Health Updates 16 December 2011

  • President Obama wants to lift federal wage law exemptions on home health care workers, thus guaranteeing minimum wage and overtime protection: “Unions and advocacy groups say nearly half of all home care workers live at or below the poverty level and receive public benefits such as food stamps and Medicaid.  More than 90 percent of home care workers are women.  About 30 percent are black, and 12 percent are Hispanic.  Republican lawmakers said Obama’s plan would result in fewer work hours for home care workers and higher costs for taxpayers.” (Associated Press)
  • One woman’s breast implant goes missing during pilates: “The case of the pilates-session-turned-breast-disappearing act was published by Johns Hopkins’ University emergency medicine doctors in the New England Journal of Medicine.  The woman, who had not been identified, had a history of breast cancer and had undergone a bilateral mastectomy and breast reconstruction.  But while forcefully exhaling while keeping her month closed and nose pinched shut – called the Valsalva maneuver – the woman lost her implant somewhere in her body.” (ABC News)
  • Most research, but not all, using chimpanzees can end, said the Institute of Medicine: “After nine months of deliberation, a panel of independent experts judged that most current experiments involving man’s closest primate relative can safely be discontinued.  But the experts stopped short of calling on the federal government to retire all of about 600 chimps in its care, cautioning that unseen threats to human health ‘may require the future use of the chimpanzee’.  The director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, said he accepted the panel’s recommendations and promised to name a working group to figure out how to implement them.” (LA Times)
  • Re-admissions tied to hospital admission rate: “Regions that have a wealth of cardiologists have more congestive heart failure patients hospitalized for treatment, and more of those patients are re-hospitalized after discharge, according to a Commonwealth Fund analysis of Medicare records.  By contrast, a similar relationship was not observed between the regional supply of pulmonologists and re-admission rate for pneumonia”.  Further, “the strong relationship between initial admissions and re-admissions identified in the study led the authors to suggest that the key to reducing hospital re-admissions may be more than simply effective discharge planning, although that approach has demonstrated some efficacy”. (Kristina Fiore, MedPage Today)

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