Health Updates 6 January 2012

  • British seek data on suspect breast implants: “With the British government under increasing pressure to follow the French health authorities’ recommendation to remove breast implants made with low-grade silicone, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley ordered British clinics on Wednesday to quickly report how many of the implants have ruptured or oozed.  ‘The question really comes down to the extent to which these implants fail relative to normal implants and the relative risks of their removal compared to the risk of having an operation’ Mr. Lansley told BBC radio.  The French government recommended on Dec. 23 that the 30,000 Frenchwomen with the implants have them removed….The silicone gel inside them causes inflammation.”  The French government is paying the cost of implant removal for its citizens – which could cost up to $77  million. (NY Times)
  • Doctor who claimed vaccine-autism link sues critics: “The controversial Andrew Wakefield, MBBS, whose now largely discredited research ignited the vaccine-autism furor, has filed a defamation suit in a Texas court against the BMJ, its editor and an investigative journalist over a series of articles published last January.  The articles, by Brian Deer, as well as commentaries by the journal’s editor…slammed a now-famous paper in The Lancet that suggested childhood MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccinations had caused autism-like symptoms in 12 children….In a lawsuit filed in his adopted hometown of Austin, Texas, Wakefiled called the BMJ articles ‘unfair, incorrect, inaccurate, and unjust’.” (John Gever, MedPage Today)
  • Report finds most errors at hospitals go unreported: “Hospital employees recognize and report only one out of seven errors, accidents and other events that harm Medicare patients while they are hospitalized, federal investigators say in a new report….Nearly all hospitals have some type of system for employees to inform hospital managers of adverse events, defined as significant harm experienced by patients as a result of  medical care….Adverse events include medication errors, severe bedsores, infections that patients acquire in hospitals, delirium resulting from overuse of painkillers and excessive bleeding linked to improper use of blood thinners.  Federal investigators identified many unreported events by having independent doctors review patients’ records.  The inspector general estimated that more than 130,000 Medicare beneficiaries experienced one or more adverse events in hospitals in a single month.” (Robert Pear, NY Times)
  • Cognitive decline begins at mid-life: “…cognitive decline associated with aging begins earlier than has been appreciated, with changes already evident in the fifth decade of life…on all cognitive measures except vocabulary, which typically remains unaffected with age, linear trends were seen in decline, with greater changes seen in those who were older at baseline….The findings of this study have important clinical implications, because there is increasing evidence for the importance of lifestyle factors and cardiovascular risk in middle age on later cognitive function.” (Nancy Walsh, MedPage Today)

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