Health

There are rating systems for hospitals, nursing homes and doctors. So why is it so hard to compare providers of child care?

Part of the reason is that there are no nationally agreed-upon standards for what determines the quality of child care. The standards that do exist are formulated in each state, and they vary widely.

For example, some states require that child care workers have a teaching certificate. Others require certain college courses. Some have strict ratios of how many caregivers are required per child.

Young children and teenagers are increasingly likely to be poisoned by opioid painkillers that are often prescribed for other family members, a study finds.

The rate of children hospitalized for opioid poisoning increased 165 percent from 1997 to 2012, from about 1.40 per 100,000 kids to 3.71 per 100,000.

As a hospice chaplain, it's Kerry Egan's job to help dying people accept their own mortality. Sometimes that means sitting with them as they express their regrets and fears. Other times, she listens as they recount their life stories and reflect on the experiences that brought them joy.

"There's no time to preach or teach," Egan tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "You have to use whatever tools that person already has in their spiritual toolbox to help them come to meaning in their lives."

Acknowledging that "there is more work to be done" to ensure that patients with mental illness and addiction don't face discrimination in their health care, a presidential task force made a series of recommendations Friday including $9.3 million in funding to improve enforcement of the federal parity law.

Just about every day, genetic counselor Shawn Fayer heads to the maternity ward at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and tries to convince new parents to give him a blood sample.

Fayer is offering gene sequencing for newborns. It gives parents a tantalizing look at their baby's genetic information.

New parents Lauren and Ian Patrick, from Marion, Mass., were excited when they were first approached earlier this month.

The largest provider of health coverage on the Affordable Care Act's online marketplace in Maine has dropped coverage of elective abortion services.

Community Health Options, an insurance co-op, decided to eliminate the coverage as it tries to dig itself out of a $31 million financial hole that it accumulated in 2015. (It's one of six co-ops remaining of the 23 initially created by the Affordable Care Act.)

Federal regulators said 12 U.S. hospitals, including well-known medical centers in Los Angeles, Boston and New York, failed to promptly report patient deaths or injuries linked to medical devices.

The Food and Drug Administration publicly disclosed the violations in inspection reports this week amid growing scrutiny of its ability to identify device-related dangers and protect patients from harm.

When Katlyn Burbidge's son was 6 years old, he was performing some silly antic typical of a first-grader. But after she snapped a photo and started using her phone, he asked her a serious question: "Are you going to post that to Facebook?"

She laughed and answered, "Yes, I think I will." What he said next stopped her.

"Can you not?"

That's when it dawned on her: She had been posting photos of him online without asking his permission.

When I was 6 years old, my mom woke up, got out of bed and crashed to the floor. That's when she figured out half her body was paralyzed. The left side. Right down the middle, like a paper doll folded at the center. She made it to the phone, called a guy she'd just started dating, asked him to take her to the hospital.

When he rang the bell, my mom had to drag the limp half of her body backward, down the stairs, to open the door for him. She told me later, the guy was so scared that during the car ride to the ER he farted the whole time. Couldn't stop. They broke up after that.

Placebos can't cure diseases, but research suggests that they seem to bring some people relief from subjective symptoms, such as pain, nausea, anxiety and fatigue.

Aging can take a toll on teeth, and for many older people paying for dental services is a serious concern because they can't rely on their Medicare coverage.

Low-income seniors in particular are struggling. More than a third with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level (about $23,000 annually) had untreated tooth decay between 2011 and 2014, according to an analysis of federal data by the American Dental Association.

Workers in California's hospitals and doctors' offices may be less likely to get hit, kicked, bitten or grabbed under workplace standards adopted by a state workplace safety board.

Public health authorities and infectious disease specialists now say we may not be able to rid the U.S. of the Zika virus. Despite months of intense work — including house to house inspections and aggressive mosquito control — federal, state and local officials have not been able to stop the spread of Zika in Miami.

It's one of the biggest medical mysteries of our time: How did HIV come to the U.S.?

By genetically sequencing samples from people infected early on, scientists say they have figured out when and where the virus that took hold here first arrived. In the process, they have exonerated the man accused of triggering the epidemic in North America.

The EpiPen, the anti-allergy device that has been under investigation because of huge price increases, is soon going to have some competition.

Kaleo Pharmaceuticals, a small privately held drugmaker, says it plans to bring the Auvi-Q epinephrine auto-injector back onto the market in 2017.

Both the Auvi-Q and EpiPen devices inject a dose of epinephrine into the thigh of a person experiencing a severe allergic reaction.

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