Breakthroughs | KERA News

Breakthroughs

Breakthroughs is a weekly series devoted to the latest innovations in health, science and technology — with a North Texas accent.

Explore special Breakthroughs multimedia projects: Surviving Ebola, a look at how Ebola made its way to Dallas and the lessons local hospitals and governments learned; Growing Up After Cancer, the journey of one North Texas boy with cancer; and The Broken Hip, an in-depth look at how a fall can change everything. 

To get a glimpse of where Medicaid may be headed after Donald Trump moves into the White House, it may be wise to look to Indiana.

That's where Seema Verma, Trump's pick to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, comes from. And that's where she put her stamp on the state's health care program for the poor.

Stephanie Kuo/KERA

Doctor-patient interactions are typically routine, with doctors understanding little of their patients’ lives beyond the exam room. But medical schools are ushering in a culture shift in medicine – one that’s focused on more than just a patient’s symptoms.

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When a patient’s heart stops, responding quickly is a matter of life or death. A new study out of UT Southwestern shows some hospitals respond faster than others — with a life-saving medication.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Last year, a federal judge declared the Texas foster care system broken. That’s no small-scale problem. There are more than 30,000 children in Texas foster care each year, and national studies indicate up to 80 percent of them have at least one chronic medical condition. 

Baylor Scott & White Research Institute

According to the World Health Organization, tuberculosis now kills more people worldwide than HIV/AIDS, and cases of the disease have increased in Texas. In 2015, there were more than 1,300 cases of tuberculosis reported in the state.

Jill Johnson / UNT Health Science Center

Everyone makes mistakes — even doctors in emergency rooms and anesthesiologists during surgery. Despite safety checklists and top-of-the-line technology, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 250,000 Americans die annually due to medical errors. That’s more deaths than from lung and prostate cancer combined.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

In the wake of the election, President Obama’s signature health care law is back in the spotlight. Republicans, including prominent Texans, have wanted to repeal the Affordable Care Act since it was signed into law in 2010. Now, with control of the White House and Congress, Republicans have a better chance than before to dismantle it. 

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President Obama may be leaving office, but his landmark healthcare legislation is still law of the land. Enrollment for the fourth year under the Affordable Care Act began on Tuesday. We traced Obamacare in Texas through the story of one family.

Lauren Silverman / KERA

Most people love to hate cockroaches. Michael Bohdan, a former exterminator in Dallas, he loves them. He loves them so much he earned the nickname "Cockroach Dundee." He says the biggest roach in Dallas made him famous. 

Annabelle Breakey

According to some research, two of every five women have sexual concerns or difficulties at some point in their lives. Yet no one has been able to create the “female viagra.” The most recent attempt, a pill called Addyi hasn’t met expectations. Still, big pharmaceuticals and startups are trying to tap into the female sexual health market.

Stephanie Kuo / KERA News

Tucked in between the big box stores of West Fort Worth is a joint called Buttons — where the phones are always ringing and the funk is always playing.

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Update, Oct. 12: The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is withdrawing its intent to classify Kratom, a leaf indigenous to Southeast Asia, as a Schedule 1 drug and opening a public comment period to last until Dec. 1.

Finger-Licking Good: The Science Behind Frying Chicken

Oct 12, 2016
Stephanie Kuo / KERA News

Fried chicken is king in Texas. But it doesn't just taste great -- making the perfect fried chicken involves science. To get at the science of fried chicken, we got the help of three key players from the North Texas chicken scene. They helped break down the physics of the fry.

 

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Every year, thousands of patients volunteer to take part in clinical trials throughout the U.S.  They're a fundamental step in the approval process for the drugs we take — whether that’s Tylenol, Adderall or Prozac. Yet we hear very little about how the clinical trial process works: How are patients recruited? Who benefits?

Stephanie Kuo / KERA News

Doctors say when it comes to trauma, bleeding out is the most preventable cause of death – and it typically happens before patients even make it to the hospital. With a rise in multiple-casualty events like the recent shootings in Washington and Houston and stabbings in Minnesota, one program aims to change the role of bystanders.

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Video gamers will opt to lose sleep if they're about to reach a new level or accomplish a satisfying goal. But some gamers can acquire what's called "sleep debt" if they're unable to stop playing, according to new research.

STEPHANIE KUO/KERA

An innovative program from Baylor Health Care System and the City of Dallas has been taking on diabetes with common sense. The fix is as simple as fresh fruits and vegetables.

Courtesy of Tiffany Savage

Esther Savage loves a lot of things. She loves practicing her cartwheels. She loves light saber duels with her mom – and tickle fights. Her giddy laughter is infectious. And like many 5-year-olds, she loves singing along to "Frozen."

UT Southwestern Medical Center

A study from UT Southwestern Medical Center shows that the brain in obese women acts like it's hungry, even when it's not. Dr. Nancy Puzziferri, who led the study that appears in the journal Obesity, talks about the findings.

Christopher Connelly/KERA News

One of the most difficult challenges for police after traumatic events, like the July 7 shootings, is getting officers the counseling and mental health services they need. Many have to be convinced to seek out help. But that “tough-guy” attitude of police departments in the past might slowly be melting away. 

Here's Why Texas Students Wait Weeks For Basic Mental Health Services

Aug 9, 2016
University of Houston

By the fall of her sophomore year at the University of Houston, Mariellee Aurelio had already thought of several ways to kill herself.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

There are dozens of types of mosquitoes in North Texas -- more than 50, in fact. A mosquito hunter who works with the city of Denton helps explain the differences between the bugs.

Children’s Health

For decades, Children’s Medical Center in Dallas has partnered with academic institutions, working within their own system to come up with ways to care for sick patients. Now, the model is shifting. They’re investing in tech startups to care for healthy kids. 

National Institutes of Health / Kuhn and Rossmann research groups, Purdue University

The news about the Zika virus has accelerated this week. A newborn in the Houston area tested positive for Zika-related microcephaly. Doctors are also trying to figure out how an elderly Utah man was infected without transmission through sex or mosquito bites. These developments come as a new study from UT Southwestern Medical Center finds that Zika can infect brain cells and hide itself from the immune system.

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New research shows that children who often go hungry are twice as likely to have impulsive, violent behavior while growing up -- and later in life. Alex Piquero of the University of Texas at Dallas helped author the study, which is among the first to link childhood hunger with violence. 

SMU.edu/Illustration by Karen Carr

CT scans aren’t just for people -- they can also be used on dinosaurs.

STEPHANIE KUO

In 2004, Steve Papania was patrolling Kirkuk, Iraq, as a rifleman in the U.S. Army. He’d enlisted immediately after 9/11.

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Operating on the wrong patient or on the wrong limb, or giving the wrong medication – those are examples of medical errors. And those errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.  

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

If you thought meth labs disappeared after the final season of “Breaking Bad,” you’d be in for a surprise. Fewer people are illegally cooking drugs in Texas, but it’s still happening. A new tool tracks down illegal chemicals — in the air.

STEPHANIE KUO

The homeless have plenty to worry about, and their health often takes a backseat to more pressing concerns like housing and food. Doctors say that ultimately takes a toll.

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