West Hills Hospital & Medical Center
West Hills Hospital & Medical Center is your community resource for better health. We have the capability and expertise to perform emergency open heart procedures, perform brain and spine surgery.

Should you worry if you're called back to discuss screening results?

When you’ve had a cancer screening test, getting a call to come back in to discuss your results can be unnerving. However, the most important thing you can do if you receive such a call is to follow up as soon as you can. Being called to discuss your screening results doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer, but if you need cancer care, the earlier you can start, the better the results will be.

Why do I need to discuss my results in person?
Often, if your physician calls you in to discuss your screening results, it means that you may need further testing. In some cases, part of a screening test, such as dark area on a mammogram, may need to be examined a little more closely.

The need for a closer look doesn’t mean that there is any abnormality to be concerned about, but rather that your physician needs more information. In some cases, your screening test may simply need to be repeated because the results are unclear. Something as simple as a blurry image could cause the need to discuss your test results.

How likely is it that an abnormal screening test means cancer?
The answer to this question varies from hospital to hospital and varies based on the test and the type of cancer. For example, at West Hills Hospital & Medical Center, as discussed in the video, the statistics for our mammograms are as follows:

  • About 7% of women are called back to discuss their results and to have further testing each year

  • About 1-2% of those women end up requiring a biopsy

  • Less than 1% of these women have cancerous changes in their breast tissue

What should I do if I receive a call to discuss my results?
Schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Addressing the issues sooner rather than later will put your mind at ease. Your physician will explain in full what steps you need to take, up to and including cancer care, when necessary, and he or she can also recommend steps to take if you’re experiencing stress and anxiety.

The cancer care team at West Hills Hospital & Medical Center is committed to supporting patients throughout the process of facing cancer, from diagnosis through treatment and to recovery. To get more information about cancer care in West Hills or to ask for a specialist referral, please dial (818) 676-4321.

Is it safe to have toys in your baby's crib?

When you return home from the maternity hospital with your new baby, it’s natural to feel anxious about making sure your newborn’s environment is as safe as possible. One area that can house more safety risks than you might imagine is your baby’s crib. When it comes to cribs, bare is best. Buying toys for babies brings parents joy, but do they belong in the crib? Here is what you need to know to protect your baby.

What does bare is best mean?
Anything you put into your baby’s crib could turn into a hazard. That means keeping pillows, heavy blankets, sleep positioners, and toys out of the crib.

Adding unnecessary items to a crib increases the risk of suffocation and choking, especially in newborns. About half of the deaths that occur in cribs each year are suffocation events caused by having additional items in the crib.

Is there any safe way to use toys in my baby’s crib?
Ideally, there shouldn’t be any toys in the crib. If you want to include some, here are some safety guidelines:

  • Choose small toys that can be attached to one side of the crib.
  • Don’t use toys with parts that might detach or that babies can use to pull themselves up.
  • Ensure that toys don’t have any cords that babies could become tangled in.

Alternatively, simply wait until your baby is at least 18 months before putting any toys in his or her sleeping space. If your baby ever sleeps in a playpen, the same rules apply. Remove the toys from the space when your baby sleeps, and never leave him or her unattended with toys in the playpen.

At West Hills Hospital & Medical Center, your baby’s safety is as important to us as it is to you. The nurses at our maternity hospital offer extensive post-partum education to help you make the right decisions for your baby’s safety, and should your newborn need medical care, we are home to a world-class NICU. To find out more about our maternity services, please call (818) 676-4321.

Knowing if you have a cold or the flu

When cold and flu season hits, every sniffle and cough could have you wondering which infection you have. Generally, telling the difference between the two based on the symptoms is difficult, and you may need to see a physician to get a definitive answer. Because the flu can lead to serious health problems that require emergency care, it can be helpful to know which illness you have.

What symptoms do colds and the flu cause?

Because colds and the flu are both viral, respiratory infections, they cause very similar symptoms. Both can cause:

  • Runny or stuffy nose (although this symptom is slightly more common with colds)
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Body aches
  • Fever (although this symptom is more common with the flu)

Not everyone with a cold or the flu will experience all of these symptoms. Typically, flu symptoms are more severe than cold symptoms.

Does the color of phlegm hold any clue?

Many people have heard that they can tell if they have a cold or the flu based on the color of their phlegm. As discussed in the video, clear phlegm is often associated with allergies, while phlegm that is green or yellow usually indicates that you are fighting off some kind of infection, like the flu or a cold. Brown or reddish phlegm can indicate a serious infection.

The color of your phlegm can be a clue that you have an infection, but it generally doesn’t offer a clear answer as to whether you have the flu, a cold, or another viral or bacterial illness.

How can I get a definitive answer?

There are a number of different tests your physician can use to determine if you have the flu. Generally, these tests are most reliable during the early onset of symptoms.

Your physician may not recommend flu testing unless you have a high risk of complications. For instance, if you have diabetes or another chronic health condition, the flu may be more dangerous for you. In these cases, knowing for sure if you have the flu will help your physician create a treatment plan.

Whether you need emergency care in West Hills for your symptoms or a physician who help you manage your respiratory infection, choose West Hills Hospital & Medical Center for your treatment. Call us today at (818) 676-4321 for more information about emergency services or a referral to one of our providers.

Distinguishing between age-related memory loss and dementia

While a person’s intelligence will remain the same their entire lives, cognitive function can change as we age. Memory changes are also common with advanced age. Because age-related declines closely mimic the changes associated with dementia, it can be tricky to differentiate between the two. If you’re concerned about a loved one’s health or your own cognitive function, consider talking to a physician about the signs and symptoms. At West Hills Hospital our physicians and nurses provide a personalized model of high-quality care.

Understanding dementia
Contrary to popular belief, dementia is not a disease, but rather an umbrella term for a group of symptoms with many possible causes. Alzheimer’s, a neurodegenerative disorder, is considered a disease with dementia as a symptom. These symptoms affect the following functions of the brain:

  • Learning
  • Recalling information
  • Understanding written language and spoken words
  • Using written language and speech
  • Judging where objects are

Dementia can also affect a person’s executive function. This refers to a person’s ability to:

  • Make plans
  • Solve problems
  • Focus on a task
  • Reason

Comparing symptoms of memory loss
Doctors generally assess a person’s cognitive decline in light of the extent to which the symptoms interfere with daily life. For example, walking into your living room, and then forgetting why you went in there would be considered a normal lapse in memory. Driving home from work, and then forgetting how to get to your house, might be characteristic of dementia.

The following symptoms are typically considered signs of age-related memory loss:

  • Forgetting details of an event that happened last year
  • Occasionally forgetting dates or where you last placed your keys
  • Occasionally having trouble finding the right word

In contrast, the following problems might be considered indicative of dementia, although only a doctor can make that diagnosis.

  • Having trouble recognizing family members
  • Not knowing the names of family members
  • Forgetting the details of a recent conversation
  • Frequently having trouble finding the right word
  • Frequently using unusual substitutions for words (e.g. “warm shirt” instead of “sweater”)

For all of life’s challenges, the dedicated healthcare providers at West Hills Hospital are here to help. We provide a full range of general and specialty medical services for the West Hills community, with an emphasis on compassionate, patient-centered care. Call (818) 676-4321 to speak with a friendly member of our trusted nursing staff.

Keep your hands safe this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without a turkey on the dinner table. If you’re responsible for carving the bird, keep in mind some basic safety precautions to protect yourself from serious hand injuries. From our family to yours, the emergency care team at West Hills Hospital wishes you a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Choose a sharp carving knife

Use a whetstone to sharpen your carving knife before getting to work on the bird. If your knife is sharp enough, it won’t take as much force to cut through the meat, which can reduce the risk of injuries. Individuals using an electric carving knife should carefully follow the instructions and safety precautions in the user’s manual.

Avoid using a knife to try to cut through bones. Instead, sanitize a sharp pair of kitchen shears and use these for bones.

Set up the carving station properly

Carve the bird in a well-lit area of the kitchen or dinner table. If you’re having a candlelit Thanksgiving dinner, turn the overhead lights on while carving the turkey.

Sanitize and thoroughly dry the carving board, and make sure it won’t slide around on the counter or table while you’re working on it. The handle of your carving knife should be completely dry. Otherwise, your hands could slip and sustain an injury.

Carve the turkey safely

Only cut away from yourself, and avoid placing your free hand in the path of the knife. Let each slice of meat fall to the carving board, instead of trying to catch it with your free hand.

Seek emergency care for serious injuries

If you do cut yourself, apply direct pressure with a clean cloth. If the bleeding won’t stop or is severe, an emergency care physician should treat you. You’ll also need medical care if you’re overdue for a tetanus shot, or you’re not sure if you’ve had this shot before.

This Thanksgiving and every other day of the year, the emergency care doctors and nurses are here to help. West Hills Hospital is a modern medical center with a newly renovated ER, short wait times and advanced medical technology. Call 911 for true medical emergencies, or call a registered nurse in West Hills at (818) 676-4321 if you have general healthcare questions.

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