Health

The exterior of Springfield Hospital, with a person walking toward the entrance carrying bags
Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Vermont is the only state in the country that regulates hospital budgets. And as rural hospitals struggle,  the panel that oversees them is requesting more paperwork.

Updated at 5:45 p.m. ET

In less than a week, a landmark battle over who bears responsibility for the U.S. opioid crisis will begin in federal court.

The case involves thousands of plaintiffs at virtually every level of government and defendants from every link in the chain of opioid drug production — from major multinational corporations such as Johnson & Johnson and CVS, right down to individual doctors. And on Oct. 21, the first trial is set to kick off before a judge in the Northern District of Ohio.

There's no doubt that opioids have been massively overprescribed in U.S. In the haste to address the epidemic, there's been pressure on doctors to reduce prescriptions of these drugs — and in fact prescriptions are declining. But along the way, some chronic pain patients have been forced to rapidly taper or discontinue the drugs altogether.

Now, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a new message for doctors: Abrupt changes to a patient's opioid prescription could harm them.

The link between vaping and severe lung problems is getting a lot of attention.

But scientists say they're also worried about vaping's effect on teenage brains.

"Unfortunately, the brain problems and challenges may be things that we see later on down the road," says Nii Addy, associate professor of psychiatry and cellular and molecular physiology at Yale School of Medicine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention intensified its warnings about the risks of vaping, as the number of patients with vaping-related illness continues to climb.

The case count has reached 1,080, the agency announced Thursday. There have been 18 deaths in 15 states, and more deaths are being investigated. All patients reported a history of vaping, and the majority reported using THC-containing products.

A new set of analyses published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine challenges the widespread recommendations to cut back on red and processed meats.

The minimum age for buying tobacco products in New Hampshire is going up, but not as much as some advocates wanted.

After a bill to increase the purchase age from 18 to 21 stalled in the Senate, much of its language resurfaced in the state budget. But Republican Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed the budget in June, and the compromise budget he signed this past week includes a provision to raise the age only to 19.

A man at a podium
Henry Epp / VPR

Gov. Phil Scott does not expect to take emergency measures to restrict vaping products in Vermont, though the state's Senate Committee on Health and Welfare chairperson, Ginny Lyons, plans to introduce related legislation in January.

Updated at 11:20 a.m. ET

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., unveiled her long-anticipated plan to lower the cost of prescription drugs on Thursday. It is a priority shared by President Trump, fueling a glimmer of hope that there is a deal to be had on the issue ahead of the 2020 elections.

"It is transformative," Pelosi said of her plan."We do hope to have White House buy-in."

Two people holding hands against a white background.
Roman Kraft / Unsplash

The "zero suicide" initiative teaches the basics of suicide prevention the same way we teach first-aid or CPR, training people on how to talk about suicide, how to identify risk factors, ways to reduce suicides and what help is available in Vermont. We're discussing suicide prevention and intervention with experts from Windham, Washington and Chittenden Counties.

The Vaping Illness Outbreak: What We Know So Far

Sep 18, 2019

Updated on Sept. 27 at 7:06 p.m. ET to reflect the latest information from federal agencies

An outbreak of severe lung disease among users of electronic cigarettes continues to spread to new patients and states.

Updated: Sept. 18, 10:26 a.m. ET

The U.S. abortion rate is continuing a long-term downward trend, according to new data released by the Guttmacher Institute on Wednesday.

A boy places a grapefruit into a shopping car full of healthy fruits and vegetables.
Light Field Studios / iStock

A new dieting app targets kids and teens to help them track their food and lose weight. But is using technology a good way to help young people eat well and be healthy, or can diets and apps be counterproductive for kids and achieving a healthy weight? We're talking with nutritionists about the role of food, family, technology and habits when it comes to kids, weight loss and healthy eating. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday he will push for a ban on some electronic cigarettes amid a health scare linked to vaping — a move that would follow a similar ban enacted by Michigan and a call from President Trump for a federal prohibition on certain vaping products.

Vaporized smoking products are believed to have led to hundreds of cases of lung disease and several deaths. "Vermont Edition" learns what is known about the science of vaping products.
ThomasVogel / iStock

Concerns about addiction to vaping products, especially among younger users, have raised great concerns within the medical community. But with recent deaths related to vaping and hundreds of suspected cases of lung disease, that concern is now widespread. Vermont Edition looks at what we now know about vaping.

The Federal Communications Commission is proposing to launch a new three-digit hotline for people who are feeling suicidal or are going through any other mental health crisis. It recommends making 988 the new national number to call for help, replacing the current 10-digit number.

The agency presented the idea to Congress in a report earlier this month and is expected to release more information and seek public comment about the proposal in the coming months.

This micrograph shows a strain of E. coli , one of the germs that can cause sepsis.
Janice Carr / CDC/Associated Press

Friday, Sept. 13 is World Sepsis Day. And while half of the world might be wondering why there's a World Sepsis Day, the other half is asking, "What is sepsis?" It's probably important to know that, globally, sepsis affects about 30 million people a year, killing between 6 and 9 million of them.

The next generation of doctors will start their careers at a time when physicians are feeling pressure to limit prescriptions for opioid painkillers.

Yet every day, they'll face patients who are hurting from injuries, surgical procedures or disease. Around 20% of adults in the U.S. live with chronic pain.

Health care helped propel Democrats to victory in a wave of elections in 2018, and it remains a top issue for voters heading into 2020.

But the conversation has changed over two years; while in the last midterms health care debates revolved around protecting the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, after GOP attempts to repeal it, presidential candidates ahead of 2020 are focusing more on overhauling the entire health care system.

It used to take at least nine months for a patient to schedule an initial appointment with a psychiatrist at Meridian Health Services in Indiana. Now, it takes days, thanks to a program that allows doctors to connect over the Internet with patients, reaching those even in remotest corners of the state.

That has also helped with recruitment. Over the last several years, Meridian's staff of psychiatric specialists, including nurse practitioners, tripled from four to 12.

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