Thursday, June 11, 2009

Health Headlines - June 11

New Orleans Mayor Released From Swine Flu Quarantine

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, quarantined in Shanghai since Sunday over swine flu concerns, has been released, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

Nagin, his wife and a guard had been quarantined after a passenger on their flight from the United States had flu-like symptoms.

A Nagin spokeswoman confirmed the mayor's release, saying Nagin was to fly Wednesday to Australia for a planned series of speeches, the AP said.


Diabetes Screenings Could Lower Medical Costs: Study

Nearly one-quarter of adults screened for diabetes ended up having the full-blown disease or its precursor, allowing doctors to begin treatment sooner. This suggests that routine diabetes screening could result in significant cost savings for the U.S. health-care system, researchers at Atlanta's Emory University concluded from a new study.

Prof. Lawrence S. Philips and his colleagues screened 1,259 adults who hadn't been diagnosed with diabetes, reported United Press International. Twenty-four percent of study participants ended up having diabetes or prediabetes, characterized by elevated blood sugar levels that don't meet the criteria of the full-blown disease.

Participants found to have either condition were treated with the anti-diabetic drug metformin or ordered to make lifestyle changes designed to control blood sugar. The cost of these remedies was found to be lower than the costs "associated with not screening," UPI reported.

Study results were presented at the American Diabetes Association's annual meeting in New Orleans.


Infection-Control Programs Suffering, Hospitals Report

Infections acquired at hospitals lead to almost 10,000 deaths each year, costing the United States health care system more than $20 billion, the Wall Street Journalreported Tuesday.

Despite justification for beefing up U.S. hospitals' infection-control efforts, a new survey found that almost 41 percent of nearly 2,000 participants said their hospital infection-control budgets were being cut, the newspaper reported. Funding cuts were affecting technology, staff, education, products and equipment, the survey by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control (APIC) revealed.

Moreover, 40 percent of respondents said they were affected by layoffs or a reduction in hours, and one-third said their departments had job freezes, theJournal reported.

The survey also found that only about 20 percent of respondents said their institutions had electronic reporting systems -- referred to as "data mining" -- that helped identify infection clusters in real time, the newspaper said.

One infection-control director from Tacoma, Wash., reported that a data-mining effort identified a pattern of urinary tract infections that ended up preventing an estimated 187 additional infections over 16 months and saving her institution about $1.5 million, the Journal said.


FDA: Don't Use Clarcon Skin Products

Clarcon Biological Chemistry Laboratory Inc. of Roy, Utah, is voluntarily recalling skin sanitizers and skin protectants sold under several brand names because the products may be contaminated with bacteria that could make users sick, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said.

The agency issued a news release warning consumers to refrain from using all products made by the company. It said an analysis of several samples revealed disease-causing bacteria, some of which are associated with unsanitary conditions. The germs could cause dangerous infections of the skin and underlying tissue, the FDA added.

The products -- promoted in some cases as antimicrobial agents that can prevent infection in open wounds -- should not be used and be disposed of in the household trash, the agency said. A partial list of affected products includes:

  • Citrushield Lotion
  • Dermasentials DermaBarrier
  • Dermassentials by Clarcon Antimicrobial Hand Sanitizer
  • Iron Fist Barrier Hand Treatment
  • Skin Shield Restaurant
  • Skin Shield Industrial
  • Skin Shield Beauty Salon Lotion
  • Total Skin Care Beauty
  • Total Skin Care Work

To report adverse events associated with these or other consumer products, contact the FDA'S MedWatch reporting program at 1-800-FDA-1088.

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