Stories We're Following This Week

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

Having Trouble Remembering Your Pills? These Devices Can Help

“Not taking too many pills can be as important as remembering to take them at all, particularly for patients on addictive prescriptions such as opioids.”

—The latest pill-tracking devices make it easier to manage your medications. (Cassandra)

Bottom Line: It can be difficult for anyone to keep track of medication schedules, but this is especially true for patients on chemo and other powerful treatments, who often must take a variety of pills, some with food, some without, at various times of the day. Thankfully, a bevy of smart applications and devices like the ones in this round-up help ensure that we don't miss a dose—or accidentally overdose. 

How to Avoid Deadly Infections 

“Infections… can take a regular healthy person and destroy them within hours. You don’t get a second chance. People don’t realize how rapid and lethal infections can be.”

—In the U.S., 1 in 25 patients will contract an infection from the very hospital that is treating them.
They can turn lethal, as the author came to learn, if left untreated. (New York Times

Bottom Line: About 722,000 Americans developed infections in hospitals in 2011 and some 75,000 died,
according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even in the best hospitals in the country, there's still the possibility of contracting an infection. That's why we, as patients, must remain engaged and vigilant about our own care. For example, it's easier to treat infections if they are caught early. So tell your nurse or doctor promptly if the dressing around a wound or the entrance site of a catheter loosens, gets wet, or is causing pain. If you develop a rash, a fever, or new swelling, or if you feel a different kind of pain, you may be getting an infection. Let your doctors know as soon as possible. For more tips on staying safe in the hospital, read Chapter 12, "Step 4: Coordination," in The Patient's Playbook.

7 tips for balancing work & cancer


Here's one: Be prepared to swivel conversations back to work-related topics

—If you're planning to return to work after a cancer diagnosis, this helpful
article provides some practical advice. (Everyday Health)

Bottom Line: A cancer diagnosis is a very personal experience, and patients will differ in their approach to returning to work. As this story points out, it's important to talk with your health care team about what your job requires both physically and mentally in order to create an action plan. It's also crucial that you learn about the laws that can protect you in the workplace. These 7 tips give you some back-to-work starting points.

Can This Pill-Size Robot Protect
Curious Kids From Surgery?

“Every year, 3,500 swallowed button batteries are reported in the U.S. alone . . . if they come into prolonged contact with the tissue of the esophagus or stomach, they can . . . burn the tissue . . . If you have a battery in your body, you really want it out as soon as possible."

—Researchers are creating a tiny origami robot that can unfold itself from
a swallowed capsule and go to work inside our bodies. (Science Daily

Bottom Line: Some 40,000 emergency room visits between 1997 to 2010 were for children under age 13 who swallowed batteries. Fourteen of those cases turned fatal. The origami robot is a wonderfully collaborative project among top engineers, doctors, and artificial intelligence experts at MIT, the University of Sheffield, and the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Though it's still in development, a pill-size robot could one day be used for multiple medical applications, from collecting swallowed batteries and other small objects to patching up internal wounds—thus helping patients to avoid dangerous surgeries.