Keep your eyes safe while playing sports!

I do not feel right letting April pass by without discussing sports eye safety. That’s correct, fellow Buckeyes – April is Sports Eye Safety Month! I know most of you have probably been celebrating this fact all month long by walking around in your favorite safety goggles, but for those of you who haven’t, this blog is for you!

Over 40,000 people a year suffer eye injuries while playing sports. The biggest culprits are: basketball, baseball, softball, lacrosse, hockey, tennis, soccer, volleyball, water polo, football, air rifle, paintball, boxing, martial arts, cricket, squash, racquetball, fencing, badminton, fishing and golf.

Sports-related eye injuries include corneal abrasions, orbital bone (“eye socket”) fractures, ocular inflammation, and retinal injuries (tears, holes or detachments). Prevent Blindness America offers the following tips to avoid sports eye injuries:

  • Wear proper safety goggles (polycarbonate protectors) for racquet sports or basketball.
  • Use batting helmets with polycarbonate face shields for baseball.
  • Use helmets and face shields approved by the U.S. Amateur Hockey Association when playing hockey.
  • Know that regular glasses don’t provide enough protection.

Check out the website for more tips, including information on choosing and buying appropriate sports eye protection.

If you experience an eye injury, seek care immediately with your eye care provider or feel free to schedule an appointment with Optometry Services at the Wilce Student Center.

Julia Geldis, OD (staff optometrist, OSU SHS)

1. Vinger PF. A practical guide for sports eye protection. Phys Sports Med. 2000 Jun; 28(6):49-69.

Get Yourself Tested (GYT) – Final installment

Get Yourself Tested

Get Yourself Tested (GYT) – Part 5!

Last week, we blogged about getting yourself psyched to make an appointment.  Now, you have an appointment.  You have marked it in your calendar, entered it in your iTouch or iPhone, put it on your Outlook, and (my favorite) written it on your arm.

Next step, talking to the clinician.  That part isn’t so bad. Granted, most of us look like your mom and dad, but we are part of the Office of Student Life.  We know college students.  We have been inside residence halls and dining commons.  We have helped with Move-in. We have tailgated.  Want to know more?  Look us up here.

Best of all, we know you are nervous and a little worried about coming in for an STD visit.  We will do our best to calm you down and listen to your concerns.  You can also learn a lot in a short time with us.

To be ready to get the most from your visit, take a look at the “Talking to your provider” tips at the GYT site.

Ok, you are ready.  Don’t waste a pigeon or bust a window getting this done.  GYT. Get yourself tested.  Do it soon.

Roger Miller, MD (SHS Preventive Medicine) for BuckMD 


The truth about antibiotics and birth control!

Q: I heard that antibiotics interfere with birth control pills, but I’m on the birth control that gets implanted under my skin – will antibiotics interfere with that too?

A: I’m so glad you asked this question!  This is one of the biggest medical myths of all time; one that gets propagated in doctors’ offices, health clinics, hospitals, blogs, magazines – and OK fine, student health centers – every day.  So now, for the first time ever… in print… online… on this blog… the TRUTH!

The only antibiotic that has ever been shown to interfere with birth control levels and effectiveness is a medicine called rifampin which is used to treat tuberculosis.  Rifampin may also interfere with the birth control patch and vaginal ring so if you are taking it, be sure to use a back-up, non-hormonal (i.e. condom) form of birth control.

There are some other medications that can interfere with your birth control, however, and if you are taking any of them you should always use back-up contraception.

  • Griseofulvin
  • Phenytoin (Dilantin)
  • Carbamazepine (Tegretol)
  • Phenobarbital
  • Topirimate (Topamax)
  • St. John’s Wort (herbal supplement)

But in general, your birth control will not be affected by any run-of-the-mill antibiotic that you might be taking for things like sinus infections, strep throat, urinary tract infections, skin infections, acne, etc.  Some people believe that because antibiotics disrupt the normal bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, they will interfere with the absorption of the birth control pills from your stomach.  But this is not an issue, and even if it were, it wouldn’t apply to birth control methods that don’t involve swallowing pills like the skin patch or the vaginal ring or Implanon.

Now, there are enough women out there who swear that they have little antibiotic babies running around the house that your health care provider will probably still tell you to use back-up just in case.  And birth control doesn’t do anything to protect you against sexually transmitted infections, so using a condom is a good idea no matter what medications you’re taking.  But you can rest assured that your birth control is just as effective when you’re taking antibiotics as when you’re not. 

John A. Vaughn, MD (OSU SHS)

Get Yourself Tested (GYT) – Are you there yet?

GYT - Make your appointment!

Get Yourself Tested (GYT) – Part 4!

Ok, it’s the third week of April, and STD Awareness Month is flying by.  Have you gotten yourself tested?  If you are sexually active and at risk, you need to get moving. 

One of the toughest things about testing is taking the first step.  Are you:

  • Embarrassed to call and make an appointment?
  • Afraid the person on the phone will think less of you?
  • Worried about confidentiality?
  • Afraid of walking into the clinician’s office and talking face to face?
  • Thinking that you couldn’t possibly talk about your sexual history?
  • Concerned that someone you know will see you?
  • Wondering if Mom, or Dad (or Aunt Rose in Pittsburgh) will find out you were here?
  • Not sure what to ask?

To ease your mind, here are some facts:

  • Student Health Services staff works with college students all the time and we won’t judge you
  • We know you worry about confidentiality and we protect your trust to the fullest extent possible
  • If you are 18 or older, we will not talk to Aunt Rose or anyone without your consent
  • We get to talk to students about lots of things – nothing much will shock us, if you know what I mean
  • Wilce Student Health Services is a busy place, so if you see your lab partner, tell them you are here to talk about hair loss, or athlete’s foot, or something less embarrassing

Ok, ready to take that first step?  Here you go:

  • Decide where you want to go – Student Health, Community Clinic, Health Department, Private Doctor?  
  • If you are coming to Wilce Student Health Center, call 292-4321
  • When you get on the phone, just say “I’d like an STD screen, please.”

If you need more inspiration to make that appointment, take a look at this message from the President.

NEXT WEEK – Talking to your doc.

See you at Wilce!  (Don’t worry, I’ll pretend I don’t know you.)

Roger Miller, MD (SHS Preventive Medicine) for BuckMD 


There’s a Harlot on campus you’ve got to meet!

click to enlarge

Harlot: A Revealing Look at the Arts of Persuasion, an outstanding online magazine created and edited by graduate students in our very own English Department, just published their 4th issue – Rhetoric at Work.  This issue of Harlot “offers fresh insights into our everyday experiences by examining the curious and powerful ways persuasion operates within the workplace.” 

What does an online literary magazine about rhetoric have to do with health care?  Well, it contains an essay I wrote about a patient encounter that taught me the powerful impact – both good and bad – that persuasion can have on a patient’s relationship with her doctor and her illness.  My goal was to get people thinking about their health care in a new way; please check it out and let me know if I was successful or not.

In addition to my essay, the issue includes a sculptor gently refusing to explain what her art “means;” a chaplain shaping her spiritual identity as professional development; two professors not-so-gently poking fun at J.CREW’s catalog of gender norms; and a police officer explaining what’s really going on when you get pulled over.  Thought provoking stuff – and it’s all thanks to the efforts of your fellow students. 

So take a few minutes and visit Harlot.  It’s always inspiring to see what amazing things are being done right here on our campus, and who knows – maybe you’ll be inspired to think about how the art of persuasion impacts your life and share it with others.  I’m sure they would love to hear from you.   

John A. Vaughn, MD (OSU SHS)

Illness as Art

I’ve taken care of thousands of patients in 10 years of practice. I’ve shepherded patients through colds, pneumonias, urinary tract infections, and birth. I’ve been at the bedside of patients with innumerable cancers, complications from diabetes, heart attacks, brain injuries, gunshot wounds, and toe amputations. I’ve palpated acute abdomens, fussed over toenail fungus, and been the very first person in the world to touch a new baby. God help me, I adore it. 

While I’m on a first name basis with the nuts and bolts of illness and recovery, I’m fascinated by life on the other side of the examination table.  What is it to be sick, fighting for life?  I know what it’s like to wait for hours in the emergency department; to have to beg for pain pills; to feel relief as a fever comes down; but how does somebody with a more creative sensibility process the experience? The experience of caring for sick patients is specialized; the experience of being sick is human.  

I chanced upon a link today on the superb and always fascinating New York Times photojournalism blog, Lens, about a photographer with lymphoma. His images, many of which were taken while he was undergoing chemotherapy, are shown in a short movie which he narrates. They’re lovely, stark images by a gentleman facing the end of his life:

A cancer survivor and his Kodachrome

On a similar but more literal vein, artist Cathy Aten posted a video about how multiple sclerosis has affected her art and life as her physical abilities are “edited down.”  Fascinating, heart-wrenching stuff:

Healing through multiple sclerosis

Through the link you can get to her blog, where she posts essays and images about her experience. As her physical body demands more attention and assistance, she asks “What does change actually look like?”  Her struggle to document that through her art is fascinating.

Also from Lens – photos of a young Afghan boy suffering from tetanus.  An ancient disease in a boy living in an ancient civilization, interacting with very modern US field medicine. The first four photos in the sequence are harrowing, graphic, and beautiful. My maternal, physician, (amateur) photographer eyes are educated; my heart, broken.

Pictures of the Day: Afghanistan

Those of you lucky enough to be healthy right now might be rolling your eyes. But I have seen many student patients who have been quite ill – cancer, diabetes, congenital heart defects, assaults, nasty infections, emergency surgeries – and many others who have lost family members to illness; it has a way of changing your outlook. 

If you’ve had the same experience and have created art from it-a quilt, a photo, a poem, a story-or you have found somebody else’s art which helped you through it, please share!  Email me ( or post a link in the comments.  I’d love to hear from you.

Victoria Rentel, MD

Cool Programs and Awesome Give-Aways for Sexual Violence Awareness Week!

In recognition of Sexual Violence Awareness Week, there will be a bunch of cool programs on campus this week to promote safety and support for students.  There will be tons of free give-aways, food, music, movies and more, so bring your friends and have a great time while you learn how to keep each other safe!

Here is the schedule for the week.  For updated information visit the Student Wellness Center website, email or call 292-4527.


Kick Off Festival:  Music!  Food!  Prizes!     12noon – 3pm   Ohio Union Lawn

Music, tie-dyeing and other fun events will be held to help raise awareness among students about the issue of sexual violence and week of scheduled events.

When Love Turns to Fear  7-9pm   Ohio Union Ballroom, 2nd Floor

Author Lundy Bancroft will discuss intimate partner abuse, and answer questions such as: What does it look like?  What can you do? This presentation will be helpful to students who have experienced intimate partner abuse or know others who have.  Bancroft will offer information concerning:

  1. The early warning signs of an abusive relationship
  2. Different styles of abusers, how they differ, how they are similar
  3. How to tell if an abuser can change, is changing, or ever will
  4. The role of drugs and alcohol in an abusive relationship
  5. What can be fixed, and what can’t
  6. How to leave a relationship safely: Resources on Campus
  7. Specific safety challenges for intimate partner abuse among college students 


T-shirt making for Clothesline Project  9am-5pm  Student Wellness Center, RPAC

Create a t-shirt design reflecting an experience of sexual violence, healing and recovery. These t-shirts become part of the OSU “Clothesline Project”: a visual awareness-raising display. 

T-shirts and supplies are furnished, or you can bring your own t-shirt.  T-shirts will be displayed on the Oval on Wednesday, 4/21/2010.  The OSU Clothesline Project is displayed every year at the Annual Take Back The Night March and Rally, and at other events.

Options Following Sexual Violence:   Civil, Criminal and Student Judicial Affairs   12:30-1:30pm  Sphinx Suite, Room 2150, Ohio Union 2nd Floor   

Options following an incident of sexual violence (i.e. sexual assault, intimate partner abuse and stalking) will be discussed during this panel presentation.   Representatives from the Capital University Law School’s Family Advocacy Clinic, the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office Abuse Unit, and OSU Student Judicial Affairs will offer information and answer questions.  Specifically, the criminal justice process, stalking order process and Student Judicial process will be discussed.  This presentation is designed to answer questions for attendees, as well as to provide an overview of the related processes.

Stalking 101   2:30-3:30pm  Dave Griner Room, RPAC

Learn how to identify and respond to stalking behavior.  An officer from the OSU Division of Police and the long-term advocate at the Student Wellness Center will present on what stalking may look like for college students, options for addressing the unwanted behavior and safety planning.  This workshop would be especially helpful for any student who is wondering if they, or someone they know, is experiencing stalking.

White Ribbon Campaign:  Men Working to End Violence  10am to 2pm   Oval, RPAC pavilion

The white ribbon campaign is an international awareness effort to demonstrate men’s commitment to ending sexual violence.  Men will be passing out white ribbons and providing information about sexual violence.   This event is designed to help men become involved and raise awareness about how sexual violence is not just a “woman’s issue” it’s an issue for everyone.

Tough GuiseMen and Masculinity   7-9:30pm   RPAC Meeting Room #2

A video and presentation will be shown to encourage discussion of masculinity and hyper-masculinity, and how they intersect with sexual violence.    


Clothesline Project on the Oval   12noon – 3pm

T-shirts made by OSU survivors and co-survivors will be displayed on the Oval.   Peer crisis intervention support will be provided in case someone needs to talk about their reaction to the t-shirt display.   

Consent Workshops  4:30-5:30pm   Sphinx Suite, Room 2150, Ohio Union, 2nd Floor

What is consent and how do I get some?

Members of the student groups, Women and Allies Rising in Resistance and Student Support for Survivors, will lead a discussion about consent to sex, and the factors that affect our ability to give and receive consent to sex. 


Sex in the Media  11:30am-12:30pm Barbie Tootle Room, Room 3156, Ohio Union, 3rd  Floor   

Nicole Nieto from the Multicultural Center will offer information and lead a discussion of how sexuality is portrayed in the media and how this portrayl may impact sexual violence.

Root Beer Pong  1-4pm  Oval

Students will have fun while learning about the connections between alcohol consumption and sexual violence.

Crossing Intimate Partner Lines:  People of Color and Intimate Partner Violence  2-3pm  Multicultural Center Lantern Room, Ohio Union, First Floor

Inter-cultural specialists from the Multicultural Center will lead a discussion about the occurance of intimate partner violence in communities of color. 

Violence in Same Sex Relationships  2:30-3:30pm  Dave Griner Room, RPAC

Violence can happen in all kinds of relationships.  Gary Heath from the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization (BRAVO) will offer information about violence in same sex relationships. 

Healing Event for Survivors and Co-survivors   6:30-7:30pm  Dave Griner Room, RPAC

Activities are planned to help participants express their feelings surrounding sexual violence.  Survivors and Co-Survivors of Sexual Violence are invited to attend this healing experience.

Candlelight Vigil   8:30-9:30pm   RPAC Pavilion

The candlelight vigil will follow the healing event for survivors and co-survivors.  However, it is open to anyone who wants to participate in a symbolic act to show our unity.  Sexual violence affects everyone and, at the Ohio State University, we have pledged and proclaimed our desire to end sexual violence.  This event will help recognize our shared goal and provide an opportunity for reflection on the week of events.


Free showing of “Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire”   7-9pm   Hagerty Hall 180

This movie depicts a survivor’s story and if you’ve wanted to see it, this can be one way to watch it in good company. Students are encouraged to come and bring a friend.  Advocates will be available, if participants need to talk.


Spring 2010 Power Puff Championship Game  3:30pm (after the Buckeye Spring Game) on turf field behind RPAC.    Playoff games on 4/13 and 4/23. 

Keep your passwords locked up tighter than a chastity belt

In the next quarter or two (or thereabouts) – you will be able to communicate with your health care provider at the Student Health Center via a secure emailing system.  Some of you might already see non-SHS physicians who communicate by email, or have set up secure access to your health information on-line; under the recently passed healthcare reform bill there are incentives aimed at driving all healthcare systems and providers to get your information wired.

In this brave new world, there are all kinds of important security considerations to consider as we move to an all electronic health record.  What if the power goes out?  What if the server goes down? What if that server is hacked?  Who can and can’t have access?  Health care organizations and providers are really struggling with these questions – and many more – as we try to figure out how to migrate your records from paper to pixels.   

Frankly, I’m not completely comfortable with the thought of my personal health information floating around in the clouds, and I’m online pretty much 24 hours a day. I mean, my Visa card information has been has been out there for years… and has been stolen four times in the last six months! (Although I refuse to shut down my Amazon shopping habit – that’s just letting the bad guys win).  My own wonderful doctor has put my info out there on her electronic record.  It’s about as interesting as a shoe box, but still.

With all this in mind, I chanced (via Lifehacker) on a most sobering article:

How I’d Hack Your Weak Passwords | One Man’s Blog

No matter how many real and virtual security guards there are between the world and your health, banking, social, shopping or other personal online information, it’s only as good as your lamest password. Seriously, read the post. Consider that the difference in hackability between a six character lowercase password and an 8 character mash-up is measured in CENTURIES.  And that your email account can be a freeway that exits straight into your bank account. Jeepers.

Must. Change. Password.

Victoria Rentel, MD

GYT – What are the risks?

Get Yourself Tested (GYT) – Part 3

Survivor, Amazing Race, Dancing with the Stars

Every night, TV offers us some version of “reality” programming, In 1994, one of the first reality shows, MTV’s Real World, actually did deal with something very real in our lives – the HIV epidemic.  Their house included a groundbreaking reality character named Pedro Zamora.

Pedro’s story was very real — at age 17 he tested positive for HIV and made the decision to share a very personal journey to raise awareness about the realities of the disease. Pedro’s experience, far too short because he died at the age of 22, is recreated in a new film airing on MTV called PEDRO, which is viewable online at this link. The timing couldn’t be better to incorporate this film as part of STD Awareness Month and our GYT blogs.

Consider this:

  • Nearly 50 percent of high school students have had sexual intercourse, and 35 percent are currently sexually active
  • Nearly 15 percent of high school students have had sex with four or more people
  • At least one in four teenage girls has an STD
  • Having another STD can make it 5 times more likely for a person to acquire HIV from a sexual partner

It is fortunate that HIV has become a much more manageable disease now, 16 years after Pedro’s death.  But HIV, syphilis, Chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes and others can still lead to major health consequences.

That’s why the premiere of PEDRO is so important. It is a moving experience to watch this vital and active young adult’s health decline.  It reminds us to stop being complacent, to be vocal, and to continue to dispel the myths and stigma that persist about sexually transmitted infections.

Roger Miller, MD (SHS Preventive Medicine) for BuckMD

My boyfriend is a med student – can he see my personal health information?

Q:  My boyfriend is a medical student.  Can he see my Electronic Health Record?  How would I know?

A:  This is an excellent question, and very timely since this week is Health Information Privacy and Security Week.  (No, I’m not kidding.  Seriously… who comes up with these things?)

Anyway, the answer is a resounding NO, he could not access your personal health information at the Student Health Center.  From a technical standpoint, our EHR system is separate and unconnected to the Medical Center’s, so our records are not accessible to people using the medical center system, like your boyfriend. 

But let’s say you saw a doctor at the medical center, or you got really sick one night and ended up in the ER, or your boyfriend did a rotation with us at the Student Health Center.  Technically speaking, he could access your health records, but he would be risking serious trouble if he did.

There is a federal law called HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) that contains privacy and security regulations to protect patient health information.  The HIPAA privacy rule contains a very important standard called Minimum Necessary – healthcare providers may only access personal health information that is necessary to their job.  So your boyfriend could only access your health records if he was directly involved in your care.

If he just snoops around in your chart because he was curious – he’s breaking the law.  If you ask him to check your records to see what the doctor said about you or to get the results of that scan you had at 3 in the morning that you can’t remember because you were puking your guts out – he’s breaking the law.  Let me put it this way.  If he was seen as a patient at the medical center and looks at his own health records, he’s breaking the law.  Unless it’s necessary for him to do his job, he can’t do it.

But let’s say that despite all of these legal and ethical restrictions, your boyfriend just can’t help himself and peeks into your electronic health record.  How would you know? 

The Security Rules of HIPAA require that healthcare organizations monitor the security of consumer personal health information.  Both the medical center and Student Health Services utilize tools that report each and every individual who accesses a patient’s health record.  If we (or the medical center) discover an unauthorized access to your health information, we are required by law to notify you and the Department of Health and Human Services. 

All health care professionals – including medical students – take this stuff very seriously so I’m sure you have nothing to worry about when it comes to your boyfriend checking out your electronic health record.  Now when it comes to him checking out the sunbathers on the Oval, you’re on your own…

Melissa Ames, RHIA, CHPS 

Health Information Manager, Ohio State Student Health Services