Health Highlights: June 16, 201106/16/11
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Syphilis Screening Could Save Many Babies: Study
Screening all pregnant women for syphilis and treatment with
antibiotics could save hundreds of thousands of babies' lives
worldwide each year, according to a new study.
Researchers at University College London analyzed 10 previous
studies that included more than 41,000 women in total and found
that syphilis screening achieved a 58 percent decrease in
stillbirths and a similar reduction in deaths in the first few
weeks of life,
BBC News reported.
The study appears in
The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
Syphilis in pregnant women causes 500,000 stillbirths and
newborn deaths a year, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. Even though
screening is cheap and effective, it's done in fewer than one in
eight women worldwide,
BBC News reported.
Screening for syphilis should be done at the same time that
pregnant women are tested for HIV, study author Dr. Sarah Hawkes
Medicaid Patients Face Benefits Cuts: Report
More than $90 billion in special U.S. government funding for
Medicaid will end in a few weeks, leading to cuts in benefits for
millions of low-income people.
The money began flowing from the Obama administration in
February 2009 as the recession deepened. But neither the White
House nor Congress has made any move to extend that extra funding
for Medicaid, even though there are more beneficiaries now than two
The New York Times reported.
Federal Medicaid spending will decline next year for only the
second time in the program's 46-year history, the Congressional
Budget Office estimates.
"Medicaid is very much on the chopping block," Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, D-W. Va., and chairman of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health Care, told the Times. "Seniors vote. But if you are poor and disabled, you might not vote, and if you are a child, you do not vote -- that's a lot of Medicaid's population. They don't have money to do lobbying."
To cope with the loss of the extra federal money, states plan to
cut costs by limiting benefits for Medicaid recipients, reducing
the number of covered services, cutting Medicaid payments to
hospitals and doctors, forcing beneficiaries to pay larger
co-payments, and increasing the use of managed care, the
These measures are expected to increase costs in other parts of
the health-care system, the newspaper said.
For example, doctors may be less likely to accept Medicaid
patients, forcing them to seek care in hospital emergency
departments. And hospitals may attempt to make up for the loss of
Medicaid revenue by boosting what they charge other patients,
according to experts.
Rep. Giffords Released From Hospital
Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was released from a
Houston rehabilitation hospital Wednesday, more than five months
after being shot in the head during an assassination attempt.
Giffords, 41, will live with her astronaut husband in a Houston
suburb and will receive care from a 24-hour home health provider,
hospital officials said. She will go to the Memorial Hermann
Hospital each weekday for physical therapy, the
Los Angeles Times reported.
"Congresswoman Giffords has shown clear, continuous improvement from the moment she arrived at TIRR [Memorial Hermann Hospital] five months ago," Dr. Gerald Francisco, the hospital's chief medical officer, said in a statement. "We are very excited that she has reached the next phase of her rehabilitation and can begin outpatient treatment."
"Anyone who knows Gabby knows that she loves being outside," Gifford's husband, Mark E. Kelly, said in a statement, the Times reported. "Living and working in a rehab facility for
five months straight has been especially challenging for her. She
will still go to TIRR each day but, from now on, when she finishes
rehab, she will be with her family."
FDA Warns About Drugs With Similar Names
Confusion about the names of two medicines is leading to
medication errors that have resulted in the hospitalization of some
patients, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.
The problem involves risperidone (Risperdal) -- an antipsychotic
medication used to treat mental illnesses such as schizophrenia,
bipolar disorder and irritability in people with autism -- and
ropinirole (Requip), a dopamine agonist used to treat Parkinson's
disease and Restless Legs Syndrome.
Factors contributing to the confusion between the two drugs
include: similarities of both the brand and generic names;
similarities in container labels and carton packaging; illegible
handwriting on prescriptions; and similar drug characteristics,
such as drug strengths, dosage forms and dosing intervals.
Doctors need to clearly print or spell out the medication name
on prescriptions and ensure their patients know the name of their
prescribed medication and their reason for taking it, the FDA
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