Don't judge that generic pill by its color
December 31st, 2012
04:05 PM ET

Don't judge that generic pill by its color

It's not the color, but what's inside that counts when it comes to medication. However, doctors suspect that's not exactly how patients see it.

According to a study published Monday in the medical journal Archives of Internal Medicine, changes in pill color significantly increase the odds that a patient will fail to take their medication as prescribed by their doctor.

First, the basics

Generic drugs are approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s Office of Generic Drugs.  These off-brand alternatives must be “bioequivalent” to the brand-name version, meaning they must be identical in terms of dosage form, strength, route of administration, quality, intended use, and clinical efficacy. But the FDA does not require that the two versions look alike. FULL POST

Pediatric palliative care centers growing in the United States
July 6th, 2012
07:30 AM ET

Pediatric palliative care centers growing in the United States

Editor's note: Dr. Barbara Beach is the co-founder and director of the George Mark Children’s House. Tune into Sanjay Gupta MD at 4:30 p.m. E.T. Saturday and 7:30 a.m. E.T. Sunday to learn more about pediatric palliative care in "The Gift of Charles."

It began with Jim. He was a big-hearted, courageous young man dying of cancer, and I was a young pediatric oncologist at the beginning of my career, not 10 years his senior. Jim simply wanted to die at home, in the company of his mother, away from the hospital where he had spent so many weeks and months battling his disease. Yet as hard as I tried, I wasn’t able to make his final wish possible.

I had pleaded with the insurance case manager to agree to provide one shift of home nursing per day so that his single mother could have the support she needed to care for him at home. I argued that providing limited home nursing would cost much less than 24 hour hospital care, but was told flatly that that was not how the system worked.

In my utter frustration, anger and tears, I determined that there had to be a better way to provide more compassionate end of life care.


Overheard: 'Waiting for our son to wake up'
Ryan can breathe on his own but has a tracheotomy tube so that his breathing isn't obstructed by his inability to swallow.
June 19th, 2012
12:49 PM ET

Overheard: 'Waiting for our son to wake up'

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Seventeen-year-old Ryan Buchanan was deprived of oxygen for almost 20 minutes after a sand tunnel collapsed on him at the beach in California. That was one year ago, and now Ryan — who is in a persistent vegetative state — is at home with his family.

The Buchanans’ decision to keep Ryan at home (and alive) has polarized CNN commenters. They expressed their strong opinions on the story, “Waiting for our son to wake up,” published this week.

Some shared personal experiences that related to what the family might be experiencing, even saying they should hold out for a miracle:

Lonnie F Parrish
My wife and I are in our 27th year of taking our son home [after a] head injur[y]. Took us a year and a half to wake him from a coma. … At the time we were strong and willing and we figured that if we didn't try nobody else would. So we did and we woke him up but during that process we became closer to our son than we ever were before and he became a part of who we were.


FDA warns of fentanyl patch dangers to children
April 19th, 2012
06:50 PM ET

FDA warns of fentanyl patch dangers to children

Children explore their worlds by touching and tasting items within their reach. That can cause deadly results when the object of their curiosity contains a potentially lethal drug like pain relieving fentanyl.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a consumer advisory Thursday, reminding parents, caregivers, and medical personnel of the deadly consequences posed to children from accidental contact with, or ingestion of fentanyl patches, which are marketed under the brand name Duragesic.

The patches are prescribed for patients experiencing constant pain - for example, cancer patients. They contain a strong synthetic opiate that relieves pain for three days. But when a child swallows a patch or applies it to his or her skin, the drug can slow breathing and result in death.

An advisory on the FDA website  says "Young children are at particular risk of accidental exposure to fentanyl patches. Their mobility and curiosity provide opportunities for them to find lost patches, take improperly discarded patches from the trash, or find improperly stored patches, all of which may result in patches being placed in their mouths or sticking to their skin.  Additionally, young children are at risk of exposure when being held by someone wearing a partially detached patch which can then transfer to the child. "

According to the FDA warning, there have been 26 incidents of accidental fentanyl exposure since 1997, resulting in ten deaths and 12 cases requiring hospitalization. Most of the cases involved children.

“This reinforces the need to talk to patients and their families," says Douglas Throckmorton, M.D., deputy director of FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, in a written statement, "to make sure that these patches are stored, used and disposed of carefully.”

No money to bury man sterilized by force
California sterilized Charlie Follett by force in 1945. He died last month at age 82, too poor to afford his own funeral.
April 11th, 2012
10:16 AM ET

No money to bury man sterilized by force

Even in death Charlie Follett continues to be marginalized.

In 1945, the state of California forced Follett to have a vasectomy when he was just 15 years old, according to state records. California then refused to compensate him for the atrocious violation. Follett died March 28 at 82, just three weeks after CNN first reported his story.

His body hasn’t been buried because there’s no money to pay for a funeral.

April 4th, 2012
12:01 AM ET

5 medical tests you often don't need

Forty-five tests and procedures routinely performed on patients are often unnecessary, according to a report released Wednesday by nine physician groups, the Consumers Union, and the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation.

“Many of the things that are routinely done are things that patients have come to expect and doctors have routinely ordered,” said Dr. Christine Cassel, president and CEO of the ABIM Foundation. “These are not things that should never be done, but they are things that are often overused.”

It's more ammunition to ask your doctor whether your tests and treatments are necessary, especially given that patients request many of them.

Keep kids away from the medicine cabinet
March 20th, 2012
02:01 AM ET

Keep kids away from the medicine cabinet

It’s a stunning statistic: Each day roughly four school busloads of U.S. children – about 165 young kids – are seen in emergency rooms after getting into medications - and each visit is preventable.

Those are the findings revealed in a report by Safe Kids Worldwide, which unveiled a new initiative Tuesday called “Safe Storage, Safe Dosing, Safe Kids." The campaign calls on caregivers, medical personnel, pharmacists, drug makers and government groups to work to reduce accidental poisonings of children from medications.


New member of the family?  You may need a new vaccine
September 26th, 2011
12:01 AM ET

New member of the family? You may need a new vaccine

There is nothing quite as momentous as bringing a new baby home.  There are smiles, kisses and sometimes tears, especially for families who have waited a long time for the moment to arrive.  For parents who adopt children from abroad, arriving home is often extra special.  The investment of time,  money and travel has resulted in a homecoming for a special little person who is finally sleeping safely in Mom and Dad's arms.

In the past, experts have told parents who travel internationally to adopt children to get vaccinated against the hepatitis A virus.  Now the American Academy of Pediatrics is supporting a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  recommendation that other people who may have close contact with the children in the months after they arrive in the United States also get vaccinated.


June 20th, 2011
01:13 PM ET

Portable pools pose surprising drowning dangers

Warm summer weather means pool time for children and adults. And while most parents are aware of the potential dangers of in-ground swimming pools, they may not be aware of the dangers posed by portable pools, according to a new study in the journal Pediatrics.

Drowning was the second leading accidental cause of death among children aged 1 to 15 in the United States according to CDC data for 2006. The highest risk for drowning is among boys younger than age 5, and more than half of the drowning deaths reported in 2006 occurred at home.

Portable pools - which include movable wading pools, inflatable pools, and “soft sided, self rising” pools can be found in home improvement stores, variety stores, toy stores, and even at the grocery store.


Child care helps depressed moms' kids
June 13th, 2011
12:01 AM ET

Child care helps depressed moms' kids

Spending time in child care may help protect children of depressed moms from developing behavioral and psychological problems, according to new research in the journal Pediatrics.

Experts know that when mothers are depressed it can be difficult or challenging for them to parent and that their children often show signs of distress. Some young people act out, perhaps showing anger and aggression, others internalize their feeling taking on their mother's sadness or depression.

This new study looked at more than 400 mothers and their children in Australia, and found that at age 2, as little as half a day of child care a week appears to protect infants and toddlers from exhibiting behavioral problems at age 5.


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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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