Health

Flickr/Creative Commons/RA Torsten Kellotat

A recently launched website, SurgeonRatings.org, lists surgeons who have been identified as having better than average outcomes based on an analysis of more than four million surgeries by more than 50,000 surgeons.

People can locate a surgeon for a specific surgery using their zip code. A list of surgeons will appear along with the surgeon’s hospital, board certifications, outcomes and recommendations from other doctors.  The listings have been compiled by Consumers’ CHECKBOOK/The Center for the Study of Services.

But people need to proceed with caution when using such websites, said Patrick Padgett, executive vice president at the Kentucky Medical Association.

“It’s really difficult to know exactly what would be an accurate measurement because there are so many different websites and there’s so many different ways of rating physicians,” he said.

U.S. Army

Obesity is the leading medical reason why nearly three-quarters of young Kentuckians are not eligible to join the armed forces.

A report from the group Mission: Readiness is based on U.S. Defense Department data, and shows nearly 33 percent of Kentucky teens are overweight or obese.

Read the report here.

Retired U.S. Marine Major General Jerry Humble of Russellville is a member of the group, and says other factors disqualifying young Kentuckians from military service are criminal records and a lack of high school diploma.

“We’re really worried about the future—the next 10 to 12 years—of our military armed forces. And the world isn’t becoming a kinder, gentler place, either,” Humble said.

The report, entitled Retreat Is Not An Option for Kentucky, also finds:

* 78 percent of Kentucky adolescents do not get the recommended hour of daily exercise.

*The military currently spends $1.5 billion annually on obesity-related medical costs and to replace those discharged because they are physically unfit.

Another southern Indiana county might declare a state of emergency over increasing rates of HIV and hepatitis C.

Clark County, which is just across the Ohio River from Louisville, is considering the move in light of the recent outbreak in neighboring Scott County.

Scott County, Indiana, has received national attention recently following a spike in HIV and hep-C, blamed on the use of dirty needles used by addicts who are injecting heroin and the painkiller opana.

The Courier-Journal reports Clark County public health officer Kevin Burke is considering declaring a public emergency after it was discovered that a current HIV case in his county was linked to the Scott County outbreak. A public emergency would allow the creation of a needle exchange program, something proponents say is necessary to slow the spread of disease and offer treatment options to addicts.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Tom Frieden says the 4,200 person town of Austin, in Scott County, has a higher per-capita rate of HIV infection than any country in sub-saharan Africa.

The number of Kentucky hospitalizations for drug-dependent newborns has continued to skyrocket.

The number of hospitalizations for drug-dependent newborns in the state rose 48 percent last year, compared to 2013.

Those 1,409 hospitalizations last year represent a 50-fold increase from just 28 hospitalizations in 2000.

According to a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine, admissions of drug-dependent babies to U.S. hospitals nearly quadrupled from 2004 through 2013.

Dr. Veeral Tolia, a Texas doctor and lead author of the journal article, says the surge is a result of a recent national opioid abuse crisis.

Researchers say more pregnant women are being prescribed painkillers, which both raises the risk of having a drug-dependent baby and can sometimes lead to abuse and addiction.

Louisville's Needle Exchange has 57 Visitors in First Week

Jun 22, 2015

Health officials in Louisville say 57 intravenous drug users visited the city's needle exchange program during its first week of operation.

A statement from Louisville's Public Health and Wellness department says the program distributed 1,352 clean syringes, disposed of 189 used syringes and tested 12 people for HIV.

Dr. Sarah Moyer, the city's interim public health and wellness director, said called the response strong and encouraging. She says the needle exchange allows health officials to work toward reducing the number of hepatitis C and HIV cases as well as connecting drug users with needed resources.

Louisville became the first city in the state to offer a needle exchange after legislators passed a law allowing local governments to set up programs in which addicts can swap dirty needles for clean ones.

 

The recent banishment by police of a mentally ill man from Carroll County, Kentucky, to Florida appears to be an unusual occurrence.

But Adam Horine’s mental health struggles are common in a criminal justice system that contains an inordinate number of emotionally troubled men and women.

Indiana state health officials say they’re working to transfer more responsibility to local officials dealing with the response to the HIV outbreak in the southeastern part of the state. Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Jerome Adams and Deputy State Health Commissioner Jennifer Walthall  outlined the transition and long-term sustainability efforts in a news conference Wednesday.

Adams said he wants to make it clear that the Indiana health department is not leaving Scott County, where 170 people have been newly-diagnosed with HIV since December.

“This is a transition to more local control, more local empowerment. But the state will remain partners with Scott County. We’ll continue to be involved with and go down to Scott County for the foreseeable future,” he said.

There are now 170 confirmed HIV cases related to the outbreak. Adam said that 86 percent of those with HIV also have Hepatitis C.

State health officials say more than 80 people exposed to a southern Indiana student with a confirmed case of tuberculosis have now tested positive for the disease.

The State Department of Health said Friday that 85 people have tested positive to TB in skin tests, up from 54 positive tests on Wednesday.

Those individuals who've tested positive for the TB bacteria don't have tuberculosis, but will receive antibiotic treatment so that symptoms don't develop and to prevent the infection from spreading to others.

The 85 individuals who've tested positive to date had contact with a student with a confirmed case at Rock Creek Community Academy in Sellersburg, about 10 miles north of Louisville, Kentucky, or at a church in the area.

That student is isolated and responding well to treatment.

Adam Edelen, Facebook

State Auditor Adam Edelen will host 13 meetings across Kentucky as part of an audit into the estimated thousands of untested rape kits in the state.

During a committee hearing earlier this year, Kentucky State Police officials estimated that the state had as many as 5,000 untested rape kits.

In April, Edelen announced that his office is auditing police and prosecutors to find out precisely how many kits haven’t been tested. His office also aims to find the cause for the backlog.

In a statement on Wednesday, Edelen said the meeting will be an important part of looking into the “complex issues surrounding untested rape kits.”

“I hope to hear from law enforcement, prosecutors, survivors and others as we begin working toward recommending reforms to the system,” Edelen said on Wednesday.

University of Louisville

Researchers at Louisville’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center have found a new way to treat advanced melanoma using the herpes simplex 1 virus.

The genetically modified virusta, limogene laherparepvec, or T-VEC, invades and kills cancer cells by stimulating the body’s immune system. The virus does not harm healthy cells or cause patients to develop cold sores.

Dr. Jason Chesney, deputy director of the cancer center, worked with a team of international scientists to carry out clinical trials and found that patients with advanced melanoma had improved survival.

He said traditional approaches, such as chemotherapy, for advanced cancers are non-curative and only suppress the growth of tumors.

“When we can activate the immune system and cause a tumor to shrink those responses, the shrinkage is durable. It lasts for years and frequently for a lifetime,” he said.

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