Nov. 26 - 30

ER doctors at UNC Hospitals look for ways to relate, quickly, to patients
News & Observer
Waller, who is trained in emergency medicine, treats patients and teaches resident physicians as the assistant director of the UNC Hospitals Emergency Medicine residency program. She serves as an example for her residents. But when asked about why she rubs her patients’ shoulders, she laughed. “Did I do that?”

New laser treatments are life changing for burn victim
Surgeons at the Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Hospitals repaired the deep cuts to her face and started skin grafts on her third-degree burns.

Hospitals scramble to limit readmissions, avoid new penalties
News & Observer
In the Triangle, Rex Hospital was penalized 0.16 percent, UNC Hospital 0.23 percent, WakeMed 0.29 percent and Duke University Hospital 0.47 percent. Duke’s penalty, the highest in the Triangle, will cost the system about $600,000 in reduced Medicare reimbursements from the federal government, said Thomas Owens, chief medical officer at the Duke University Health System.

Extra prenatal choline doesn't help kids' brains
Reuters (Wire Service)
Taking extra choline during pregnancy does not improve babies' language and memory skills, according to a new study. "I think eating the recommended amount of choline, which is just about a half of a gram a day for pregnant women, would probably do you well," Dr. Steven Zeisel, the senior author of the study and a professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, told Reuters Health. "Going to high levels doesn't always give you improvement."

Agencies grapple with underuse of prescription drug database
The News & Observer (Raleigh)
Prescription drug overdoses killed about 1,000 North Carolina residents in 2011, but doctors and pharmacists are not widely using a state database that tracks patients’ history with addictive drugs like Vicadin and Oxycotin. ...The process takes less than a minute, several doctors said. But because their office personnel can’t pull the files, some deem it a hassle to use, said Nabarun Dasgupta, a epidemiologist at the UNC Chapel Hill, who researches similar systems nationwide.
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UNC work focused on Crohn’s disease
The Triangle Business Journal
Prep your gag reflex: A treatment candidate for Crohn’s disease is about to undergo clinical trials at UNC-Chapel Hill. It’s simple: Patients in the placebo trial get a tablespoon of saline. For those getting the actual treatment, dubbed TSO, that saline will be accompanied by eggs – the eggs of parasitic worms found in pigs, to be precise – and there are 7,500 such eggs per dose.

Traffic pollution tied to autism risk: study,0,5279584.story
Reuters (Wire Service)
Babies who are exposed to lots of traffic-related air pollution in the womb and during their first year of life are more likely to become autistic, suggests a new study. ..."A decade ago, the journal published about the same number of autism articles per year," wrote Geraldine Dawson of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in an editorial accompanying the studies. The two other reports in the current issue deal with ways to image a person's brain to look for physical differences between an autistic and non-autistic brain.
Related link:,0,970458.story

Salary growth lagging for U.S. primary care doctors: study
Reuters (Wire Service)
...In addition, more women and minorities are becoming doctors - and research has suggested they make less money than white, male physicians, said Bob Konrad from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who has studied doctor salaries. He added that the new findings may also not tell the whole story for primary care doctors. Recently, employers have started offering to pay off more of new doctors' college and medical school debt as a way of luring top candidates - but these benefits would not show up on their paychecks.

More Drugs Cited As A Risky Mix With Grapefruit (Blog)
National Public Radio
Grapefruit sprinkled with a little sugar has just the right amount of kick for a morning meal. But when the bitter fruit is mixed with medication, things can get a bit tricky. ...Pharmacist Mary Paine, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, notes that "a major, overlooked aspect of all this is that one juice does not predict all grapefruit juice." Concentrations of furanocoumarins aren't the same for every fruit or glass, so trouble isn't guaranteed.

Shortcomings of study linking autism to air pollution highlight need for better research
The Boston Globe
...Autism research is booming with three new studies published in the Archives of General Psychiatry in this week alone; a decade ago. that was the total number published by the same journal in a year, pointed out Geraldine Dawson, a professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in an editorial that accompanied the study. “I really do think studies like this one on air pollution are raising more questions than they are providing answers,” Dawson said in an interview. “It’s so critical that we follow up on these studies.”

UNC gift eases soldiers' sinus woes
WRAL-TV (CBS/Raleigh)
Our armed forces in Afghanistan face potentially dangerous situations every day. They're also working in harsh conditions that can cause a variety of health issues. But a nurse and a doctor at University of North Carolina Hospitals are helping up to 100,000 soldiers get some relief. No matter where soldiers serving in Afghanistan go, it's hard to avoid the dry air, the wind and the sand. UNC nurse Katie Sams' husband Alex is there, and it's taking a toll on his sinuses.

An opening for better HIV care
News & Observer
This is not just a personal tragedy – it also poses a public health risk for the entire community. Researchers at UNC, in a breakthrough study that has garnered worldwide attention, showed that controlling HIV with antiretroviral drugs reduces transmission by 96 percent. When we fail to provide access to care, we generate new, expensive HIV cases. Expanding Medicaid would not only improve outcomes for those already infected, it also would stop new infections and ultimately save money.

Clinton: US to go for AIDS treatment 'tipping point'
NBC News
The United States announced an ambitious new push to fight the AIDS virus by providing treatment to more people, especially vulnerable women and children. ...Other AIDS researchers gushed over the plan, even though it did not dedicate any money to achieving its goals. “In a sense, it is quite inspiring,” said Dr. Myron Cohen, a longtime AIDS researcher at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and an IDSA spokesman.

Brain scans show differences in adults with autism
HealthDay News
..."This really raised the question about what the role is of these abnormalities," said Dawson, who also is a professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, in Chapel Hill. "Is this something that could help us explain the causes of autism? Is it a reaction to autism, or the brain's response to developing in an unusual way?" "We don't have the answers to these questions, but now they're showing up in multiple studies so it does suggest that understanding the role of the immune system in autism may be an avenue to understanding its treatment," she added.

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