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Health Highlights: April 18, 2013

Health Highlights: April 18, 2013

04/18/13

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Infection Sends GMAHost Robin Roberts to Hospital

Television host Robin Roberts has been hospitalized with infection.

The "Good Morning America" host was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder about a year ago and had a bone marrow transplant in September. She returned to the show in February but hasn't been on the air this week, USA Todayreported.

"Last week, in the middle of my Key West vacation, I began not to feel well. Nothing serious, just under the weather. I contacted my doctors and flew back to NYC. They felt it best to admit me into the hospital for a few days," Roberts said in a Facebook note.

"Seems my young immune system needed a little boost to fight off 'opportunistic infections,' " she explained.

"My doctors assured me that this was NOT because I was working or doing too much, too soon. It's extremely common, post bone marrow transplant, to have complications. I'm blessed that mine have not been severe," Roberts wrote, USA Todayreported.

She added: "I'm feeling MUCH better, and will relax at home for the rest of the week. I'll be back on GMA next week...as my sweet momma would say: 'Good Lord willing, and the creek don't rise!'"

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No 'Sustained' Evidence of Human-to-Human Transmission of H79N Bird Flu

Four possible cases of human-to-human transmission of the H7N9 bird flu in China are being investigated, but so far there is "no sustained" evidence of the virus being passed between people, according to the World Health Organization.

The investigation involves three families in Shanghai and two young boys in Beijing who may have infected each other, WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl told The New York Times.

"Even if two family members are positive, it is not necessarily the case they got it from each other. They may have gotten it from the same bird," Hartl noted.

He also said there is growing concern that the H7N9 virus -- which has killed 17 people so far -- may not originate in birds but in other animals and in environmental sources, The Timesreported.

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Gay 'Conversion Therapy' Case Heard by Appeals Court

A California law that forbids gay "conversion therapy" for children and teens is an unjustified infringement on free speech, according to opponents. Supporters say it prevents therapeutic malpractice.

Arguments for and against the ban were heard Wednesday by a federal appeals court in San Francisco. The law is being challenged by several therapists and some patients who say there were helped by the treatment, The New York Timesreported.

The ban, which was adopted last year, bars licensed therapists from trying to change the sexual orientation of people under the age of 18. Mainstream professional associations say there is no proof that this therapy is effective and also say it can harm young patients.

In December, a federal district judge imposed an injunction on the law. After Wednesday's hearing, the three-judge United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit was to decide whether to continue the injunction or allow the law to take effect, The Timesreported.

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Surgical Complications Profitable for Hospitals: Study

Surgical errors help boost hospitals' profits and some would end up losing money if they took better care of patients, according to a new study.

The researchers explained that mistakes can add cash to hospitals' coffers because insurers pay them for the longer patient stays and extra care associated with surgical complications that could have been prevented, The New York Timesreported.

Altering the payment system so that poor care is not rewarded could help reduce surgical complication rates, said the study authors from the Boston Consulting Group, Harvard's schools of medicine and public health, and Texas Health Resources, a nonprofit hospital system.

The team analyzed the records of more than 34,000 patients who had surgery in 2010 at one of 12 hospitals operated by Texas Health Resources. Of those, 1,820 had one or more preventable surgical complications, such as blood clots, pneumonia or infected incisions, The Timesreported.

The median length of stay for patients with these complications was 14 days, about four times longer than for patients without complications. Hospital revenue averaged $49,400 for a patient with complications and $18,900 for a patient without complications, according to the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The researchers said they are not suggested that hospitals are trying to make money by deliberately causing surgical complications or refusing to remedy the problem. But they said the current payment system makes it difficult for hospitals to make changes because improvements in patient care can end up costing them money, The Timesreported.

Speaking to HealthDay, Dr. David Troxel, medical director of The Doctors Company, the leading provider of malpractice insurance in the United States, said that "reducing the incidence of preventable post-surgical complications is an important patient safety goal."

He added that the study "points out how difficult it is in our complex health care delivery system to align hospitals' financial incentives with needed system improvements in order to achieve improved patient outcomes."

Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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