Sunday, July 05, 2009

Health Headlines - July 5

Calif. regulators warn of pot's cancer capability

It might take Californians a puff or two to get their heads around an apparent contradiction recently enshrined in state law. The same marijuana smoke that doctors can recommend to ease cancer patients' suffering must soon come with a warning saying it causes the disease.

State environmental regulators last month voted to place marijuana smoke on its list of hundreds of substances known to cause cancer. The decision could lead to warning signs in medical marijuana dispensaries and labels on packaged pot within a year.


Europe's free, state-run health care has drawbacks

As President Barack Obama pushes to overhaul the American health care system, the role of government is at the heart of the debate. In Europe, free, state-run health care is a given.

The concept has been enshrined in Europe for generations. Health systems are built so inclusive that even illegal immigrants are entitled to free treatment beyond just emergency care. Europeans have some of the world's best hospitals and have made great strides in fighting problems like obesity and heart disease.

But the system is far from perfect.

In Britain, France, Switzerland and elsewhere, public health systems have become political punching bags for opposition parties, costs have skyrocketed and in some cases, patients have needlessly suffered and died.


Scrub tech may have exposed thousands to hepatitis

A former surgery technician may have exposed thousands of Colorado patients to hepatitis C when she swapped her own dirty syringes for ones filled with a powerful narcotic, federal authorities said Thursday.

Kristen Diane Parker faces criminal charges for allegedly making the swaps while working at Audubon Ambulatory Surgery Center in Colorado Springs and Rose Medical Center in Denver.

Authorities say Parker admitted to changing out syringes containing a saline solution with ones filled with the painkiller Fentanyl. Parker injected herself with the drug, according to a complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Denver.


Why British Health Officials Say Swine Flu is Nothing to Party About

A month ago, Britain's Health Secretary Andy Burnham issued a statement urging British citizens not to panic despite a surge in cases of H1N1 influenza virus in the country. Now it seems health officials have the opposite problem, and are urging parents not to hold "swine flu parties" which some people believe will build up children's immunity by infecting them with the virus.

Parents in Britain have long held "chicken pox parties" at the beginning of summer so that children can catch the disease at a convenient time. But recent chatter on various internet sites has health officials worried that parents are planning similar events for swine flu in order to make their children immune to the virus should it mutate into a more lethal form. In a statement on Tuesday, Sir Liam Donaldson, Britain's Chief Medical Officer, said such parties were the result of "seriously flawed thinking". (See pictures of swine flu hitting Mexico.)

"We would never recommend intentionally exposing anyone to swine flu," Donaldson said. " We don't yet know enough about the risk profile of the virus, and while it has generally been mild in the U.K., in some parts of the world young previously healthy adults have died. Parents would never forgive themselves if they exposed a vulnerable child to serious illness."

No comments: