Chapel Hill Car Accident
Triplezero / Flikr

After a six-year dip in the number of traffic fatalities in North Carolina, deaths in 2012 rose by 5.5 percent. That's according to data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The federal agency says 1,292 people died in car accidents in North Carolina last year, with 33,561 fatalities occurring nationwide.

NC State University

North Carolina State University recently beefed up its toxicology database, which could help revolutionize pharmaceutical research.

NC State's Comparitive Toxicogenomics Database already cataloged the harmful health impacts of environmental chemicals, like arsenic. Then pharmaceutical giant Pfizer collaborated with the CTD to add unintended side effects of therapeutic drugs.

Brian Southwell's new book studies the effectiveness of social networking in spreading health news.
John Hopkins Press

Scientists and public health officials are increasingly turning to social media and peer-to-peer networks to educate the public.  

NC Department of Health and Human Services logo
NC Department of Health and Human Services


North Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services' policy manual requires justification memos whenever the department hires contract workers.

A records request by the News and Observer shows several hirings were made without the proper documentation. Host Frank Stasio talks with Joe Neff, investigative reporter for the News and Observer, about the department’s procedures.

Teens at a high school football game
Brad Barlow / Flickr

More than half of teens with psychiatric disorders go untreated, and those who do get help often get it from non-mental health specialists, according to a study co-authored by Duke University researchers this month.

 About 45 percent of teens who have a psychiatric disorder received treatment in the 12 months prior to the study, and those getting help most often receive it from school counselors, pediatricians or probation officers.  

Nursing students working in the simulation lab during class.
Lower Columbia Community College / Flickr

Two North Carolina schools are partnering to provide future nurses with a path to a bachelors degree.

The new program is a joint venture of North Carolina Central University and Central Carolina Community College.  It's designed to allow students at the community college to take university-level nursing courses.  Betty Dennis is chair of the NCCU Nursing department.  She said many nurses never bother to get a four-year degree.

Duke University Hospital
Duke Medecine

Durham County public health officials are investigating a child's death that may have been because of a case of bacterial meningitis.  The health department says the child was rushed to Duke University Hospital after showing symptoms of the disease Wednesday.   

Thursday, operators at the daycare the child attended, Mount Zion Christian, closed the school to be cleaned and disinfected.  Public health spokesman Eric Nickens says he wants parents to know that just being around an infected child will not pass the disease along. 

HealthServe is closing in Greensboro this week and 20,000 people will have to find a medical provider elsewhere.

A total of 1,662 North Carolinians have signed up for a health plan in the federal marketplace.

That's according to numbers released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Of the 30 states that have signed up individuals, North Carolina has the fourth most, behind Florida (3,571), Texas (2,991) and Pennsylvania (2,207). 

Duke Health's Raleigh Hospital
Duke Medicine

  The Affordable Care Act is reaching into every community in the United States.

HealthServe is closing in Greensboro this week and 20,000 people will have to find a medical provider elsewhere.

State health officials are trying to cut the number of people with behavioral disorders who end up in the Emergency Room. 

The Department of Health and Human Services says it's creating an advisory panel of health experts and patient advocates.  The group's job will be to recommend improvements at the local level for mental health and substance abuse services. 

Division of Mental Health director Dave Richard says there's apparent confusion about where to send those patients now that the state has moved away from community mental health centers.

Inside of an ambulance
adesigna / Flickr Creative Commons

EMS officials in an eastern North Carolina county will have to expand their services as another rural hospital shuts down. 

The Vidant Pungo Hospital in the town of Belhaven will be closed by next spring.  The facility is in Beaufort County, but it's the closest hospital for residents of neighboring Hyde County, which has about 6,000 people. 

Hyde County EMS director Justin Gibbs says the next closest facilities with emergency services are about 30 miles farther away.

"We're going to have to look at rewriting our system plan," Gibbs says.

Prescription drugs at a pharmacy.
Aunti P via Flickr, Creative Commons

North Carolina residents have turned in millions of unused pills this year as part of a effort to fight substance abuse.  State Attorney General Roy Cooper says more than 9,500,000 prescription and over-the-counter drugs were collected during the fall months by police agencies statewide. 

Two Ob/GYN doctors review test results.
Mercy Health

Health workers who target low-income communities across the state are working to make sure their clients know they can receive health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Rebecca Whitaker is with the North Carolina Community Health Center Association. Community Health Centers are neighborhood practices in what are known as medically underserved areas. She says health care workers have been pairing up with organizations from utilities to elder care agencies who employ uninsured caregivers to get the word out.

The Human papillomavirus (HPV) found in a Pap smear
Ed Uthman / Flickr Creative Commons

A study out of Duke University suggests the HPV vaccine might not be as effective for African-American women. 

The vaccine protects against two subtypes of the Human papillomavirus that cause 70 percent of cases that develop into cervical cancer, but researchers found black women are half as likely as white women to be infected with those strains. 

The findings could help explain racial discrepancies in the rates of cancer.

Prescription drugs at a pharmacy.
Aunti P via Flickr, Creative Commons

Orange County health officials say they will soon begin distributing kits that will help to prevent certain drug overdoses. 

State legislators passed a law that allows the drug Naloxone to be prescribed to patients.  Naloxone can reverse overdoses caused by painkillers like Oxycontin and hydrocodone.  

Orange County health director Colleen Bridger says making the kits available can help reduce what was a high number of deaths in the state since 1999 from abuse of these powerful pain medications.

Two local residents, Ivin Scurlock, 41,  and Alexandra Simou, 40, lost their lives in a hit-and-run incident near Southern Village last month.  North Carolina has one of the worst rates for bicycle and pedestrian fatalities in the country.  

Cone Health

Cone Health in Greensboro will add more specially-trained nurses to a program that can  assist in getting domestic violence convictions. 

The system's forensic nursing program provides training in getting visual proof and logging other evidence that can be used in court cases.  

Program coordinator Catherine Rossi runs the forensic nursing program.  She says techniques nurses learn are similar to those crime scene investigators and medical examiners use to analyze injuries.

Wikimedia Commons


Schizophrenia is a frightening disease, characterized by audio and visual hallucinations.

A researcher at Duke University thinks he may have a clue as to how the auditory hallucinations occur.

Duke neurobiologist Richard Mooney said there is a long history of research that indicates that the way we hear is influenced by what we see happening around us.

HIV microscope image, virus, disease
Duke University

Duke researchers say a protein in breast milk may be a key in preventing babies from contracting HIV from their infected mothers. 

The protein Tenascin-C is produced by the body to aid in helping wounds heal.  Doctors found after isolating the breast milk component that it neutralizes HIV transfer even as breast-fed babies are exposed multiple times daily.  

Sallie Permar is a professor of pediatrics at Duke.  She says their questions now center on moms with HIV.

Zero to Eighty Over Unpaved Roads: A Memoir
Evelyn McNeill /


A Duke University study found a link between poverty and smoking in adolescents.
Valentin Ottone via Flickr, Creative Commons

The federal Food and Drug Administration has tapped UNC-Chapel Hill researchers to compile data that  may lead to stronger tobacco regulations. 

One study will focus on effects of tobacco products on the lungs.  The other will examine what people know about the dangers of tobacco and how warnings can be improved.  

Kurt Ribisl is a professor of health behavior at UNC-Chapel Hill's Gillings School of Global Public Health.  He says most people are unaware of all the negative effects of tobacco.

NC State University

We think we know calories.

Eat too many and you get fat. Eat too few and you get skinny. But Rob Dunn, a biologist at North Carolina State University, says that might not be the case. He argues that many other factors affect calorie consumption and that stomach bacteria may be more influential than once realized. Host Frank Stasio talk with Dunn about the mystery of calories.

Wikimedia Commons

Warning: This segment contains a story about sexual violence.


You probably know it as Obamacare, but its official name is the Affordable Care Act. And starting Tuesday, enrollment opens for mandatory insurance.

New policies don’t actually go into effect until January 1, but in the meantime, curious shoppers can take to the health exchanges to find a deal on health insurance.

HealthServe is closing in Greensboro this week and 20,000 people will have to find a medical provider elsewhere.

North Carolina is asking local health departments to work with people hired to give information about the Affordable Care Act. 

The Department of Health and Human Services sent a letter to every county last week, encouraging them to work with so-called health care navigators.  The federal government gave out about $3 million in grants to non-profits, hospitals and volunteers to hire navigators last month.