July 8 – 12, 2013

National Coverage

Outdated practice of annual cervical-cancer screening may cause more harm than good
Medical Xpress
For decades, women between the ages of 21 and 69 were advised to get annual screening exams for cervical cancer. In 2009, however, accumulating scientific evidence led major guideline groups to agree on a new recommendation that women be screened less frequently: every three years rather than annually. Despite the revised guidelines, about half of the obstetrician-gynecologists surveyed in a recent study said they continue to provide annual exams – an outdated practice that may be more harmful than helpful, said Drs. Russell Harris and Stacey Sheridan of the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Can CT scans give you cancer?
Scientific American
…“There are major concerns with taking the atomic bomb survivor data and trying to understand what the risk might be to people exposed to CT scans,” says David Richardson, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health who has done research on the atomic bomb survivors.

Maryland’s Path to an Accord in Abortion Fight
The New York Times
...For many years, the death rate has hovered around one per 100,000 procedures, according to Dr. David A. Grimes, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and a former chief of abortion surveillance at the C.D.C. “Today, having an abortion is safer than an injection of penicillin,” he said.

University of North Carolina receives $8 million grant to improve safe motherhood in Malawi
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has received a five-year, $8 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve maternal and infant health and save the lives of mothers and infants in Malawi by strengthening the President's Maternal Health and Safe Motherhood Initiative (SMI). "We are thrilled to receive this funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the government of Malawi to maximize the impact of the Safe Motherhood Initiative and improve the lives of women in Malawi," said Jeff Wilkinson, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UNC who lives full-time in Malawi.

Statins Have Few Side Effects, But Should More People Be Taking Them?
...“One has to be cautious about for whom we recommend [statin] therapies,” says Dr. Sidney Smith, professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and past president of the American Heart Association. “We are going to have to do a better job of identifying patients at risk who might benefit from medical therapies to reduce their risk of heart disease at a dosage that minimizes the side effects.”

Two urology programs elevated to department status
Urology Times
The urology programs at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and the University of California, San Diego have recently been designated as departments of urology. After 60 years as a division of urology within the UNC department of surgery, the UNC department of urology has been established, with Raj S. Pruthi, MD, serving as its inaugural chair. In 2011, Dr. Pruthi became the fourth division chief of urology, succeeding Culley Carson, MD. The new department has a clinical program of over 20 providers and specialized programs in urologic oncology, robotics, stone disease, and men’s health.

State and Local Coverage

Your fast-food lunch just cost you a 14-mile walk
The Triangle Business Journal
More restaurants now post calorie counts next to various menu items, but there still exists a disconnect between that number and the exercise required to burn off those calories. Anthony Viera, a public-health researcher and UNC-Chapel Hill and doctor at UNC Family Medicine, decided to do a little math, and by explaining calorie counts in terms of exercise, showed a more understandable diagram of how foods affect the body.

UNC Doctor Says Cancer Drug Makers Need To Reveal Side Effects
WFAE (Charlotte)
Cancer drug makers should do a much better job explaining how their new products will impact patients' symptoms and quality of life. That's the message from a UNC doctor in a recent online piece in The New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Ethan Basch of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center says whenever he meets with patients, one of their first questions is about how a certain drug will make them feel.

NC agency move would allow 9 times more arsenic in our air
News & Observer
The agency charged with protecting North Carolinians from air pollution – the N.C. Division of Air Quality – has quietly proposed changes that will allow more arsenic in our air. Nine times more arsenic, to be exact. And industrial facilities would be able to triple their arsenic emissions without having to reveal their emission levels or show that they will not harm people’s health.
Lawrence W. Raymond, M.D., a professor of family medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill, is chairman of Medical Advocates for Healthy Air. Robert Parr, M.D., D.O., is an emergency medicine physician in Wilmington and a board member for Medical Advocates for Healthy Air.

UNC Hospitals applies for radiology equipment
Triangle Business Journal
UNC Hospitals at Chapel Hill wants to acquire new vascular interventional radiology equipment. UNC Hospitals, part of UNC Health Care, already has seven units of vascular interventional radiology equipment. In addition to acquiring the eighth unit, UNC Hospitals also proposes to relocate existing ancillary services. The project is expected to cost $6 million and to be complete by October of 2014.

Dog ticks pose greatest disease threat in NC
WRAL-TV (CBS/Raleigh)
..."They're hard to spot, and it helps if you have light clothes and you search for them carefully," said Dr. David Weber, an infectious disease expert at UNC Hospitals. "Specific spots you want to look are under the arms, around the groin, along the hair lines, in the hair. Both feel for them and look for them."

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Afghan child recovering from heart surgery
WTVD-TV (ABC/Raleigh)
There's good news out of UNC hospitals where a little girl from Afghanistan is recovering from a successful heart surgery. Eight-year-old Maryam was born with a heart defect that doctors originally tried to repair using a catheter method last week.

Abortion bill backers, foes have their say at North Carolina General Assembly hearing
Fayetteville Observer
Dr. Martin McCaffrey, an associate professor in the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine's Department of Pediatrics, supports the bill. McCaffrey said abortions are held to a lesser standard, and he noted that some procedures cause bleeding, infection and death.

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UNC Health Care opens first phase of Hillsborough hospital
The Business Journal
Chapel Hill-based UNC Health Care has opened the 60,000-square-foot first phase of its new Hillsborough hospital campus, a facility expected to draw patients from the eastern Triad.

1 million North Carolinians will move to subsidized health insurance
Charlotte Observer
A massive population shift to subsidized insurance coverage – likely to exceed 1 million people in North Carolina – is underway as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The transformation is expected to be the biggest shake-up in the nation’s medical landscape since Medicare was introduced in 1965. … Without the option of rejecting the sick, some insurers are simply opting not to sell insurance in certain markets. Those who are offering subsidized plans will attempt to offset the cost burden of insuring sick people by attracting “invincibles,” the industry term for young, healthy people who rarely use the health care system. “There’s nothing insurers are more scared of than getting a pool of disproportionately sick and expensive enrollees,” said Jonathan Oberlander, a professor of social medicine and health policy at the UNC School of Medicine.

Books roundup: Book explores power of making music
The Herald-Sun (Durham)
…Anne Drapkin Lyerly started the Good Birth Project in 2006 when she worked in obstetrics at Duke University Hospital. Lyerly conducted interviews with women from diverse backgrounds “to develop a full account of what constitutes a good birth . …”Lyerly, now an associate professor at UNC Chapel Hill, has published a book based on that research, “A Good Birth: Finding the Positive and Profound in Your Childbirth Experience” (Avery, $26).

Triangle Tenants Brace Themselves For Section 8 Cuts
"The State of Things" WUNC-FM
Section 8 is a federal subsidy program that bridges the gap between people with low-income and market rentals. But this summer, Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Raleigh, all face cuts to their Section 8 Voucher Program. Host Frank Stasio talks about the potential cuts with Bebe Smith, a professor of social work and psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Mai Nguyen, a professor of city and regional planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and Colin Campbell, a reporter at the News and Observer.

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