Monday, December 19, 2011

The Afternoon Drill: December 19, 2011

Los Angeles Roadrunners November 26, 2011

Venice Beach, California

Good afternoon.

I had some errands to run this morning, including some last minute Christmas mailings, so the Morning Drill is now in the afternoon.

On to today's dentistry and health headlines:

Maine dental board votes to restrict IPDHs in pilot project

Despite opposition from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the governor of Maine, the Maine Board of Dental Examiners voted today to restrict what x-rays independent practice dental hygienists (IPDHs) can take during an upcoming pilot project.

In June 2011, Maine passed LD 230, directing the board to implement a two-year pilot project that expands the scope of practice of IPDHs to allow them to take x-rays in underserved areas without the presence of a dentist. The board was also directed to develop rules for the pilot project.

As written, the board's proposed rules allow IPDHs to take only bitewing and periapical x-rays without a dentist present and prohibit them from taking other types of x-rays.

Last month the FTC told the board that the proposed rules were too restrictive and could undermine the project's purpose.

Supreme Court sets Obama healthcare arguments

Oral arguments on President Barack Obama's sweeping U.S. healthcare overhaul will last 5-1/2 hours spread over three days from March 26-28, the Supreme Court said on Monday.

The Supreme Court last month agreed to hear the 5-1/2 hours of oral arguments, one of the lengthiest arguments in recent years. There have been similar marathon sessions in a handful of big cases dating back over the past 70 years.

New head for Ohio VA center that had dental issues

The new director of a southwest Ohio VA medical center that was rocked earlier this year by dental-clinic hygiene problems said Monday he plans more community outreach to build confidence and attract more veterans to its services.

Glenn Costie, the director at the John J. Pershing VA Medical Center in Poplar Bluff, Mo., the last two-plus years, took over Monday at the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center, which serves some 37,000 veterans. In a message to his new staff, he said he wants an environment that is "patient-centric, strives for perfection and is innovative."

He replaces William Montague, the former Cleveland VA director called out of retirement in March to serve as acting director in Dayton. The previous director was reassigned after an investigation found a clinic dentist wasn't regularly changing latex gloves or properly sterilizing equipment.

Some 535 veterans who had undergone invasive procedures in the clinic had their blood tested as a result. Hospital officials said three of the patients tested positive for hepatitis, which can cause liver damage, but they weren't certain how they contracted it.

Costie said he wants to make sure the region's veterans know they are can get high-quality, safe health care at the center. He will focus on "building trust with the community," he told The Associated Press.

Posting Calorie Information On Sugary Drinks Curbs Sales Among Teens

During our daily subway commute to and from Health Blog HQ, we’ve noticed  posters telling us exactly how far we’d have to walk to work off various sugar-sweetened drinks.

Now a study just published online by the American Journal of Public Health makes us think that the NYC Department of Public Health, which is behind the posters, may be on to something.

Researchers wanted to know what would happen to sales of sugary drinks including soda, sport drinks and fruit drinks if they posted calorie information about those drinks on beverage cases at corner stores in Baltimore. They were also curious about whether the way that calorie information was presented would make a difference.

So they rotated three different signs through four different corner stores. One sign pointed out that a bottle of soda or fruit juice has about 250 calories. Another pointed out that such a drink has about 10% of a person’s daily calories. And another pointed out that working off a bottle of soda or fruit juice takes about 50 minutes of running.

The researchers collected data for about 1,600 beverage purchases by black teens — who are more likely to drink sugary beverages and to be obese — across the different information strategies and, for comparison, a baseline period.

Giving any type of calorie information lowered the likelihood of a sugary-drink purchase by about 40% compared to no signs at all, says Sara Bleich, an author of the study and an assistant professor of health policy at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The study also found that giving information about the physical activity equivalent lowered the likelihood of a sugary-drink purchase by about 50%.

Enjoy your afternoon and evening!

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