Stories We're Following This Week

News + Insights from Around the Web + The Patient's Playbook Bottom Line. 

Parents, here's how to help your kids stay healthy in college



"What everyone wants to do is give a student the education and tools they need to make the best decisions to protect their health."

—Going to college means a lot of added responsibilities for students, including managing their
own health. These tips can help students succeed. (NBC)

Bottom Line: In the best-case scenario, students and their parents take the time to find a primary care physician in the child's new locale. But at a minimum, students should keep in touch with their primary care doctors from home, especially if they suffer from chronic conditions. Students and parents can also find out what services the campus student-health center provides (are STD screenings offered? Mental health services?), and what it does not provide. Additionally, as this story notes, young adults should be up to date on vaccinations (including the HPV vaccine) before heading off to college. 

new Study: Want to lose weight? Clean Your kitchen



"The notion that places — such as cluttered offices or disorganized homes — can be modified to help us control our food intake is becoming an important solution in helping us become more slim by design."

—A new study published this month in the journal Environment and Behavior suggests that a chaotic environment could nudge us to eat. (NPR)

Bottom Line: A cluttered kitchen or office may encourage us to reach for sweets and consume more calories, while an orderly environment appears to encourage healthier choices. Researchers also found that an individual's mindset—"I feel in control"—can moderate the impact of a chaotic environment on food intake. 

What to do when you have one of the rarest diseases around

DNA Sequence (Thinkstock)

DNA Sequence (Thinkstock)

“Rare diseases are literally coming out of the woodwork. We’re starting to realize that, collectively, these rare diseases are more common than we ever thought.”

— As next-generation sequencing becomes more readily available, more patients are finding out that their mysterious symptoms are the result of rare genetic diseases. (Washington Post)

Bottom Line: With the availability of new technology, such as next-generation sequencing, patients are learning more than ever before about their own health. But test results can be a mixed blessing when there's no known prognosis, let alone treatment options, for rare disorders. That's when it's time to dig deep for a next-level expert who can help you form the right medical plan. The National Organization for Rare Disorders has more information and guidance for families. 

When a Brain Surgeon Becomes a Malpractice Lawyer



"Mine is an unusual combination of talents and circumstances. I have a doctor’s heart and compassion and a lawyer’s awareness that great harm is sometimes done to patients through narcissism, carelessness or ineptitude."

—As a brain surgeon, Lawrence Schlachter saw malpractice problems to a limited extent.
As a lawyer, he now sees just how flawed the system really is. (ProPublica)

Bottom Line: More than 400,000 Americans a year die as a result of medical mistakes, and too many patients suffer unnecessary harm while seeking healing. But the vast majority of physicians work extremely hard and care deeply about their patients. According to a recent study, just 1% of physicians account for a third of all paid malpractice claims. It's up to as, as patients, to better partner with our physicians and become more competent and courageous in our decision-making. That's what The Patient's Playbook is all about. (And here's one simple tip: For significant problems, go to significant institutions.)

Got a great story we should be following? Let us know in the comments below.