In the News
* The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published a plan to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities through integrated approaches and evidence-based practices.
* Hospital readmission rates among black patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were 30% higher than they were among groups with the lowest rates.
Sources: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities (http://1.usa.gov/tLcpd4); Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Readmissions for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, 2008. Statistical Brief 121.
* Risk-adjusted rates of U.S. heart failure hospitalizations decreased 30% from 1998 to 2008, according to a report in JAMA.
* In the same study, the authors reported that declines in hospitalization were less pronounced in black men, and results varied widely from state to state.
Source: Chen J, et al. JAMA 2011;306(15):1669 78.
* Breast cancer incidence decreased among white, Latino, and American Indian–Alaskan Native women.
* A year into the cholera epidemic in Haiti, the percentage of people with access to clean drinking water in Port-au-Prince settlement camps had decreased from 48% to 7%.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Breast Cancer Trends. (http://1.usa.gov/ulvD6c); Chaturvedi AK, et al. J Clin Oncol 2011;29(32):4294-301.
* More people with Medicare are taking advantage of preventive health care benefits, such as annual wellness visits and cardiovascular screening.
* Partners in Health is planning a comprehensive cholera-prevention program for this month that should vaccinate 100,000 Haitians against the disease.
* The continuing economic crisis threatens proposed funding for preventive and public health initiatives, which could make these services disappear.
* Human papillomavirus–related oropharyngeal cancer will likely constitute most head and neck cancers in the United States in the next 20 years, according to a report in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Sources: Rural Assistance Center. More People Using Free Preventive Benefits Provided by Affordable Care Act (http://bit.ly/rFedIa); Kuehn BM. JAMA 2011;306(18):1965-6; Partners in Health. Cholera One Year Later. http://bit.ly/tXxJ6P.
Hazardous Medical Waste
* Tools for tackling and monitoring hazardous medical waste, including waste in low-income countries, are now available on the World Health Organization Web site at http://bit.ly/tUdp0x.
* About 20% of the waste generated by health care activities is toxic, infectious, or radioactive.
Source: World Health Organization. Healthcare Waste and Its Safe Management; World Health Organization. Waste from Health Care Activities. Fact sheet No. 253 (http://bit.ly/tZnZT0).