Women’s services



Specializing Institutions

Women’s health services are dedicated to treating women’s unique biological and physiological needs. Obstetrics, gynecology and family planning are areas of focus in women’s health. Women’s services cover a wide range of services, from annual procedures like PAP tests, to mammograms, urinary tract care, menopause, birth plans and delivery. The leading causes of death in women are heart disease, cancer and stroke. Other major health conditions women suffer from are diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and chronic lower respiratory diseases. Healthy lifestyle choices, such as eating healthy and physical activity, reduce women’s health risks.

Women can find a full continuum of mother and baby care at the South Texas Medical Center. Our institutions offer state-of-the-art labor and delivery rooms designed with women and children in mind. Additional women’s services available at our institutions include breast cancer diagnoses and treatment, pregnancy testing, mammograms and all the non-invasive procedures performed using daVinci Gynecologic Surgery systems. Robotically assisted gynecologic surgeries include, but are not limited to, the treatment for cervical and uterine cancer, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, uterine prolapse and menorrhaiga or excessive bleeding.

Institutions at the South Texas Medical Center offering women services take a family-centered approach to maternity care and offer a comprehensive range of obstetrical and gynecological services. Our institutions are also equipped with neonatal intensive care units to care for mothers experiencing special or high-risk deliveries.

Women’s Health Articles

  • CORRECTED-Oklahoma judge allows law banning abortion pills to take effect

    (Corrects name of group in third paragraph to Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, not Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Services)

    By Heide Brandes

    OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - An Oklahoma judge said on Wednesday he will allow a law that bans abortion-inducing drugs to take effect as planned on Nov. 1, over the objections of abortion rights advocates who said the measure is poor public health policy that could put women at risk.

    Oklahoma District Court Judge Robert Stuart turned down a request by abortion rights groups to halt the measure from taking effect. Stuart also allowed a provision that would limit liability claims against physicians due to the law.

    According to the lawsuit filed on behalf of Reproductive Services in Tulsa and the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice this month, the measure would lead to increased use of surgically induced abortions for cases where drugs can be used.

    "This law is contrary to protecting women's health and will force doctors to use an outdated and less safe medical procedure," said Autumn Katz, staff attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights.

    The defendants said the use of the drugs could cause harm to pregnant women because they can be used for procedures not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

    Earlier this year, lawmakers in the heavily Republican state approved new restrictions on abortion clinics they said were aimed at protecting women's health, but abortion rights advocates said were actually intended to shut clinics.

  • Hospital patients rarely wash their hands, may spread disease

    By Madeline Kennedy

    NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Although healthcare workers are urged to wash their hands often and hand sanitizer dispensers are everywhere in hospitals, patients are less scrupulous and may be contributing to the spread of hospital-acquired infections, say Canadian researchers.

    After tracking hundreds of patients in a transplant ward for nearly a year, the study team found that hand washing followed less than a third of bathroom visits, and washing or hand-sanitizer use happened only rarely after patients entered or left a room.

    "We know that certain infections can be spread on people's hands, and hand washing is an important way to prevent those infections," said the study's lead author, Dr. Jocelyn Srigley, associate medical director of infection prevention and control at Hamilton Health Sciences in Hamilton, Ontario.

    One in 25 hospital patients has at least one infection contracted at the hospital at any given time, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC estimates there were 722,000 cases of hospital-acquired infection in 2011, many of them serious or even life-threatening.

    The role of healthcare workers in transferring infectious microbes from place to place and person to person in hospitals has been well-studied, and staff are trained to take measures to avoid spreading infections.

    But just two previous studies have looked at the potential for patients to spread infections in hospitals, to others and themselves, Srigley and her colleagues write in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

    The Canadian study team tracked 279 adult patients in a multiorgan transplant ward using tags attached to hospital ID bracelets that sent out ultrasound signals. Wireless receivers were installed throughout the ward to pick up the signals and track each patient's location. The system also detected every time a soap or hand sanitizer dispenser was used.

    They found that patients washed their hands about 30 percent of the time during bathroom visits, 40 percent of the time during mealtimes, 3 percent of the time while using kitchens on the wards, 3 percent of the time when entering their own rooms and 7 percent when exiting their room.

    Women washed their hands more often than men, and were more likely than men to use soap when they did. All patients were more likely to wash their hands later in the day than in the morning.

    Among 1,122 visits by 97 patients to the ward's two kitchens, only 3 percent involved hand hygiene and less than one percent involved soap.

    The researchers point to a previous study that found requiring patients to disinfect their hands four times a day significantly reduced the number of respiratory and gastrointestinal disease outbreaks in a psychiatric ward.

    Srigley noted that the ultrasound observation system was not perfect and one limitation was that it, "didn't know exactly what a patient was doing in the bathroom or when they were eating, so we don't know for sure that a patient should have washed their hands at that time."

    In addition, "not all patients agreed to wear the system tags so we don't know if the ones who wore the tags are reflective of all patients," Srigley said.

    Despite these limitations, the new technology used in the study eliminated the problem of people changing their behavior when they know they're being watched, said Dr. Yuen Kwok-yung, chair of Microbiology at the University of Hong Kong.

    Kwok-yung told Reuters Health by email, "The findings will provide important data for the formulation of hand hygiene policy."

    Srigley feels that hospitals should encourage patients to wash their hands at certain times, but she is not yet sure what would be the most effective method.

    Possibilities include "putting up posters, having someone talk to patients about hand washing, providing hand sanitizer or alcohol wipes at the bedside, etc.," she said, adding that more research is necessary to determine the most effective method.

    "The key message is that hand washing is an important way for people to protect themselves and prevent infections, whether they're in the hospital, at home, at work, or anywhere else," she said. "Especially with influenza season coming up soon, hand washing can help to keep us all healthy."

    SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1CnI4zB Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, Online October 2, 2014.

  • CORRECTED-Oklahoma judge allows law banning abortion pills to take effect

    (Corrects name of group in third paragraph to Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, not Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Services)

    By Heide Brandes

    OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - An Oklahoma judge said on Wednesday he will allow a law that bans abortion-inducing drugs to take effect as planned on Nov. 1, over the objections of abortion rights advocates who said the measure is poor public health policy that could put women at risk.

    Oklahoma District Court Judge Robert Stuart turned down a request by abortion rights groups to halt the measure from taking effect. Stuart also allowed a provision that would limit liability claims against physicians due to the law.

    According to the lawsuit filed on behalf of Reproductive Services in Tulsa and the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice this month, the measure would lead to increased use of surgically induced abortions for cases where drugs can be used.

    "This law is contrary to protecting women's health and will force doctors to use an outdated and less safe medical procedure," said Autumn Katz, staff attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights.

    The defendants said the use of the drugs could cause harm to pregnant women because they can be used for procedures not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

    Earlier this year, lawmakers in the heavily Republican state approved new restrictions on abortion clinics they said were aimed at protecting women's health, but abortion rights advocates said were actually intended to shut clinics.

  • Recalled, drug-tainted supplements still available for purchase

    By Kathryn Doyle

    NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Long after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued recalls for dietary supplements tainted with banned drugs, more than half of the tainted supplements were still available for purchase, a new study found.

    "There's no question that these supplements that contain pharmaceuticals are not allowed to be sold, there are clear cut laws," lead author Dr. Pieter A. Cohen told Reuters Health by phone.

    The FDA does have some loose regulatory power over supplements, which are categorized like a food, Cohen said.

    If a food manufacturer's product were tainted with salmonella, the tainted food would be recalled, the factory cleaned, and then manufacturing would continue, Cohen said. In the case of supplements, the FDA issues recalls for products tainted with dangerous pharmaceuticals, but without proper enforcement the tainted products remain on the market and some companies continue to produce more, he said.

    The FDA has identified more than 400 supplement brands tainted with pharmaceuticals, and issued a recall for 70 percent of the products.

    Cohen and his coauthors studied 27 of the 274 supplements the FDA recalled between 2009 and 2012, two-thirds of which were American-made. They bought the supplements from manufacturer websites at least eight months and up to four years after their FDA recall, then tested their chemical makeup.

    The researchers found that 18 of the 27 supplements they purchased still contained a pharmaceutical adulterant, according to results in JAMA.

    The supplements were marketed for sports enhancement, weight loss and sexual enhancement, among other things.

    Among the banned substances in the products were sibutramine, a weight loss drug linked to heart attack and stroke, and phenolphthalein, a laxative being removed from many markets due to a potential link to cancer.

    "Dietary supplement manufacturers and distributors are legally responsible for marketing a safe product that is not adulterated, and that complies with FDA's good manufacturing practice regulations for dietary supplements," the FDA told Reuters Health in a statement.

    But, the FDA warned, "The supply chain for these products is extremely fragmented; one product manufactured by an unknown company overseas may be sold by dozens of different distributors in the United States. The individuals and businesses selling these products generally are difficult to locate, operate out of residential homes, and distribute via internet, small stores, and mail. Products are shipped through the international mail facilities and are often misdeclared as unrelated goods to avoid detection. Even after recall and enforcement action against one major distributor, the product may continue to be widely sold."

    Many consumers don't realize how potent these pharmaceuticals are, Cohen said.

    "Responsible manufacturers and marketers of dietary supplements applaud strong enforcement measures by FDA to address illegal products that contain undisclosed, active pharmaceutical ingredients," Steve Mister, President and CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition in Washington, D.C., a dietary supplement trade association, wrote in a statement. "We have zero tolerance for this problem and welcome not only recalls, but also criminal enforcement against companies that put consumers at risk."

    Although the researchers found 27 of the 274 recalled supplements still available online from manufacturers, more may be available in shops or gas stations, where an earlier study showed most people purchase supplements, said Cohen, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston and an internist at the Cambridge Health Alliance.

    Also, a supplement manufacturer could easily rename its recalled product and start marketing it again without reformulation, and the FDA would have to go back and test the renamed product before issuing another recall, he said.

    Although there is a framework in place to regulate supplements, enforcement is lacking, he said.

    "There's no consequences to the manufacturer, which is absurd," he said.

    Although they aimed to purchase supplements manufactured after the FDA recall, some may have been manufactured before it, the authors note.

    Some consumers may seek these products out even though they have been recalled, but many are unaware of the recall, Cohen said.

    "This is criminal activity," said Daniel Fabricant, former Director of the Division of Dietary Supplement Programs at the FDA and current CEO of the Natural Products Association, another trade association. "There needs to be some really hardcore enforcement."

    "Consumers need to understand the risks, if they can't get an erectile dysfunction drug and they go looking for a natural product tainted with pharmaceuticals," he told Reuters Health by phone.

    Some of the recalled products have labels in mixed languages, which is also against the law, Fabricant noted.

    "Right now my recommendation is for consumers to avoid muscle building supplements, weight loss and sexual enhancement supplements," which are most likely to contain dangerous drugs, Cohen said.

    These supplements either do not work or are tainted with pharmaceuticals, he said.

    Many vitamin and mineral supplements are safe, especially those sold as single ingredients, he said. Products made up of a "cocktail" of ingredients are more likely to be tainted, he said.

    SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1c9i5E4 JAMA, October 21, 2014.

  • People picking up lung meds at CVS often bought cigarettes, too: study

    By Kathryn Doyle

    NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Before the CVS pharmacy chain stopped selling cigarettes, some patients who were filling prescriptions for health conditions caused or worsened by smoking also bought cigarettes at the stores, according to a new study of the company's purchasing data.

    "We were interested in assessing the extent to which patients purchase cigarettes from pharmacies where they were also filling prescriptions for these drugs," said Joshua J. Gagne of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, who coauthored the new research letter.

    Executives at CVS Caremark Corp. announced in February that it would stop selling cigarettes at its 7,600 store locations by October of this year, the first U.S. drugstore chain to do so, although some cities like Boston and San Francisco already keep tobacco products out of pharmacies.

    For the new study, researchers used data on more than 360,000 Caremark pharmacy members who filled a prescription for a statin medication, used to treat high cholesterol, in 2011 or 2012.

    Of those, 38,939 were taking medication for asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or high blood pressure or were using an oral contraceptive.

    Smoking can cause or worsen COPD, asthma and high blood pressure. It can also dramatically increase the risk of serious cardiovascular events associated with oral contraceptives, for which side effects are usually rare, Gagne said.

    Six percent of asthma or COPD medication users, 5.1 percent of blood pressure medication users and 4.8 percent of oral birth control medication users purchased cigarettes at least once with their CVS rewards card while they had those medications available to use, according to results in JAMA Internal Medicine.

    "It is discouraging to me that pharmacies sell cigarettes and other tobacco products that could worsen health and make the prescription medications that they dispense less effective or even more dangerous," Gagne told Reuters Health by email.

    The researchers did not examine how frequently cigarettes and these prescription meds were actually purchased at the same time and on the same receipt, and some of the purchases could have been made by other family members using the same CVS loyalty card, the authors note.

    "In some instances people purchased cigarettes during the same visit that they filled the prescription, but not always," Gagne said. "We did, however, assess cigarette purchases only while people had medication available by requiring either that the cigarette purchase and prescription fill occur on the same day or that the cigarette purchase happen shortly after the prescription fill while the individuals were likely using the medications."

    According to the CDC, 18 percent of adults in the U.S. are smokers. Although less than 18 percent of the patients in this data set purchased cigarettes at their CVS pharmacies, others may have been purchasing them at other locations, Gagne said.

    Smokers in focus groups in New York, California and Ohio have said they tend not to buy cigarettes at drug and grocery stores, because they are often more expensive than other retailers, said Patricia McDaniel, associate professor in sociology in the School of Nursing at the University of California, San Francisco.

    She was not involved in the new study.

    McDaniel researches stop-smoking policy. Increasing tobacco taxes, directing more money from those taxes to tobacco control programs, including money for media campaigns that denormalize smoking and the tobacco industry, reducing the retail availability of tobacco products, and passing clean indoor air laws are effective policies for smoking cessation, she told Reuters Health by email.

    "Stopping the sale of tobacco in drug stores sends a consistent health message: we sell medications to improve your health, we don't sell the single most deadly consumer product ever made," she said.

    Pharmacies should not be among the places people can purchase cigarettes, Gagne said.

    "Short of banning cigarettes completely, getting people to stop smoking is very difficult and requires a complex solution," he said. "Pharmacies should be part of the solution rather than part of the problem."

    SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1vYoKuk JAMA Internal Medicine, October 20, 2014.