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Public Health and Safety

Facilities and Medical Equipment
How can I reduce my exposure to radiation from X-rays?

Before being x-rays, ask your health care professional how an X-ray will help. How will it help find out what's wrong or determine your treatment?

Drug and Food Safety
Are generic drugs the same as brand name drugs?

The HHS Food and Drug Administration (FDA) works with pharmaceutical companies to ensure that all drugs marketed in the United States meet specifications for identity, strength, quality, purity, and potency. Before approving a generic drug product, FDA requires many rigorous tests and procedures to ensure that the generic drug can be substituted for the brand name drug.

What is the difference between Salmonella and E. coli?

Salmonella and E. coli are different types of bacteria. Salmonella occurs in raw poultry, eggs, beef, and sometimes on unwashed fruit and vegetables. You can get E. coli infections by eating foods containing the bacteria.

Is aspartame safe?

After reviewing scientific studies, the HHS Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined in 1981 that aspartame was safe for use in foods. In 1987, the General Accounting Office investigated the process surrounding FDA's approval of aspartame and confirmed the agency had acted properly.

What is a food additive?

Legally, a food additive is any substance the intended use of which results or may reasonably be expected to result (directly or indirectly) in its becoming a component or otherwise affecting the characteristics of any food." This includes any substance used in the production, processing, treatment, packaging, transportation, or storage of food.

Dealing with Communicable Disease
What is the difference between isolation and quarantine?

Isolation is used to separate ill persons who have a communicable disease from those who are healthy. Quarantine is used to separate and restrict the movement of well persons who may have been exposed to a communicable disease to see if they become ill.

How is isolation and quarantine enforced during a disease outbreak?

If a quarantinable disease is suspected or identified, the CDC may issue a Federal isolation or quarantine order. Public health authorities at the federal, state, local, and tribal levels may sometimes seek help from police or other law enforcement officers to enforce a public health order.

Who has the authority to enforce isolation and quarantine because of a communicable disease?

The U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services is authorized to take measures to prevent the entry and spread of communicable diseases from foreign countries into the United States and between states. The authority for carrying out these functions on a daily basis has been delegated to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

What diseases are subject to Federal isolation and quarantine law?

By Executive Order of the President, federal isolation and quarantine are authorized for these communicable diseases: Cholera, Diphtheria, Infectious tuberculosis, Plague, Smallpox, Yellow fever, Viral hemorrhagic fevers (like Ebola), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Flu that can cause a pandemic.

Health Care Facilities
How can I find out if my hospital offers good care for my condition?

Hospital Compare offers the consumer information on hospitals performance on measures of quality. Some information is based on how well hospitals provided recommended and appropriate care to patients being treated for heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia, or who were receiving surgical care.

Is there some way to find out if one hospital is better than another one?

Visit the Hospital Compare site (http://www.medicare.gov/hospitalcompare/) for data, then talk to your doctor and other health care providers about the quality and experience of hospitals treating the conditions you are concerned about.

Where can I find information to compare nursing homes for quality?
To find detailed information about the past performance of Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing homes, visit the Nursing Home Compare site. You can search by state, county, city, zip code, and/or facility name. See: http://www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/search.html