Today’s Headlines: Plan B, Quiet Hospitals and CT Scans

Administration to Stop Fighting Availability of Over The Counter Plan B: “The Obama administration has decided to stop trying to block over-the-counter availability of the best-known morning-after contraceptive pill for all women and girls, a move fraught with political repercussions for President Obama.” According to the Times, “the government’s decision means that any woman or girl will soon be able to walk into a drugstore and buy the pill, Plan B One-Step [levonorgestrel], without a prescription.” The Department of Justice, which “had been fighting to prevent that outcome…said late Monday afternoon that it would accept its losses in recent court rulings and begin putting into effect a judge’s order to have the Food and Drug Administration certify the drug for nonprescription use.” (New York Times)

Hospitals Taking Extra Measures To Reduce Noise: Some hospitals are replacing staff paging systems with wireless headsets or installing white noise machines and sound-absorbing ceiling tiles. Other hospitals offer “quiet kits” that contain sleep masks, earplugs and crossword puzzles. Efforts to reduce noise picked up steam last year after Medicare announced it will base a percentage of hospital reimbursement on quality measurements, which include patients ratings on quality of care. In these ratings, noise is consistently cited as the greatest annoyance. While many hospitals offer private rooms, there is only so much to be done in shared rooms. Officials ask visitors to use a quiet voice and to take care while walking around the hospital. (Wall Street Journal)

Kids Who Undergo CT Scans May Have Higher Cancer Risk Later In Life: Researchers looked at data from seven HMOs on children who underwent CT scans. They “estimated that 4,870 future cancers may occur each year in the future from the 4 million annual pediatric CT scans of the head, abdomen/pelvis, chest or spine.” The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, also suggested that “reducing the highest doses of radiation from CT scans to the middle dose may prevent 43 percent of these cancers.” Approximately “7 million CT tests are performed in children each year in the U.S. and the number is rising about 10 percent annually, according to the Image Gently Campaign and the Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging, which is funded by the Society for Pediatric Radiology, the American College of Radiology and other organizations to push for lower radiation doses in children.”  (Bloomberg News)