Scott Hensley

Walk past a patient's hospital room, and the flashing control panels on devices by the bed might make you think you're peering at the cockpit of a 737.

Medical technology can make patient care better and more precise. But the gadgets and computers can cause trouble, too. One big problem is that most of the devices can't communicate with one another.

The ultimate technological goal is what the engineers call interoperability. Let the ventilators, IV pumps, heart monitors and computers holding patient records communicate and update one another automatically.

This post was first published March 4, and it was updated with audio on March 8.

When you face a choice about hotels, restaurants or cars, the chances are you head to the Web for help.

Online ratings have become essential tools for modern consumers. Health care is no exception to the ratings game, especially when it comes to hospitals.

Many people check up on hospitals before they check in as patients. But there's a catch. A hospital that gets lauded by one group can be panned by another.

After a few cases here and there, measles is making a big push back into the national consciousness.

An outbreak linked to visitors to the Disneyland Resort Theme Parks in Orange County, Calif., has sickened 67 people in California and six other states according to the latest count from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Americans, by and large, don't seem all that worried about what happens to the information in their medical records.

A NPR-Truven Health Analytics Health Poll found that data privacy didn't appear to bother most respondents. Privacy worries ran highest for information held by health insurers, but even then only 16 percent of people expressed concern.

Part of the fun we have here at Shots is never knowing what the day will bring. There are always so many intriguing stories that come our way.

Among the more than 1,000 pieces we published in 2014, a few really stood out. Even before crunching the numbers, we could have told you the top couple of posts off the top of our heads.

But in case you missed them or don't commit them to memory the way we do, here are the five posts that got the most clicks this year.

Vroom! Vroom! Ow!!!!

When it comes to toys that cause serious injuries, those little scooters kids push along with one foot are unique.

A look at trends in injuries that sent kids to the emergency room over more than 20 years shows an Everest-like mountain of problems with ride-on toys, including scooters, that reached its zenith in 2001 — an estimated 109,000 injuries.

When it comes to health records, how concerned are Americans about what happens to their personal information?

We asked in the latest NPR-Truven Health Analytics Health Poll. And, in a bit of surprise to me, the responses showed that, in general, worries don't run very high.

First, we learned that nearly three-quarters of people see doctors who use electronic medical records. So the chances are good that your medical information is being kept digitally and that it can be served up to lots of people inside your doctor's office and elsewhere.

How much is a fast track for the Food and Drug Administration review of a new drug worth? Try $125 million.

In an auction, Gilead Sciences, a maker of HIV and hepatitis medicines, just bought a coupon good for the accelerated review of a drug of the company's choice from Knight Therapeutics, a Canadian company.

The priority review voucher entitles Gilead to move a drug of its choice through the FDA four months faster than the normal track.

The wheels of drug research grind slowly, but they can grind exceedingly fine.

Merck said Monday that its cholesterol drug Vytorin was vindicated by a nine-year-long clinical study that aimed to find out if adding a drug that blocked the absorption of cholesterol to a statin, long the gold standard for cholesterol care, would help patients at a high risk of heart attack and stroke.

The evidence has been piling up that properly done CT scans can help doctors find tiny lung tumors in longtime smokers while the cancer can still be treated effectively.

Now Medicare is proposing to pay for annual scans for beneficiaries at a high risk for lung cancer. To qualify, patients would have to first meet with a doctor to talk through the pros and cons of scans, which involve a low-dose of radiation.

Patients would have to be:

  • Between the ages 55 and 74;

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