed to be a great reminder that you may never know the extent of natural disaster.
Each week this month has a sub-theme so you don’t have to feel overwhelmed thinking about all that you should do to prep yourself and your family to withstand a disaster.
Sept. 1 – 9: Make a plan for yourself, family and friends
- Make an emergency plan
- Sign up for alerts and warnings
- Check your insurance coverage
Sept. 10 – 16: Plan to help you neighbor and community
- Take FEMA’s Until Help Arrives training
- Check on your neighbors–will they be ready in case of a disaster?
Sept. 17 – 23: Practice and build out your plans
- Complete an Emergency Financial First Aid Kit
- Compile a list of shelters, food banks and other resources
- Have an emergency drill
Sept. 24 – 30: Get involved
- Get other organizations you’re a part of involved in preparing for an emergency
- Join Weather Ready Nation
For more tips on emergency preparedness or more information about National Preparedness Month, please visit Ready.gov.
This September, we’re urging you to eat more fruits and veggies. Many of us know the importance of eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, but still, a lot of us aren’t getting enough.
As a reminder, why are fruits and vegetables so important to your diet?
Eating a healthy diet with plenty of vegetables and fruits can help you:
- Lower your risk for heart disease and some types of cancer
- Maintain or reach a healthy weight
- Keep your body strong and active
One easy tip for eating more fruits and vegetables is ensuring they make up half of what you eat, every time you eat a meal. And, all forms of fruits and veggies count! Whether it’s frozen, fresh, canned or dried, all types of fruits and veggies will benefit you.
Other tips for packing in more fruits and veggies include:
- Keeping a bowl of fruit handy where the whole family can see it.
- Cutting up fruits and veggies ahead of time so they’re ready for quick, healthy snacks.
- Challenging your family to try a new veggie or fruit every week.
One thing to look out for though is fruit juice–oftentimes, it’s mostly sugar! When you’re buying fruit juice, make sure to look for containers marked as 100 percent juice. Anything less just won’t have the same benefits.
To learn more about Fruits & Veggies–More Matters Month, please visit the Produce for Better Health Foundation’s website.
In October of last year, we posted about some of the latest developments of Healthy People 2020, the national health promotion and disease prevention agenda released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Now, as we move closer to the goal year of 2020, it’s time for HHS to develop a new plan and set of goals for the public’s health – Healthy People 2030.
The purpose of Healthy People is to set a national agenda with regards to health, including measurable objectives with targets, data-driven outcomes, and program planning. In order to development such a document, HHS utilizes a three-pronged approach with collaboration between the Healthy People Federal Interagency Workgroup (FIW), the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives for 2030, and public comment.
The federal Secretary’s committee, convened in December of 2016, is composed of non-federal, independent subject matter experts who will provide recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services regarding HP 2030. The committee will complete their term in December 2018, and the FIW will work to finalize the report to be launched in 2020.
The first phase of development will focus on the overall framework of HP 2030, incorporating the 12 topics categorized as Leading Health Indicators. After determining the general framework, a set of objectives will be drawn up for each indicator. Throughout the development process, there will be an opportunity for public comment and stakeholder input for the plan.
One of the two primary periods for public comment is currently open for feedback on the framework for HP 2030. Those wishing to give their input can submit comments online through September 29, 2017. A second period of comment will occur during development of the objectives later next year. Visit HealthyPeople.gov for more information or go here to add your comments on the proposed framework.
In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, many businesses and other organizations have closed for the time being. Below, please find a list of medical libraries in the Houston area that have been impacted by Harvey. This list will be continuously updated throughout the week, but for the most up-to-date information, please contact the specific institution to verify.
Like we mentioned in Tuesday’s blog post, this week is Contact Lens Health Week, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control released some data this week sharing that 85 percent of teens who wear contact lens admit to at least one risky habit that could threaten their vision. And adults 25 and older are even worse.
It’s important to encourage healthy contact lens habits early on because this is the most effective way to ensure healthy habits later in life.
Some of the most common risky habits were:
- Sleeping or napping in contact lenses
- Not cleaning contact lenses as often or properly
- Not regularly visiting your eye doctor
- Not replacing the contact lens case every three months
To learn more about the importance of contact lens health, please visit “6 Out of 7 Teens Slip Up on Contact Lens Guidelines: CDC.”
To learn more about Contact Lens Health Week, please visit our previous blog post.
The use of checklists have been proven to increase patient safety within the clinical setting. Notable studies have shown that when clinicians utilize checklists, central line infections are dramatically decreased and surgical morbidity and mortality is reduced.  Types of checklist include laundry lists, iterative checklists, diagnostic checklists and more. Clinicians use these tools to verify that procedures have been completed during the patient care process.
Examples of a surgical checklist can be found at the Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses. The checklist denoted on this site ‘includes key safety checks as outlined in the World Health Organization (WHO) Surgical Safety Checklist and The Joint Commission Universal Protocol. It is designed for use in all types of facilities (eg, hospital ORs, ambulatory surgery settings, physician offices).’ 
Checklists have also been used in the medical school setting to increase student diagnostic skills. Students at Maastricht University in the Netherlands were provided a checklist to aid in interpreting chest radiographs. Kok et al. reported that students found the use of a checklist helpful when attempting to detect multiple abnormalities within a chest X-Ray. 
While checklists are widely utilized within hospitals, and by many clinical specialties, a recent study by Boyd et al. suggests the quality of many randomized controlled trials on the impact of checklists in patient safety could be improved.  She analyzed 9 research studies and stated the methodological quality of the studies she reviewed were of moderate quality.
The ongoing development and use of checklists has been a key tool utilized to increase patent safety and clinical quality. Research studies continue to analyze the effectiveness of these tools and more information on the efficacy of these checklists may be found by searching the PubMed.gov biomedical literature database.
 Patient Safety Primer. Checklists. [Internet]. Rockville (MD): Patient Safety Network. Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality; [cited 2017 Aug 20]. Available from: https://psnet.ahrq.gov/primers/primer/14/checklists
 AHA/HRET Guides: Checklists to improve patient safety [Internet]. Chicago (IL): Health Research & Educational Trust; [cited 2017 Aug 20]. Available from: www.hpoe.org/resources/aharet-guides/1398.
 AORN Comprehensive surgical checklist [Internet]. Denver (CO): Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses; [cited 2017 Aug 20]. Available from: https://www.aorn.org/guidelines/clinical-resources/tool-kits/correct-site-surgery-tool-kit/aorn-comprehensive-surgical-checklist.
 Kok EM, Abdelrazek A, Robben S. Does the use of a checklist help medical students in the detection of abnormalities on a chest radiograph? Journal of Digital Imaging 2017 May 30: 1-6.
 Boyd JM, Wu G, Stelfox HT. The Impact of checklists on inpatient safety outcomes: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. J Hosp. Med 2017; 8:675-682.
This week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is promoting the fourth annual Contact Lens Health Week, with this year’s campaign focusing on “healthy habits means healthy eyes” and focuses on encouraging youth to start healthy habits early, for healthy eyes later.
Failure to wear, clean, and store your lenses as directed by your eye doctor increases the chance of getting germs in your eyes and causing complications. Contact lens-related eye infections can lead to long-lasting damage but often are preventable. Even minor infections can be painful and disrupt day-to-day life.
What’s the need for this sort of observance? Well, more than 30 million people in the U.S. are wearing contact lenses, and 10 percent of those individuals are under the age of 18. And if you don’t properly maintain your contact lenses, you risk a serious eye infection, in which out of every 500 cases could lead to blindness.
This Contact Lens Health Week, educate yourself on the healthy contact lens hygiene habits, proper use, care and storage, and make sure you are scheduling regular visits to the eye doctor.
To learn more about Contact Lens Health Week, please visit the CDC’s website.
In 2017, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control initiated a new national observance–Fungal Disease Awareness Week. This holiday aims to increase awareness about fungal diseases, which can cause several illnesses, but often go undiagnosed. Awareness is the first step to reducing diagnosis delays.
This year’s theme is “Think Fungus” and aims to encourage the public and clinicians to consider the possibility of a fungal infection when observing a patient’s symptoms. It’s also important to remember that people with weakened immune systems are more likely to contact fungal diseases, but anyone is susceptible.
So what’s the need for this sort of observance? It’s estimated that nearly 150,000 infections for a single fungal disease (Valley fever) go undiagnosed annually. Antifungal resistance is a growing public health problem. And resistant infections lead to longer hospital stays and increased costs.
To learn more about fungal diseases and Fungal Disease Awareness Week, please visit the CDC’s website.
Now it’s mid-August, summer is winding down and it’s time to prepare the kids to go back to school. Alongside the backpacks, clothes, and other supplies, don’t forget your own Back To School Health Checklist:
- Develop a plan in case of a family emergency
- Schedule health and dental checkups before school starts
- Practice bus safety – visible pick up and drop off, preferably in a group
- Review the route to school with your child and explain potential hazards if they walk, bike, or drive to school
- If your child has health issues, connect with the school nurse to establish action plans
- Have your child’s medical history and emergency contact information organized
Nutrition, exercise, and sleep are equally important factors in academic performance. For tips on making healthy eating choices, the USDA has a wonderful webpage full of resources at https://www.choosemyplate.gov. For exercise, at least one hour of physical activity a day is recommended, but make it fun! Dance, sports, biking, rock climbing and the like can be fun as group activities. Children and teens also need at least 9 hours of sleep at night. According to a study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), poor sleep in teens was linked to higher blood pressure. So, make sure the kids get to count their sheep and establish a sleep schedule with them. For more information, see the MedlinePlus magazine article at https://medlineplus.gov/magazine/issues/fall13/articles/fall13pg20.html.
We’ve seen it all when it comes to scams; whether it’s an email explaining you’re an heir to an incredible fortune of a person supposedly related to you that you’ve never heard of, or an email from someone claiming to be from your organization’s IT department saying you need to update your password.
For the scientific research community, most scams generally haven’t been purely targeted at this group. But the Federal Trade Commission is warning you to think twice if you’re the “recipient” of a grant from the NIH.
People have reported that they are receiving calls posing as the NIH and offering a $14,000 grant. In order to receive the grant money, the scammer is requesting that the recipient pay them first.
The scam raises a couple of red flags right off the bat:
- The federal government (inclusive of NIH) will not call you to give you a grant.
- The federal government (inclusive of NIH) will not request that you wire them money or provide your bank account information.
To find out more about the scam, please visit the FTC’s website.
Back-to-school season is here, and it’s time for parents to gather school supplies and backpacks. It’s also the perfect time to make sure your children are up to date on their vaccines.
To celebrate the importance of immunizations for people of all ages – and make sure preteens and teens are protected with all the vaccines they need – we are recognizing August as National Immunization Awareness Month.
It’s important to get all of the vaccines recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s immunization schedule. This is an easy way to ensure a healthy future for kids. If you’re unsure if your child needs any additional vaccines, now is the perfect opportunity to check with your child’s doctor.
Preteen and teen vaccines protect against serious and potentially life-threatening diseases, including cancers caused by HPV, meningitis, and septicemia.
When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk for diseases and can also spread diseases to others in their classrooms and community – including babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated, and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer or other health conditions.
Preteens and teens need Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis or whooping cough) vaccine, meningococcal conjugate vaccine, and HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine when they are 11 to 12 years old. A booster dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine is recommended when teens are 16 years old. Teens and young adults (16 through 23 year olds) may also be vaccinated with a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine, preferably at 16 through 18 years old. In addition, yearly flu vaccines are recommended for everyone 6 months or older—not just preteens and teens, but for their parents too.
To find out what vaccines you or your child should have, please visit the CDC’s website.
We’ve written about hand washing before, but it remains an ever-important issue. It can mean the difference between getting sick (whether it’s you or someone else) and not – and in some cases, even death. Diarrheal diseases and pneumonia kill 1.8 million children every year worldwide, but hand washing among young children can help prevent a number of those illnesses from taking hold in the first place.
It’s not just washing them thoroughly for 20 seconds either that’s important – hands must be dried as germs can easily transfer to and from wet hands. And contrary to what some believe, effective hand washing practices helps keep “super bugs” like MRSA from gaining traction rather than breeding them.
What about hand sanitizers?
According to the CDC, hand sanitizers are not as effective as soap and water. They don’t eliminate all germs or work as well when hands become heavily soiled from activities like eating, physical activity, or camping. People don’t always use them the way they should, either not using enough or wiping it off before it has tried.
However, they recommend that if soap and water is not available, one should use an alcohol-based sanitizers that contains at least 60% alcohol. And when using them, it’s important to rub the product all over the surface of your hands until your hands are dry.
National Health Center Week is a nation campaign running from Aug. 13-19 with the goal of raising awareness about the mission and accomplishments of America’s Health Centers over the course of more than five decades.
One of the bright spots in America’s healthcare system is that community health centers serve more than 25 million Americans, a number that continues to grow along with the demand for affordable primary care. They have compiled a significant record of success that includes:
- Producing $24 billion in annual health system savings;
- Reducing unnecessary hospitalizations and unnecessary visits to the emergency room;
- Treating patients for a fraction of the average cost of one emergency room visit;
- Maintaining patient satisfaction levels of nearly 100 percent;
- Serving more than one in six Medicaid beneficiaries for less than two percent of the national Medicaid budget.
Health centers not only prevent illness and foster wellness in the most challenging populations, they produce innovative solutions to the most pressing health care issues in their communities. They reach beyond the walls of conventional medicine to address the factors that may cause sickness, such as lack of nutrition, mental illness, homelessness and opioid addiction. Because of their long record of success in innovation, managing health care costs, and reducing chronic disease, health centers have a proud tradition of bipartisan support in Congress.
There are NHCW events scheduled across the country, including health fairs, visits by Members of Congress and state officials to local health centers, press conferences, back-to-school drives, community breakfasts, patient appreciation events, free health screenings and dental cleanings, and much more.
To learn more about NHCW and see what events are available in your area, please visit National Health Center Week’s website.