December 23rd, 2010
11:44 AM ET

Shortage of medicines kills some US patients

Shortages of some 150 crucial medicines have killed at least four hospital patients, according to reports from  a patient safety group.

One of the hospital drugs in shortage is morphine, and two patients died of an overdose when hospitals substituted a more powerful drug instead, according to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP).


Alternatives to mercury dental fillings
December 16th, 2010
05:03 PM ET

Alternatives to mercury dental fillings

Mercury fillings have had a murky history. Used for more than a century, the American Dental Association says they're safe, but all you have to do is google "dangers of mercury fillings" to see that a whole host of people disagree.

Like the dentists' group, the Food and Drug Administration has said mercury fillings are safe, but now an FDA committee is advising a second look at the issue based on  new data.

While the FDA considers whether they want to mull over the safety of mercury fillings, we empowered patients can take action of our own. FULL POST

November 29th, 2010
03:30 PM ET

Aging partially reversed in mice. Are humans next?

Could mice in a Boston laboratory hold the key to people living longer? Scientists think it's possible. Researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute say for the first time, they have partially reversed the aging process in mice. In these mice, brain disease was reversed, the sense of smell was restored; the mice even got their fertility back. The study appears in the journal Nature.

“What we have learned is that there’s a point of return for even aged tissues,” said Dr. Ronald DePinho, director of Dana-Farber’s Belfer Institute of Applied Cancer Science and professor of medicine and genetics at Harvard Medical School.

But before you head to Boston to see if you can get in on the action, there are a few things worth noting. First, these weren't your typical mice. For the experiment, scientists tweaked the telomerase gene in mice, which maintains the protective caps called telomeres that shield the end of chromosomes. As we age, that tip degenerates, opening the door for all kinds of hallmarks of aging, such as gray hair, organ degeneration, cognitive decline and infertility.


October 29th, 2010
02:37 PM ET

Your comments: Donating your body to science

Perhaps because Halloween is upon us and our minds are on all things ghoulish, our Empowered Patient column yesterday on ten uses for your body after you die (organ donation, museum submission, cadaver dissection for first-year medical students, among others) generated nearly 400 comments.

Some of you were distrustful, such as PeaceBWitU, who wrote, “Really folks, who can we trust these days? Who knows what they will really do to your body when you donate?” Others, such as Mike425, were thankful: “As a medical student, I can say that I am very grateful to those who have donated their bodies for my education.” Other comments were just, well, odd, such as: “Anyone else here remember a book of cartoons from c. 1979 called ‘101 Uses For A Dead Cat”?


September 28th, 2010
06:00 AM ET

Empowered Patient: How to choose the right hospital

Chuck Toeniskoetter says he's alive today because of a nurse and a paramedic who made sure he went  to the right hospital when he suffered a stroke on a California mountaintop.   The lesson Toeniskoetter learned can make everyone a more empowered patient.

Toeniskoetter had just finished a morning of skiing on Bear Valley Mountain when he suffered a massive stroke.  The helicopter pilot wanted to take him to the closest hospital, so not to waste precious minutes.  The nurse and paramedic fought to take the patient to a hospital 15 minutes further away – Sutter Roseville Medical Center in Roseville, California – where he was much more likely to receive a drug that could reverse the effects of the stroke.

"They stood on the runners of the helicopter and were relentless with the pilot," Toeniskoetter remembers. "They saved my life." FULL POST

September 27th, 2010
05:03 PM ET

Key to being an empowered patient: Trust your gut

1.5 million Americans are injured each year due to medication errors, the  Institute of Medicine says.

That’s roughly the same number of people who live in Idaho. You don’t have to be a statistic. All this week, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen will share tips with viewers for staying safe in medical situations. The first lesson: Trust your gut.


September 20th, 2010
01:29 PM ET

Can athletic drama cause a heart attack?

Could excitement – even a good kind of excitement – give you a heart attack?  The answer, some cardiologists say, is yes.

Saturday night, Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio had a heart attack after he led his team to a trick-play overtime victory against Notre Dame.  He began experiencing chest discomfort shortly after the 34-31 victory, and went to Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, Michigan, early Sunday morning, where doctors opened up a  blocked blood vessel to his heart. His doctors say they expect him to make a full recovery.


September 10th, 2010
05:28 PM ET

Can you really re-grow a fingertip?

On a normal day, Dr. Stephen Badylak’s office at the University of Pittsburgh receives five or six e-mails requesting help from people who’ve lost various body parts, particularly fingertips or toe tips.  Yesterday, because of our Empowered Patient article about Deepa Kulkarni, a woman whose pinky tip grew back after treatment, his office received several hundred, the doctor told us.

This, coupled with the nearly 1,000 comments on our article yesterday tells us many of you are interested in this new field called regenerative medicine and what it can and cannot do.


September 7th, 2010
04:35 PM ET

Secondhand smoke exposure 'striking' in the U.S.

More than half of U.S. children between ages 3 and 11 show signs in their blood of exposure to secondhand smoke, according to a report released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which examined blood samples from more than 1,300 children.

These children are more prone to pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma, and decreased lung function, according to the CDC report.  It also finds that 40 percent of nonsmoking adults have cotinine in their blood, a chemical that indicates exposure to secondhand smoke. For the most part, children are exposed to secondhand smoke in their own homes, the CDC said.


August 19th, 2010
12:58 PM ET

Survey: Gang presence increasing in public schools

Nearly a third of students aged 12 to 17 in public schools say their schools are "infected" with both gangs and drugs, according to a survey by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA).

According to the report, 66 percent of high school students said their schools were drug-infected, a steep increase from last year when 51 percent said their schools had drugs. In the newest survey, one in three middle-schoolers say drugs are used, kept, or sold at their school. Last year, 23 percent of children in middle school said they had drugs in their school.


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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.